Women's Rights Movement

By: Sophie Henneman

Goals and Tactics

Beginning in the early 1800's, many women began wanting to branch out from their life of keeping the house and caring for the children to become more independent. Prior to the Women's Rights movement, many people believed a women's place was in the home. This was known as the "Cult of True Womanhood," which was a theory developed in Britain that a "true" woman was a wife who was a mother that was only concerned with the home. This idea was not the case anymore, and women wanted voting rights, an education, jobs, and equality in general. These ideas of a new womanhood especially began emerging during the Jacksonian era, because many north businessmen were pushing towards abolitionism, and women were exposed to these politics. This was a beginning factor to the Women's Rights Movement. Also, 1820 initiated an industrial revolution, where factories were created to do the jobs women previously did at home.

In 1848, a group of mostly abolitionist women, but some men, gathered in Seneca Falls NY to discuss problems with women's rights. At this convention, the Declaration of Sentiments was created and signed by 68 women and 32 men. This declaration established 12 main resolutions for the fair treatment of men and women under the law. These included equality in education, property, voting and many other issues. The main resolution that was the goal of this document was to establish an amendment to the constitution that altered rights for women. After the convention, the movement spread very quickly and more conventions were held throughout the country in the 1850's. However, this activity was mostly in the North and West before the Civil War.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a dominant figure in the Seneca Falls convention and many women's rights movements. She was relatable to women in the time period because she was a housewife with three children. At the convention, she suggested that a declaration on women's rights should be modeled after the Declaration of Independence, by saying that all men AND WOMEN are created equal. This document became the Declaration of Sentiments.

Lucretia Mott was also a dominant figure in the Seneca Falls Convention. Although Elizabeth Cady Stanton is usually most credited with women's suffrage rights, Mott's mentoring of Stanton and their working together helped inspire the event.

Amelia Bloomer became the editor of the first newspaper for women, The Lily, in 1849. She lived in Seneca Falls, NY, and was greatly influenced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She argued that the tight clothing women wore, such as corsets, was unhealthy and restrictive.

Catherine Beecher was a huge advocate for women's education. In 1823, she opened the Hartford Female Seminary, where she taught until 1832. She then moved to the west and continued to advocate for women's education. She was instrumental in the founding of women's colleges all over the country.

Accomplishments Before the Civil War (1861)

Unfortunately, women did not achieve many of their goals until much after the Civil War. However, there were some small victories before the Civil War. Women began being accepted into large universities, if there was a spot open. They were still seen much less than men, but they could still receive an education. Vassar college in New York, established in 1861, was the first women's college that had actual curriculum and academic standards as high as men's colleges. For the first time, women could take courses about art history, physical education, astronomy, music, math and chemistry taught by top ranked professors. There were private schools for women before this, such as that established by Catherine Beecher, but not any type of education that was as quality as Vassar college. This higher education opportunities helped some women, mostly single women, find jobs that are not inside the home, such as factory jobs and being nurses. Also, in 1839 some states allowed women to own property, with the permission of their husband, which is a small but significant victory. During the Civil War, the fight for women's rights came to a lull, but it fired up again after the war and women's suffrage was gained by the nineteenth amendment in 1920.

Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage
This video is about women wanting the right to vote, and they wanted to be equal to men. This is a good video to use because it shows that women can have children, care for their families, but still have a brain and freedom. Some of this video is inaccurate about the time period discussed in my project, because this video talks about the women's suffrage movements after the Civil War. However, the ideas of women in this time period were inspired by ideas from people before the Civil War. The concept is the same in that women wanted to be equal to men in education, property, relationships, jobs, and voting.