The 1848 Women's Rights Convention:
"The Declaration of Sentiments" at Seneca Falls
Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucretia Mott wrote The Declaration of Sentiments for the 1848 Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, deliberately modeling it on the Declaration of Independence and in doing so made the language inclusive of women. Thus it reads……"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men and women are created equal and continued in this vein substituting "women" where the original document read "men."
Even though women were not granted the right to vote until the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, this document is important in illustrating the history of extending equal rights to all people. In our own times, we continue to work toward ensuring that basic civil rights are inclusive for all people in the U.S.
The Speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 4, 1852
"What To The Slave, Is The Fourth Of July?"
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) was born a slave and eventually became known as the most notable Black American leader of the 19th century. In 1852, Douglass was invited to speak in Rochester, New York, where he delivered an historic speech giving an indictment of a nation that would celebrate its freedom and its Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights while upholding slavery. In his speech, Douglas posed questions that were of urgent importance to civil rights, freedom and social justice; he put his questions forward, asking his audience, "What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?" His is a powerful speech with articulate, passionate, and moral rhetoric, asking fundamental questions on behalf of a people who were enslaved against their will and without any just entitlement to the freedoms as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, the preamble and body of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Douglas demonstrated great courage as he spoke about America and its "shameless hypocrisy." He was a true populist—a passionate and intelligent supporter and spokesperson for the inalienable rights of the people.