The Declaration of Sentiments was written in the shadows of the Declaration of Independence. Following the same format as the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments expressed the rights that cared for women. According to the Declaration of Sentiments, women did not have the rights to own property, divorce husbands, claim custody of children, collect wages, and vote’. Through many arguments backed up by the bible and rights in general, women pushed for their rights. These arguments both prove the Declaration of Sentiments to be both moral and radical.
Rights of women in the late 1830’s became a moral concern for women living in the United States. Men had been considered, and still were considered the dominant gender. Men were the shields of women because women were inferior to men’. Due to the consideration of women being the inferior, they did not obtain the same rights as men.
Women began to catch onto to this slowly and began to act. They began to talk about morals. In a letter to Catherine Beecher, Sarah Grimké goes onto to explain these kinds of morals. First she compares women’s rights to the rights of slaves, and she claims that they “led me to a better understanding of my own.” This is a reasonable statement, like slaves, women did not have the same rights as white men and were looked as an inferior group. Grimkê goes on to talk about human rights in her letter. She states that humans have these rights because they are moral beings, and that since they are all moral they all share the same rights. Then she makes her point “Now if rights are founded in the nature of our moral being, then the mere circumstance of sex does not give to man higher rights and responsibilities, than to woman.” Grimké makes a valid point; she brings up the argument of human rights. Human and moral rights both agree with the concept that moral humans share the same rights. Raising the question of why men only have these rights to own property, vote and more.
Continuing with this theory of equality in another letter, this one to Mary S. Parker, Grimké brings the bible into the equation. At this time the second great awakening was in effect. This argument becomes very strong with its tie to the scriptures. She talks about the creation period where man was first created. She begins to explain that both men and women were created in the “image of God,” given superiority over other creatures, “but not over eachother.”
With the seconding great awakening, this argument is hard to oppose. Not only is this defending moral and human rights, but also it is backed up by the bible. This time her argument created a much larger effect due to the second great awakening. Years later, after her Grimké’s and many other feminist’s arguments, the Declaration of Sentiments was written. This document itself was radical and also moral. The Declaration of Sentiments explained its radicalism when it said, “it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”! The women in America asked for a change.
This change was very radical but at the same time moral. The change could be argued to not be radical, because according to the bible this is how it was always suppose to be, but the thing is, this is not how it always was. Women have not had the same rights as men in America as long as America has been around. So this change is radical towards the American culture. These women asked for the rights to own property, divorce husbands, claim custody of children, collect wages and vote!. Rights like this are rights that women have never experience in America, and they should. This made the Declaration of Sentiments both radical and moral.
The Declaration of Sentiments was not the beginning of women rights, yet it was the first big statement. Arguments made by women like Sarah Grimké were more of a spark to this radical decision. Her arguments were very helpful and very well timed. Using the bible to back up an argument during the second great awakening was extremely effective. These feminists did what they could to point out how unmoral the women’s rights were, then put it all together and created a radical document, and asked for a change. This radical document was the Declaration of Sentiments and it helped continue the movement of women to protest and gain their human rights as citizens in the United States of America.
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