Social Change in the Nineteenth Century

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What were the grievances of the Declaration of Sentiments at the Senca Falls Convention?

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There were many grievances expressed in the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention. To begin, The Declaration of Sentiments restates the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, emphasizing that all men and women are created equal.

One main portion of this document gives many examples that show how women weren’t being treated fairly nor equally. The first example given cited that women weren’t allowed to vote, and, therefore, women had no say in the creation of the laws in which they had to follow. It also explained that women had no voice in determining the elected officials who would represent them in government.

The document also focuses on how marriage took away many rights from women. For example, the husband had all property rights and could even take a woman’s wages. Women were treated like slaves if they were married, as they had to agree to be obedient to their husband. If a woman wanted a divorce, the laws favored the men and implied that men were superior to women.

Other inequalities listed in the document include the difficulties that women faced in getting an education and in securing good jobs with good salaries. These grievances continue to show the inferior position that women had in society, compared to men.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Many of the grievances in Stanton's document sought to address or redress the condition of women on economic, social, and political grounds.  For example, one of the opening grievances sought to change the relationship that existed between men and women, one that was predicated upon "tyranny."  The "elective franchise" was also one of the grievances, helping to bring to light that the right to vote was something denied to women in America, the young nation dedicated to democratic self- rule.  Radical for its time, the document addressed the disparity in "wage" between men and women, something that is still present today.  At the same time, the document wanted to change the position of women in clerical institutions, where "He [patriarchal authority] allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position, claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the church."  The document closes with a call for equality whereby "women is man's equal."

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Seneca Falls Declaration includes a long list of grievances.  It was modeled after the US Declaration of Independence, which does the same thing.  You may follow the Fordham link to find the full text of the Seneca Falls Declaration.

The general gist of the Declaration was that men did not allow women basic rights.  For example, they did not allow women the right to vote.  In addition to that, men forced women to obey laws that they could not have a voice in making.

On a more social level, the Declaration rails against things like the institution of marriage.  It says that marriage, as practiced in those days, made a woman legally dead.  It took her property away and gave it to her husband.  It made her promise to obey him.

In other words, the Declaration argued that women were denied both political and social equality.

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