The Declaration of Sentiments

The Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments,[1] is a document signed in 1848 by 68 women and 32 men—100 out of some 300 attendees at the first women’s rights convention to be organized by women. Held in Seneca Falls, New York, the convention is now known as the Seneca Falls Convention. The principal author of the Declaration was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who modeled it upon the United States Declaration of Independence. She was a key organizer of the convention along with Lucretia Coffin Mott, and Martha Coffin Wright.

According to the North Star, published by Frederick Douglass, whose attendance at the convention and support of the Declaration helped pass the resolutions put forward, the document was the „grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”[2][3]

At a time when traditional roles were still in place, the Declaration caused much controversy. Many people respected the courage and abilities behind the drafting of the document, but were unwilling to abandon their morals. An article in the Oneida Whig published soon after the convention described the document as „the most shocking and unnatural event ever recorded in the history of womanity.” Many newspapers insisted that the Declaration was drafted at the expense of women’s more appropriate duties. At a time when temperance and female property rights were major issues, even many supporters of women’s rights believed the Declaration’s endorsement of women’s suffrage would hinder the nascent women’s rights movement, causing it to lose much needed public support.