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W OMEN IN A NTEBELLUM A MERICA 1789-1848. R EPUBLICAN M OTHERHOOD The new American republic promoted equality and social democracy. Women, however, were.

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Presentation on theme: "W OMEN IN A NTEBELLUM A MERICA 1789-1848. R EPUBLICAN M OTHERHOOD The new American republic promoted equality and social democracy. Women, however, were."— Presentation transcript:


2 R EPUBLICAN M OTHERHOOD The new American republic promoted equality and social democracy. Women, however, were denied many basic rights. For example, they could not vote, hold political office, or serve on juries. Given these restrictions, what should be the role of women in the new republic? The idea of republican motherhood began to emerge after the Revolutionary War. Its advocates insisted that the new American republic offered women the important role of raising their children, especially their sons, in the principles of liberty, women played a key role in shaping America’s moral and political character.

3 C ULT OF D OMESTICITY Prior to the Industrial Revolution many men and women worked together as an economic unit on small family farms. However, as the industrial revolution gained momentum, it encouraged a division of labor between home and work. While men held jobs in a competitive market economy, the home became the appropriate place for a woman. The cult of domesticity idealized women in their roles as wives and mothers. As a nurturing mother and faithful spouse, the wife created a home that was a “haven in a heartless world.” The home thus became a refuge from the world rather than a productive economic unit. The cult of domesticity created a cultural ideal that best applied to upper and middle-class white women. It is important to note that there was a wide gap between the ideals of the cult of domesticity and the harsh realities faced by women working in factories and on the frontier. In addition, enslaved black women were completely excluded from any hope of participating in the cult of domesticity. Reformers such as Margaret Fuller recognized that the cult of domesticity relegated women to a separate domestic sphere that continued to deny them the basic rights of American citizenship.

4 W OMEN AND THE L OWELL E XPERIMENT In 1790, Moses Brown built America’s first textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The pace of textile production, however, remained slow until the Embargo Act of 1807 and the War of 1812 stimulated domestic production. In 1813, Francis Cabot Lowell and a group of investors known as the Boston Associates constructed a textile factory in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Waltham mill used both modern spinning machines and power looms to produce cheap cloth. Investors earned a 20% profit as sales soared from $3,000 in 1814 to $300,000 in 1823. The profitable commercial manufacture of textiles marked an important step in moving production from the home to the factory.

5 W OMEN AND THE L OWELL E XPERIMENT Inspired by the success of the Waltham mill, Francis Lowell built a model factory town at Lowell, Massachusetts 27 miles from Boston. Lowell built clean red-brick factory centers and dormitories designed to avoid the drab conditions in English mill towns. He hired young New England farm women to work in his mill. The girls worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. They lived together in boarding houses under the watchful eyes of older women who enforced mandatory church attendance and strict curfews.

6 W OMEN AND THE L OWELL E XPERIMENT The Lowell experiment worked well at first. By the early 1830s, young unmarried women from rural New England comprised the majority of workers in Massachusetts textile mills. However, the factory owners soon became more interested in profit than in the welfare of their employees. In 1834 and 1836 the owners cut wages without reducing working hours. The women responded by going out on strike and petitioning the Massachusetts state legislature to pass a law limiting the workday to 10 hours. Although this measure failed to pass, it convinced the owners that the female workers were too troublesome. Factory owners then turned to the impoverished and compliant Irish immigrants who were then pouring into Massachusetts.

7 T HE S ENECA F ALLS C ONVENTION, 1848 What happened? In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first convention in support of women’s rights. The convention met for two days in Seneca Falls, New York. The delegates discussed “the social, civil, and religious conditions and rights of women.” The convention adjourned after two days and issued a “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolution” modeled after the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration demanded greater rights for women.

8 T HE S ENECA F ALLS C ONVENTION, 1848 What caused the Seneca Falls Convention? During the 1830s and 1840s many women dedicated themselves to working for the abolition of slavery. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, a small but determined group of feminists realized that they were also the victims of injustice. Stanton and Mott questioned the prevailing idea that women should be subordinate to men. Why should you remember the Seneca Falls Convention? The Seneca Falls Convention marked the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Written primarily by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Declaration of Sentiments opened by declaring, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” The document called for greater divorce and child custody rights, equal opportunities in education, the right to retain property after marriage, and the extension of suffrage to women. Taken together, these demands formed the agenda of the women’s rights movement into the twentieth century. It is important to note that the Declaration of Sentiments did NOT call for equal pay for equal work or for greater access to birth control methods.


10 T HE S ECOND G REAT A WAKENING Background As the eighteenth century ended, the religious fervor ignited by the First Great Awakening seemed to wane (decline). During the early 1800s, a new wave of religious enthusiasm called the Second Great Awakening swept across much of the country. The Second Great Awakening began on the western frontier and then quickly spread to the more densely populated East coast. Key characteristics The Puritans believed in a just but stern God. Second Great Awakening preachers replaced the hellfire-and-damnation Puritan God with a gentler divinity of love and grace. The Puritans believed that humanity was doomed by original sin and thus marked at birth for membership in either the small group of the “elect” or the much larger mass of the “damned.” Second Great Awakening preachers instead emphasized humanity’s inherent goodness and each individual’s potential for self-improvement. The Puritans believed that God controlled the destiny of each human being. In contrast, Second Great Awakening inspired a belief in Perfectionism – the faith in the human ability to consciously build a just society. This close link between religion and reform awakened many Americans to a variety of social and moral issues.

11 T HE S ECOND G REAT A WAKENING The “Burned-Over District” Intense religious revivals were especially widespread in central and western New York. This region became known as the “Burned-Over District” because of particularly fervent revivals that crisscrossed the region. Charles Grandison Finney emerged as the most popular and influential preacher from the Burned-Over District. Finney’s emotional sermons stressed that each individual could choose to achieve salvation by a combination of faith and good works. The Burned-Over Districts was the birthplace of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons. The Mormons were originally led by their founder Joseph Smith.

12 R EFORM M OVEMENTS Educational reform Horace Mann was America’s leading educational reformer. As Secretary of the newly created Massachusetts Board of Education, he wrote a series of annual reports that influenced education across America. Mann sponsored many reforms in Massachusetts including a longer school year, higher pay for teachers, and a larger public school system. As a result of his tireless work, Mann is often called the “Father of the Common School Movement.” Emma Willard was an early advocate of women’s education. She founded the Troy Female Seminary, America’s first women’s school of higher education. America’s public school children learned about literature from a series textbooks called McGuffey Readers. Also called Eclectic Readers, the book included stories illustrating the virtues of patriotism, hard work, and honesty. The first half of the nineteenth century witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of newspapers from about 1,200 in 1833 to 3,000 in 1860. The proliferation (rapid increase) of newspapers promoted literacy and a well-informed public.

13 R EFORM M OVEMENTS The mentally ill Dorothea Dix launched a crusade to create special hospitals for the mentally ill. An indefatigable (tireless) champion of reform, Dix travelled more than 10,000 miles and visited almost every state. Dix and other reformers created the first generation of American mental asylums. By the 1850s there were special hospitals in 28 states. Temperance In the early 1800s, America had over 14,000 distilleries producing 25 million gallons of alcoholic drink each year. By 1830, Americans drank 5 gallons of alcohol per capita. The Temperance Movement was a widespread campaign to convince Americans to drink less alcohol or to drink none at all. Founded in 1826, the American Society for the Promotion of Temperance soon boasted 5,000 state and local temperance groups. Their campaign against “Demon rum” worked. By the mid-1840s Americans drank just 2 gallons of alcohol per capita.

14 T RANSCENDENTALISM The Transcendentalists were a small group of writers and thinkers who lived in and around Boston. The leading Transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. The Transcendentalists published a journal of literature, art, and ideas called The Dial, Margaret Fuller served as its first editor. Transcendentalism included the following key beliefs: The divinity of man: The Transcendentalists believed that God lived within each individual. Each person possessed an inner soul or spirit and thus a capacity to find spiritual truth. The value of human intuition: The Transcendentalists condemned logic and reason. They believed that human intuition transcended or rose above the limits of reason. Intuition enabled humans to discover and understand spiritual truths. Nonconformity and dissent: The Transcendentalists were fiercely and uncompromisingly individualistic. They repudiated (rejected) the “tyranny of the majority.” “If a man does not keep pace with his companions,” Thoreau wrote, “perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” The importance of nature: The Transcendentalists believed that truth could be found in nature. Transcendentalists viewed communion with nature as a religious experience that enlightened their soul. For example, Thoreau turned away fro the artificiality of “civilized” life and lived for two years in a cabin at the edge of Walden Pond near Concord. He strove to acquire self-knowledge by living close to nature.

15 U TOPIAN C OMMUNITIES Utopian communities were concrete social expressions of the Perfectionist vision of achieving a better life through conscious acts of will. Idealists founded over 100 utopian communities between 1800 and 1900. The movement reached its peak between 1830 and 1860. The various utopian communities all shared the following common goals: They rejected the competitive business practices of the market economy. They tried to build an egalitarian (equal) social order by creating an economy based on shared wealth. They regulated moral behavior in order for members to realize their full spiritual potential. They organized their members into cooperative work and living units.

16 U TOPIAN C OMMUNITIES Brook Farm was the most celebrated utopian community. Founded at West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1841, it enjoyed the support of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and other leading Transcendentalists. Brook Farm’s experiment in plain living and high thinking proved to be short-lived. The community disbanded following a devastating fire in 1846. Brook Farm, nonetheless, had a lasting impact upon its members. Years later, Nathaniel Hawthorne remembered, “our beautiful scheme of a noble and unselfish life, and how fair, in that first summer, appeared the prospect that it might endure for generations.”

17 R OMANTIC A RT AND L ITERATURE From Deism to Romanticism Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and other leading late eighteenth century American intellectuals were all deists. Deism is the belief that God created the world but then allowed it to operate through the laws of nature. These natural laws could be discovered by human reason and expressed as mathematical formulas. During the 1820s and 1830s, artists and writers in Europe and America began to rebel against Deism’s logical and well-ordered world. “Feeling is all!” became the guiding spirit of a new generation of Romantic painters and poets. Inspired by the Transcendentalists, the romantic movements in America emphasized nature, emotion, and spontaneous feelings. The Hudson River School The Hudson River School was America’s first native school of art. Its members concentrated on painting landscapes that portrayed America’s natural beauty. Hudson River School artists typically painted large compositions which suggested America’s unlimited opportunities and boundless future. A famous example is The Oxbow by Thomas Cole. Walt Whitman Walt Whitman was America’s leading Romantic poet. In Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, Whitman rejected reason and celebrated his own feelings and emotions.








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