Skip to main content

Frederick Douglass to Elizabeth McClintock, July 14, 1848

1

FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO ELIZABETH MCCLINTOCK1Elizabeth Wilson McClintock (1821–96) was the eldest of four daughters of Thomas and Mary Ann McClintock, reformers from Pennsylvania who were involved with the Progressive Friends. In 1836 the McClintock family moved to Waterloo, New York, where Thomas McClintock owned a combined drugstore and bookshop in which he sold items produced exclusively by free labor and in which Elizabeth worked as a clerk. For the next twenty years, the McClintock home served as a focal point for local abolitionist activities and as a station on the Underground Railroad. There, in July 1848, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton developed the idea for the first women’s rights convention, held only a few days later. Elizabeth McClintock attended the convention and signed the Declaration of Sentiments. She also attended the women’s rights convention held in Rochester in Augast 1848. In 1849 McClintock attempted to become an apprentice silk merchant in Philadelphia, but was refused a position because of her gender. During the Civil War, she opened a ladies’ specialty-items store in Philadelphia, which thrived until her retirement in 1885. 1850 U.S. Census, New York, Seneca County, Waterloo, 182; John E. Becker, A History of the Village of Waterloo, New York, and Thesaurus of Related Facts (Waterloo, N.Y., 1949), 108, 135—36, 143, 156; National Park Service, Women’s Rights Trail: Seneca Falls and Waterloo, New York (n.p., n.d.), 19–20; Mott, Selected Letters, 11, 174, 192–95; Andrea Constantine Hawkes, “‘Feeling a Strong Desire to Tread a Broader Road to Fortune’: The Antebellum Evolution of Elizabeth Wilson McClintock’s Entrepreneurial Consciousness” (M.A. thesis, University of Maine, 1995).

Rochester, [N.Y.] 14 July [1848].

DEAR ELIZABETH,

To be sure I will do myself the pleasure of accepting your kind invitation, to attend the proposed woman’s convention at Seneca falls.2Held on 19 and 20 July 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was the first to call for woman suffrage and the equal rights of women. Mary Ann McClintock, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton hastily organized the convention during a luncheon for Mott, hosted by McClintock in the neighboring town of Waterloo. Stanton, then living in Seneca Falls and a guest at the luncheon, expressed her discontent at the social and legal status of women. Already skilled in attacking injustice through the abolitionist movement, the three women organized the Seneca Falls meeting in the Wesleyan Chapel. Despite less than a week’s notice, between 200 and 300 people arrived for the event. Participants included not only Mott, McClintock, and Stanton, but also Douglass and Amy Post. The highlight of the convention was Stanton’s reading of the Declaration of Sentiments, based on the Declaration of Independence, which demanded the repeal of laws that placed women in secondary status to men, insisted on equal standards of moral conduct for men and women, and declared that women should be given the right to vote. The Seneca Falls meeting spawned a similar meeting in Rochester, held on 2 August 1848; a larger meeting in Worcester, Massachusetts, in October 1850; and an entire movement for women’s rights. NS, 28 July, 11 August 1848; “Report of the Woman’s Rights Convention Held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19th and 20th, 1848,” in Woman ’s Rights Conventions, Seneca Falls and Rochester, 1848 (1848; New York, 1969); “Proceedings of the Woman’s Rights Convention Held at the Unitarian Church, Rochester, N.Y., August 2, 1848,” ibid.; Bacon, Valiant Friend, 124–38; Becker, History of Village of Waterloo, 153; Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change, 130–31. I think that one or two or more of the Post family will be present also.3Amy Post and her stepdaughter, Mary Hallowell, attended the Seneca Falls Convention, and both signed the Declaration of Sentiments. “Woman’s Rights Convention, Seneca Falls, 1848,” 7–8; Hewitt, Women’s Activism and Social Change, 61, 130–31. Your notice did not reach me in time for this paper—but happily I received one from our mutual Friend Lucretia Mott.4Lucretia Coffin Mott.

With Dear love to the family I am most sincerely, Yours

FREDERICK DOUGLASS

2

ALS: Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, N.Y.

Date

July 14, 1848

Type

Publication Status

Published