If time allows when I visit a town I try to dig into the history of the place and learn something about it. I think of it as dancing with the ghosts of history. And there’s no shortage of history in the northeast.
Seneca Falls is famous for two things. As I wrote about in my previous post it was the inspiration for Bedford Falls, the town in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, and the bridge inspired the scene with George saving Clarence. The second, or more appropriately, the first thing that Seneca Falls is known for is it’s role in Women’s Suffrage. Seneca Falls was the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement in America.
In 1848 the first Women’s Rights Convention was held at Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls. 300 attendees participated, and five notable women spoke. The attendees included a mix of women and men, and one notable black participant; Frederick Douglas. Douglas encouraged the women to include the right to vote in their Declaration of Sentiments. This document was a highly controversial statement at a time when women were largely seen as inferior to men. The convention inspired others soon after in Rochester, New York and in Worcester, Massachusetts and opened up the minds of many that women were equal to men.
It would be another 71 years before Congress gave women the right to vote, and many years after that before women were perceived as equal to men. Frankly there are still some idiots who think they aren’t. But the slow march towards equality began in Seneca Falls.