Woman’s Rights

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Discussion Question

  • Why was the nineteenth-century usage more often singular (woman’s rights) than plural (women’s rights)?

Close Reading Strategies

Reading like a historian is a time-consuming business. But it can become a powerful tool for understanding. When you are done with any type of source, whether primary or secondary, you should have fundamental grasp of at least three important categories of analysis:

  • TEXT –Basic knowledge concerning format and content
  • CONTEXT –General appreciation about the time period for primary sources or the history of interpretive arguments for secondary sources
  • SUBTEXT –Deeper understanding about what has been left out and why

For more detail, see the handout at the Methods Center and this post from a previous course

Declaration of Sentiments (1848)

We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Discussion Question

  • Besides suffrage, what other gender issues deserve to be considered in the context of the Seneca Falls convention?

Sojourner Truth’s Woman’s Rights speech (1851)

I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that?

An alternate performance (from a slightly different text) by actress Kerry Washington: