Story behind the “Declaration of Sentiments”
During the summer of 1848 abolitionist Lucretia Mott left her home in Philadelphia and headed for upstate New York to attend a Quaker meeting and visit her pregnant sister, Martha Coffin Wright. While in the area, both Mott and Wright attended a tea party in Seneca Falls. Their friend Jane Hunt hosted the party. Invitations were also extended to Hunt’s neighbors, Mary Ann M’Clintock and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. By the end of the tea, the group was planning a meeting for women’s rights. They published a notice in local papers reporting: “a Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religions condition of women.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton volunteered to write an outline for their protest statement, calling it a Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton and M’Clintock, then, drafted the document, from M’Clintock’s mahogany tea table. The Declaration of Sentiments set the stage for their convening.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments to dramatize the denied citizenship claims of elite women during a period when the early republic’s founding documents privileged white propertied males. The document has long been recognized for the sharp critique she made of gender inequality in the U.S. Yet, her words also obscured significant differences in the lived experiences of women across racial, class, and regional lines.