The Third Women's Rights Convention attracted thousands to town in 1852, just five years after the city of Syracuse incorporated. Local leaders this week marked the 170th anniversary.
Mayor Ben Walsh said he looks forward to his daughters learning about the women behind it. He said that includes Matilda Joslyn Gage, a suffragist and activist from the region who was the main speaker for the convention when it began in the 1800s and got her start in Syracuse.
"Where Gage delivered her first major address to a large crowd speaking of the triumphs of women throughout history, decrying the unjust laws that denied women the rights to money, property, children and personal safety. It denounced the denial of the rights, liberty and equality in the United States, because of color and sex," Walsh said.
State Sen. John Mannion recalled the many successes that Gage and others paved the way for. However, he also described the unraveling of women’s rights due to the challenges women face, particularly following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to stroke down federal abortion rights.
“We will not let that happen in the state of New York," Mannion said. "I’m proud to have supported the convocation of women's rights in New York state, so please understand that the only thing that has changed for women in New York, is that we have strengthen the rights that women have. While across this country, those rights have been under attack, and those protections have been stripped away."
Michelle Jones Galvin, vice president of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, feels there are still struggles that aren’t going away.
“If you think about it, we are still talking about many of those issues today," Galvin said. "So it has been a struggle, over the years to make sure that women’s rights, women’s equality, women’s equity, really becomes a reality."
The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville is planning a special reproductive rights event in October.
The First Women's Rights Convention occurred in Seneca Falls.