, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 63-79
Date: 09 Aug 2008

A Time for Silence: William Lloyd Garrison and the “Woman Question” at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention

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Abstract

The World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 is remembered most as the event that inspired Lucretia Coffin Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to organize the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention. Few scholars, however, have analyzed the debate proceedings that ultimately resulted in women’s exclusion from the convention. An analysis of the convention proceedings questions Wendell Phillips’ strategy of speaking on behalf of the women, arguing instead that William Lloyd Garrison’s strategy of silence was the more rhetorically astute response to the exclusion of women. Garrison’s silent protest not only attracted more attention to the women’s rights cause, but also inspired women to speak on their own behalf.

Lisa Shawn Hogan studies the history and rhetoric of the women’s rights movement.