Evaluate the movement for women’s rights in the 1830s and 1840s.  What tactics and arguments were used and how successful were their efforts?



Why does it follow that women are fitted for nothing but the cares of domestic life, for bearing children and cooking the food of a family, devoting all their time to the domestic circle to promoting the immediate personal comfort of their husbands, brothers and sons? ... The mere departure of women from the duties of the domestic circle, far from being a reproach to her, is a virtue of the highest order, when it is done from purity of motive, by appropriate means and the purpose good.

Source:  John Quincy Adams, Speech...Upon the Rights of the People, Men and Women, to Petition.



          The assembling of women in general convention meeting, for the specific purpose of furthering a philanthropic enterprise ... betokens on the part of woman a clearer discernment of the capabilities of these mental powers ... which have been for ages ... lost to the world.  It indicates an increasing recognition of those fearful, but ennobling, moral obligations, which grow out of her nature as a moral and accountable being ... [and] the glorious, the heroic bursting of ... iron limits ... When ... I regard ... the influence which they will exert in raising woman from the lowly path in which ... she has hitherto walked ... I experience sensations of peculiar joy; for I am a woman.

Source:   Importance of Holding Conventions, 1838.



          For those who do not yet understand the real objects of our recent conventions at Rochester and Seneca Falls, I would state that we did not meet to discuss fashions, customs, or dress, the rights or duties of man, nor the propriety of the sexes changing positions, but simply our own inalienable rights, our duties, our true sphere.  If God has assigned a sphere to man and one to woman, we claim the right to judge ourselves of His design in reference to us, and we accord to man the same privilege.  We think a man has quite enough in his life to find out his own individual calling, without being taxed to decide where every woman belongs; and the fact that so many men fail in the business they undertake, calls loudly for their concentrating more thought on their own faculties, capabilities, and sphere of action.  We have all seen a man making an jackass of himself in the pulpit, at the bar, or in our legislative halls, when he might have shown as a captain of a canal boat, or as a tailor on his bench.  Now, is to be wondered at that woman has some doubts about the present position assigned her being the true one, when her everyday experience shows her that man makes such fatal mistakes in regard to himself.

Source:    Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “History of Woman’s Suffrage.”



          The capitol of our nation is the citadel of slavery ... Women are in captivity and degradation, subject to the most cruel and humiliating bondage; and this, too, without the power to plead their own case, appeal to the virtuous and humane for protection from insult and outrage.  This is enough to call forth our sympathies, and nerve our souls, if need be for persecution and conflict ... let us labor, then, with untiring vigor, in behalf of the poor captives in our land ... To petition for the removal of an evil, is but one mode for expressing our detestation of it.  By this measure we shall at least clear our skirts of the blood of souls ...

Source:  The Emancipator, July 21, 1836. 



          Why, my dear brothers can you not see the deep laid scheme of the clergy against us as lecturers? ... If we surrender the right to speak in public this year, we must surrender the right to petition next year, and the right to write the year after, and so on.  What then can woman do for the slave, when she herself is under the feet of man and shamed into silence?

Source:  Quoted in The History of Women’s Suffrage.



          What if I am a woman; is not the God of ancient times the God of these modern days?  Did he not raise up Deborah to be a mother and a judge in Israel?  Did not Queen Esther save the lives of the Jews?  And Mary Magdalen first declare the resurrection of Christ from the dead? ... If such women as are here described once existed, be no longer astonished then, my breathren and friends, that God at this eventful period should raise up your own females to strive by their example, both in public and in private, to assist those who are endeavoring to stop the strong current of prejudice that flows so profusely, against us at present ... What if such women as are here described should rise among our sable race?  And it is not impossible; for it is not the color of the skin that makes the man or the woman, but the principle formed in the soul.

Source:  Maria W. Stewart, “Farewell Address.” 



          The Lord Jesus defines the duties of his followers ... I follow him through all his precepts, and find him giving the same directions to women as to men, never even referring to the distinction now so strenuously insisted upon between masculine and feminine virtues:  this is one of the anti-Christian “traditions of men” which are taught instead of the “commandments of God.”  Men and women were CREATED EQUAL; they are both moral and accountable beings, and whatever is right for a man to do, is right for a woman to do.

Source:  Sarah Grimke, “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women.”



          The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world ... He has withheld from her rights, which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men•both natives and foreigners.  Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides ... He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns ... After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government, which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.  He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known. He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her ...

Source:  Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention, 1848.



          What woman needs is not a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely, and unimpeded to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home.

Source:  Sarah Margaret Fuller. 



          I should feel exceedingly diffident to appear before you wholly unused as I am to public speaking, were I not nerved by a sense of right and duty--did I not feel that the time had fully come for the question of woman's wrongs to be laid before the public--did I not believe that woman herself must do this work--for woman alone can understand the height and the depth, the length and the breadth of her own degradation and woe. Man cannot speak for us--because he has been educated to believe that we differ from him so materially, that he cannot judge of our thoughts, feelings and opinions by his own. Moral beings can only judge of others by themselves--the moment they give a different nature to any of their own kind they utterly fail.

Source:  Address by Elizabeth Cady Stanton after the conventions of 1848. 



Source:  “American Memory Digital Display.” 



"Women's Emancipation"

Source:  "bloomers" 



"American Memory Digital Item display"
   (4 Feb. 2002).

Banks, Kimberly J. "Stanton's Address on Women's Rights, Page 1: Stanton and Anthony Papers
           Project on Line." Address by Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Woman's Rights, 2001. 
  (2 Feb. 2002).

 Berg, Barbara J..  The Remembered Gate:  Origins of American Feminism.  New York:
           Oxford University Press, 1978.  Page 196 (Ibid. 1838, p. 87).

Evans, Sara M..  Born for
Liberty:  A History of Women in America.  New York: The Free Press, 1989. 
           p. 80 (Sarah Grimke, "Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women" Boston,
           1838, in Rossi, The Feminist Papers, p. 307-308)

Flexner, Eleanor.  Century of Struggle:  The Woman
tm)s Rights Movement in the United States.
           Cambridge, Massachusetts:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975. 
           pp. 44-45 (Ibid., p.76-780), and 48-49 (Quoted in the History of Women's Suffrage I, p.82-83), and
           p. 51 (John Quincy Adams, Speech ... Upon the Rights of the People, Men and Women, to
           Petition.  Washington, 183, p.65) and 84 (History of Women's Sufferage, I, p.72), 84 .

Hooker, Richard. "The Declaration of Sentiments 1848." The Declaration of Sentiments.
           1996. (29 Jan. 2002).

Lerner, Gerda.  The Female Experience:  An American Documentary.  Indianapolis:  
            The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1977.  Pages 331-332 (The Emancipator, July 21, 1836, p.46)

Reuben, Paul P. "PAL: Sarah Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)." Major Themes, Style, and Other          
            Perspectives.  2001. (2 Feb.          

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady.  “History of Woman
's Suffrage.”    



Barber, E. S., Natanson Barbara O. "NAWSA Time Line." One Hundred Years toward Suffrage:
An        An Overview   1997.
(30 Jan. 2002).                                                                                                     

Berg, Barbara J..  The Remembered Gate:  Origins of American Feminism.  New York:
            Oxford University Press, 1978.  Page 177 ( Advocate, 1848, p.338)'

Evans, Sara M..  Born for Liberty:  A History of Women in America.  New York: The Free Press, 1989. 
            pg. 71 (Catherine Beecher).

Grimke, Sarah.  "Duties of Woman"

Miller, David. "Reformers of The 1800's." Come Home Father.
   (30 Jan. 2002).

Mott, Lucretia.  “Discourse on Woman.”

"The American Woman of the Early Nineteenth Century. 
            Galena (III.) Advertiser 7 March 1835, quoted in Riegel, Young America, 218.

DBQ Question created by:

Nejla Kayabas
Christine Logigian
Maria Regina H. S.
Hartsdale, NY