Women's rights in the 1800s' America
In the 1800s womens rights changed tremendously. In the beginning of the 1800s women had no rights and were strictly housewives destined to raise children. Throughout the 1800s many changes occurred within the roles and rights of women. Women during this era were given opportunities for freedom. Women took advantage of these opportunities and changed their role in America. These changes applied on every scale from women’s role in society, workplace and within the family.
In the 1800s, women started to work in America. Around this time America had started the Industrial Revolution. Inventions like the cotton gin by Eli Whitney have created a new efficiency in the creation of cotton. Many southerners found this profitable and as a nation of entrepreneurs, we expanded the industry to create a larger profit flow. America produced an abundant amount of cotton to substantially sell to other nations and also developed cheap clothing for Americans.
The development of the cloth industry found a demand for a larger workforce. The south needed more slave labor to balance their economy. They tried to get free labor for plantations and also hired children and women. Women started working in factories as seamstresses in places like the Lowell Mills. Women were given a very low salary for this tedious work. Women were happy to fill this position because it was an opportunity to get out of the house. Women having the ability to earn money and even though it was a small sum gave them more independence. Women having money gave them more of a chance to have a say and make something of themselves and not just be a house mom. Before the Industrial Revolution, women’s role was to raise and care for children and just be a housewife. The Industrial Revolution gave women the chance to work outside of the home and be more independent and have a choice.
The independence of women made the life of women exponentially better. Women were out of the house and made a difference in the family life. Since women were more independent they could make more decisions within the home. Women were having fewer children and were living overall healthier lives. In the 1800s many women died because of giving birth because in that time they had crude tools and defective procedures. Since women were having less children this lead to women living longer lives on average. Longer lives in women allowed them to have a more important role in society and get involved and ingrained in their community.
In the 1800s many women became involved in American society. Women like Dorothea Dix created things like the Asylum Movement. This was when people with mental illnesses like insanity were thought to have a spiritual problem or were even possessed by demons. This was thought to be practical at the time because America was a very religious society at that time. Dorothea Dix tried to give treatment to these mentally ill individuals. Her Asylum Movement was the first attempt at aiding people and this helped inspire the idea of education.
Today people may find the idea of not having education oblivious but at that time people never thought they needed a system to educate society. There was a similar connection to women’s rights. Women wanted to be treated like men. Women recognized that they deserve rights and that they had power if they grouped together. Women thought they were being underpaid and went against their employers in Unions. Forming a Union was against the law but the women went on strike and finally their demands were heard for better wages.
Women wanted to be heard. Even when women were allowed to work they were not allowed to learn. Mary Lyon sought education for women. She founded Mount Holyoke College which was the first college for women. This was another pioneering idea fueled by the compassion of women wanting their rights. Women felt repressed by men in the fact they could not learn. Women were finally allowed to learn and this is again because they fought for their rights.
In the 1800s women kept finding more success and bountiful times and kept pressing themselves for more quality and freedom. Women started to get involved with political issues. Women wanted to end suffrage and vote. Women also got involved with Abolition and Temperance Movements. This proves that women were trying to help the cause and abolish slavery, and that they were indeed involved with large political issues trying to have their voice heard.
In the beginning of the 1800s women were silenced in the public and could not express themselves. Women strictly just stayed at home and raised children. The Industrial Revolution allowed women to work and develop a sense of individuality and independence. Women were able to leave the house and work. They even got involved with political issues and were learning. Women’s lives improved from the quality of their life and even their life span. The Industrial Revolution of the 1800s caused the changing place of women from a repressed stay at home moms to a class of important individualistic female citizens.
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