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Women and the Vote

1776 Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John, who is attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, asking that he and the other men--who were at work on the Declaration of Independence--"Remember the Ladies." John responds with humor. [When it is finished,] the Declaration's wording specifies that "all men are created equal."

From the timeline One Hundred Years Toward Suffrage.

When John Adams ignored his wife's request to include "the ladies" in the Declaration of Independence, he sowed the seeds for the women's suffrage movement in the United States. The movement took root at an 1840 conference in London, when two determined women met for the first time. Even though they were delegates to the World Anti-Slavery Congress, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton could not participate in the convention because they were female. This snub inspired them to work together to guarantee rights for women.

In 1848, Mott and Stanton hosted the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention in the United States. To launch the convention, a Declaration of Sentiments was published that mocked the Declaration of Independence. This satirical document painted the American male as the oppressor instead of the King of England.

some key grievances included in the Declaration of Sentiments were:

"He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

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."

Women's rights conventions were held regularly after 1848. In 1853, Frances Gage presided over the National Women's Rights Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. She commented on the prevailing opinion that women belonged at home, not at the polling place:

I was asked a few days ago . . . "are you not afraid that woman will run into excesses, that homes will be deserted, that men will lack wives in this country?" I have but one reply to make to that question. Society grants to every man in the United States, every free "white male citizen," ... the privilege of voting, and of being voted for; of being President of the United States; of sitting upon the bench; of filling the jury box, of going to Congress; ... and we don't believe woman will get very far out of her place, if society should yield her the same rights.

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