Women*s History

Women’s History
Introductory activity
British system of coverture
 The legal doctrine of coverture, which stated that a married
woman was under the authority and protection of her
husband, extended to America.
 When a woman married, she was no longer a separate
individual. She was now part of her husband’s household.
 Coverture was also intended to protect married women in
that a wife could not inadvertently hurt her husband’s
British system of coverture
 The effects of coverture on colonial women were that it
made owning property nearly impossible.
 They could not sue, enter into a contract, or even write a
 Most American women could not get a divorce
 Custody of children was given to men under the system of
Mercy Otis Warren (1763)
 Wife of James Warren a politician and prosperous merchant lived
with her husband and 5 children in Boston, MA
Sister to political activist James Otis
Close friends with John and Abigail Adams
Active in politics Warren became famous for her pamphlets,
poems and plays which were social and political satires.
She celebrated revolutionary activities such as the Boston Tea
Party and encouraged women to uphold the boycott of British
Abigail Adams
 America’s first feminist
 Not formally educated but very well read
 Evidence of her political activism found in her many letters
Remember the Ladies
 “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable
to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited
power into the hands of the Husbands, Remember all Men
would e tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention
is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a
rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in
which we have not voice, or Representation.”
Phillis Wheatley (1773)
 This image was commissioned as the cover for her book Poems
onVarious Subjects, Religious and Moral
 Published in London by an anti-slavery noblewomen
 Brought to Boston as a slave when she was seven, Phillis
quickly learned English and was identified by her masters as
being extremely intelligent
 Her owners encouraged her intellectual and spiritual growth
and Wheatley became a celebrated author and symbol for
anti-slavery in the colonies and the New Republic
“Mum Bett”
 Born a slave sued her master for her freedom in 1781 led to
the decision on the part of the Supreme Court of MA that
slavery was invalid in the state (Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1783))
 After gaining her freedom, she took the name Elizabeth
Freeman and spent the rest of her life as a paid servant to the
family of her lawyer
Jemima Wilkinson
 Claimed that she had died from an illness in 1776 and came
back to life as “Public Universal Friend” and became a
charismatic evangelical preacher who emphasized the golden
rule of treating others as one wishes to be treated
 She insisted that her followers avoid the pronouns of “she”
and “her” when referring to her
 Why do you think that she preferred male attire and
avoidance of female references?
“A Society of Patriotic Ladies”, 1774
Miss Fanny’s Maid (1770)
Daughters of Liberty
Banner of Washington’s Guard (date unknown)
Liberty in the Form of the Goddess of Youth Giving Support to the Bald Eagle (1796)
Samuel Jennings, Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences (1792)
The Cult of Domesticity and True
 Four ideals of piety, purity, submissiveness, & domesticity
 Reaction to the industrial revolution, changes in gender
 Publicized in “Godey’s Lady’s Book”
 Considered to be in effect from 1820- 1860
The Lowell System
Antebellum reform and women
 Outgrowth of the Second Great Awakening 1815-1860
 “feminization of religion”
 Reform movements largely many led by women
Women’s rights movement comes out of the social reform
1848- Seneca Falls Convention produced the Declaration of
Rights and Sentiments based on the Declaration of
Independence, failed but highlighted the activism of women
Women’s rights largely were put aside for abolition beginning
in the 1850s
Notable women of antebellum period
 Dorthea Dix
 Elizabeth Blackwell
 Grimke Sisters
 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
 Luretia Mott
 Susan B. Anthony
 Lucy Stone
 Amelia Bloomer
 Alice Paul's Educational Achievements
B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College, 1905
M.A. in Sociology from University of Pennsylvania, 1907
Ph.D. in Economics from University of Pennsylvania, 1912
LL.B. from Washington College of Law, 1922
LL.M. from American University, 1927
D.C.L. from American University, 1928

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