Essays on American History Coursework
The event that had the most impact on women in American history was the creation of the Constitution, after the Revolutionary War occurred. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, wrote to her husband to “remember the ladies . . . [in the new Constitution] because all men would be tyrants if they could” (Akers, 2007, p. ix). Abigail Adams’ letters to her husband are marked as the beginning American women’s activism for equal rights.
While the Founding Fathers did not include women in the Constitution, they did put a heavy burden on women. It was up to women to teach both their sons and daughters republican morals and values. Their sons would eventually become voters and their daughters would teach the next generation of males about the republican type of government. Educating an entire nation about republicanism was left to the women of the nation.
Building on the concept of “Republican Motherhood,” historian, Mercy Otis Warren, and writer, Judith Sargent Murray, advocated for women’s education. At the time of the Revolution, most females had a third grade education at best. Warren and Murray both supported the idea of giving women a complete education as they were in charge of creating the mindset of the new republic. These women saw education as the key to making women equal to men. In fact, in 1790, Murray wrote that women and men were equal but women lacked formal education (Casper & Davies, 2006). Abigail Adams, Warren, and Murray would continue the fight for women’s equal rights using enlightenment philosophy until their deaths.
Throughout the 1800s, as the educational system grew in the United States, women’s educational opportunities also developed until women were allowed into colleges. In the latter half of the 1800s, Elizabeth Blackwell entered the University of Michigan and gained her M. D. in the 1860s. Without those pioneering advocates for women’s education, women would not have gained the intellectual independence they did in the 1800s.
Akers, Charles W. (2007). Abigail Adams: A Revolutionary American Woman. New York:
Casper, Scott E. & Richard O. Davies. (Eds). (2006). Five Hundred Years: America in the
World. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing.