Seneca Falls Sentiments
The connection between Seneca Falls and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's independence is compelling. The combination of circumstances that followed her move to upstate New York converted her from high-minded housewife to feminist agitator. Discontented with the conditions of isolated housekeeping and encouraged by Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Stanton took action at last. In initiating and organizing what came to be known as the Seneca Falls Women's Rights Convention of 1848, Mrs. Stanton dared to try out in public the roles of feminist and reformer that she had privately admired.
Prior to 1848 Stanton had been observing and practicing different roles. The experiences of her privileged childhood, the expectations and rejections of her parents, her unusual education and extensive reading, the influence of male mentors, her exposure to revival and reform, her marriage to a political abolitionist, her introduction to female reformers, her friendship with Lucretia Mott, her grappling with patriarchy in religion and society, had all been factors in her development. Each episode allowed her to observe different behaviors and their results. Each observation enabled her to accept, reject, or modify various roles.
It must have been harder for her to anticipate what reactions some roles would evoke. In her experience female reformers had been ridiculed, condemned, disdained, ignored, and dismissed as ineffective. Yet the women themselves persevered and took pride in their contributions. Criticized by people Stanton no longer respected, these women were applauded by those she admired and by each other. The women themselves seemed to thrive, managing to combine public pursuits with more traditional occupations. They did not disintegrate under pressure. The high regard Stanton felt for