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Worcester's Wonder Women


Lucy Stone helped create the first national forum on women's rights

"Nature does not teach that men and women are unequal, only unlike."
- Paulina Wright Davis

Today women are not on an equal footing with men in our country. We've never had a woman President of the United States. There are only two women out of nine Supreme Court Justices. There are only 3 female state governors out of 50. Until things like these are changed, we cannot pretend that women have entirely gained their equal rights.


We have come a long way. 150 years ago, being a wife meant being a husband's possession. Women were not allowed to vote or run for office. Women were not allowed to sue or testify in court. We had no power against a mean husband. Women weren't allowed to own property. We did not go to the same schools as men.

This situation could not continue forever. Things started to improve with the idea for a national women's rights convention. People came together in 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts to hear women's rights speakers like Lucy Stone and Abby Kelly Foster, Paula Wright Davis, Lucretia Mott and Ernestine Rose. They spoke with anti-slavery speakers William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth. They felt that they were fighting for the same thing: Equality.

Some of the things they wanted were:

  • Equal job opportunities as men
  • The right to vote (known as "suffrage")
  • Equal property rights after marriage
  • Equal educational opportunities

Leaders like Abby Kelly Foster rallied the crowd with her demand not for "woman's rights, but [for] the rights of human beings," while Frederick Douglass advised the crowd that women must educate themselves, to "take her rights, and then she shall be free."

While the speeches were good the crowd did not always cheer. There was a large part of the country that did not agree with the speakers and did not want change. Many newspapers wrote bad things about the convention. The leaders of the 1850 convention did not back down from their ideals, though. The convention did not change things right away, but it was an important first step.


The kindness of strangers has really been overwhelming...

It was not until 1870 that black men gained the right to vote in our country, and not until 1920 that women got the same right. Just think that it took our government 70 years from the start of the women's rights movement to finally begin granting women their equal rights! That means that women have only had the right to vote in America for the past 80 years, while white men have been voting here for 225 years. Not a great example of "liberty and justice for all," is it?

If it were not for the brave leaders of that meeting, change may have come even slower. Of course, there are still problems that need work. The work of Lucy Stone and Sojourner Truth needs to be carried on until true equality for everyone. It is our job to do all we can to change the things we know are unfair.


Please email me at: rebecca@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Teddy - Astronauts, judges, senators, truck drivers, TV producers - women rock!
Kevin - It's my last name and I'll keep it if I want to!
Daphne - Stirring the cauldron of equality
Rebecca - What's got 7 layers of clothes and a broken ribs?