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For the Republic! and so forth (Some Revolutionary War Lady Talk)



I'm reading more about 18th century women's history (yes, American, it's always American unless it's English), and just being GENERALLY enraged most of the time. Some women in the colonies had the right to vote? In New JERSEY? Until it was taken away in 1807. So not even just in the colonies! Into statehood time! 

That's just bananapants and the sort of thing where I'm like, if I did not know this thing, most people will not know it. That could sound condescending, but what it means is obvs that this is most of what I read about. And no one in my books had really thrown that fact around before. Until I was reading Gail Collins's American Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines, which is really great so far and has some A+ anecdotes, like how Margaret Brent basically saved Baltimore.



Honestly, HAD I BUT WORLD ENOUGH AND TIME, I would just spend all my days learning about every single woman who ever lived in history. But life is finite, etc, so I have to narrow my focus, which has pretty much landed on women in America from appx 1850-1920. But mostly 1880-1910. I'm trying to put together a cohesive account of feminist thought in America from the 18th century, but this has just made me realize how little I know about women in America in the 18th century. I've been reading some really great stuff by Judith Sargent Murray, who published On the Equality of the Sexes TWO YEARS before Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman was published in England. 

"What about Abigail Adams, Alice? Didn't she write any women's rights doodads?" You would think so, but NO. NOTHING. Abigail Adams wrote letters to her husband and got offended about everything. That seems to be her prime contribution, aside from the fantastic phrase "remember the ladies," which is basically just a sad phrase, because they obviously didn't.


IT'S OKAY. I mean, it's not, but y'know.

"Ok, but what then," you're probably saying out loud right now, "what then about Mercy Otis Warren?" Again no! Warren definitely wrote a history of the Revolutionary War, and was known as a bluestocking, which is a term I will probably never get tired of, but no, despite living at the right time for this kind of awakening proto-feminist thought, nothing I've seen of hers points to anything like that.

It looks like the primary thing to take away from women of the late 18th century in America, re burgeoning women's rights ideology, is this later-articulated notion of Republican Motherhood, which is basically like "Okay, well we have to be educated to a certain point, or how are we supposed to teach our sons to be fine upstanding citizens in the New Republic?" Which is kind of an early form of what would be argued later in the 19th century when more traditional women were starting to move towards wanting the vote, i.e. "we should have this to protect and uplift the home/domestic sphere."

SHIT'S INTERESTING is what I'm saying.

Comments

  1. Wait, so women in NJ had the right to vote and then it was decided "Nah, can't have that" and it was taken away??? WTF. Not only that that happened but also that I was never taught that in NJ schools.

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