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Changing Women's Roles

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Women started to challenge their domestic roles over time by using the war, westward expansion and abolitionist movements and by ultimately taking advantage of the liberties they were given. Because they were proven to be sufficiently skillful in activites during the Revolution and Civil War they were able to expand their roles after the war both socially and also in education.

From the time the abolition and temperance movements started in the early 1830s, women, both white and black, started to become more outspoken about the rights they feel are being denied to women and African Americans. Their role in the temperance and abolition movements gave them the needed tools to change women's roles. An African American woman by the name of Maria Stewart, the first African American woman to speak in public, iniated a lecture to her people to convince them to take pride in their race and their heritage by joining the fight of the abolition movement. This was also significant of how women's roles have changed over time because this was the first time an American-born woman spoke in public. Her address in 1833 addressed the cause of abolition and comments that "we have planted the vines, they have eaten the fruits of them" which is talking about the role of sexism and how women are constantly being degraded. Another African American woman by the name of Harriet Tubman was also a significant figure in the anti-slavery movements because she was the one responsible for the Underground Railroad, which was a means of escape for runaway slaves to Canada. She successfully led hundreds of slaves to freedom using safe houses that they could stay on during their journey to freedom in the North without being caught once. She also served as a spy for the federal forces in South Carolina and also as a nurse.

Another woman woman is believed to be one of the pioneers of the movement to end slavery and the women's rights movement as well. Lucretia Mott was a Quaker minister who attended the Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England and was refused a seat by the white men that held this conference. As a response and retaliation in 1848, herself and another reformer by the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton orgainzed the first women's rights convention, The Seneca Falls Convention. Using the Declaration of Independence as a model they both came up with a declaration of their own called the Declaration of Sentiments that demanded that the rights of women as right-bearing individuals be acknowledged and respected by society. As a result of this meeting came a series of resolutions that demanded the increase of women's rights, which includes better employment oppurtunities and educational as well as the right to vote. After slavery was abolished in 1865 she shifted her efforts towards the African American's right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony was another woman that played an important role in the abolitonist movement and then temperance. During the Civil War she agreed completely with the Union cause. She also helped the Abraham Lincoln administration by creating the Women's Loyal League. Her role in the abolition and movement was mostly that of the one who organizes, the one who traveled and spoke publicly. She spoke more about the public opinion. In the mid-1850s she was asked to organize, write and deliver speeches against the issue of slavery and also women's rights. Her efforts paid off because eventually in 1865 there was the passage of the thirteenth amendment which abolished slavery. After her efforts paid off she shift her efforts towards the temperance movement. In fact, she joined the Women's State Temperance Society in the State of New York, but when the men started to take over she resigned as leader which in turn ended her role in the temperance movement. Although the idea of women's suffrage was rejected she still attempted to vote in an election in Rochester and was arrested immediately for violating voting rights that women didn't have yet. Eventually she became the president, in 1892, of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. So she had a pretty big contribution to the abolition and temperance movement and also for women's rights.

When the Civil broke out in 1861 many Americans didn't believe that the war would have any kind of effect on changing women's roles, but little did they know that when the war was over that so many social changes and education for women would change women's lives forever. One of the women that helped shape women's roles would have to be Dorothea Dix. Dorothea Dix was appointed the Superintendent of Nurses by the government during the Civil War. She convinced army officials that women could perform these tasks just as acceptable as men and then started recruiting women to join the army hospitals. Her only request for women wanting to be volunteer nurses is if they are "plain-looking women over thirty with no jewelry, no hoop skirts, no curls or bows." She was a pioneer in the insane asylums and prison reforms, and was determined to clean up the army as she had cleaned up the jails and asylums (RTAP, 104).

There was another woman that volunteered but she volunteered in a different way. Unlike Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton was the daughter of an army man and when Sumter was fired on she decided she wanted to join the war. After getting her father's blessing she went onto war. Once when Clara Barton was in the midst of heroic labors after a terrible battle, an officer remarked to her, "Miss Barton, this is a rough



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