Judith Wellman and “The Road To Seneca Falls”

On the evening of May 24, 2018, Dr. Judith Wellman presented a detailed description of the early women’s suffrage movement in the United States. The program was hosted  jointly by the Worcester Women’s History Project and the Worcester Historical Museum.

The author of the publication, “The Road to Seneca Falls: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the First Woman’s Rights Convention” (University of Illinois Press, 2004), Dr. Wellman proves to be a careful and thorough researcher, examining primary sources, such as contemporary correspondence, census reports, church records, tax assessments, and genealogies for historical accuracy.

Organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, the first Women’s Rights Convention was called to order in Seneca Falls, New York, in May of 1848 with over 300 in attendance.  The value-oriented attendees included legal reformers who sought political and economic rights for women, political abolitionists who had formed the Free Soil Party, and Quakers who wholeheartedly supported abolition and suffrage for women.

At Seneca Falls Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented the “Declaration of Sentiments,” patterned after the United States Declaration of Independence and affirming political and economic equality for women. In so doing, Stanton launched the suffrage movement in America which gained momentum annually in a series of conventions held across the country.

Dr. Wellman described the first in the series:  the National Woman’s Rights Convention held in October of 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Over 1000 attended this convention. Speakers included Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley Foster, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth, and William Lloyd Garrison. The public responses to the convention were sometimes positive and occasionally sarcastic. Nevertheless, the movement continued to grow with increasing support over the decades until the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote was passed in 1920.

Judith Wellman, Ph.D is a researcher, writer, and teacher of United States history.  She is professor emerita from the State University of New York at Oswego.  In addition to women’s suffrage, her interests include the Underground Railroad and history of historic sites. Using details carefully selected, she depicts social, political, economic, and cultural forces in   American communities that brought forth change.

Published Date: 
September 25, 2018