Women's Rights Movement

Abby Allard, Reform Topics

Leaders and Their Contributions

Elizabeth Cady Stanton :

In July 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the First Woman's Rights Convention, known as the Seneca Falls Convention, with several other women. At this meeting, Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments”. This document proposed that women be granted the right to vote, equal pay, and equality in society and the workplace.

In the 1850's, Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked with Susan B Anthony and helped bring about the right to divorce in the United States. Stanton and Anthony also continued to preach for the right to vote.

In 1854, Stanton described the legal restrictions against women in a speech given to the New York State Woman's Rights Convention in Albany. Her speech was printed in news papers, and presented to lawmakers in the NYS Legislature. It was one of the first women's rights speeches to be recorded and printed for the general public.


Sojourner Truth

An abolitionist and feminist, Sojourner Truth is remembered for her speeches about freedom and women's rights. She was very aggressive during her teachings, and often called out individuals to prove a point.

In 1826, Truth escaped slavery with her infant daughter. Shortly after her escape, Truth learned that her son had been illegally sold to a man in Alabama. She took the issue to court and secured Peter's return to the north. This case was one of the first in the United States to have the winner be a black woman.

In 1851, Sojourner Truth gave her most famous speech on racial and gender inequalities, titled, "Ain't I a Woman?". Delivered at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention, it is remarked as her most moving and riveting speech. Her most important legacy was in the tone and substance of her language. As an old woman raised to speak Dutch, her English was spotty and she had weak grammar. But the tone of her voice was powerful enough to speak for itself. Few activists have better described her as a feminist with the most drive and determination.


Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony got her start in the temperence movement. At one convention, she was not allowed to speak because she was a woman, and this lead her into a life dedicated to the women's rights movement. She mainly campaigned for the right to vote, the right to own property and retain earnings, women's labor, and advanced schooling for women.

In 1846, at age 26, Anthony took the position of head of the girls' department at Canajoharie Academy, and taught for 2 years.

In 1848, she joined the Daughters of Temperance, an organization advising families on the dangers of alcohol. Here, she made her first public speech at a Daughters of Temperance supper. In 1849, she became president of the Rochester Branch.

In 1851, she was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Anthony was convinced by her work for temperance that women needed to vote in order to influence public affairs. In 1852, she attended her first women's rights convention in Syracuse with Stanton.

In 1853, at the state teachers' convention Anthony called for women to be admitted to the professions and for better pay for women teachers. She also asked for women to have a voice at the convention and to assume committee positions. Also, in 1853, Anthony was refused the right to speak at the state convention of the Sons of Temperance in Albany. She left the meeting and called her own. So, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the Women's State Temperance Society with the goal of petitioning the State legislature to pass a law limiting the sale of liquor.

In 1859 Anthony spoke before the state teachers' convention at Troy, N.Y. and at the Massachusetts teachers' convention, arguing for coeducation (boys and girls together) and claiming there were no differences between the minds of men and women.

Susan B. Anthony advocated dress reform for women. She cut her hair and wore the bloomer costume for a year before ridicule convinced her that this radical dress

Description of Goals and Tactics

Suffrage: The right to vote in any and all voting opportunities.

  • Women did not have any say in Congress, they didn’t have the right to vote.

  • In order to get the right to vote, women had to convince members of the Congress to pass a law in the USA so that they could vote.

  • Women needed to convince senators and representatives that they deserved the right to vote, many would not go for it.

  • In order to do this, they held official meeting with members of congress with many ideas on the significance of having women voters

Pay Equality and payment holding: Women did not get paid the same amount as men and had to forfeit their makings to their husbands

  • Every dollar that women made went back to the husband so that he could use it on the house and on the family, so essentially every dollar women worked for got paid to the men

  • They made the same amount of money as children in the factories

  • In order to recieve equal pay, women would strike against the factories, most famous were the Lowell Mill Girls, who would throw strikes to increase pay

Changing viewpoints

  • Patriarchal society, men at the head of the house, women were not equal

  • Women wanted to not only recieve equality, but be viewed as equals.

  • They threw conventions, such as the Seneca Falls Convention, to talk about what they needed in order to be seen as equals. Both men and women attended.

Women would throw peaceful protests, including strikes, conventions, meetings with local representatives, etc.

Major Achievements, until 1850

1819: Emma Hart Willard writes her "Plan for Improving Female Education," which calls for a publicly funded educational institution for women. In 1821, she opens a school in Troy, NY with the tax funds from the city.

1826: The first public high schools for girls open in New York City and Boston.

1828: Former slave Isabella van Wagener obtains her freedom and later takes the name Sojourner Truth. She begins to preach against slavery throughout New York and New England. In 1850, she encounters the women’s rights movement and incorporates its cause to hers. In 1851 she delivers her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention to an enthralled audience, cementing her reputation as a dynamic speaker. During the Civil War she supports black volunteer regiments and is received by President Abraham Lincoln at the White House.

1833: Oberlin College in Ohio opens as the first co-educational college in the U.S.

1838: Mount Holyoke College is established in Massachusetts as first college for women.

1848: The first woman's rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York. Attended by 300 people including 40 men. Discussions range from the reforming marriage and property laws to a woman’s right to vote. In the end, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments calling for equal treatment of women and men under law and voting rights for women. The catalyst for this convention is the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840 and attended by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The women are forced to sit in the gallery as observers because they were women.

1849: Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Women doctors are permitted to legally practice medicine for the first time.

1850: Women are granted the right to own land in a state (Oregon)

1850: The Female (later Women's) Medical College is founded in Pennsylvania.