Open thread for night owls: The Seneca Falls women's rights resolutions of July 19-20, 1848
On July 19-20 170 years ago, people gathered in Seneca Falls, N.Y., for what has since been billed as the world’s first women’s rights convention and the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. The media of the day, newspapers and pulpits, trashed the convention.
While sources differ, as they often do when it comes to numbers, historians generally say that about 300 people attended, including about 40 men. All but one of the attendees was white. That exception was the abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Frederick Douglass, the only African American at the convention.
The idea had been sparked in 1840 during the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London. Lucretia Mott had gone to the convention with her husband, but being a woman, she was not allowed to speak on the floor and could only watch the proceedings behind a partition where she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In her diary Mott fumed that the “World” part in the title of the convention, «was mere poetical license.» Eventually, as a consequence of being sequestered away from the action, they came up with their plan for a women’s convention.
For presentation in 1848, Stanton composed the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence and calling for rights for women. At the convention, 12 resolutions were presented for consideration. The most contentious: a resolution demanding voting rights for women. The most prominent foe: Mott herself. She said «Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous.»
Men were specifically asked not to come to the first day of the convention, but 40 did anyway. So the women let them in but told them they could not speak on the first day. Douglass spoke anyway, eloquently and lengthily pushing suffrage on the ground that voting «was the right by which all others could be secured.» For two days, the attendees debated and argued and ultimately passed all dozen resolutions. Approval was unanimous except for the suffrage resolution, which carried by a small majority.
The Seneca Resolutions as passed (The originals were not numbered, and Resolution 12 was introduced on the final evening of the convention):
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.
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 circus.
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.
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 self-evident 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.
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.
For anyone interested in a scholarly but jargonless exploration of the Seneca Falls convention, Sally G. McMillen’s 2008 book—Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement —does a decent job, capturing the determination if not always the passion.of these radical activists.
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups
“I guess that's how they were able to do it, in the way they did it, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult.
It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics at the time.
I was stunned. Everyone was, I know that. It was hard to believe, the entire government gone like that. How did they get in, how did it happen?
That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn't even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn't even an enemy you could put your finger on.”
~~Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)
TWEET OF THE DAY
x«We all have the same 24 hours.»Use public transport? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of private jet owners.Do your own cooking, cleaning, child~raising? Your 24 hours are not the same as those of someone with a full~time domestic staff.Stop this nonsense.— Shailja Patel (@shailjapatel) July 20, 2018
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2009—VA-Gov: Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of … Something:
Back in March, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) decided to form a separate political action committee called Common Sense Virginia, with the intent of assisting whomever would emerge as the Democratic nominee for Governor from Virginia.
At the time, the Republican Governors Association assailed the DGA, accusing the Democrats of creating a «shadow organization» and stated that the RGA would be totally transparent about their involvement in the race.
SIGH...do you even NEED the punchline anymore?
The RGA has registered a new PAC in VA to support the association's work for GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. The name of the new group, however, sounds awfully familiar. It's called VA Common Sense PAC. And it reminds, not by accident, of Common Sense VA, the group the DGA used during the party's primary contest to spend some $3M on ads framing McDonnell as out of touch with Virginians.
So ... let's just work our way through this. Not only does the RGA copy the DGA's idea to create a Virginia-specific PAC, they all-but-swiped the NAME, too?
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: What does it mean to be a «Russian asset?» Does Trump know what he's doing? Does he have to, in order to be guilty? Is «getting along with Putin» the same as «getting along with Russia?» And what should we make of the claim that that's «a good thing?»
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