History of Woman's Suffrage
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (and Others)
New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881

Appendix—Chapter IV.

Seneca Falls and Rochester Conventions.


  We are sorry to see that the women in several parts of this State are holding what they call "Woman's Rights Conventions," and setting forth a formidable list of those rights in a parody upon the Declaration of American Independence.

  The papers of the day contain extended notices of these Conventions. Some of them fall in with their objects and praise the meetings highly; but the majority either deprecate or ridicule both.

  The women who attend these meetings, no doubt at the expense of their more appropriate duties, act as committees, write resolutions and addresses, hold much correspondence, make speeches, &c., &c. They affirm, as among their rights, that of unrestricted franchise, and assert that it is wrong to deprive them of the privilege to become legislators, lawyers, doctors, divines, &c., &c.; and they are holding Conventions and making an agitatory movement, with the object in view of revolutionizing public opinion and the laws of the land, and changing their relative position in society in such a way as to divide with the male sex the labors and irresponsibilities of active life in every branch of art, science, trades, and professions.


  Now, it requires no argument to prove that this is all wrong. Every true hearted female will instantly feel that this is unwomanly, and that to be practically carried out, the males must change their position in society to the same extent in an opposite direction, in order to enable them to discharge an equal share of the domestic duties which now appertain to females, and which must be neglected, to a great extent, if women are allowed to exercise all the "rights" that are claimed by these Convention-holders. Society would have to be radically remodelled in order to accommodate itself to so great a change in the most vital part of the compact of the social relations of life; and the order of things established at the creation of mankind, and continued six thousand years, would be completely broken up. The organic laws of our country, and of each State, would have to be licked into new shape, in order to admit of the introduction of the vast change that is contemplated. In a thousand other ways that might be mentioned, if we had room to make, and our readers had patience to hear them, would this sweeping reform be attended by fundamental changes in public and private, civil and religious, moral and social relations of the sexes, of life, and of the Government.

  But this change is impractical, uncalled for, and unnecessary. If effected, it would set the world by the ears, make "confusion worse confounded," demoralize and degrade from their high sphere and noble destiny, women of all respectable and useful classes, and prove a monstrous injury to all mankind. It would be productive of no positive good, that would not be outweighed tenfold by positive evil. It would alter the relations of females without bettering their condition. Besides all, and above all, it presents no remedy for the real evils, that the millions of industrious, hard-working, and much suffering women of our country groan under and seek to redress.— Mechanic's (Albany, N.Y.) Advocate.


  A female Convention has just been held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., at which was adopted a "declaration of rights," setting forth, among other things, that "all men and women are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." The list of grievances which the Amazons exhibit, concludes by expressing a determination to insist that women shall have "immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States." It is stated that they design, in spite of all misrepresentations and ridicule, to employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and press in their behalf. This is bolting with a vengeance.—Worcester (Mass.) Telegraph.


  The women in various parts of the State have taken the field in favor of a petticoat empire, with a zeal and energy which show that their hearts are in the cause, and that they are resolved no longer to submit to the tyrannical rule of the heartless "lords of creation," but have solemnly determined to demand their "natural and inalienable right" to attend the polls, and assist in electing our Presidents, and Governors, and Members of Congress and State Representatives, and Sheriffs, and County Clerks, and Supervisors, and Constables, &c., &c., and to unite in the general scramble for office. This is right and proper. It is but just that they should participate in the beautiful and feminine business of politics, and enjoy their proportion of the "spoils of victory." Nature never designed that they should be confined exclusively to the drudgery of raising children, and superintending the kitchens, and to the performance of the various other household duties which the cruelty of men and the customs of society have so long assigned to them. This is emphatically the age of "democratic progression," of equality and fraternization—the age when all colors and sexes, the bond and the free, black and white, male and female, are, as they by right ought to be, all tending downward and upward toward the common level of equality.

  The harmony of this great movement in the cause of freedom would not be perfect, if women were still to be confined to petticoats, and men to breeches. There must be an "interchange" of these "commodities" to complete the system. Why should it not be so? Can women not fill an office, or cast a vote, or conduct a campaign, as judiciously and vigorously as men? And, on the other hand, can not men "nurse" the


babies, or preside at the wash-tub, or boil a pot as safely and as well as women? If they can not, the evil is in that arbitrary organization of society which has excluded them from the practice of these pursuits. It is time these false notions and practices were changed, or, rather, removed, and for the political millennium foreshadowed by this petticoat movement to be ushered in. Let the women keep the ball moving, so bravely started by those who have become tired of the restraints imposed upon them by the antediluvian notions of a Paul or the tyranny of man.—Rochester (N.Y.) Daily Advertiser, Henry Montgomery, Editor.

  "PROGRESS," is the grand bubble which is now blown up to balloon bulk by the windy philosophers of the age. The women folks have just held a Convention up in New York State, and passed a sort of "bill or rights," affirming it their right to vote, to become teachers, legislators, lawyers, divines, and do all and sundries the "lords" may, and of right now do. They should have resolved at the same time, that it was obligatory upon the "lords" aforesaid, to wash dishes, scour up, be put to the tub, handle the broom, darn stockings, patch breeches, scold the servants, dress in the latest fashion, wear trinkets, look beautiful, and be as fascinating as those blessed morsels of humanity whom God gave to preserve that rough animal man, in something like a reasonable civilization. "Progress!" Progress, forever!—Lowell (Mass.) Courier.

  To us they appear extremely dull and uninteresting, and, aside from their novelty, hardly worth notice.—Rochester Advertiser.

  This has been a remarkable Convention. It was composed of those holding to some one of the various isms of the day, and some, we should think, who embraced them all. The only practical good proposed—the adoption of measures for the relief and amelioration of the condition of indigent, industrious, laboring females—was almost scouted by the leading ones composing the meeting. The great effort seemed to be to bring out some new, impracticable, absurd, and ridiculous proposition, and the greater its absurdity the better. In short, it was a regular emeute of a congregation of females gathered from various quarters, who seem to be really in earnest in their aim at revolution, and who evince entire confidence that "the day of their deliverance is at hand." Verily, this is a progressive era!—Rochester Democrat.


  Our Philadelphia ladies not only possess beauty, but they are celebrated for discretion, modesty, and unfeigned diffidence, as well as wit, vivacity, and good nature. Whoever heard of a Philadelphia lady setting up for a reformer, or standing out for woman's rights, or assisting to man the election grounds, raise a regiment, command a legion, or address a jury? Our ladies glow with a higher ambition. They soar to rule the hearts of their worshipers, and secure obedience by the sceptre of affection. The tenure of their power is a law of nature, not a law of man, and hence they fear no insurrection, and never experience the shock of a revolution in their dominions. But all women are not as reasonable as ours of Philadelphia. The Boston ladies contend for the rights of women. The New York girls aspire to mount the rostrum, to do all the voting, and, we suppose, all the fighting too. . . . Our Philadelphia girls object to fighting and to holding office. They prefer the baby-jumper to the study of Coke and Lyttleton, and the ball-room to the Palo Alto battle. They object to having a George Sand for President of the United States; a Corinna for Governor; a Fanny Wright for Mayor; or a Mrs. Partington for Postmaster. . . . Women have enough influence over human affairs without being politicians. Is not everything managed by female influence? Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sweethearts manage everything. Men have nothing to do but to listen and obey to the "of course, my dear, you will, and of course, my dear, you won't." Their rule is absolute; their power unbounded. Under such a system men have no claim to rights, especially "equal rights."

  A woman is nobody. A wife is everything. A pretty girl is equal to ten thousand men, and a mother is, next to God, all powerful. . . . The women of Philadelphia, therefore, under the influence of the most serious "sober second thoughts," are resolved to maintain their rights as Wives, Belles, Virgins, and Mothers, and not as Women."—Philadelphia Ledger and Daily Transcript.



  This is the age of revolutions. To whatever part of the world the attention is directed, the political and social fabric is crumbling to pieces; and changes which far exceed the wildest dreams of the enthusiastic Utopians of the last generation, are now pursued with ardor and perseverance. The principal agent, however, that has hitherto taken part in these movements has been the rougher sex. It was by man the flame of liberty, now burning with such fury on the continent of Europe, was first kindled; and though it is asserted that no inconsiderable assistance was contributed by the gentler sex to the late sanguinary carnage at Paris, we are disposed to believe that such a revolting imputation proceeds from base calumniators, and is a libel upon woman.

  By the intelligence, however, which we have lately received, the work of revolution is no longer confined to the Old World, nor to the masculine gender. The flag of independence has been hoisted, for a second time, on this side of the Atlantic; and a solemn league and covenant has just been entered into by a Convention of women at Seneca Falls, to "throw off the despotism under which they are groaning, and provide new guards for their future security." Little did we expect this new element to be thrown into the cauldron of agitation which is now bubbling around us with such fury. We have had one Baltimore Convention, one Philadelphia Convention, one Utica Convention, and we shall also have, in a few days, the Buffalo Convention. But we never dreamed that Lucretia Mott had convened a fifth Convention, which, if it be ratified by those whom it proposes to represent, will exercise an influence that will not only control our own Presidential elections, but the whole governmental system throughout the world. . . . The declaration is a most interesting document. We published it in extenso the other day. The amusing part is the preamble, where they assert their equality, and that they have certain inalienable rights, to secure which governments, deriving their powers from the just consent of the governed, are instituted; and that after the long train of abuses and usurpations to which they have been subjected, evincing a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government.

  The declaration is, in some respects, defective. It complains of the want of the elective franchise, and that ladies are not recognized as teachers of theology, medicine, and law. . . . These departments, however, do not compose the whole of the avenues to wealth, distinction, and honor. We do not see by what principle of right the angelic creatures should claim to compete with the preacher, and refuse to enter the lists with the merchant. A lawyer's brief would not, we admit, sully the hands so much as the tarry ropes of a man-of-war; and a box of Brandreth's pills are more safely and easily prepared than sheets of a boiler, or the flukes of an anchor; but if they must have competition in one branch, why not in another? There must be not monopoly or exclusiveness. If they will put on the inexpressibles, it will not do to select those occupations only which require the least exertion and are exempt from danger. The laborious employments, however, are not the only ones which the ladies, in right of their admission to all rights and privileges, would have to undertake. It might happen that the citizen would have to doff the apron and buckle on the sword. Now, though we have the most perfect confidence in the courage and daring of Miss Lucretia Mott and several others of our lady acquaintances, we confess it would go to our hearts to see them putting on the panoply of war, and mixing in scenes like those at which, it is said, the fair sex at Paris lately took prominent part.

  It is not the business, however, of the despot to decide upon the rights of his victims; nor do we undertake to define the duties of women. Their standard is now unfurled by their own hands. The Convention of Seneca Falls has appealed to the country. Miss Lucretia Mott has propounded the principles of the party. Ratification meetings will no doubt shortly be held, and if it be the general impression that this lady is a more eligible candidate for the Presidential chair than McLean or Cass, Van Buren or old "Rough and Ready," then let the Salic laws be abolished forthwith from this great Republic. We are much mistaken if Lucretia would not make a better President than some of those who have lately tenanted the White House.—New York Herald, James Gordon Bennett, Proprietor.