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Welcome to our series that brings you original content from individuals in the news. We’re calling it “Verbatim” because these posts will let the authors speak for themselves. 

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Today, the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, we are featuring an essay Susan B. Anthony wrote in 1902, called “Woman’s Half-Century of Evolution.” In it she discusses how women’s rights had evolved since Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and others, had held the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848—in a time when women weren’t often allowed to speak in public.

The title I claim for Mrs. Stanton is that of leader of women. Women do not enjoy one privilege to-day beyond those possessed by their foremothers, which was not demanded by her before the present generation was born. Her published speeches will verify this statement. In the light of the present, it seems natural that she should have made those first demands for women; but at the time it was done the act was far more revolutionary than was the Declaration of Independence by the colonial leaders. There had been other rebellions against the rule of kings and nobles; men from time immemorial had been accustomed to protest against injustice; but for women to take such action was without a precedent and the most daring innovation in all history…

Therefore I hold that the calling of that first Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848 by Mrs. Stanton, Lucretia Mott and two or three other brave Quaker women, was one of the most courageous acts on record.

You can read the full essay and download the PDF here.

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The North American Review, Vol. 175, No. 553 (Dec., 1902), pp. 800-810
University of Northern Iowa