Episode 12: Speeches from The Seneca Falls Convention

The Seneca Falls Convention

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The Event

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women’s rights convention in the United States. Held in July 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, the meeting launched the women’s suffrage movement, which finally, more than seven decades later (seven decades!!!), ensured women the right to vote.⁠

The Organizers

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815- October 26, 1902) was incensed by gender inequities from the time she was a child. As a young woman she was an anti-slavery activist, but eventually became primarily an advocate for women’s rights, helping to lead the first wave of feminism in the U.S. during the mid-to-late-1800s. She and Lucretia Mott were the main forces behind the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, and Stanton was the primary author of its Declaration of Sentiments.⁠

Lucretia Mott (January 3, 1793 – November 11, 1880) was a U.S. Quaker, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, and social reformer. A powerful orator, she dedicated her life to speaking out against racial and gender injustice. ⁠

“[Man] has endeavored in every way that he could to destroy [woman’s] confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”

-Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Our Guest

Courtney McPhie

Courtney McPhie experienced a typical awakening to social justice in high school, but took until college to call herself a feminist. A voracious reader and podcast-listener, Courtney lives in Northern Virginia, in the DC Metro area. She completed her graduate studies at George Mason University and holds a masters degree in education, which she uses as a high school English teacher in Fairfax County. She works largely with English Language Learners, mostly asylum-seekers who have come from Central America in the last three years. Courtney lives with her husband and three cute kids in a Colonial house on a hill.

Amy’s Takeaways

I remember the first time I heard about the Seneca Falls Women’s Convention – it was only eight years ago, and I was listening to a podcast episode on Women’s History. The first time I actually read the text of the convention speeches was for this project, just a couple of months ago. There is no excuse for that oversight in our educational system. But better late than never, and my whip-smart, fabulously well-read sister Courtney, a high school teacher who makes a difference every day for the students she educates, brings astute observations to our discussion of this essential text.

“Any great change must expect opposition, because it shakes the very foundation of privilege.”

Lucretia Mott

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