Women were very important to the development of the Republic in the United States. Although their influences were indirect they had a big impact. Women were not allowed to participate in elections or hold office; however they were wives of politicians and “mothers of republic”. Despite being legally ineligible for the above roles they were granted the right to education and a small amount of freedom, which in turn enabled them to become more intellectually acceptable on the topics of government.
“The people” in the constitution referred to free white men in America. This was the founding knowledge of America. They also heavily believed in the feme covert in Early Republic as well. A portion of the feme covert stated “that a wife’s civil life was completely subsumed by her husband”. It also stated that women couldn’t be sued or sue anyone else, their land was all to their husband, they could not make a contract, and even their children legally belonged to their husband.(Roark et al. Page 287) These views on women did not stop them from expressing their views.
Abigail Adams clearly did not support the view of feme covert or that “the people” should be entitled to men. She stated in letters, to her husband, which expressed women “were deprived of a voice in legislature” even though they were required to oblige by the laws imposed on them. (Roark et al. page 215) There were other women in the Republic who voiced their opinions on the issue, but many women in the beginning were accustomed to this form of life and went with the flow.
Even though married women could not own property or anything of the sort, single women were able to own land, make a contract, initiate lawsuits, and pay taxes. Even with the privelages bestowed upon them they were not able to vote, unless they lived in New Jersey and were worth a net value of 50. This ruled out a majority of women in early Republic because unless they inherited land they were often very poor. (Roark et al. Page 287)
During the light of periodicals throughout the 1790s women were described as being behind keeping the United States virtuous. Their ideals were shown through their husbands. According to the authors of the periodicals women had the ability to turn a treacherous husband into a virtuous citizen. (Roark et al. Pages 243-244) Women were also viewed in this era as being responsible for raising ideal citizens. This led to women’s role being title Republican Motherhood.
Once the title Republican Motherhood was set into place women’s status in the United States took...