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First Lady Hails Suffragists

As Lucretia Mott and other woman suffragists did more than a century ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped at the home of Mary Ann M'Clintock on her way to a women's rights gathering in nearby Seneca Falls.

Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Martha Wright, and Jane Hunt sat with M'Clintock in her parlor that day in 1848 to list the grievances that women could lodge against American society. Three days later, their "Declaration of Sentiments" was presented at the Women's Rights Convention and provided a basis for the modern women's movement.

Mrs. Clinton, who winds up her four-day American Treasures tour Thursday, was there to see the work that must be done to rehabilitate the M'Clintock House as part of a national historic park devoted to the women's movement.

Started Monday at the Smithsonian's National History Museum, the tour launched a $50 million project to preserve some of America's oldest and greatest historical treasures.

CBS News White House Correspondent Bill Plante reports that the first stop on the tour was a visit to see the first item to be restored - the star-spangled banner that inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the words to the national anthem.

The flag, currently housed in Washington, will be restored with a $10 million corporate gift from the Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., the largest contribution in the history of the Smithsonian Institution. Restoration will take about three years and will cost $5 million.

In Seneca Falls, Mrs. Clinton also is delivering a speech Thursday at a ceremony marking the suffrage movement's 150th anniversary. Mrs. Clinton said Wednesday she appreciated having the chance to stand in the room where those famous ladies adapted the Declaration of Independence to assert that "all men and women" are created equal.

"That was a very radical idea in 1848," Mrs. Clinton told a crowd of Girl Scouts and others who gathered outside the house to see her. "All of us who are girls and women owe a debt of gratitude to those courageous women who met in this house."

Mrs. Clinton's journey closely followed the path to Seneca Falls taken by Mott and Stanton. They also passed through what is now Victor, N.Y., to consult with three Iroquois Indian clan mothers, who hold the power to select male chiefs and control allocations and communications within their tribe.

The status held by the Iroquois women impressed Mott, Stanton and another early feminist, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and they patterned aspects of their movement after it, said Sally Roesch Wagner, co-founder of the women's studies program at California State University in Sacramento and an expert on relations between the Iroquois and feminists.

The first lady devoted her day Wednesday to honoring women whose contributions are either overlooked entirely or told only through chunks of folklore.

She visited the home of William Seward, secretary of state for Pesident Lincoln and a staunch abolitionist who hid runaway slaves in a room over his carriage house.

Then Mrs. Clinton stopped at the Auburn, N.Y,. home of maverick abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and announced a $10,000 gift from philanthropist Bitsy Folger toward the $1 million needed to restore it.