The Declaration of Sentiments was written at the first women’s rights conference in the United States, the Seneca Falls Conference of 1848. It was the first time that women formally organized to demand suffrage and full citizenship rights. The Declaration is modeled on the Declaration of Independence, with the important addendum that “all men and women are created equal,” and defines the natural rights argument used by nineteenth century women.

Historian Aileen Kraditor defined two lines of argument employed by women’s rights advocates in the nineteenth century as the argument from justice and the argument from expediency. Justice arguments were the type of arguments seen in the Declaration of Sentiments, which argued for rights based on the natural rights of women. The argument from expediency was actually more popular with early suffragists. This argument was based on women’s difference from men: their feminine attributes would lead to a more moralizing influence.

Clinton referenced this historic document in her speech on June 7th, after earning enough votes to secure the democratic nomination.

 

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