Women's Role in American Revolution and the Future of the Nation
A lot of historians look for dramatic changes in the political or legal status with respect to the American Revolution and in many ways that did not occur. Women did not vote except in one state, they did not get to hold public office. So, in that sense the American revolution did not result in a major political change or legal change. However, there were some smaller changes- Some states actually legalized divorce because the idea was that marriage was a contract and that if women entered into with men they could them remove themselves from it. But to look into it more further is that bigger changes also took place.
The bigger change that occurred is actually in the way women regarded themselves as political agents and in the way other americans treated them politically. What emerged from the American Revolution was a concept that’s been called Republican motherhood. So, according to this idea women are not allowed to vote or hold public offices but in their roles as wives and mothers, they are regarded as political agensts, as political beings. This means that they were treated as people who are important in teaching children about their government, about the values of patriotism, teaching them the value of sacrifice for the public good.
Women encouraged their husbands to support the Republic, to vote, to run public offices, to serve in the military if necessary. Even though they are still primarily wives and mothers, their role now has a political value. Their role as wives, sisters and mothers is regarded as something that makes a contribution to the success of the government and the Republic. So, in doing this people came to realize that women did play a political role in the United States and that to do that most effectively, they should actually be educated. Now, what this meant in practical terms is that women in the United states had a fairly high rate of literacy but there was a drive- a push after the American Revolution to allow women to attend school and there were many so-called women academies or women seminaries founded and women were taught not only the ornamental arts like sowing, dancing or music but also more basic academic subjects like reading and writing in history and mathematic. They came to be treated as intellectual beings in their own right. Women were eventually regarded as individuals who had a political role to play in shaping the future of the nation.
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