The history of feminism in America can arguably trace its roots to the late 1700’s with Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792. Although a British writer, she gained praise from several American women including first lady Abagail Adams. Many consider this to be the birth of the first wave of feminism philosophy in America. The actual first movement of feminism is considered to be the Seneca Falls Convention of July 1848.
The organizers were Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. An estimated 200 women attended the convention. The resulting product was the Declaration of Sentiments, which was written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the M’Clintock family and signed by 68 women and 32 men. The Declaration of Sentiments shared the style of the Declaration of Independence. Its introduction reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” It also included the statement, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man towards woman.”
The Seneca Falls Convention inspired others to organize the Rochester Women’s Rights Convention, National Woman’s Rights Convention, and the women’s suffrage movement.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the American Equal Rights Association in 1866. Two years later in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed. This was the First Amendment to declare the voting population as “male”. In 1869 there was a split between to two factions of the women’s rights movement due to the difference in opinion over the recently passed 14th and 15th Amendments. Later that year, Stanton and Anthony would form the American Woman Suffrage Association, reuniting the two factions.
It wasn’t until 1869 when the first American territory or state grant women suffrage. On September 6, 1870, in Laramie, Wyoming, Louisa Ann Swain became the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election. In 1878 a failed attempt to create an amendment was made in the United States Congress and wasn’t until 1920 did the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. This new law would conclude the first wave of feminism.
Published by Anthony Priore
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