The Birth of a Movement, 175 Years Ago This Week

The number of horse-drawn wagons increased at every crossroads, becoming a stately procession, headed to the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls. All the drivers of those wagons had seen the notice in the Seneca County Courier, for “A convention to discuss the social, civic, and religious condition and rights of Woman.”

None of the 300 people arriving in these buggies and wagons predicted they were about to create a history-making moment in time. The Seneca Falls Convention is now known as the ‘origin story’ of the American Women’s Rights Movement. It took place 175 years ago this week, July 19- 20, 1848, and it changed our lives.

It was not a diverse crowd: mostly white men and women, but with one distinguished exception. Frederick Douglass, orator, publisher, and former slave, would play a crucial role in the upcoming meeting. Although this meeting would take place on former Indian lands, and gathered hundreds of reform-minded folks, Native Americans were not present, at least not physically. Organizer Lucretia Mott had spent time with the Seneca tribe, part of the Haudenosaunee Confederation, that is sometimes called the Iroquois Nation. She carried into the conversation her memories observing gender equality first-hand.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the five organizers of the convention, had the temerity to declare, “all men and women are equal,” a totally radical notion in 1848. At that time, women had no right to inherit property or to keep their wages, to obtain higher education, or have custody of her children. Building on that declaration, Stanton then proposed women have the right to vote. Many thought that was a bridge too far, until Frederick Douglass gave an impassioned speech in favor of women’s suffrage, and Stanton’s proposal passed.

Today, women have a PURSE (control of their wages and the ability to inherit), they have an EDUCATION and the VOTE. With these tools secured, our next step now is representation at every table where decisions are made, including government. Again, Elizabeth Cady Stanton led the way in representation, as the first woman to run for Congress . . .in 1866, long before women could vote. She received 24 votes. In her sometimes sardonic style, she quipped that her only regret was that she did not have a picture of herself with her 24 supporters.

This week, let us celebrate these women and men in the past who dared to challenge the status quo and propose equality for women.

Join us from August 18-26 for four events bringing HERstory to LIFE, with our program:
“From Rotten Eggs to Respect” An All-New Program featuring Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, and the ANTI-Suffrage leader of Tennessee.
The anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment is a great time to celebrate the progress toward women’s equality (realizing we are not yet equal).
Our LIVE performances are:
Friday, Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. premier in Crestwood – 9490 Watson Rd, 63126
Monday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Middendorf-Kredell Library 2750 Hwy K, O’Fallon, MO 63368
Friday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. Webster Groves Public Library, 301 E. Lockwood Avenue, 63119
Saturday, Aug. 26, 1:30 p.m. Campbell House Museum, 1508 Locust Street, St. Louis, 63103 (entrance without steps on 15th street) Take a tour afterwards!

1 thought on “The Birth of a Movement, 175 Years Ago This Week”

  1. Thanks for the information. I would love to join you but we will be out of the country in August. Please keep me on your contact list for future events. Lemont Curry

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