RIGHTS DECLARATIONS AND CONVENTION RESOLUTIONS:
RESOLUTIONS FROM THE FIFTH NATIONAL WOMAN'S RIGHTS CONVENTION CLEVELAND, OHIO, 1853.
RESOLVED, That by Human Rights, we mean natural Rights, in contradistinction to conventional usages, and that because Woman is a human Being, she, therefore has Human Rights.
RESOLVED, that because woman is a human being, and man is no more, she has, by virtue of her constitutional nature, equal rights with man; and that state of society must necessarily be wrong which does not, in its usages and institutions, afford equal opportunities for the enjoyment and protection of these Rights.
RESOLVED, That the common law, by giving the husband the custody of the wife's person, does virtually place her on a level with criminals, lunatics, and fools, since these are the only classes of adult[s] ... over which the law-makers have thought it necessary to place keepers.
RESOLVED, That if it be true, in the language of John C. Calhoun, that "he who digs the money out of the soil, has a right to it against the universe," then the law which gives to the husband the power to use and control the earnings of the wife, makes robbery legal, and is as mean as it is unjust.
RESOLVED, That woman will soonest free herself from the legal disabilities she now suffers, by securing the right to the elective franchise, thus becoming herself a lawmaker; and that to this end we will petition our respective State Legislatures to call conventions to amend their Constitutions, so that the right ... shall not be limited by the word "male."
RESOLVED, That there is neither justice nor sound policy in the present arrangements of society, restricting women to so comparatively a narrow range of employments; excluding them from those which are most lucrative; and even in those to which they are admitted, awarding them a compensation less, generally by one-half or two-thirds, than is paid to men for an equal amount of service rendered.
RESOLVED, That, although the question of the intellectual strength and attainments of woman has nothing to do with the settlement of their rights, yet in reply to the oft-repeated inquiry, "Have women, by nature, the same force of intellect with men?" we will reply, that this inquiry can never be answered till women shall have such training as shall give their physical and intellectual powers as full opportunities for development, by being as heavily taxed ... as ... man. [The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison then offered these resolutions, separately numbered and presumably written by him, in lieu of a speech].
RESOLVED, that the natural rights of one human being, are those of every other, in all cases equally sacred and inalienable; hence the boasted "Rights of Man," about which we hear so much, are simply the "Rights of Woman," of which we hear so little; ... they are the Rights of Humanity, neither society and nation of which they are members; that in these United States women constitute one-half the people; men constitute the other half; that women are no more free in honor than men are to withhold their influence and example from patriotic and philanthropic movements, and that men who deny women to be their peers, and who shut them out from exercising a fair share of power in the body politic, are arrogant usurpers, whose only apology is to be found in prejudices transmitted from half-civilized and half christianized ages.
WHEREAS, The family is the nursery of the State and the Church -- the God-appointed seminary of the human race. Therefore
RESOLVED, That the family, by men as well as women, should be held more sacred than all other institutions; that is may not, without sin, be abandoned or neglected b y fathers any more than by mothers, for the sake of any of the institutions devised by men -- for the government of the State or the Nation any more than for the voluntary association of social reformers.
RESOLVED, That women's duties and rights as daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers, are not bounded within the circle of home; that in view of the sacredness of their relations, they are not free to desert their [kinsmen] ... amidst scenes of business, politics, and pleasure, and to leave them alone in their struggles and temptations, but that as members of the human family, for the sake of human advancement, women are bound as widely as possible to give to men the influence of their aid and presence; and finally, that universal experience attests that those nations and societies are most orderly, high-toned, and rich in varied prosperity, where women most freely intermingle with men in all spheres of active life.
RESOLVED, That the fundamental error of the whole structure of legislation and custom, whereby women are practically sustained, even in this republic, is the preposterous fiction of law, that in the eye of the law the husband and wife are one person, that person being the husband; that this falsehood itself, the deposit of barbarism, tends perpetually to brutalize the marriage relation by subjecting wives as irresponsible tools to the capricious authority of husbands; that this degradation of married women re-acts inevitably to depress the condition of single women, by impairing their own self-respect; and man's respect for them; and that the final result is that system of tutelage miscalled protection, by which the industry of women is kept on half-pay, their affections trifled with, their energies crippled, and even their noblest aspirations wasted away in vain efforts, ennui, and regret.
RESOLVED, That in consistency with the spirit and intent of the Statutes of New York, enacted in 1848 and 1849, the design of which was to secure to married women the entire control of their property, it is the duty of the Legislature to make such amendments ... as will enable married women to conduct business, to form contracts, to sue and be sued in their own names -- to receive and hold the gains of their industry, and be liable for their own debts so far as their interests are separate from those of their husbands -- to become joint owners in the joint earnings of the partnership, ... -- to bear witness for or against their husbands, and generally to be held responsible for their own deeds.
RESOLVED, That as acquiring property by all just and laudable means, and the holding and devising of the same is a human right, women married and single are entitled to this right, and all the usages or laws which withhold it from them are manifestly unjust.
RESOLVED, That every argument in favor of universal suffrage for males is equally in favor of universal suffrage for females, and therefore if men may claim the right of suffrage as necessary to the protection of all their rights in any Government, so may women ....
RESOLVED, That if man as man, has any peculiar claim to ... representation ..., for himself, woman as woman, has a paramount claim to an equal representation for herself.
RESOLVED, Therefore, that whether you regard woman as like or unlike man, she is in either case entitled to an equal joint participation with him in all civil rights and duties.
RESOLVED, That although men should grant us every specific claim, we should hold them all by favor rather than right, unless they also concede, and we exercise, the right of protecting ourselves by the elective franchise.
RESOLVED, That if the essence of a trial by an "impartial jury" be a trial by one's own equals, then has never a woman enjoyed that privilege in the hour of her need as a culprit. We, therefore, respectfully demand ... that, at least, the right of such trial by jury be accorded to women equally with men -- that women be eligible to the jury-box, whenever one of their own sex is arraigned at the bar.
RESOLVED, That could the women of the State be heard on this question, we should find the mass with us; as the mother's reluctance to give up the guardianship of her children; the wife's unwillingness to submit to the abuse of a drunken husband, the general sentiment in favor of equal property rights, and the thousands of names in favor of our petition, raised with so little effort conclusively prove.
WHEREAS, The right of petition is guaranteed to every member of this republic; therefore
RESOLVED, That it is the highest duty of legislators impartially to investigate all claims for the redress of wrong, and alter and amend such laws as prevent the administration of justice and equal rights to all.
RESOLVED, That all true-hearted men and women pledge themselves never to relinquish their unceasing efforts in behalf of the full and equal rights of women, until we have effaced the stigma resting on this republic, that while it theoretically proclaims ... [equality, it] deprives one-half of its members of the enjoyment of the rights and privileges possessed by the other.