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The exclusion of female delegates from an antislavery convention held in London in 1840 was an important catalyst for launching the woman's rights movement in the United States. At this convention, women were prohibited from addressing fellow delegates and were forced to sit in the gallery during the proceedings. When women delegates were excluded, American abolitionists Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison sat with the women in protest. American abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott returned home determined to fight for women's rights. Later Frederick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist, expressed gratitude for women's "devotion and efficiency in pleading the cause of the slave," and welcomed his designation as a "woman's rights man." Like most male supporters of the woman's rights movement, Douglass believed that women's participation in the antislavery movement had qualified them for equal citizenship.
To explore the reasons why men supported the antebellum woman's rights movement; to discuss connections between the woman's rights movement and the antislavery movement.
Ask students to read William Lloyd Garrison at the Woman's Rights Convention, 6 September 1853. How does Garrison equate the tyranny of men over women with the tyranny of slavery? What does Garrison mean when he declares he is a "HUMAN RIGHTS MAN?" Why does Garrison argue that men and women should have equal rights?
Continue the discussion of male supporters of women's rights by reading Frederick Douglass, "Why I Became a 'Woman's Rights Man'" (1881). How does Douglass connect the antislavery and woman's rights movements? Why does Douglass argue that the government would be better if women were enfranchised? What does he say the vote would do for women as well as for African Americans?
Ask students if they see similarities and differences between the views of the two men. Based upon these documents, why do students think that some men supported women's rights before the Civil War?
Assign students a 5-page paper, asking them to answer the following question: How Did the Antislavery Movement Contribute to the Emergence of the Woman's Rights Movement? Ask them to draw on the previous documents as well as the following: