Fre In What Ways Did The Early Nineteenth Century Reform Movements For Abolition And Women's Rights Illustrate Both The Strengths And The Weaknesses Of Democracy In The Early American Republic?

1724 words - 7 pages

Life for the American woman in the 19th century was full of conflicts and struggles. Women suffered from a lot of discrimination, and were not allowed to vote, attend universities, speak in public, or own property, and were essentially forced to fight for their place within society. Regardless of these difficulties, women gathered strength in numbers and succeeded in establishing permanent social changes.Writing was a popular form of expression for women and was used as tools of social change--in the form of letters, essays, magazine and newspaper articles, short stories and books. These works became the beginning of intellectual expression through which women not only battled for their own ...view middle of the document...

In an effort to bring honor and moral standards to a basically untamed land, women addressed their readers with stories about food, gossip, clothes, home-life, manners, virtue, and inner feelings.The Two Offers, written by Francis Harper, is an ideal example of 19th century sentimental literature. It was published in 1859. It is thought of as the first short story published by a black person in the United States. The story does not deal with racial issues; it focuses on the domestic problems of drunkenness, wife abuse, child neglect, and the pressure on women to marry. Harper incorporated African-American oral techniques and abolitionist sentimentalism into her work to bring experiences among people into the mainstream. And, having worked in and being familiar with high-culture, she utilized a writing style purposely to stimulate a vivid and emotional response in her readers.During the 1850's the fledgling women's movement began to organize itself. The movement's leaders focused their agenda on full rights and participation in civic life for women. Leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton grew to be skilled speakers and organizers of petitions. Women's rights had achieved a high level of visibility after the convention at Seneca Falls. Soon, many other women were drawn to the movement, but none would be more important than Susan B. Anthony.Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton began to work together on women's rights and one of the first issues they worked on were property rights for married women. The Married Woman's Property Act had been passed in New York Stat in 1848. However, there were still gross inequities for married women under the law. A married woman could not sell her property or own the wages she had earned. The lack of legal status for married women was an ongoing issue for the early women's rights movement. If women could not enter into contracts, it was unlikely that they could ever win such a right as suffrage. The first major struggle for women's rights after the Seneca Falls convention was petitioning for married women's property rights. The fight against unfair treatment under the law became a rallying point for Stanton and Anthony.Anthony called a convention of women to discuss this matter. At the convention in Rochester, New York Anthony recruited sixty women to cover the sixty counties of New York State. Armed with petitions, Anthony and the others went door to door, asking for signatures. The petitions asked the New York legislature to pass law giving married women the same rights as men to write a will, keep their earnings, and have guardianship over their children. In ten weeks, Anthony and her supporters had collected sixty thousand signatures. On the strength of the petition, the legislature allowed Elizabeth Cady Stanton to give a speech for the bill.Women's Rights were another area in need of reform at the time. Women's rights guarantee that women will not face discrimination on the basis of their sex. Until...

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