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Modern History Sourcebook:The Declaration of Sentiments,Seneca Falls Conference, 1848
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, two American activists in the movement toabolish slavery called together the first conference to address Women's rights and issues inSeneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Part of the reason for doing so had been that Mott had been refused permission to speak at the world anti-slavery convention in London, eventhough she had been an official delegate. Applying the analysis of human freedom developed in the Abolitionist movement, Stanton and others began the public career of modern feminist analysisThe
of the Seneca Falls Convention, using the model of the US Declaration of Independence, forthrightly demanded that the rights of women as right-bearing individualsbe acknowledged and respectd by society. It was signed by sixty-eight women and thirty-twomen.
The Declaration of Sentiments
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man toassume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hithertooccupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect tothe opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such acourse.We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they areendowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and thepursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powersfrom the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of theseends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon theinstitution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers insuch form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed,will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer. while evils aresufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But whena long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design toreduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to providenew guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under thisgovernment, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station towhich they are entitled. The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on
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