Little Bits of History

National Women’s Rights Convention

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2014
Mott, Stanton, Susan B Anthony

Lucretia Mott, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

October 23, 1850: The first National Women’s Rights Convention begins. In 1840, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton went to London with their husbands for the first World Anti-Slavery Convention. The women were not permitted to participate but they became friends and planned to organize their own convention in support of women’s rights. It took them several years, but in 1948 they along with three other women worked to create the Seneca Falls Convention, an event attended by about 300 people and lasting two days. There were about 40 men in attendance causing dissention until Frederick Douglass took the podium and gave an impassioned speech on women’s suffrage.

The success of the first convention spurred the women on hoping to have these meetings in each state. Lucretia Mott was a drawing card and would only be in the area for a short time and so a Regional Women’s Rights Convention was called within a few weeks. It wasn’t until April 1850 before Ohio women began to petition their constitutional convention for women’s equal legal an political rights. Lucy Stone was leader in that state. She partnered with Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis to work toward this goal and eventually this led them to plan a National Convention. They began contacting other women to attend and speak. Stanton was one of the women sought as a speaker but she was unable to attend, due to the timing of her pregnancy.

Stone went to visit her brother who died of cholera shortly after her arrival. She was left to settle his affairs and accompany his pregnant widow back east. Fearing this would not allow her to attend the convention, she sent messages ahead and asked Davis to lead the convention in her stead. The affair had been scheduled for October 16 and 17. While traveling east, Stone contracted typhoid fever and was near death in Indiana. Since she was the leading signatory, the convention was delayed and Stone made it back to Massachusetts just two weeks before the opening.

There were 900 people at the first session, the majority of them men. Several newspapers reported on the event and over 1,000 people were there by the afternoon with more turned away at the doors. Delegates came from eleven states including one from California, a state admitted only a few weeks before. The National Women’s Rights Convention was held yearly from 1850 through 1860 but was interrupted by the US Civil War. Two more events were held after the end of the war. It would take decades longer before women were considered to be able to handle the vote and given a voice in the rule of the land. Their equal treatment under the law is still somewhat spotty and the Equal Rights Amendment failed ratification before the March 22, 1979 deadline. Even with an extension to June 30, 1982, the ERA could not pass.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives. – Jane Austen

I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves. – Mary Wollstonecraft

Humankind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible for humankind to grow by the improvement of only one part while the other part is ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains that the other half can soar into skies? – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

There could be a powerful international women’s rights movement if only philanthropists would donate as much to real women as to paintings and sculptures of women. – Nicholas D. Kristof

Also on this day: Fore – In 1930, the first miniature golf tournament was held.
Bump! Boom! – In 1958, the Springhill mining disaster struck.
Poison Gas – In 2002, the Moscow Theater Hostage Crisis began.
Schtroumpfs – In 1958, the Belgian comic strip debuted.

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