In July 1848, a handful of American women called a meeting in Seneca Falls, New York to declare women's independence from what meeting organizers called the "absolute tyranny" of men. Some 300 participants debated the merits of a document they called the "Declaration of Sentiments.” This document demanded that women also have "all the rights and privileges which belong to...citizens of the United States.""
Although the Declaration was unanimously approved, only 68 women and 32 men actually signed the document. One of the youngest to do so was 18-year-old Catharine V. Paine. Catharine was raised in a progressive, middle-class Seneca Falls household. Her father publicly opposed slavery while her mother had converted to Methodism, a Christian religion that encouraged taking personal responsibility and seeking justice on Earth. All three Paine daughters, including Catharine, were members of the church.
Five years after the Seneca Falls convention, Catharine married David Blaine, a Methodist clergyman. Both of them hoped to work as missionaries overseas, in China or Africa. Their dreams were thwarted when David was sent instead to the new town of Seattle to preach to the settlers there. In September, 1853, Catharine headed west to her new life in Washington Territory. Along with her steamer trunks and her Bible, she carried the reformist ideals that had sprouted in upstate New York.
The lesson plans featured on this webpage tell the story of Catharine Paine Blaine and her beliefs and ideals. Students will explore a number of online resources, touching on reform ideals and the challenges of early western settlement and women’s rights. To view curriculum about Catharine and her journey, select the appropriate grade level below.