World's Anti-Slavery Convention Of 1840
was a gathering in London of leading abolitionists from throughout the Western world to chart the future course of antislavery. Among the American delegations were eight women from radical, Garrisonian bodies in Massachusetts and Philadelphia. Strong opposition from most of the male delegates met their proposed inclusion. Moderate abolitionists from both America and England argued that "English custom and usage" would be outraged by women's equal participation and that the convention had to focus its efforts on antislavery, to the exclusion of extraneous issues. Debate on the convention's first day centered on this controversy. With only a few men willing to champion their cause, the crucial vote went against the American women, and they were excluded from participation.
American and British women shared a sense of humiliation suffered at the hands of men and met over the next weeks to discuss their common grievances and hopes for the future. During this time, the American women delegates established strong and lasting friendships with their British sisters, which would prove of great importance as the drive for woman's rights progressed in the transatlantic community. Convention events also demonstrated to "delegate" Lucretia Mott and observer Elizabeth Cady Stanton that they could not rely on men to fight for women's equality, and they resolved to hold a Women's Rights Convention upon their return to America (held eight years later at Seneca Falls). The sense of cause and resolve, strengthened by the events of the convention, would lead to greater independence from men within the antislavery crusade and ultimately to a woman's rights movement entirely distinct from the antislavery crusade. (See WOMAN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT.)
Contributed by: KAREN I. HALBERSLEBEN
Related Links
Lucretia Mott's Reform Networks, 1840-1860.
Lucretia Mott, Diary (excerpt).
Citation: Contributor last name, contributor first name. "World's Anti-Slavery Convention Of 1840." In Women's Studies Encyclopedia, ed. Helen Tierney. Greenwood Press, 2002. today's date <http://www.gem.greenwood.com>