July 19, 1848 was a hot summer day.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and fellow women's rights activist Lucretia Mott worried that no one would make the trip to the small village of Seneca Falls, New York, for the first Women's Rights Convention. "The Wesleyan Chapel said, 'Yes, you can meet here.' They got there and the doors were locked. Elizabeth boosted her nephew up and he unlocked the door. Over 300 people came. It lasted for two days. When the Declaration of Sentiments were read 68 women and 32 men signed it," said Frances Barbieri, education director for the Seneca Falls Historical Society.
Among those who signed the historic document was Rochester abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a friend of Stanton. They were protesting the laws of the day that were widely discriminatory toward women, according to Barbieri. "You didn't own your own property. You didn't own your children. If your husband divorced you, he got to keep your dowry. And you had to go back home and take nothing with you, except what you had on you."
This weekend, the National Women's Hall of Fame is commemorating the anniversary with a two-day convention in Seneca Falls.