The Center of the Rebellion

Seneca Falls NY May 2011_Womens Rights Natl Hist Park early supportter statues 2Lynne Weiss over at the always interesting “Dispatches” section of The Common:

Seneca Falls has a much bigger place in history than it does in geography. It is usually mentioned only as the location of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention, famously organized by women’s rights crusader, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. So rarely is it mentioned in any other context that one might think it did not exist before or after that event. It’s a small town, much like many other old mill towns in New England and upstate New York, and seems an unlikely setting for, as Stanton called her farmhouse home, “The Center of the Rebellion.” (Stanton was proud of having kept her birth name–Cady–after she married, but for purposes of brevity I call her Stanton here.)

Ironically, it was because Seneca Falls was so humdrum that Stanton was driven to organize a convention. Before they moved to Seneca Falls in 1847, Stanton lived in Boston, where she and her husband Henry entertained leading thinkers and writers—William Lloyd Garrison, Lydia Maria Child, Frederick Douglass, Bronson Alcott, John Greenleaf Whittier, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Stanton attended plays, concerts, and lectures. She had maids and nurses to help care for her seven children. She and Henry moved to Seneca Falls for the sake of Henry’s political career, but when he failed to win elected office, he became a political journalist, spending nearly all his time in Albany and Washington, D.C., leaving Stanton to her own devices.