Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The intention of Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions by Elizabeth Cady Stanton asserts the rights of women and demands equal respect as full United States citizens. She uses the “Declaration of Independence” to assist in her endeavor of women’s rights and how the declaration states indirectly of the equality of women and men.

The invention of this piece is strongly connected with the “Declaration of Independence” and can’t be overlooked in Elizabeth’s message of the unconstitutional behavior weighed down on women during this time. She uses the exact words from the declaration and only tweaks the words slightly to include women and this creates a strong argument to the rights of women.

The pathos comes down to the strength of Elizabeth’s words and how they are direct and respectful at the same time for her plea of women’s rights. She fuels the fire in readers to see the injustice put upon women in her altered version of the Declaration. The connection of the oppression that was on America from England and using this message for women is powerful and evokes a sense of pride for equality that America holds so dear.

This quote is changed only slightly from the “Declaration of Independence” and delivers the message of, “…because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.” This brings the understanding into full appreciation because of the similarties between the two pieces of the past and present. They both share the same message of equal rights to all people, no matter what the gender. Elizabeth uses the foundations of America’s beliefs to prove her point and in denying these rights, they deny the rights in the “Declaration of Independence.”

–Addy Nichols

Throughout the entire piece, Elizabeth Cady Stanton maintains a formal, eloquent tone. This is in part due to the fact that she follows the structure and tone of the Declaration of Independence. But even when she diverges from the Declaration of Independence, she maintains this tone, which serves to strengthen her credibility and establish ethos. By sounding educated and well-versed, Stanton combats the assumption that women are not as intelligent as men and creates a document that is deserving of being taken seriously.

“After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.” This is one of my favorite quotes from the piece because it directly challenges men and the American government which they hold so dear, daring to point out the extreme irony when no one else will. It sets the stage for the rest of the essay and the rest of the women’s rights movement, showing that women are willing to boldly point out the flaws in government and society to get their due rights.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton ends this essay in her final paragraph by acknowledging the ridicule and mocking she and all women will receive from writing this declaration and demanding respect. She goes on to say that even when facing adversity, women will fight for their rights. By ending the essay in this manner, Stanton displays an understanding of her audience. She knows how her writings will be received but writes them anyways, showing that she is confident in her claims and confident in her ability to act on these claims. And by outlining her agenda, Stanton ends with a strong tone of finality, basically threatening/challenging men and the status quo.

— Olivia Hatch

Stanton’s first appearance with this speech was at the Seneca Falls Convention. It was seen as a stepping stone for women’s rights everywhere. This specific speech was written for that occasion, making it 100 times more effective. Stanton knew her audience and persuaded them effectively. Since this was a speech she uses delivery tactics throughout the piece such as repetition. Even reading it, the audience becomes encouraged and persuaded through this. Stanton knew her audience and wrote her speech catered to it. Her use of common documents like the Declaration of Independence made it relatable to everyone.

Stanton’s arrangement makes her argument clear and supported. She begins the piece with a parallel introduction to the Declaration of Independence but with a feminine twist.  This straightforward and sarcastic introduction conveys her message immediately. After introducing her argument she then persuades the audience through a list. The list of “grievances” is honest and clear. Through a direct use of logos Stanton is able to persuade audience members. It allows readers to completely understand everything the women at the convention wanted to change.
Stanton uses a formal yet inspiring tone in this piece. It conveys how important her message is and how serious she is about the subject. Her use of formal words sends a message to those around her of how capable she is as a woman. Through her writing she reveals how being a woman doesn’t prevent her from having a belief and being able to express herself. This confident and formal tone provides her argument with ethos.

-Caroline Steinmetz


Ethos: Elizabeth Cady Stanton is known for her role in leading the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention held in New York 1848. After receiving a prominent education for a woman, she attended a congress of abolitionist- which women were barred from. The incident drove her to fight for the rights of women and fueled her search for equality. This speech was created at the convention and serves as a starting point for women’s suffrage. Stanton served as the president of many womens suffrage organizations until her death. Her major role in the womens suffrage movement proves her ethos and credibility in the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, as well as her other works.

Delivery: The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions was read aloud at the Seneca Falls Convention before a group of women in order to edit and agree on its Declaration. The women at this conference were passionate about the women’s suffrage movement and desired equal rights for women. Written by Stanton, the Declaration contains those demands. It was read to these women and they all took part in its finalization. The verbal delivery and context of the piece to the group gives it strength because they all agreed on  the matter being discussed and felt passionately for the words it contained.

Subject: The Convention was the first of many meetings of suffragettes. In the 1800’s many men and women had conflicting views on the women’s movement for equal rights. Most men feared the rise of women, and some women were not comfortable with the “radical” views of the suffragists. The subject of equal rights for women was and still is a highly debated topic today-although we know have equal rights, there is sexism. By writing to a divided audience, she was addressing a subject that no one truly agreed on. This applies to the Rhetorical Triangle and how Stanton was able to deliver her message.

–Chloe Klusman

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it…and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” This statement is important in showing the careful attention Stanton made in creating an effective arrangement. Stanton includes this quotation in the beginning of her speech because she wants to obtain the attention of her audience. Since it is very similar to the Declaration of Independence, the wording would have invoked, in her audience, the memories of the American Revolution and England’s insensitive treatment of the American people. Therefore, as she continued and explained the hardships women were experiencing, her audience would have easily connected the suffering of women with the suffering instilled upon them by England. If she had waited until the end of her speech to include the quotations from the Declaration of Independence, they would not have been as effective.

In Stanton’s piece, she includes many examples of how women are treated in many different aspects of their lives. These examples range from how women are treated by friends and family in their own homes to even the lack of authority women are able to have in the Church. The majority of them deal with how women have been held back from being able to exercise the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution, but all of the examples add to the logos present in Stanton’s piece. By including many different types of examples, Stanton’s argument became universal for every type of woman no matter what her social rank may be.

Throughout the entire speech, Elizabeth Stanton maintains a bold and assertive voice which adds to her argument and overall message. The reason why this aggressive delivery was helpful can be explained by the points made in the essay “You Are What You Say” written by Robin Lakoff. Lakoff said that women tend to speak in a way in which they avoid confrontation, and when women speak like this, their arguments and overall knowledge is often seen as insufficient and not important. Therefore, since Elizabeth Stanton spoke directly and was aggressive in her argument, her audience viewed her as someone who had a significant message to convey. She did not use “tag questions,” but instead had confidence in herself and in the message she was trying to reveal.

–Sarah Biehl

Ethos: Stanton is able to give the Declaration of Sentiments a great deal of ethos from the very first sentence in the second paragraph. She says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal…” Stanton used the exact wording from Jefferson’s declaration, she just added the word “women.” Jefferson was a highly acclaimed male during this time, and the fact that he was a male, made people believe whatever he said regardless of what it was. Because of this, people read the Declaration of Independence and immediately agreed with and respected the idea that all men deserve equal rights. Stanton used his exact words and because they were already accepted by the general public, it made it hard for people to find fault in what she was saying, therefore giving the essay credibility.

Arrangement: The majority of the Declaration of Sentiments is a list of all of the things that men have done to woman that is socially and morally unacceptable. Stanton lists these in short, one to two sentence paragraphs. These small paragraphs make her points blunt and to the point. She doesn’t sugarcoat them to make the reader comfortable. She is saying, “this is what’s happening and no matter how hard you try to convince yourself, it is wrong.” These short paragraphs make her argument so much stronger than if she had surrounded her points with fluff to make it sound pretty.

Pathos: Stanton’s entire essay is full of pathos, for women readers especially. However, one paragraph that evokes emotion for any gender reading is where she says, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government…such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.” The men of this time just spent years fighting for independence from England because they didn’t agree with how the government was treating them and these two sentences bring about the fact that the way they were treating women wasn’t any better than how England treated them. They are forced to think and reflect on how they were running their country which makes this paragraph the strongest point of pathos in the essay.
–Grace Dearing

The fact that large portions of the Declaration of Independence are quoted exactly in the Declaration of Sentiments speaks not only to the effectiveness of  Thomas Jefferson’s writing but to how the fight for equal rights is deeply American. Elizabeth Cady Stanton linked the fight for women’s rights to the United States’ fight for independence because her American audience agreed that Jefferson’s grievances were enough to merit a revolution. Therefore, once her audience came to see both issues  through the same lens of Jefferson’s style, they would be more likely to agree that Stanton’s list of grievances demanded action as well.

There are few American figures as widely respected and quoted as Thomas Jefferson. At the time of Stanton’s speech, virtually all Americans held Jefferson and his Declaration in high esteem. Stanton added the Declaration of Independence to bring a tremendous amount of ethos to her speech. Her audience, which included men skeptical of her cause, could disagree with Stanton, but they could not disagree with the words of the esteemed Thomas Jefferson for fear of sounding unpatriotic. Since so much of Stanton’s speech is pure, unadulterated Jefferson, Stanton’s opponents were doubtless very frustrated when trying to pick it apart.

“He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they can be done in the presence of her husband,” This quote is important because it condemns an inequality that seems to favor women. It adds ethos because Stanton does not just want equal rights that give women more power; She also wants equal rights that will put a woman in jail if she commits a crime deserving of such. Men hearing this would be inclined to agree that women and men should get equal punishment for the same crime. Therefore they would consider Stanton’s other grievances under the assumption that she truly wants equality, not just power.

–Hannah Doll

1. The writer uses pathos by describing offenses of human feelings and including religious examples, helping appeal to a wider audience. Clear, strong logos projects from the list of reasons that practically shouts the injustices of how women were being treated at the time. Parallelism and allusion come from the author’s appeal to ethos by using the same format as the Declaration of Independence. This helps remind readers that both were written as statements to end the infringements of personal rights.
2. My personal favorite offense listed is, “That the same amount of virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behavior that is required of woman in the social state, should also be required of man, and the same transgressions should be visited with equal severity on both man and woman.” This applies today to equality  movements around the world and the social issues surrounding these in our nation.
3. I believe the authoritative tone and intelligent vocabulary promote the exact point of women being understated to deliver it effectively. The formality of the complaints and passive aggression of the speaker prove to be effective without seeming dramatic or whiny.

–Sophie Needham

Stanton’s choice to alter Jefferson’s Declaration is such a rhetorically perfect choice because it turns American men’s logic back on them. It uses a document dear to the hearts of patriots to argue, using the same logical reasons that the colonists were justifiably against Britain, to justify women’s demands for rights.

The context of Seneca Falls is important in reading this piece. It was an audience of women, gathered for one of the first women’s rights conventions. While it’s hailed as a cornerstone of American feminism, Stanton and her colleagues were white women who spoke from a position of privilege relative to women of color and had privilege related to their race. See this comic from feminist cartoonist Kate Beaton on the inter-movement racial tensions among suffragettes, featuring black suffragette Ida B. Wells.


With regards to the intersection of race and gender, I want to mention the 2016 musical Hamilton. The Schuyler sisters, all played by women of color, pull a Stanton and sing a lyric containing a modified quote from the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, Imma compel him to include women in the sequel.”

I love how full-circle this is! It takes a white man’s Declaration, reframed by a white woman, and is reframed again through the pen of a Puerto Rican man (creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) and the three women of color who portray the sisters. This is what Hamilton is all about– reframing the great stories of American history through the people who make up America today. It’s a more updated version of Stanton’s intention in her own Declaration.

-Olivia Short



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