This is an argumentative report on Elizabeth Candy Stanton’s “Declaration of sentiments and resolutions”. In this report an argument is made on the effectiveness of the above speech. This is done by examining a number of factors including the historical and cultural context, the audience for which the speech was intended, and in general the kind of facts that the speech brought out.
The best way to analyse this speech is by examining the historical and cultural context at the time the speech was made.
This is accomplished below.
The speech was made in 1948. Eight years earlier in 1940 Elizabeth Candy along with other women were subjected to a kind of discrimination in a major convention in London. This is an era when slavery was an order of the day. In the US, slavery was far from being abolished as it drove the economies of the states especially in the south.
The issue of human rights was still a new term and surprisingly men, and in this case white men, were considered to be the only rational creatures. Women were treated as kids and therefore were not given rights as those that men possessed. Women were denied instruments of enlightenment such as pursuing courses in theology and law which were very significant in liberating them. Women therefore being ignorant accepted the positions that men degraded them to.
1 The Arguments
Elizabeth made very keen observations and presented them in a very logical way. She started her argument by claiming that all people are created equal and are entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Stanton 73). She further argued that governments are instituted with the purpose on ensuring that these rights are not violated. She believed that whenever a government is not able to protect these rights then it becomes irrelevant in the eyes of those who gave it the consent to govern.
Having laid her foundation she knocks the nail on the head of the subject matter by pointing out how the government has allowed men to continuously trample on the rights of women. Stanton argued that men have never allowed women to participate in elective franchise. She argued against the notion of being subjected to rules whose formation they did not participate in. She argued that the most ignorant men were subjected to rights which women were denied.
She viewed the isolation from the hall of legislation as the major way which men used to oppress women from all sides. She goes on to outline many ways in which men have oppressed women through legislation. She argued in manner that clearly depicted the kind of slavery that women were in: “He has monopolised nearly all the profitable employment, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration” (Stanton 74). She was very logical in her of arguing, for instance she pointed out that women are kept in darkness concerning their rights by being out rightly denied to know about them (their rights) by being denied college admission. She finalised her argument by pointing out the fact that she anticipated some stiff resistance in form of “misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule” (Stanton 74).
Twelve resolutions were made. The resolutions were meant to correct the wrongs which had been committed against women. The first resolution declared that laws which were in conflict with the happiness of women were invalid. It was resolved that laws which placed men in superior positions than women were against the precept of nature.
More resolutions advocated for women to be treated as equals of men and consequently be enlightened in reference to the laws that govern them. It was resolved that there shall be no use of double standards in matters of “virtue, delicacy, and refinement of behaviour” (Stanton 74) as it pertains to women. The ninth resolution read “that it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred rights to the elective franchise” (Stanton 75). The last resolution made was meant to trigger some action from the supporters of women liberation to get into action and help in the liberation process.
Stanton presented a very strong case for women liberation.
She tactfully showed how men took advantage of women and relegated them to some kind of slavery. Although women had assumed that men were justified to treat them as such, Stanton made a very strong appeal and evoked some sense in women. It is recorded that all the resolutions were unanimously adopted except the ninth one which it was felt would be used to term the whole movement ridicule. I must admit that the declaration was effective as the argument was plain and simple to understand based on simple basics of nature.
“Declaration of sentiments and resolutions” as made by Stanton was quite effective. Although made in a time when women were generally regarded as inferior in the society, its impact was great taking into consideration the clear and straight forward way of arguing that was presented by Stanton.
Stanton, Elizabeth. Declaration of sentiments and resolutions; Women’s History.
New York: Arno, 1969. Print.