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Sample Comparison and Contrast Essay

George Smith

Mrs. Tenney

English 11 Honors

27 September 2013

1920: Overdue

In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton read her “Declaration of Sentiments” advocating for new laws guaranteeing women voting rights and

equal treatment, attempting to complete the quest for women to be equal under the law that had begun in 1776. As the country was

being formed, Abigail Smith Adams, who had no formal education, wrote to her husband about the Declaration of Independence, encouraging

him to consider the rights of women as the document was drafted. “A Declaration of Sentiments of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights

Convention” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and “A Letter to John Adams” by Abigail Adams share a common goal: a push for women’s rights

. Despite their common purpose, these works differ in several ways: the audiences, the format, and tone.

Both Stanton and Adams successfully communicate the need for women’s rights to their intended audiences. Stanton writes the

“Declaration” to influence powerful government officials as well as the voting public. She hopes that her voice will reach all those who might

effect a change in the legal status of women. She says that women are “civilly dead” because they have been denied the right to vote (160),

and further asserts that marriage deprives women of their independence, writing, “. . . she [a married woman] is compelled to promise

obedience to her husband, he becoming to all intents and purposes, her master, the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty and to

administer chastisement” (160). Therefore, once a woman is married, she forfeits all her rights as an individual, and her husband assumes

responsibility for her as if she is no one under the law. Stanton wants the lawmakers to grant all women, married or not, equal rights. Stanton

hopes that legislators and voters alike will act recognize women as equal citizens of the United States of America. Unlike Stanton, Abigail

Adams intends her letter for her husband alone. Because her husband, John Adams was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, Abigail

Adams hopes that she can affect the legal status of women by influencing the founding document of our country, The Declaration of

Independence. She asks her husband to “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors”(157).

She implores him to limit the power of men over their wives, since “all Men would be tyrants if they could” and because many men use their

wives with “cruelty and indignity with impunity” (157). She hoped that her husband would provide women legal protection under the

Declaration of Independence and the “new Code of Laws” as the documents that founded our nation are drafted. Sadly, although both

Stanton and Adams communicated their concerns, there is a difference between communicating one’s concerns and those concerns being

heard. It will take seventy-two more years for women to be granted the right to vote.

The formats of “The Declaration” and “A Letter” reflect the audiences for which they are intended as well. . . Remember, English 11

students, this is just a start. Our thesis says we have two more body paragraphs and a conclusion to go!


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