Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Location: Seneca Falls, New York

Webpage: National Park

General Description: On July 19-20, 1848 the first Women’s Rights Convention was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York.  Consisting of 100 women and men this was the first meeting that included national figures in the emerging national movement.  The Convention was organized just 9 days before around a table at the home of Mary Ann and Thomas M’Clintock.  In addition to Mary Ann M’Clintock the other women were Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha Wright, and Jane Hunt.  Just 3 days before the Convention they drafted a declaration for consideration by the participants known as the Declaration of Sentiments.  This Declaration was patterned after the Declaration of Independence included a preamble with the words :”We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Following was a list of “facts” detailing the “establishment of an absolute tyranny” of men over women in the current society.  The first day of the Convention was open to the women, with the following day open to both sexes.  The end of the Convention was the signing of the Declaration of Sentiments by 68 women and 32 men pledging to actively further Women’s Rights.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) The National Historical Parks actually consists of multiple locations.  The Visitor Center and Museum is located in downtown Seneca Falls next to the remains of the Wesleyan Chapel where the Convention was held.  There is a very good video in the Visitor Center about the Women’s Rights Movement that formally began with this convention.  Although it was not the first National Convention, it was the first time that women and men met formally to discuss the Movement.

VisitorCenter

2) Next to the Visitor Center are the remains of the Wesleyan Chapel.  Over the years the Chapel was used for multiple businesses until it burned down in the 1900s.  They have rebuilt the original Chapel using the remnants of the brick wall to show how it would have looked at the time of the Convention.

WesleyanChapel

3) In between the Visitor Center and Wesleyan Chapel is People’s Park, which is a slope arena for outdoor events that leads into a reflecting pool.  The back of the pool is a bronze wall with the Declaration of Sentiments engraved on it.  Also across the main street is Declaration Park providing picnic tables and a quiet atmosphere along the Canal.

4) The Historical Park also consists of the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in Seneca Falls and the M’Clintock and Hunt homes in nearby Waterloo.  We did not visit these locations during our visit.