Women's Battle Against Discrimination
From the beginning of time, society has considered men to be a dominant figure over women, classifying women as simple stay at home objects. Throughout history, women have been put aside countless of times and have been forced to become their husbands’ shadows. Yet through all the prejudice and discrimination, women have fought non stop to slowly gain the education and equality they deserve. Women such as the daughters of liberty, and Abigail Adams came together to fight against discrimination towards women along with Sacagawea who shows that women are just as capable as men to survive in the outdoors.
In 1769, American colonies based their laws off English Common Laws. These laws were based off Biblical stories such as Adam and Eve. Eve is known to the church as the “source of evil and sin” (Kamp). This belief was put upon all women and along with societal traditions women were recognized as “ weak, incompetent, and corrupt” (Kamp). The English common laws clearly stated that married women could not own land or any sort of property, and had no control over their earnings. Only widows were given more privileges, but even then their actions were very limited. Widows could have one-third of their late husbands’ estate and they had the right to dower. In extreme cases, mothers could not keep custody of their children after their father died. These laws imprisoned women to a life of isolation they were constantly being pushed aside and reminded that only men were important (Women and the law).
During the fight for independence not only did patriots fight for a free country away from Great Britain but certain women had become annoyed with the corrupt conduct of men. Abigail Adams was one of these powerful women. Abigail Adams was born in Massachusetts on November 22, 1744. Her father was a congregationalist minister and her mother was part of a prestigious family in Massachusetts. Abigail was educated at home and was very devoted about reading. She later married John Admas and in the war for independence Abigail and John would communicate through letters. “On March 31, 1776” Abigail sends a letter where she asks Adams to “remember the ladies” (Abigail Adams). Abigail requests for more freedom and equal rights, as well as more generosity coming from the husbands’. Abigail states the men especially husbands’ have been like tyrants towards their wives, and have deprived women from equal rights for too long. Being irritated by the appalling nature of men Abigail warns John that her and many other women are willing to rebel if they don’t get the treatment they deserve (The American Yawp reader). John Adams took this situation as a joke and did nothing to please his wife’s demands. This letter has become the first step in the fight for women’s equality. Later in 1789 it influenced the U.S. constitution to include words such as persons, people, and electors (The American Yawp reader). Instead of including gender based words such as men. This improvement could not have been possible without Abigail’s strong mind and ambition to stand up for herself and other women.
During the revolutionary war a group of women known as the Daughters of Liberty demonstrated their patriotism by joining boycotts against the British Townshend act. Taxes were too high on clothing, food, and especially tea. These women refused to keep purchasing British goods and instead they used their weaving skills to produce homemade clothing which made American a lot less dependent of Britih goods.This was known as the Homespun rebellion. “In January 1770, 538 Boston women” signed an agreement where they pledged to not drink and tea until it was no longer taxed ( “History of American Women”). In 1774 the Daughters of Liberty highly influenced the coninental congress to boycott all British goods. Other women would help make clothing and uniforms for the soldiers at war. Some wifes even took the place of their husbands’ while they were at war and would take care of the farms, and businesses. All these women stepped up to protect their country and their families, without them men would have returned to find the country in shambles. These women put their lives at risk and where willing to stand up against a country who had kept them in isolation for too long. This is a great example to show how women just like men are capable of many great things and sometimes they are mistakenly underestimated.
As times changed enlightenment thinkers realized that if a republic were to succeed then the citizens would have to be efficiently educated. Leaving the obsolete english common laws behind Republican Motherhood became encouraged after the American revolution. Women who had once been left at home to take care of all domestic matters were now being expected to educate their children and prepare them to be “productive American citizens” ( Roy). Republican
Motherhood expanded education from women in the upper class to the women in the middle class. These women were in charge of teaching their son’s about the “founding era on the rights of men and the duties of citizenship including proper participation” (Mast). They were also in charge of educating their daughters on the responsibilities and requirements on how to successfully meet the demands put upon them by society. Even though women were still not given their unalienable rights they were starting to become part of society. Without them, children would not have been prepared for the real world.
“In 1788 a girl named Sacagawea was born into the Lemhi Shoshone tribe” (“History of American Women”). At a young age Sacagawea and other girl members in her tribe were mistreated and even beaten by the Shoshone because of their gender. They were forced to do extremely difficult tasks which were prohibited to men. On 1800, Sacagawea was captured by another band named Hidatsa. She was taken as a slave but was later gambled off to Troussaint Charbonneau who claimed her as his wife. On February 28, 1803 after the Indiana purchase Thomas Jefferson sent two men on a journey to explore the new land just bought. These two men are known as Lewis and Clark. Sacagawea was 16 years old and pregnant when she began the expedition. She gave birth on “February 11, 1805” to a baby boy named Jean Baptiste (“History of American Women”). Sacagawea and her husband were hired to translate for Lewis and Clark. Sacagawea only spoke Shoshone and Hidatsa and her husband only spoke Hidatsa and French. Sacagawea would translate to her husband and then another translator had to give Lewis and Clark the English version. Sacagawea was the only woman to accompany the 33 members on the expedition to the Pacific Ocean and back (“History of American Women”). Along with translating Sacagawea also had to dig for roots, collect edible plants and pick berries. On an occasion when the troop approached Rocky Mountains Sacagawea had to lead the way, she fortunately remembered the way since this is where she had grown up before she was captured. Sacagawae played a huge role in this expedition because without her there would have been no one to translate and without the skills she learned as a little girl then she would of never accepted to go on such a risky trip.
After the revolution, no significant changes were made to help give women the equality they deserve. Although women’s rights advocates still remained in small groups and the idea of women having unalienable rights grew stronger as new revolutionary ideas appeared. There were still some men who opposed and who wanted women to just clean all day and take care of the kids. Women were going to have to work harder if they wanted to demonstrate they were equal to men.