The “Declaration of Sentiments” was a powerful, revolutionary statement made by the participants of the Seneca Conference. This document, that paved the way for women advocacy everywhere, was so unique and impressive because of the authors of the piece, the framework that it was based upon, and the arguments that were presented in the document to support the argument of the authors and signing participants.
The authors of the “Declaration of Sentiments” were women. The initial author was Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a mother and housewife. Other women later helped revise and edit the work, as did some men. What is specifically revolutionary about this is that women were writing a persuasive piece about women. While some women had spoken about women’s rights and emancipation previously, this compelling piece was written rather well by a woman, and signed (to signify unity and agreement) by multiple others. While some men did sign and support the document, they did not have any sway over what was included or omitted from the document (Kerber, De Hart, Dayton, &Wu, p. 224).
What seemed most significant to me, as a reader, was that the “Declaration of Sentiments” used the U.S.Declaration as a framework or mentor text. What better way to assert women’s rights than to use the format and phrasing from our forefather’s statement of independence from the rule of Britain? What was revolutionary about this was that Elizabeth Cady Stanton used this opportunity to draw a comparison of what should have been (in tyhe view of the conference attendees) and the founding fathers of our country, then pointed out how the rights and duties of an American citizen were denied to the women, who were supposedly considered Americans as well.
What made this great document revolutionary was the complaints put forth by the women. These complaints included, but were not limited to, not being permitted to have a voice in government decisions, becoming “civilly dead” once married, not having rights in the case of divorce, and unequal work pay (Kerber, De Hart, Dayton, & Wu, p. 225). In other words, this document voiced the concern that women were not treated as though they were human entities but as servants to their husbands and families, unable to make decisions or even pursue their interests. Truly ,if America had agreed upon the Declaration of its own independence and put any societal emphasis upon that national document– then the documents laid out in its shadow would have held a vast air of patriotism. While showing that the women involved revered the Declaration, it also drove home the idea that they felt they were being genuinely wronged in the situation at hand.
The “Declaration of Sentiments,” signed into approval at Seneca Falls in 1848, was a revolutionary and powerful document. The authors of the document were women advocating for the advancement of women in society. Also, the use of our Declaration of Independence as a mentoring text strengthened the arguments laid forth. But perhaps the most persuasive portion of the text, which may have had the most sway within the readers’ minds, was the grievances that were laid out. This revolutionary document set the path of women’s empowerment into a direction that would improve the quality of living for women all over America.