“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”

For this lab assignment, I decided to make two Wordles┬ácomparing the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (from the Seneca Falls convention discussing women’s rights) and the United States Declaration of Independence, the document upon which it was based. The former was adopted on July 19, 1948, while the latter was adopted, of course, on July 4, 1776.

Method and Hypothesis: After making the initial word clouds, I narrowed the word count to the top 10 words in each, for the sake of a narrower argument. I also deleted words that appeared twice (but in the plural form). I expected the clouds to have mostly the same words, as well as for the Seneca Falls document to have a more feminist slant and the Declaration of Independence to have wording that was clearly favorable to men. It turned out that I was somewhat wrong.

The Declaration of Sentiments had the following word count (top 10):
Resolved: 12
woman (women): 21
man (men): 15
right (rights):17
law (laws): 13
great: 6
nature: 6
government: 5
equal: 5
happiness: 5


Whereas the Declaration of Independence had this word count:
States: 8
laws: 8
people: 7
time: 5
right: 5
powers (power):6
government: 5
large: 4
Colonies: 4
among: 5


Observations: These same words were used often in both Declarations: right(s), law(s), and government, only 30% of the 10 words I chose. Obviously, these words are specifically related to government, and more specifically are admonishing these governments (the British and the American) for denying their citizens necessary rights. Of the other 70%, I made these observations: while the Seneca Falls document does invoke feminist-weighted words (woman, man [in conjunction with woman], nature, equal, etc.), the original Declaration of Independence isn’t geared towards men only (at least in the top 10 words), but, collectively, to the “people” and the “Colonies” and the “States.”

What I learned: I had come into this project assuming that the feminist convention at Seneca Falls had modeled its Declaration after the Declaration of Independence in order to point out its flaws (in not including females). From this research, it seems to be the opposite case. They probably chose the Declaration of Independence because it was an inclusive document (not perfectly–“all men are created equal”–but at least somewhat), and they wanted to expand upon it to show the American patriarchy that it had been ignoring its own founding document in excluding females from civil rights.

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