The Women's Rights Movement of the 1800s
For many years, women have not experienced the same freedoms as men. Being a woman, I am extremely grateful to those women who, many years ago, fought against social standards that were so constricting to women. Today, women can vote, own property instead of being property, live anywhere and have any career which she may choose. One of the biggest reasons I have for choosing this topic was to find out what these women did to make a difference, not only in their lives, but in the lives of so many future generations. How does one group of disrespected, non-voting, non-working women, gain the attention of the rest of the world? They changed history for themselves and the rest of the nation. What I would like to highlight in this writing is who was responsible for this revolution, what were their motives, when did they get their start, where did it all begin and, most importantly, why did they feel it was so necessary to make changes in the first place? The women of the 1800's began their fight for independence by supporting the abolitionist movement. When they were denied admittance to the World-Wide Anti-Slavery convention, the realization came that they, too, were functioning in society without the complete freedom afforded to their male counterparts. Some of the women responsible for the revolution of the 1800's included Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Wright and Susan B. Anthony. Each had a certain plank in the platform of women's rights that they wished to promote. The American Anti-Slavery Society began the fight to abolish slavery. It was headed by a woman named Lucretia Mott. Much like the Equal Rights Movement of the 1960's, the anti-slavery movement became linked with the women's rights efforts. The issue was the moral corruption of slavery and the morality of the inequality of women.' Women were not given any of the same considerations of the men in the United States. Lucretia Mott was more interested in the rights of women than in suffrage; however, the organization with which she did most of her anti-slavery work became allied with the woman suffrage plank. Her attitude was summed up in this quote: "Far be it from me to encourage women to vote or take an active part in the politics..." Yet she did believe that, along with the rights she was fighting for, suffrage should be included. She further stated: "[woman's] right to the elective franchise...should be yielded to her, 1 Stephenson, June. WOMEN'S ROOTS. Napa, CA: Diemer Smith, 1988. whether she exercise that right or not."'
It seemed to follow that equality would entail the right to vote, but other women wanted to make sure it was something that was right out front as an issue. This was not necessarily the view of all of the women of the day. There was much public criticism of the suffrage movement and the proper ladies of the 1800's would not go against the wishes of their husbands to join something that was so controversial. The anti-slave movement gave the suffragists a chance to be heard in a forum that was accepted. Lucretia Mott and another woman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, traveled to London as American delegates to the World-Wide Anti-Slavery Convention. After the men of the convention voted against allowing women in the convention, these women had to be observers to the very convention that their issues had wrought. Upon arriving back to the U.S., the women took up their assumed roles in the family as wives and mothers, but the fire burned within them and the oppression was ever present. After reuniting in 1848, following their rejection from the World-Wide Anti-Slavery Convention, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided to hold a convention for women's rights. This meeting was held in Seneca Falls, hence the name Seneca Falls Convention. The platform of this convention was revolution: it related the tyranny over the colonists to the tyranny of men over women. The women came up with...
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