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Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments

● Why would the authors of the Declaration parallel the Declaration of


Independence?
● What is their major demand?
● Why would people reject and actively fight against the ideas of this
document?

The Declaration of Sentiments written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848 is a document


that "forthrightly demanded that the rights of women as right-bearing individuals be
acknowledged and respected by society" (Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments). This
declaration was presented and signed by sixty-eight women and thirty-two men during
the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 in New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia
Mott, activists for the abolitionist movement, started the conventions in order to address
women's suffrage partly in response to the treatment Mott had received during the anti-
slavery convention in London despite her position as an official delegate. The
participation women had in the abolitionist movement inspired some of them to embrace
feminism and advocate for women's rights. Lydia Maria Child, an abolitionist and
feminist, is quoted in the textbook as stating, “The comparison between women and the
colored race is striking . . . both have been kept in subjection by physical force"
(OpenStax 13.5). The Declaration of Sentiments addresses the issues of suffrage and
was modeled closely after the Declaration of Independence, though "it was in some
ways much more radical since it challenged the entire patriarchal structure of society"
(John Green Video 4). The document was likely modeled after the Declaration of
Independence to point out the hypocrisy of white men in claiming self evident truths of
all men being created equal. Men, as it is written in the Declaration of Independence,
refers to the whole of mankind and so the authors of The Declaration of Sentiments
wrote their document as to correct the misinterpretation and hypocrisy; "We hold these
truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal" (Stanton, The
Declaration of Sentiments).

Elizabeth Cady Stanton challenges many injustices in the Declaration of Sentiments,


summing up the major demand of the declaration as; "in view of the unjust laws above
mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and
fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate
admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United
States" (Stanton, The Declaration of Sentiments). Overall, the activists of the first wave
feminist movement were demanding the rights and freedoms granted to white men and
belonging to women as equal citizens of the United States as written under the
Declaration Independence. Many people, women included, at the time were opposed to
ideas of feminism since most people bought into the traditional ideas of the Cult of
Domesticity "which decreed that a woman's place was in the home and in providing
non-market values" (John Green Video 4). Catherine Beecher, an education reformer
and sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote; "All the sacred protection of religion, all the
generous promptings of chivalry, all the poetry of romantic gallantry, depend upon
woman's retaining her place as dependent and defenseless, and making no claims, and
maintaining no right but what are the gifts of honor, rectitude and love" (John Green
Video 4). The textbook also describes the public actions of the feminist movement as
being seen as "thoroughly [scandalizing] respectable society, where it was unheard of
for women to lecture to men" (OpenStax 13.5). People would reject and actively fight
against the idea of the Declaration of Sentiments because it challenged the traditional
patriarchal society that had been ingrained in cultures all around the world all
throughout previous history.

Works Cited

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Modern History Sourcebook: The Declaration of Sentiments,


Seneca Falls Conference, 1848. Fordham University,
sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/senecafalls.asp.

Corbet, P. Scott. U.S. History Chapter 13.5. Rice University, 2014,


d3bxy9euw4e147.cloudfront.net/oscms-prodcms/media/documents/USHistory-
OP_tkj0lZo.pdf.

"Women in the 19th Century: Crash Course US History #16."CrashCourse, 23 May


2013,
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM1czS_VYDI&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7O
bzO7s&index=16.