Doctrine of "separate spheres" - "cult of domesticity" or the "cult of true womanhood";

1700s work performed in house.

early 1800s growing importance of market, separating work from home;

family life changing;

idealized home as refuge from outside world;

Defining men & women as opposites -men competitive, women cooperative; men individual interest, women morality.

Popular image of woman reflected anxieties of men - women supposed to defend old virtues that new order threatened to destroy - safety & stability.

Sarah Josepha Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1830s: "our men are sufficiently money-making; let us keep our women and children free from the contagion as long as possible."

Instilling proper Christian virtues in children & by extension, in society as a whole. 

Providing charity to poor.   

1820s-1840s "Age of associations"

merchants, ministers & doctors New England & Midwest;

safe new middle ground - halfway between public life of formal politics & private sphere of home.

women taking on new activities while still linking femininity with image of morality.


Frances (Fanny) Wright:

friends with Marquis de Lafayette - access to Jefferson & Madison;

1825 A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the US Without Danger of Loss to the Citizens of the South;

640 acres - Nashoba;

publishing career & lecturing tour 1828-29

"until women assume the place in society which good sense and good feeling alike assign to them, human improvement must advance but feebly." 



radical reform of education & collective child-rearing, more fair divorce laws, women's property rights. Access to birth control, free choice of sexual partners;

"a bold blasphemer and a voluptuous preacher of licentiousness.  Casting off all restraint, she would break down all the barriers to virtue & reduce the world to one grand theater of vice and sensuality in its most loathsome form." 

called her whore and "female man".


Anne Royall - author of popular travel books;

hated local minister Ezra Ely; Ely accused her "common scold", accused of slandering Presbyterian neighbors;

1831 publishing Paul's Pry - detecting graft & corruption, emphasized public's right to know;


1820s Second Great Awakening: 

mass revival camp meetings - women praying with men;

small number of women, black & white, preaching;

enormous energy;

Women organized Sunday schools & female missionary societies. Built charitable institutions - orphan asylums; raising funds;


public meetings all-male public sphere - rowdy - saloons, streets at night.


Issue of temperance, campaign against production, sale & consumption of alcohol. 

Preachers, moral reformers, doctors & businessmen denounced drunkenness as source of immorality & practical problem endangering health, order, & family well-being.

tensions between middle-class Protestants & growing immigrant Catholic population - Germans organized Turnverein social club;

1820s annual alcohol consumption per adult ten gallons;


American Society for the Promotion of Temperance 1826;

1833 first national temperance convention, Philly;


1834 New York Female Moral Reform Society

victims & potential sisters - protecting "working girls" & protecting homes & families from the "predatory nature of the American male, reckless & drenched in sin";

direct action, safe houses;

Within ten years, 400 chapters New England;

Criticized "the tyranny exercised in the home department, where lordly man... rules his trembling subjects with a rod of iron, conscious of entire impunity and exalting in his fancied superiority."


1830s abolition - Religious fervor fed anti-slavery movement - religious arguments gave women opening to enter political debate.

Prudence Crandall 1831 school,Canterbury CN

abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison;

1833 school for teaching "young ladies and little misses of color" to become teachers;

"black law" outlawed teaching black students from out of state;

1834 closed school;


1833 Lydia Maria Child, An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans


Angelina and Sarah Grimke (1792-1873):

father assistant chief justice of SC, brother US Congressman;

Sarah taught slaves to read & write (against law);

1820s moved to Philly;

William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, wrote him: "This is a cause worth dying for."

1836 An Appeal to Christian Women of the South;


1836-37 "Parlor talks" to other women - then public lectures to "mixed audiences" one thousand strong;

first female agents appointed by anti-slavery societies to go on lecture tours - celebrities - convert as many as 25,000; Massachusetts ministers pastoral letter: "If the vine, whose strength and beauty it is to lean upon the trellis... thinks to assume the independence and overshadowing nature of the elm, it will not only cease to bear fruit, but fall in shame and dishonor into the dust." end up in "degeneracy & ruin," 


"The power of woman is her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of that weakness which God has given her for her protection.... But when she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer, she yields the power which God has given her for her protection, and her character becomes unnatural."

Sarah: "I ask no favors for my sex.  All I ask is that they take their feet from off our necks and permit us to stand upright on that ground which  God designed us to occupy."

Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Woman. 

Angelina Grimke: "The investigation of the rights of the slave has led me to a better understanding of my own.... It is woman's right to have a voice in all the laws by which she is to be governed... just as much right to sit in convention.... Just as much right to sit in the presidential chair of the US."

1838 riot;

1870 Grimkes among women testing laws by attempting to vote;


1830s formation number of anti-slavery societies - New England, Boston, and Philly;

men leadership, women separate auxiliary societies;

1833 The Female Anti-Slavery Society of Philadelphia;

Lucretia Mott - "Free stores" - aim was to destroy slavery "root and branch";  

more than half membership anti-slavery groups 1830s was women - crucial role in mobilizing public opinion;

created formal and informal networks, gained political experience;

conscious of injustice of women's treatment;

1837 meeting of national women's antislavery group, resolution that women would "no longer remain satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt custom and a perverted application of Scripture have encircled her."

slogan, "Am I Not a Woman and a Sister"


Abolitionist Northern ministers upset that women stepping into public light.  Believed they would stir up unnecessary controversy & scare off potential supporters & delay efforts to end slavery.

1840 William Lloyd Garrison, who defended women's rights, headed American Anti-Slavery Society. 


AAS elected Abigail Kelley Foster first woman on executive board.

gender-conservative abolitionists walked away - formed separate society.


1848 Seneca Falls, NY convention grows directly out of women's participation in abolition movement. 

1840 Lucretia Mott chosen to attend World Anti-Slavery Conference, London;

denied right to participate;

talking with Elizabeth Cady Stanton - experience transformed them, began talking about organizing women's rights convention.


1848 Stanton Seneca Falls, NY

call to meeting, Wesleyan Church July 19-20, 1848;

250 people - 40 men, others women;

nineteen-year old glovemaker Charlotte Woodward -lived to see women win vote, 72 years later. 




Stanton "Declaration of Sentiments": "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men & women are created equal."  

Listed "tyranny" over women - economic, educational, social, moral;

unanimously adopted eleven resolutions - married women's legal rights, wages, free speech, equal opportunities in education & business.  Suffrage resolution approved by small margin.


NY Herald: women involved were "old maids, whose personal charms were never very attractive & who have been sadly slighted by the masculine gender & are therefore down upon the whole of the opposite sex.  Others are mannish women, & there is also a class of wild enthusiasts & visionaries - very sincere but very mad.  Of the male sex who attend these convention, the majority are hen-pecked husbands and all of them ought to wear petticoats."



Senator 1860s: "To extend the right of suffrage to negroes in this country I think is necessary for their protection, but to extend the right of suffrage to women is not necessary."


series of national women's rights conventions;

"We deny the right of any portion of the species to decide for another portion... what is and what is not their ‘proper sphere'; the proper sphere for all human beings is the largest and highest which they are able to attain."

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906);

Ernestine  Rose 1854 appeal NY legislature - property rights for married women

1851 women's rights convention - Akron, Ohio - Sojourner Truth fighting against slavery & for women's rights;

Lucy Stone (1819-1893)


paid speaker, Anti-Slavery Society of Mass.


married Henry Blackwell 1857, two protested laws of marriage which made wife obey - said "equal partnership";


Amelia Bloomer - Seneca Falls:

corset = respectability

(otherwise "loose woman")

heavy petticoats, hoops & dresses - 20 yards;

Bloomer published pictures & sewing patterns in temperance journal she edited; 

baggy trousers under knee-length skirt;

Stanton - trying to "carry water and fat babies upstairs and down... run errands through mud or snow, shovel paths and work in the garden [in long skirts] is too much - one might as well work with a ball and chain."

"Imagine her in a full black satin frock cut off at the knees, with Turkish trousers of the same material. I have seen scarecrows that did credit to farmer boys ingenuity, but never one better calculated to scare all birds, beasts & human beings." 

Stanton after three years: "we put on the new style for greater freedom, but what is physical freedom compared with mental bondage?  By all means, have my new dress made long."


Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly.

ten-month serial in abolitionist newspaper 1851; 1852 book

to "awaken sympathy & feeling for the African race";

blacks as central characters;

Fugitive Slave Law  - chase runaway slaves, illegal to help runaways;

Stowe sold 300,000 copies first year;

1862 Abraham Lincoln: "So you're the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War?"


Southern economy built around slave labor - "peculiar institution";

patriarchal order; romanticized domesticity; purity of white womanhood;