Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders
The Seneca Falls Convention and the Early Suffrage Movement

It was eight years before Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott would carry out their agreement to hold a convention on women’s rights. On July 19 and 20th, 1848, they hosted the Seneca Fall Convention on women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York. At the convention, they presented and the delegates adopted a “Declaration of Sentiments,” a document modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which called for a range of women’s rights, including the right to equal education, equal treatment under the law, and the right to vote. Sixty-eight women and thirty-two men signed the Declaration of Sentiments. Among the signers was Frederick Douglass, the prominent abolitionist.

Over the next decade, women held numerous other conventions and conferences on the issue of women’s rights and undertook campaigns to improve married women’s property rights and secure other rights for women.

During the Civil War, women temporarily suspended their work on women’s rights. Beginning in 1863, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organized women in support of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.

After the end of the Civil War in 1865, two new amendments to the Constitution were proposed. The 14th Amendment, drafted in late 1865, was a disappointment to suffragists. It penalized states for denying the vote to adult males, for the first time introducing the word “men” into the Constitution. The 15th Amendment stated that voting rights could not be denied on account of race, but did not mention sex. In 1866, Cady Stanton, Anthony, and Lucy Stone were all involved in the formation of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), an organization dedicated to enfranchising African Americans and women together.


Click here to read the Declarations of Sentiments

Stanton and Mott
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division and Lucretia Mott, Library of Congress, Manuscript Division

Seneca Call
Click for larger image
A call for the Seneca Falls Convention, published in the Seneca County Courier, July 14, 1848, Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

Important leaders of the early movement:
Sarah Moore Grimke, Angelina Grimke, Ernestine Louise Siismondi Potowski Rose, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Lucy Stone, Caroline Maria Seymore Severance, Susan B. Anthony, Julia Ward Howe


NWHM Homepage

Copyright © 2007 National Women's History Museum.