166th Anniversary – July 19, 20, 1848
If the daring women who gathered in Seneca Falls that hot July day in 1848 knew that their battle for equality would take seventy-two long years one wonders if they might not have climbed back into their wagons and given up right there. After all, they were politically unsophisticated and inexperienced. They had no idea how to organize a major social movement. Many were Quakers, who held a conscientious objection to war and conflict. As women, especially if married, they held very few rights – limited access to education, an inability to own their own property, keep their own wages or even have custody of their own children. They were expected to obey laws they had no voice in making and pay taxes they had no say in spending. Still, they persevered. That convention led to other conventions; the message of Seneca Falls was carried by the human tide of hope and courage across the state and across the nation, involving thousands of women and men for many years to come.
There is record of only two people with ties to Long Island attending that first convention, Lucretia Mott and her husband James, whose family came from Cow Neck, but who then lived in Philadelphia. Long Island was a long way from Seneca Falls, especially in 1848 when travel was by horse-drawn wagon across rutted roads, and we understand how difficult it must have been to make the trip.
Seneca Falls marked the formal beginning of the woman suffrage movement as we know it, and we are ever grateful to those stalwart men and women who attended and signed the Declaration of Sentiments which ultimately led to political equality for all. For more information visit:www.nps.gov/wori/ to learn about the participants and current celebrations that keep the movement alive.