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The Impact Of The American Revolution On The Women's Rights Movement

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The lack of participation of women in society in the United States before the women's rights movement in 1948 was remarkable. They did not participate in activities such as voting and fighting in wars. They also could not own property and "belonged" to their father until they were married, when they would then become the property of their husband. They were brought up to get married, often while they were still very young, then to become a good mother and housewife. The lack of activity though changed during the American Revolution that lasted from 1775 to 1783. This American Revolutionary experience had a great impact on the eventual movement for women's rights.

Previous to their rights movement, women, by law, were declared inferior to men, had no separate existence from their husbands and every one of their possessions, acquired or inherited, would be passed on to the ownership of her husband. The children in a marriage belonged to the father alone and the custody of the children if one was to get divorced, was usually given to him. If a woman's husband died, she would receive only the use of one third of his real estate. They could be beaten as long as the stick was no bigger than a man's thumb and single women were excluded from earning a living, with the exception in a few poorly paid trades. They wanted to feel useful to society so during the American Revolution, women, who did not usually participate in the war, actively participated on the home front. They knitted stockings and sewed uniforms for the soldiers. They also had to replace men out in the factories as weavers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and shipbuilders. Other women also volunteered out on front to take care of the wounded, become laundresses, cooks and companions to the soldiers and some turned their houses into hospitals to take care of the injured. Several women fought on the front such as Deborah Sampson, who called herself Robert Shirtliffe to enlist in the army, Mary Hays, known as Molly Pitcher, who replaced her husband out in battle when he died, and Margaret Corbin, who fought in Fort Washington. One woman, Lydia Darragh, was one notable spy who leaked information about the British soldier's plans to the Continental Army and thus they were able to prevent the British attacks at Whitemarsh. Another remarkable woman was Margaret Hill Morris who was a famous caretaker because of her herbal remedies and experience in medicine. She went to take care of the sick or wounded soldiers every morning while they were held in area homes until they recovered. Women also protested against British merchandise alongside men, during the Edenton Tea Party, for example Penelope Baker's declaration to ban British goods was signed by 51 women, who signed their true names onto the documents, in October 1774. Most women stopped wearing British cloth and drinking British tea in effort to stop all the British imports.

When the war was over, women were beginning to sense their own capabilities, to make judgments not only about their own status but also about the problems in society such as their unfair treatment, and wanted to do something about them. After their active participation in the war, they were able to gather confidence and independence from their roles and efforts in the war to manage farms, and later on cities. Unfortunately for them, they were not acknowledged for their efforts and life returned to what it was before. The men went back to their jobs, so the women had to go back home and they no longer felt like they had a purpose like during the war and sought justice for this later on. After



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