Seneca Falls Resolutions: Women's Rights Demands in 1848

Woman's Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, July 19-20 1848

Report on Seneca Falls - North Star, July 1848
From the North Star, July 1848. Courtesy Library of Congress

At the 1848 Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention, the body considered both a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the 1776 Declaration of Independence, and a series of resolutions. On the first day of the convention, July 19, only women were invited; the men who attended were asked to observe and not participate. The women decided to accept the votes of men for both the Declaration and Resolutions, so final adoption was part of the business of the second day of the convention.

All of the resolutions were adopted, with few changes from the originals written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott before the convention. In the History of Woman's Suffrage, vol. 1, Elizabeth Cady Stanton reports that the resolutions were all adopted unanimously, except the resolution on women voting, which was more contentious. On the first day, Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke strongly for including the right to vote among the rights called for. Frederick Douglass spoke on the second day of the convention in support of women's suffrage, and that is often credited with swinging the final vote to endorse that resolution.

One final resolution was introduced by Lucretia Mott on the evening of the second day, and it was adopted:

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.

Note: the numbers are not in the original, but are included here to make discussion of the document easier.


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,

  1. 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."
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Resolved, That it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.
  10. Resolved, That the equality of human rights results necessarily from the fact of the identity of the race in capabilities and responsibilities.
  11. 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.

Some notes on the words chosen:

Resolutions 1 and 2 are adapted from Blackstone's Commentaries, with some text taken verbatim. Specifically: "Of the Nature of Laws in General," William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books (New York, 1841), 1:27-28.2) (See also: Blackstone Commentaries)

The text of resolution 8 also appears in a resolution written by Angelina Grimke, and introduced at the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Woman in 1837.

More: Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention | Declaration of Sentiments | Seneca Falls Resolutions | Elizabeth Cady Stanton Speech "We Now Demand Our Right to Vote" | 1848: Context of the First Woman's Rights Convention

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Seneca Falls Resolutions: Women's Rights Demands in 1848." ThoughtCo, Sep. 6, 2020, Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2020, September 6). Seneca Falls Resolutions: Women's Rights Demands in 1848. Retrieved from Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Seneca Falls Resolutions: Women's Rights Demands in 1848." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).