EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally published on the Huffington Post.
One-hundred sixty-five years ago this week on July 19-20 1848, 300 women and men met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and rights of Woman." The gathering, called the Seneca Falls Convention, produced one of the nation's most important historical documents advocating women's rights - the monumental "Declaration of Sentiments" - planting the seed for the fight for women's suffrage in America, and indirectly for the formation of the League of Women Voters, which would later champion the issue.
Written primarily by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Declaration of Sentiments parodies the Declaration of Independence, which Congress had passed over 70 years earlier. But instead of arguing for America's freedom from the "tyranny" of British control, the Declaration of Sentiments argues for women's freedom from the "tyranny" of patriarchy. Whereas the Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that it is self-evident that "all men are created equal," the Declaration of Sentiments boldly asserts that "all men and women" are equal. The document points out the "patient sufferance" not of "men" or "mankind," but of American women, who were oppressed by an undemocratic government that failed to allow them to possess property rights, speak in public, file for divorce, manage their own wages and attend college.
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