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The American Revolution And Women's Freedom

1593 words - 6 pages

The American Revolution (1775-1783) was a time of great change in America. American men were fighting for their right to be free from an oppressive ruler 3000 miles away. They wanted to have their say about what went on in their own country. America won the Revolution and its freedom, but while this was going on something else was happening. Internally changes were coming about too during all this fighting. The Revolution was the catalyst for women to make progress towards freedom. Women were making economic and political gains to further women's rights.
While their husbands were away at war, the women had to work and take care of the home. Women who had never worked outside the home before had to work out in the field all day now, or if a woman lived in the city she had to get a job to support the rest of the family. During this time in the city of Philadelphia, colonial women had a job either within or outside the home, and most women worked for pay. According to Karin Wulf, "These women… helped to shape urban community and urban culture in the eighteenth-century city." Ruth Henshaw a nineteen- year old girl kept a diary focusing on her work with textiles, her school teaching and her familial and social life in 1792. , Clearly by her entries it can be seen that even girls of nineteen could hold jobs, make money and survive on their own, independent of a man if they had to or wanted to. Economic progress can also be seen in the fact that many women once widowed never remarried. "As independent women, they could act legally and economically in ways that their married sisters could not." They were able to rent property to and from their neighbors, buy and sell goods, and have a paid job outside the home. Sure, women may have had some inheritance to fall back on, but that alone could not sustain her unless she had a very wealthy husband. The fact is that women contributed to this inheritance by bringing their own money into the marriage, investing, and working themselves. The Revolution helped women in this respect in that when the men were gone women were able to open up their own businesses, mostly shops and taverns.
When looking at political progress, no concrete evidence can be given to show that women were making progress. However, it's more about how they perceived themselves in the political realm as compared to what we can see in books now. Female patriots were able to find particular expression in their support of the colonial boycott of tea and other items taxed by the Townshend Act of 1767. The male leaders of the boycott "recognized that they needed women's cooperation to ensure that Americans would comply with the request to forgo the use of tea and luxury goods" This marked a movement away from female noninvolvement in public affairs. In 1774, an agreement was signed by fifty-one female North Carolinians declaring their "sincere adherence" to the resolutions of the provincial congress and declared it their "duty" to do...

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