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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Seneca Falls and the Start of Annual Conventions

I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?

—Sojourner Truth, Woman’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, 1851

Many early suffragists served their political apprenticeships in the temperance and abolition movements, learning to organize, speak in public, and operate in volatile political environments. Veterans of both movements converged on Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19–20, 1848, to discuss “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.” The organizers—Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martha C. Wright, Jane Hunt, and Mary McClintock—were all married mothers. Influenced by the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, Lydia Maria Child, Sarah Grimké, and others, they overcame their initial nervousness and sought to address the discrimination found in their homes and communities. The meeting’s success led to subsequent, more diverse conventions and visible progress in the areas of property rights, dress reform, and educational opportunities.