Seneca Falls at 60

Title

Seneca Falls at 60

Description

Seneca Falls wasn’t really a thing until 25 years after it happened.

The suffrage movement had split, and Susan B Anthony & ElizCadyStanton sought to establish authority for their faction by crafting an origin story at Seneca Falls. (New followers: scroll back for more!) 🧵 

The two factions eventually merged after years of ideological and tactical conflict - but the merged organization, NAWSA, was ambivalent about venerating Seneca Falls.

Harriot Stanton Blatch wasn’t.

Blatch was the daughter of ElizCadyStanton, and a pivotal suffragist in her own right. At the beginning of the century she returned from decades of living in England.

Compared to the radicalism taking hold among UK suffragists, the US movement was dull.

Not just dull. NAWSA in the early 1900s was a conservative, very Christian, and almost entirely white organization.

Blatch acidly remarked that “It bored its adherents and repelled its opponents.”

Blatch created a new group, the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women. It was a sister org to the Women’s Trade Union League, and it sought to put working women - both professionals and factory workers - front and center in the suffrage movement.

Blatch wanted a ceremony in Seneca Falls to honor the 60th anniversary. The mainstream NY & national groups weren't interested, so the Equality League organized its own events. These included a program for local students & a gathering of the survivors of the original convention.

They installed a bronze plaque near the site of the Wesleyan Church where the original meeting took place. The plaque cites ElizCadyStanton & Frederick Douglass’ commitment to voting rights. That was fitting for 1908, tho it ignored the convention’s many other equality demands.

The roster of speakers at the 60th celebration included Mary Church Terrell, founding president of the National Association of Colored Women, who gave a keynote. Blatch surely knew that it had been years since Terrell was invited to speak to NAWSA.

Other speakers included Rev. Annis Ford Eastman, mother of Max & Crystal, who would later play a major role in the movement; and Maud Nathan, a prominent Jewish suffragist whose sister was an equally famous anti-suffragist.

Luminaries from nearby Cornell University also spoke: Prof. Nathaniel Schmidt and graduating senior Elizabeth Ellsworth Cook. Elizabeth was a star debater, already an officer of the Equality League, and later a successful businesswoman. #Suffrage100 #CenturyofStruggle

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

17/06/2020

Files

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Seneca Falls at 60,” Daily Suffragist, accessed May 15, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/417.

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