- The “Great Doctrine of Human Rights”: Articulation and Authentication in the Nineteenth-Century U.S. Antislavery and Women’s Rights Movements
- Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 8, Number 3, Winter 2017
- pp. 413-439
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Human rights are often considered a twentieth-century phenomenon, yet the concept has its ideological foundations in earlier social movements. During the nineteenth century, human rights periodically emerged as a contested concept, their meaning in constant flux. When the rhetoric of human rights did appear, it was at important junctures between the antislavery and women’s rights movements. Early allusions were shaped by a tradition of humanitarianism and paternalism, relying on intertextual references and authenticating documents to validate this fledgling idea. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, women’s suffragists attributed a far more recognizable, universalistic meaning to the concept of human rights.