2020 marks the anniversary of the 19th amendment ratifying women’s voting rights. But the call for women’s rights began much earlier and traces a significant part of its history to New York’s canals.
In 1848, people convened the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, demanding full and equal rights between women and men. They drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, denouncing inequities in property rights, education, employment, religion, marriage and family, and suffrage. The Declaration was signed by 100 women and men, and the U.S. women’s rights movement was born.
Canal Boat Campaign
Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856 to 1940), daughter of pioneering women’s rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led the next generation in the cause for women’s suffrage. Among her many efforts was a 1908 campaign that traveled along the canal, stopping in towns and cities to hold rallies and build support. Still, it took another 22 years before women could cast their first ballots.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally passed by Congress on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920.
Touch History in Seneca Falls
Visit the place that touched off the movement for women’s rights and learn more about the canal’s role in spreading ideas and information at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, National Women’s Hall of Fame, and Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry in Seneca Falls. Round out your trip by cycling or paddling on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and visiting the region’s award-winning wineries.