Response paper: “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Answer all of the following questions:
1. Elizabeth Cady Stanton echoes the Declaration of Independence because she wishes to associate her ideas and the movement she supports with a document and a movement that her readers esteem. And she must have believed that if readers esteem the Declaration of Independence, they must grant the justice of her goals. Does her strategy work, or does it backfire by making her essay seem strained? Explain your response.
2. When Stanton insists that women have an “inalienable right to elective franchise” (para 4), what does she mean by “inalienable?”
3. Stanton complains that men have made married women, “in the eye of the law, civilly dead” (para 8). What does she mean by “civilly dead?” How is it possible for a person to be biologically alive and yet civilly dead?
4. Stanton objects that women are “not known” as teachers of “theology, medicine, or law” (para 13). Is this still true today?
5. How might you go about proving (rather than merely asserting) that, as paragraph 24 says, “woman is man’s equal—was intended to be so by the Creator”?
6. The Declaration claims that women have “the same capabilities” as men (para 32). Yet in 1848 Stanton and the others at Seneca Falls knew, or should have known, that history recorded no example of a woman philosopher comparable to Plato or Kant, a composer comparable to Beethoven or Chopin, a scientist comparable to Galileo or Newton, or a mathematician comparable to Euclid or Descartes. Do these facts contradict the Declaration’s claim? If not, why not? How else but by different intellectual capabilities do you think such facts can be explained?
7. Stanton’s Declaration is over 165 years old. Have all of the issues she raised been satisfactorily resolved? If not, which ones remain?
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