The Movement Begins The organized movement for women’s rights was sparked by the friendship between Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two women met in 1840 at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. When they arrived, they were outraged to discover that women were not allowed to speak at the meeting. The men who ran the convention made women sit in the balcony, behind a curtain.
The men’s decision may have backfired, because it was in the balcony that Mott and Stanton met. At first glance, the two women seemed quite different. Mott was 47 years old, the mother of four children, and an active reformer. Inspired by the Grimke sisters and her Quaker faith, Mott had preached against slavery in both white and black churches. She had also helped Prudence Crandall try to find students for her school for black girls.
Stanton was 25 years old and newly married. She had never spoken in public. As a young girl, she had overheard women beg her father, a judge, to protect them from husbands who had beaten them. He had to tell them that there was no law against it. Later, she attended Troy Female Seminary, the nation’s first high school for girls. She knew from her history studies that the United States did not treat women fairly. When she met Mott in London, she readily agreed that something had to be done about the injustices suffered by women.