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Women in Antebellum America. 1789-1848. Republican Motherhood. Idea began to emerge after the Revolutionary War

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Women in Antebellum America

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    1. Women in Antebellum America 1789-1848

    2. Republican Motherhood • Idea 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. Cult of Domesticity • Prior to the Ind. Rev. many men and women worked together as an economic unit on small family farms • However, as the Ind. Rev. 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 CoDidealized 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

    4. Cult of Domesticity • Created a cultural ideal that best applied to upper and middle-class white women • There was a wide gap between the ideals of the CoDand 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 CoD • Reformers such as Margaret Fuller recognized that the CoD relegated women to a separate domestic sphere that continued to deny them the basic rights of American citizenship

    5. Women and the Lowell Experiment • In 1790, Moses Brown built America’s first textile mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island • Production 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 • 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

    6. Women and the Lowell Experiment • 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

    7. Women and the Lowell Experiment • The Lowell experiment worked well at first • By the early 1830s, young unmarried women from rural NE comprised the majority of workers in MA 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 MA 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 MA

    8. The Seneca Falls Convention, 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, NY • The delegates discussed “the social, civil, and religious conditions and rights of women” • The convention adjourned after 2 days and issued a “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolution” modeled after the Declaration of Independence • The Declaration demanded greater rights for women

    9. The Seneca Falls Convention, 1848 • What caused the SFC? • 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 SFC? • Beginning of the women’s rights movement in the U.S. • Written primarily by Stanton, the DoSopened 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 DoSdid NOT call for equal pay for equal work or for greater access to birth control methods

    10. Religion, Reform, and Romanticism 1815-1860

    11. The Second Great Awakening • Background • As the eighteenth century ended, the religious fervor ignited by the First Great Awakening declined • During the early 1800s, a new wave of religious enthusiasm swept across much of the country • The SGA 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 • SGA preachers replaced the hellfire-and-damnation Puritan God with a gentler divinity of love and grace • SGA preachers emphasized humanity’s inherent goodness and each individual’s potential for self-improvement • SGA 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

    12. The Second Great Awakening • The “Burned-Over District” • Intense religious revivals were especially widespread in central and western NY • This region became known as the “BOD” because of particularly fervent revivals that crisscrossed the region • Charles Grandison Finney emerged as the most popular and influential preacher from the BOD • Finney’s emotional sermons stressed that each individual could choose to achieve salvation by a combination of faith and good works • The BOD 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

    13. Reform Movements • Educational reform • Horace Mann was America’s leading educational reformer • Wrote a series of annual reports that influenced education across America • Sponsored many reforms in MA including a longer school year, higher pay for teachers, and a larger public school system • Often called the “Father of the Common School Movement” • Emma Willard was an early advocate of women’s education – founded the Troy Female Seminary, America’s first women’s school of higher education • New books • McGuffey Readers • Aka Eclectic Readers, the book included stories illustrating the virtues of patriotism, hard work, and honesty • Dramatic increase in the number of newspapers from about 1,200 in 1833 to 3,000 in 1860 • Promoted literacy and a well-informed public

    14. Reform Movements • The mentally ill • Dorothea Dix • Wanted special hospitals for the mentally ill • 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

    15. Transcendentalism • Transcendentalists • Small group of writers and thinkers who lived in and around Boston • Leaders:Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller • Published a journal of literature, art, and ideas called The Dial, Margaret Fuller served as its first editor • Key beliefs • The divinity of man – God lived within each individual and each person possessed an inner soul or spirit and thus a capacity to find spiritual truth • The value of human intuition – condemned logic and reason • Believed human intuition transcended or rose above the limits of reason • Intuition enabled humans to discover and understand spiritual truths • Nonconformity and dissent – fiercely individualistic and rejected “tyranny of the majority” • The importance of nature – believed that truth could be found in nature

    16. Utopian Communities • Utopian communities founded in 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

    17. Utopian Communities • Brook Farm • 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 • It was an experiment in plain living and high thinking • Proved to be short-lived • The community disbanded following a devastating fire in 1846

    18. Romantic Art and Literature • From Deism to Romanticism • 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 • America’s first native school of art • Members concentrated on painting landscapes that portrayed America’s natural beauty • Typically painted large compositions which suggested America’s unlimited opportunities and boundless future • Walt Whitman • America’s leading Romantic poet • In Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, Whitman rejected reason and celebrated his own feelings and emotions