Throughout most of our history women traditionally have had fewer rights than men. The early colonists operated under English common law which restricted rights while giving women additional duties in the house hold. The common law was predominately used regardless of ones own religious preference. With the westward expansion through the Revolution of America came the changing roles of women in the household and workplace throughout early America. During the nineteenth century, the women’s rights movement was vastly significant because it led to suffrage and increased opportunities for women in the workforce.
Women’s roles during the colonial time of the 1700’s were extremely challenging. Women in the household were expected to make clothing for use and retail, doctor and care for their family, clean and tend to livestock. During the early eighteenth century women were dominated by men from brothers and father’s to their husband after marriage. Marriage for women was highly encouraged by society and those who did not conform were ridiculed and shamed by the community. Men obtained full responsibility for their wife’s actions along with complete control of everything women possessed, including rights to her body. Women were long regarded as inferior to men both physically and mentally. Men and women had a great deal of pressure on them to marry and often time’s young girls got married in their teenage years. People married for financial and economic security and seldom for physical attraction. Women who did not marry by there mid twenties were socially humiliated. Those who did were denied access to inheritance, earnings, and property. Once women married they became property of their husbands. Eleanor Flexner writes “Married women in particular suffered civil death, having no right to property and no legal entity or existence apart from their husbands”.
With the Revolutionary War came political involvement for women’s organizations such as the Daughter’s of Liberty. The Daughter’s of Liberty supported the colonist by openly opposing the British Government’s Stamp Act and Tea Act by boycotting goods imported to the colonies. When the War for Independence was won, women sought to change the common law of total male supremacy. Following the War for Independence the continental congress had the responsibility for writing the Constitution. An influential advocate for women’s rights, Abigail Adams, wrote a letter to congress and her husband John Adams titled “Remember The Ladies” pleading for recognition of women’s rights which were ultimately disregarded. Although her position to appeal to the injustice of our constitution was noble, it was too progressive and would take decades and several transformations to see change. By the early eighteen hundreds women were excluded from involvement in politics. Men asserted that women were too emotional to handle the pressure of politics.
Education for women in the early nineteenth century was...