Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Seeing the anniversary of the Women's Rights Convention brought to mind the book reading we did on Mary Wollstonecraft back in the New York Times.

Foner devoted a lot of attention to the women's suffrage movement in his book on Reconstruction, noting the bitterness that seeped into the movement when black men were given the right to vote but not women. He focused primarily on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.


  1. "The rise of women" and the influence of the women's sphere as a way to "regenerate" the public/male sphere is also something touched on by Lears. Seems like there was much social unrest during this period from all sides.

    He also, by the way, acknowledges the role of McKinley in the invasion/occupation of Cuba and the Philippines, although from my reading of Lears this idea of continuing with the nation's manifest destiny to occupy and control other countries and peoples was in the air.

    Not sure how that was influenced by the Civil War/Reconstruction -- but my guess is it was. It definitely was influenced by the need to expand markets and access to resources, which was modeled in the South.

  2. ''black men were given the right to vote but not women''

    Interestingly, while black men legally had the right to vote earlier, it took the Civil Rights Act many decades later to insure that minorities would be guaranteed access to the voting booth.

  3. Well, yeah, there was a difference between law and fact, but still, I get it how women who worked hard for abolition and emancipation for blacks might be a tad annoyed at lack of reciprocation, even if only theoretical, down the road. 50 years between black male suffrage and the vote for women of any color...and the ERA never did pass...and Mondale/Ferraro defeat...then there's Hillary.

    I can't figure out if it means race trumps gender or vice versa.

  4. I think class trumps both to be honest, although I totally get what you're saying.

    But it is interesting that it took the Civil Rights movement to finally reconstruct the south and guarantee access to education and the vote -- what was that, almost another hundred years after the war?

    And we still don't have true gender or "racial" equality in this country (just watch a minute or two of the Southern Senators grilling Sotomayor) -- although I'm beginning to hope that we are finally getting there.