Declaration of Sentiments: The Seneca Falls Convention

July is National Hot Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month in the United States, with millions of hot dogs consumed during the July 4th celebrations. The average American consumes about 4 gallons of ice cream per year, contributing to an ice cream industry that generates over $13 billion to the national economy, creating jobs and direct wages. President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day.

While some people enjoyed refreshing cool treats in July of the 1840s, a significant event took place in Seneca Falls, New York.

This town hosted a convention where a group of women gathered to discuss life rights that would enable them to make decisions impacting them directly. The convention on July 19th and 20th, 1843, is considered the birthplace of American feminism. The women showed tremendous courage and determination in the face of societal norms and expectations.

According to Webster’s dictionary, feminism is the belief in and advocacy for the sexes’ political, economic, and social equality, expressed through organized activities on behalf of women’s rights and interests. At the Seneca Falls convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted The Declaration of Sentiments, a document that became a cornerstone of the women’s rights movement. It was signed by 68 women and 32 men, including Frederick Douglass. The document was modeled after the Declaration of Independence, symbolizing women’s fight for equality and freedom. There were over 300 attendees at the convention, organized by Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Mott was actively known to speak out against slavery and for women’s rights.

As a result of the convention, 11 resolutions were passed, except the right for women to vote at that time.

It took another 72 years for women to gain the right to vote, and this still did not include all women or minorities obtaining voting rights. The courage and determination of these women in the face of societal norms and expectations is truly inspiring.

Feminist statue of woman holding banner that reads "courage calls to courage everywhere"