Women's Rights

(1830s-1850s)

In the early 1800s, women were considered lesser citizens. Much like the values of The Republican Motherhood, in earlier years, they were restricted to housework and childcare, expected to raise the next generation but not allowed to obtain real jobs in society. Women were not allowed to vote and we're not encouraged to seek education or a job position with wages. Once married, women gave up the little rights they had previously, including the possession of property. Women were also denied the right to vote, which gave way to the women's suffrage movement, the largest political rights movement second only to the civil rights movement. The 1830s-1850s focused on the general rights of women in normal, everyday American society.

In 1833, in Ohio, the opening of Oberlin College as the first co-educational school in America paved the way for an age of newfound equality between men and women. Taking women's rights to a new level, Mount Holyoke College was opened in Massachusetts as the first all girls college. Though these events were key to the rise of power in women across the country, the first official women's rights "movement" was a convention held in Seneca Falls, NY. The 300 people who attended, 40 of those being men, discussed topics such as a woman's right to vote, property laws, and reforming marriage laws. At the end of the meeting, 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments stating that women should have equal rights in property and voting laws. In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn her medical degree and begins to practice medicine. This is the first time in American History that a woman has been allowed to do this. In 1850, women were granted the right to own land in Oregon, opening up a world of opportunity for women and their movement for equality alike. Much like Abigail Adams and her protests to her husband about the lack of contribution of women to the Declaration of Independence, conventions such as listed above were peaceful complaints of the treatment of women in early 1800 American society.

The first image displays how women in the 1830s-1850s started to realize the dangers to their health during pregnancy and childbirth, and the challenges they would face by raising multiple children. Abortion became more available between 1830-1850. Abortions weren't encouraged but they were not condemned. This allows women to have a choice about their health and shows how women were gaining more rights to control their health and bodies.

The second image shows the advertisement convention in the Seneca Country Courier, July 14, 1848 for a women's rights convention. In this convention, the women and men will discuss the social, civil, and religious conditions of women. This showed that the women were striving for their rights and trying to get their voices heard.

The third image is our source. This book, written by Elizabeth Blackwell and published in the 19th century, was an explanation and an argument for why women should be allowed to work in the medical field. In it, she says "A blank wall of social and professional antagonism faces the woman  physician that forms a situation of singular and painful loneliness, leaving her without support, respect, or professional counsel. If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled."

Sources:

"Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women : Autobiographical Sketches." [978-1-59102-255-8]. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

"Conner Prairie Interactive History Park." Women's-Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Nov. 2014.

"Rights for Women." Rights for Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.

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