The Declaration of Sentiments
Seneca Falls, New York, 1848
Notes, Questions, Comments
hitherto – until this time
impel - force to do
self-evident – obvious without explanation or proof
endowed – provide with something desirable (worth having)
inalienable – impossible to take away
allegiance – loyalty; devotion
usurpation – unlawful taking of power
candid – honest; open
franchise – right to vote
compelled – forced
civilly – relating to government and/or society
depriving – to prevent someone from having something
facilities – means or way of doing something
degradation – the act of humiliating somebody, causing him or her a loss of status, reputation, or self-esteem
aggrieved – to cause somebody pain, trouble, or distress
fraudulently – not honest, true, or fair, and intended to deceive people
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.
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. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government…
The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.
Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation--in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.