Constitution of the American Equal Rights Association

The American Equal Rights Association was formed in 1866 to promote universal suffrage. It held two meetings, the founding convention in 1866, and the first annual meeting in May 1867, after which it folded due to the passage of the 15th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Rhetorically, it is notable primarily for the preamble, likely written by Lucretia Mott, the first and only President.


Whereas, By the war, society is once more resolved into its original elements, and in the reconstruction of our government we again stand face to face with the broad question of natural rights, all associations based on special claims for special classes are too narrow and partial for the hour; Therefore, from the baptism of this second revolution—purified and exalted through suffering—seeing with a holier vision that the peace, prosperity and perpetuity of the Republic rest on Equal Rights to all we, to-day, assembled in our Eleventh National Woman's Rights Convention, bury the Woman in the Citizen, and our organization in that of the American Equal Rights Association.

Article I.

This organization shall be known as the American Equal Rights Association.

Article II.

The object of this Association shall be to secure Equal Rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color or sex.

Article III.

Any person who consents to the principles of this Association and contributes to its treasury, may be a member, and be entitled to speak and vote in its meetings.

Article IV.

The Officers of this Association shall be, a President, Vice-President, Corresponding Secretaries, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer, and an Executive Committee of not less than seven, nor more than fifteen members.

Article V.

The Executive Committee shall have power to enact their by-laws, in any vacancy in their body and in the office of Secretary and Treasurer; employ agents, determine what compensation shall be paid to agents, and to the Corresponding Secretaries, direct the Treasurer in the application of all moneys, and call special meetings of the Society. They shall make arrangements for all meetings of the Society, make an annual written report of their doings, the expenditures and funds of the Society, and shall hold stated meetings, and adopt the most energetic measures in their power to advance the objects of the Society.

Article VI.

The Annual Meeting of the Association shall be held each year at such time and place as the Executive Committee may direct, when the accounts of the Treasurer shall be presented, the annual report read, appropriate addresses delivered, the officers chosen, and such other business transacted as shall be deemed expedient.

Article VII.

Any Equal Rights Association, founded on the same principles, may become auxiliary to this Association. The officers of each auxiliary shall be ex officio members of the Parent Association, and shall be entitled to deliberate and vote to the transaction of its concerns.

Article VIII.

This Constitution may be amended, at any regular meeting of the Society, by a vote of two-thirds of the members present, provided the amendments proposed have been previously submitted in writing to the Executive Committee, at least one month before the meeting at which they are to be proposed.

Done in the City of New York on the tenth day of May, in the year 1866.

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