In 1848 women gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to consider not only voting rights, but the conditions of women in society at large. The result was the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions. The issues were not new. Abigail Adams in a now famous letter to her husband John written in March 1776 included a reminder. “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticular care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion.” The letter is found in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston.
In 1848 women’s concerns included depriving women of equal wages; of access to professions like law and medicine; denying them marital property rights or the ease to divorce; of restricting women’s ability to attend the same universities as men; and having the right to vote.
A national search for the original, signed copy of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions from the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention has raised awareness of the movement’s history. In 2015 the Obama White House asked Americans to search their attics and archives for the lost document. Ms. Megan Smith, then the United States chief technological officer under President Obama was part of the search. Ms. Smith, who is now the chief executive of a digital technology company, Shift7, plans to continue the search, using the hashtag #FindTheSentiments.
With 2020 marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution giving women the right to vote perhaps there will be a new push to find the Declaration. Perhaps we all should search our attics, archives and collections for this very special document.
For more on the history and the search https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/09/nyregion/declaration-of-sentiments-and-resolution-feminism.html