Declaration of Sentiments Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jenny Homer

Jenny has masters' degrees in public health and public administration.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the Declaration of Sentiments, an important document in the Women's Rights Movement, which has similarities to another famous declaration in American history.

What Is the Declaration of Sentiments?

In 1776, a group of men got together to write one of the most famous documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence. It announced that America would become an independent country, and then includes a list of complaints about how the British king treated America. The Declaration of Independence includes the famous line, ''We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...''

Less than a hundred years later, another group—this time mostly women—met to write their own declaration. Although not as famous, the Declaration of Sentiments started the Women's Rights Movement, which aimed to change how the law and society treated women.

Stamp honoring 100 years after Seneca Falls Convention
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Where was the Declaration of Sentiments Written?

The Declaration of Sentiments, also known as the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, was signed during the Seneca Falls Convention, which took place July 19–20, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York. About three hundred people came to the meeting, led by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martha C. Wright, and Mary Ann M'Clintock.

One hundred people, including thirty-two men, signed the Declaration of Sentiments, written mainly by Stanton. Frederick Douglass, a famous abolitionist who fought against slavery, was one of them.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
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What Did the Declaration of Sentiments Say?

The Declaration of Sentiments followed the Declaration of Independence's format and included the famous line with one crucial difference: ''We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal...'' Can you spot the difference?

Along with adding the words ''and women'', the document makes the case for why women should have more rights. Instead of including complaints against the British king, the Declaration of Sentiments lists how women were treated unfairly in American society.

For example:

  • Women could not own property or control the money they earned from working.
  • A married woman had no rights if she and her husband got divorced.
  • Women could not teach religion, medicine, or law.
  • At that time, only one college allowed women to graduate with a bachelor's degree.

In the United States today, women can own property, be doctors and lawyers, attend the best colleges, and vote. But this was not the case in 1848.

There was more debate about whether to mention giving women the right to vote in the Declaration of Sentiments, but it was included in the last version.

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