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Throughout American history, women have been seen as the “weaker sex,” leading to disdainful treatment by men, and even today we feel the effects of this concept. Before the American Revolution, women were considered unequal to men, but thanks to the revolutionary rethinking of social life and relations between sexes the American Revolutionary War enhanced one of the reasons for progress in women’s rights.
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Women’s place during the American Revolution
The period of the American Revolution was a significant stage in the development of the women’s civil rights movement, which officially began in the 1850s. Before the American Revolution, women were substantially restricted in their actions and rights and were not allowed to possess property and were obviously dominated by the man in the household. It was unacceptable for them to have a separate personality, an opinion that would differ from their parents or husbands. All this represented a stable position that portrayed a female as a fragile person, and therefore men believed that a woman should solely perform household duties and take care of children.
In pre-Revolutionary times, women did not assert the right to vote and were not allowed to hold on to positions in government, mainly because they were considered apolitical. Most women did not receive proper education and therefore their personal views on politics were willfully neglected or not taken into account at all. Without equal rights, women suffered from various critical problems such as divorce and other issues related to the law. This inequality remained after the end of the American Revolutionary War, so it took much longer for women to get the necessary rights.
One of the fundamental factors of the Revolution was the fact that women demonstrated their ability to fight against prejudice and for their rights. Patriot women discovered their potential as well as their loyalty to the colonies by boycotting British goods. They also protested in the streets, taking a stand against laws such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Tea Act of 1773. These laws also led to the creation of the “Daughters of Liberty” organization, which was formed in 1765. The primary goal of the “Daughters of Liberty” was to investigate ways to oppose British policy during the American Revolution.
Women as an integral part of the victory
Evidently, women fulfilled a crucial role in the American Revolution. Some historians even call Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren, wife of Boston patriot Joseph Warren, our “Founding Mothers.” Abigail Adams corresponded extensively with her husband during his stay in Philadelphia, prompting him that in the new political reality, he must “remember the ladies”, otherwise they too would raise their own revolution. Warren, as politically conscious as Adams, was a writer who not only writing about her independent thoughts on the Boston situation, but also dabbling in drama. In 1805, she published History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution.
The courageous side of women of this period manifested in the fact that they frequently followed their husbands to the Continental Army. These women were identified as camp followers, and they were typically responsible for the army’s external necessities, such as mending clothes, washing, cooking, and providing medical care when needed. In some cases, women were delivered into battle. Such was the case of Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays), who is popularly associated with her action at the Battle of Monmouth (1778). Hays first brought water to the soldiers from a local well to refrigerate them down on an extremely hot and humid day, and then replaced her wounded husband at his artillery position, firing at the advancing British. In addition, there were other similar cases, such as Margaret Corbin becoming the first woman in American history to receive a lifetime soldier’s pension after the war. These women are vivid and impressive examples of courage and progress, and their outstanding contribution to American history and its progressive development is invaluable.
The Revolutionary and Early National America remained a place of male privilege. Nevertheless, the understanding of classical relations between men, women and society underwent significant changes during this time. The republican direction of revolutionary politics required conscious and self-disciplined citizens who were to become the foundation of the new republic. This helped to develop an alternative ideal image of a wife as a “republican mother” who could prepare her children, especially sons, to be wise and prudent individuals. This notable addition to the traditional list of wife’s duties brought with it an increased interest in women’s education and in that way helped to make husbands and wives more similar.
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However, even with the impressive contributions of all the prominent women in the fight against inequality, the American Revolution did not lead to major, political and legal changes for women. This proves the fact that when America declared its independence from the Crown in 1776, women in fact lost their rights.
Despite the fact that there were no significant alterations for women, quite a few minor changes did take place. One of these transformations was the attitude towards women. The traditional view of them began to change. Women began to rethink the approach they bring up their families, they started to lead their lives in a contradictory, innovative way, and now one of their missions is to instill patriotism in their households, as well as to help their husbands to support the government and vote, and even encourage them to run for office. Except for some previously established ideas that have been modified to provide more essential equality, none has received a significant impact on history.
After the War of Independence, the position of American women and their role in society stayed virtually unchanged. Women continued to carry out a relatively traditional and domestic role in society. It is clear that even in the present, some men still consider women incapable of achieving anything. However, as we know from history, unfair treatment only encouraged American women to continue to improve their status in society.
We can do it today.