Women's Rights Movement

The fight for equality between men and women

Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone was an early advocate of antislavery and women’s rights. She did not participate in the First Woman's Rights Convention, but she was an organizer of the 1850 Worcester First National Woman’s Rights Convention. Lucy Stone participated in the 1852, 1853, and 1855 national woman’s rights conventions, and was president of the 1856 National Woman’s Rights Convention held in New York, New York.
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Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony was one of the most famous woman's suffrage leaders of her generation. Anthony traveled the country to give speeches, circulate petitions, and organize local women’s rights organizations. In 1853 Anthony campaigned for women's property rights in New York State, speaking at meetings, collecting signatures for petitions, and lobbying the state legislature. Anthony circulated petitions for married women's property rights and woman suffrage. Throughout all of this, she encountered hostile mobs, armed threats, and things thrown at her.
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Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stanton called for the first women's rights convention in the United States in 1848 at Seneca Falls, N.Y. Stanton insisted that a suffrage clause be included in the bill of rights for women that was drawn up at the convention. She strove for legal, political, and industrial equality of women and for liberal divorce laws. From 1852, she was intimately associated with Susan B. Anthony in leading the women's movement.
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Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Coffin Mott, a Quaker minister, protested injustices against women and slaves. Mott was a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Following the Seneca Falls convention, Mott continued her crusade for women’s equality by speaking at ensuing annual women’s rights conventions and publishing Discourse on Women- a reasoned account of the history of women’s repression.
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Woman were fighting for the right to vote and believed that they deserved their own political identities. Woman wanted equality, consent, representation, and national citizenship. Activists campaigned for married women's property rights, equal custody rights, a wife's contractual right to keep her wages, and, by 1860, women's right to divorce. In the West, where women had to work full-time on the farm the same as men did, suffrage was received better. In the North, women were treated as weak and less intelligent than men.


In 1848, a group of abolitionist activists–mostly women, but some men–gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to discuss the problem of women’s rights. The Declaration of Sentiments was made here and it listed 18 injustices and 11 resolutions demanding the recognition of women as equal members of society. Activists organized local and national women's rights conventions in Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Activists would usually hold conventions when states were revising their constitutions. Holding conventions and meetings was restricted, however, to only the North and the West.

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In 1848, New York State passed the first Married Woman's Property Act. Women began to be admitted to some Midwestern universities in the 1850s and 1860s, but only when the universities were short of students. Susan B. Anthony begin a campaign for women's rights during 1853-1854. Within a few months, she had secured over 10,000 signatures for her petition to the New York Legislature. New York passed the "first comprehensive reform in women's legal status, including full property, parental, and widow's rights, but no enfranchisement." During the 1850s, the women’s rights movement gathered steam, but lost momentum when the Civil War began as women concentrated on abolition.