Lucretia Mott, “Declaration of Sentiments” (1848)

Declaration of Sentiments and

Elizabeth Cady Stanton et al.

Seneca Falls (1848)

On the morning of the 19th, the Convention assembled at 11 o’clock. . . . The Declaration of
Sentiments, offered for the acceptance of the Convention, was then read by E. C. Stanton. A
proposition was made to have it re-read by paragraph, and after much consideration, some changes
were suggested and adopted. The propriety of obtaining the signatures of men to the Declaration
was discussed in an animated manner: a vote in favor was given; but concluding that the final
decision would be the legitimate business of the next day, it was referred.
[In the afternoon] The reading of the Declaration was called for, an addition having been
inserted since the morning session. A vote taken upon the amendment was carried, and papers
circulated to obtain signatures. The following resolutions were then read:
Whereas, the great precept of nature is conceded to be, “that man shall pursue his own true and
substantial happiness,” Blackstone, in his Commentaries, remarks, that this law of Nature being
coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other.1
It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if
contrary to this, and such of them as are valid, derive all their force, and all their validity, and all
their authority, mediately and immediately, from this original; Therefore,
Resolved, That such laws as conflict, in any way, with the true and substantial happiness of
woman, are contrary to the great precept of nature, and of no validity; for this is “superior in
obligation to any other.
Resolved, That all laws which prevent woman from occupying such a station in society as her
conscience shall dictate, or which place her in a position inferior to that of man, are contrary to the
great precept of nature, and therefore of no force or authority.
Resolved, That woman is man’s equal—was intended to be so by the Creator, and the highest
good of the race demands that she should be recognized as such.
Resolved, That the women of this country ought to be enlightened in regard to the laws under
which they -live, that they may no longer publish their degradation, by declaring themselves
satisfied with their present position, nor their ignorance, by asserting that they have all the rights
they want.
Resolved, That inasmuch as man, while claiming for himself intellectual superiority, does accord
to woman moral superiority, it is pre-eminently his duty to encourage her to speak, and teach, as
she has an opportunity, in all religious assemblies.
Resolved, That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior, that is required
of woman in the social state, should also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be
visited with equal severity on both man and woman.
Resolved, That the objection of indelicacy and impropriety, which is so often brought against
woman when she addresses a public audience, comes with a very ill grace from those who
encourage, by their attendance, her appearance on the stage, in the concert, or in the feats of the
Resolved, That woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt
customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time
she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.2
Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred
right to the elective franchise.
Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of
the race in capabilities and responsibilities.
Resolved, therefore, That, being invested by the Creator with the same capabilities, and the same
consciousness of responsibility for their exercise, it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman,
equally with man, to promote every righteous cause, by every righteous means; and especially in
regard to the great subjects of morals and religion, it is self-evidently her right to participate with
her brother in teaching them, both in private and in public, by writing and by speaking, by any
instrumentalities proper to be used, and in any assemblies proper to be held; and this being a selfevident
truth, growing out of the divinely implanted principles of human nature, any custom or
authority adverse to it, whether modern or wearing the hoary sanction of antiquity, is to be
regarded as self-evident falsehood, and at war with the interests of mankind.
Thursday Morning.
The Convention assembled at the hour appointed, James Mott, of Philadelphia, in the Chair. The
minutes of the previous day having been read, E. C. Stanton again read the Declaration of
Sentiments, which was freely discussed . . . and was unanimously adopted, as follows:
Declaration of Sentiments.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man
to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto
occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to
the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just
powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon
the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its
powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light
and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they
are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same
object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such
government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient
sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains
them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man
toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove
this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men—both
natives and foreigners.
Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her
without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with
impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is
compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her
master—the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce; in case of
separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of
the happiness of women—the law, in all cases, going upon the false supposition of the supremacy of
man, and giving all power into his hands.
After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has
taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made
profitable to it.
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to
follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.
He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most
honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education—all colleges being closed
against her.
He allows her in Church as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic
authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public
participation in the affairs of the Church.
He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world a different code of morals for
men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only
tolerated but deemed of little account in man.
He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a
sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.
He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to
lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social
and religious degradation,—in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do
feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we
insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as
citizens of these United States.
In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception,
misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect
our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and
endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.We hope this Convention will be followed
by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.
Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and the True, we do this day affix our
signatures to this declaration.
At the appointed hour the meeting convened. The minutes having been read, the resolutions of
the day before were read and taken up separately. Some, from their self-evident truth, elicited but

little remark; others, after some criticism, much debate, and some slight alterations, were finally
passed by a large majority.
[At an evening session] Lucretia Mott offered and spoke to the following resolution:
Resolved, That the speedy success of our cause depends upon the zealous and untiring efforts of
both men and women, for the overthrow of the monopoly of the pulpit, and for the securing to
woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions and commerce.
The Resolution was adopted.

Source: The Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony Papers Project, Rutgers University

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