Abolition and Women’s Rights | The Pluralism Project
Both the movements for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights were powerful expressions of nineteenth-century Protestant moral reform. recognizes the significance of this woman's part in the abolitionist move- ment, but . she made the connection between slavery and women's rights. But white. An exhibit on the connection between the antislavery movement and the women's rights movement was created and displayed in Women's.
If the impulse to rebel was widely shared, few but middle class white women were in a position to act, and to do so in sufficient numbers to create a movement. Writing and reading changed women, even if only in the imagination. But culture and consciousness exercised limited influence on power structures, as the tumultuous politics of the early republic demonstrated. When the states extended the franchise to property-less white men, they gave women and likewise men of color more reason to feel excluded from the polity.
Women were reduced to outsiders in a system where all white men, including many immigrant men who were not even citizens, possessed the vote and wielded electoral power. Thus, women sought to intervene as humble petitioners in antebellum political struggles over slavery and westward expansion, but they found their efforts unavailing. Scholars are beginning to understand the U. Leaders like Stanton and Anthony discovered new grassroots supporters every time they took a train to give another lecture: Historians are challenged to work with lenses wide enough to take in all the various ways individual women might participate in or relate to the movement.
According to a long-accepted origins story, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, southern white women who came north and were encouraged by William Lloyd Garrison to testify against the evils of slavery, found they faced criticism for violating social customs and church teachings by speaking in public. Reasoning that they could not serve the cause of abolition if they were silenced, the Grimkes began to claim their own right as women to speak out, and soon they began to see comparisons between the plight of women and of slaves.
As Douglass pointed out, the vote was the most fundamental right, the guarantor of all other rights. The movement that followed soon brought on board an energetic schoolteacher, Susan B. Anthony, and found audiences among those inspired by Lucy Stone, a gifted young orator who provided key leadership. They gained widespread public recognition through a sympathetic abolitionist press and by exploiting the curiosity of mainstream newspapers until, by the end of the s, public awareness and sympathy had increased.
Or so the story goes. Was Seneca Falls, and the leadership asserted there, really so important?
Relations between Abolitionist Women and Slaveholding Relatives, Introduction
The origins story was crafted, after all, by Stanton and Anthony themselves. In their massive History of Woman Suffrage HWSwhich they wrote in the s, at a time when the vote remained out of reach and their movement seemed stalled, they created a narrative and rich archive of historical documents that also was a bid to establish the history of their leadership in a movement that was diffuse and not always cohesive.
They also wanted to press further on issues of marriage and sexual autonomy. One line of scholarship explains their behavior as a retreat from previous commitments to racial justice and, focusing mostly on the political context, interprets their turn to racism as more opportunistic than essential. But academic biographers have avoided Susan B.
Anthony and have failed to go beyond an abbreviated though excellent look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton, despite the fact that biographical research on this crucial pair is now facilitated by the microfilm of the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and six volumes of their Selected Papers edited by Ann D. Perhaps a focus on leaders may seem dated, but greater understanding of key historical figures is not advanced by neglect; nor can such figures be convincingly diminished or discredited without thorough study.
After attending a lecture by Susan B. But these first successes did not generate the snowball effect that activists had hoped for. The fact of woman suffrage, which was supposed to demonstrate its own merits, proved embarrassing because Utah women had been enfranchised by the Mormon elders, and they proceeded to vote as other Mormons did, in favor of polygamy.
Later on, the first states that voted for woman suffrage were also in the West; Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho all enfranchised women before the turn of the century. Each case reflected local circumstances and threw little or no weight into the balance for woman suffrage nationally. In the same interval, activists learned that fighting through a state referendum campaign was an exhausting marathon that would have to be repeated over and over and over again.
Aftertwo rival suffrage organizations, struggling for want of resources, were reduced to special fundraising for referenda or to publish a newspaper. Individual activists found that lyceum lecturing might generate an income, but it demanded long weeks on the road and tended to encourage messages tailored to appeal to popular audiences.
Meanwhile, backlash prevailed in the realms of culture and sexual expression, due in part to the Comstock laws, which outlawed all sorts of sexually oriented information and materials, including contraceptives. Woodhull was a suffragist who worked with Stanton and Anthony but also a free lover, while Beecher was the first president of the American Woman Suffrage Association. In quick succession, movement activists were faced with a number of events that demanded their immediate reaction: They had to ask themselves: What was politically possible, effective, or wise?
Stanton and Anthony were denied the resources to take advantage of their best chance, in Kansas, and the effects of that failure were magnified when they turned to a racist funding source thereafter. Bya deep and bitter rift had developed. Neither organization developed a winning strategy or compiled an admirable record. Entering into a phase of regrets and cover-ups, and interested only in a history that would be useful to them, Stanton and Anthony left modern historians with much work to do on this period.
It had seemed so promising.
The 14th Amendment defined women as citizens and guaranteed citizens equal protection, while the 15th Amendment said that the right to vote of American citizens could not be abridged on account of race. Activists pressed for a declaratory act in Congress, and significant numbers of women voted illegally into seize rights or to mount test cases.
Anthony was tried and convicted of illegal voting in Rochester. But in the test cases that reached the Supreme Court, Bradwell v. Illinois and Minor v. Inthe American Colonization Society formed to resettle freed slaves in Africa. However, the South depended on slave labor as cotton production expanded after the invention of the cotton gin. Repressive laws and public justification of slavery followed southern slave revolts in the s and s. Religious revivals during the Second Great Awakening intensified anti-slavery activity after Seeking to perfect society, adherents targeted slavery as an evil that destroyed individual free will as moral beings.
Abolitionists began to demand immediate, uncompensated emancipation of slaves. Women were a large part of the general membership and formed separate, local female anti-slavery branches. Mott also helped found the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society inan organization, noted for its promotion of racial and gender equality, that included African American and white women as leaders and members.
Many anti-slavery reformers, like the Quakers, came from pacifist backgrounds or espoused nonviolent social reform. They shaped public opinion by distributing newspapers and tracts, sending out organizers and lecturers, and hosting fundraising fairs. Garrison, who saw the U. Constitution and federal government as pro-slavery forces, observed Independence Day as a day of mourning. Between andthe American Anti-Slavery Society split in three, in part over the issue of women's leadership, specifically Abby Kelley's appointment to the business committee.
Women’s Rights, Abolitionism, and Reform in Antebellum and Gilded Age America
Radical abolitionists and women's rights supporters, known as "Garrisonian" abolitionists, remained in the American Anti-Slavery Society. The newly formed American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society restricted membership to males, with auxiliaries for females. The politically minded formed the Liberty Party, limiting women's participation to fundraising.
The discrimination of women in abolition and other reform movements led them to advocate for women's rights.
- The Connection Between Women’s Rights and Abolition
- Abolition and Women’s Rights
- Abolitionist Movement
All time will not be long enough to pay the debt of gratitude we owe these noble men…who roused us to a sense of our own rights, to the dignity of our high calling. Claiming that "all Men and Women are created equal," the signers called for extending to women the right to vote, control property, sign legal documents, serve on juries, and enjoy equal access to education and the professions.
Arguments for women's rights came from experiences in the anti-slavery movement. During a petition drive in Massachusetts inmale listeners thronged to female-only lectures.
Rebuked by Congregational ministers and others for speaking to promiscuous audiences, they held their ground. They learned to write persuasively, raise funds, organize supporters and events, and speak to large groups of men and women about important political and social issues. In the service of anti-slavery, women found their voices. Between andwomen's rights advocates held state and national conventions and campaigned for legal changes. Free Soilers sought to limit slavery by denying it to new territories entering the union.
Some male village residents attended both conventions. Chamberlain and Saron Phillips, who signed the Declaration of Sentiments, were chosen as delegates to the Free Soil Party's national convention. The passage of the Fugitive Slave Law authorized federal marshals to seize and return fugitive slaves.
Northern free blacks had little protection against false claims by southern slaveholders. While many free blacks fled to Canada, previously neutral northerners were enraged at the injustice. Slavery and anti-slavery supporters rushed into Kansas to claim it for their side. Inafter anti-slavery settlers died during an attack in Lawrence, Kansas, John Brown led a raid against pro-slavery homes along Pottawatomie Creek, killing five men in retaliation.
With a warrant out for his arrest, John Brown returned east to plan a daring raid. He hoped to create a large slave insurrection in Virginia. Brown sought support among prominent abolitionists like Frederick Douglass. Elizabeth Cady Stanton 's cousin, Gerrit Smith, provided financial support.