The Seneca Falls Convention

February 6, 2012

Extending the Promise of the Declaration

Hidden on one of its inside pages, the Seneca County Courier ran a brief, though radical, announcement on July 14, 1848. “A Convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of Woman, will be held… at Seneca Falls, NY on… the 19th and 20th of July.” The Convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, two women who had become sensitive to women’s lack of rights through their work in the abolition movement. Remembering the convention in her memoir, Stanton described it as “the first organized protest against the injustice which brooded for ages over the character and destiny of one-half the race.”

The Declaration of Sentiments was issued by the Seneca Falls Convention. It refuted the popular beliefs that women’s differences from men require their selflessness and their devotion to others at the expense of their own rights. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments appealed to Americans’ commitment to natural rights and the equality of all human beings. The Declaration of Sentiments listed the “repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman.” These grievances include women’s lack of right to their own wages, their taxation without representation, their unequal treatment in divorce and their unequal claim to their children. In addition, the document protested women’s moral atrophy when denied education and the exercise of rights. Although these grievances are matters of the private sphere, the 68 women and 32 men who signed the Declaration of Sentiments recognized that injustices must be restored in the public sphere. The Declaration of Sentiments boldly called for women’s right to vote, inaugurating the Women’s Suffrage Movement.

Natalie Taylor, Associate Professor of Government, Skidmore College

Read the document:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments, 1848

Visit the Civil War Sesquicentennial Exhibit

The Civil War began on April 12, 1861 at 4:30am when Confederate troops opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Those shots marked the beginning of a nearly four-year struggle that ultimately determined whether our nation would honor the principles upon which itwas founded or be ripped asunder by the conflicts that had existed between principle and practice since the Founding. In this web exhibit, the Ashbrook Center presents a collection of resources on the Civil War:

  • notable speeches and letters of the era
  • commentary and lectures by leading historians and political scientists
  • original lesson plans developed by history professors and master classroom teachers
  • links to additional web resources.

Audio lectures include presentations by major historians, including James McPherson, Allen Guelzo, and Michael Burlingame. Teachers and students of Civil War battle strategy will find Mackubin T. Owens’s “Brief Military History of the Civil War” particularly useful. It comprises 12 short articles on the major campaigns, the generalship of Grant and Lee, and the pivotal struggle at Gettysburg.

Abraham Lincoln: Statesman, War Leader, and Prophet of America

Born on February 12, 1809 to poor farmers in a humble backwater, Lincoln lacked the distinguished pedigree of many of his presidential predecessors. Nevertheless, this product of a border state caught between the free North and the slave South represented the last, best chance to ensure, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” At this website, the Ashbrook Center presents:

Study the American Founding in Historic Philadelphia

June 17th through 22nd and June 24th through 29th

Independence Hall and the Philadelphia skylineBeginning in summer 2012, the Master of American History and Government program will offer sections of its core courses on the American Founding and the Revolutionary War in historic Philadelphia. A new elective on the ratification debate over the Constitution will also be offered in this historic setting. Like our courses held each summer at Ashland University, Philadelphia courses are week-long intensive seminars offered for 2 semester credit hours. Each is open to both degree-seeking MAHG students and to non-degree continuing education students.

Philadelphia, the most populous city and busiest port of colonial British North America, became the meeting place for the Continental Congresses and the place at which American independence was declared. Here also, the American Constitution was designed and drafted. Students who take MAHG courses in Philadelphia will cover the same readings and follow the same seminar schedule as that for the same courses offered in Ashland, but they will enjoy the additional benefit of historic site visits. For information on housing accommodations in Philadelphia and other details, visit our FAQ page.

A Sample Course in the MAHG Curriculum: The American Founding

An intensive study of the Constitutional Convention, the struggle over ratification of the Constitution, and the creation of the Bill of Rights, this course includes a close examination of The Federalist and the anti-federalist papers. It will be offered twice this summer, both times in Philadelphia. Taught by Professor Jeffrey Sikkenga in Session One and Christopher Burkett in Session Two (both of Ashland University), it will feature Guest Lecturer Gordon Lloyd (Pepperdine University), a leading scholar of the Founding era. Lloyd, who designed our interactive web exhibits on the Constitutional Convention and the Ratification of the Constitution, offers an enthusiast’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Founding era.

Constitution Booklets Available

The Ashbrook Center offers a pocket-sized booklet that holds key texts of the American founding, including the Declaration of Independence and the entire text of the US Constitution and its amendments, as well as key primary texts interpreting these. These convenient booklets make excellent classroom resources for American history, civics, and government classes.

Copies of the booklet are available for $2.00 each. Special bulk pricing is available for quantities of 10, 25, 100 or more. Standard shipping and handling is included at no charge; rush delivery is available for an additional fee.

To order, call (877) 289-5411 or visit

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