Seneca Falls Declaration, 1848
The following is the Declaration of Sentiments. This document was written and presented at the first women’s rights convention that was organized by women in 1848.
1. When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one
2. portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a
3. position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to
4. which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect
5. to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
6. that impel them to such a course.
7. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are
8. created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
9. inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit
10. of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted,
11. deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever
12. any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the
13. right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist
14. upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such
15. principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall
16. seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
17. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established
18. should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly
19. all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer,
20. while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the
21. forms to which they were accustomed. But when a long train of abuses
22. and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design
23. to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off
24. such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
25. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government,
26. and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal
27. station to which they are entitled.
28. The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations
29. on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment
30. of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a
31. candid world.
32. He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the
33. elective franchise.
34. He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had
35. no voice.
36. He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and
37. degraded men--both natives and foreigners.
38. Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise,
39. thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has
40. oppressed her on all sides.
41. He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
42. He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
43. He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many
44. crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband.
45. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her
46. husband, he becoming to all intents and purposes, her master--the law
47. giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer
49. He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper
50. causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children
51. shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women--the
52. law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man,
53. and giving all power into his hands.
54. After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner
55. of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes
56. her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
57. He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those
58. she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes
59. against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers
60. most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law,
61. she is not known.
62. He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all
63. colleges being closed against her.
64. He allows her in Church, as well as State, but a subordinate position,
65. claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with
66. some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.
67. He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different
68. code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which
69. exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little
70. account in man.
71. He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right
72. to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience
73. and to her God.
74. He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence
75. in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to
76. lead a dependent and abject life.
77. Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this
78. country, their social and religious degradation--in view of the unjust laws
79. above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved,
80. oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we
81. insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and
82. privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.
83. In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small
84. amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we
85. shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object.
86. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National
87. legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf.
88. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions
89. embracing every part of the country.
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