The women’s rights movement emerged within other reform movements such as abolitionism. Its push to gain the right to vote was highly unpopular in the country and brought much hostility—including from many women.
Spiritualism created a huge audience for the advancement of women’s rights as the women’s rights agenda ideas travelled throughout the spiritualist network of lectures, newspapers, books, and organizations for several decades.
The women’s rights movement did not have a formal organization. The first National Women’s Rights Convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, in October 1850. Paula Wright Davis, the wealthy widow of a merchant organized it.
Around one-thousand people—most of them men—came to hear the wide variety of reformers she had invited including Harriot Hunt, the first woman accepted to Harvard Medical School—she could not attend because the male students objected, and Wendell Phillips, an abolitionist who also worked for Indian causes.
Davis hoped that the discussions would be civil, but things got loud as the participant argued passionately about the issues: access to higher education, greater employment opportunities for women, reorganizing duties in the home, and opening trades and profession to women.
This was the first large public appearance for the gifted orator Lucy Stone. Life could be very hard for a women’s rights activities. Before getting there, she had been nursing her brother who soon died of cholera in front of her, then she left with her very pregnant sister-in-law who gave birth prematurely to a still born child, and while nursing her back to health, she contracted typhoid fever, causing her to drift in and out of consciousness for days. She survived and made it to the Convention, the success of which greatly lifted her spirits.
Click first for an excellent summary of the woman’s suffrage movement in the US
Overview of the Baha’i teachings on the equality of men and women