Influence of Women on American History Through the Civil War

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The Influence of Women on the Founding of America and Through 1877 Kelley Swatsenbarg
Wayland Baptist University – San Antonio Center
Mr. Thomas Gaj
May 4, 2010
The Influence of Women on the Founding of America and Through 1877 Throughout the many years of history, women have always had some kind of influence over man. Whether it be coercing him, tricking him, or demanding of him, they changed the actions of men. Sometimes it has been completely unintentional; sometimes intentional. Sometimes it has been covertly; sometimes overtly. Sometimes it has been the mothers of great men making decisions about their upbringing; sometimes it has been the choices made by female leaders or leaders wives. The United States in no different; women have been influencing, directly or indirectly, the decision and actions of the men in America starting from the choice to fund Christopher Columbus’s misguided exploration. Famous foreign rulers have influence America, from the beginning of the history of the United States. The first, of course, is the famous Isabella, Queen of Spain, who convinced King Ferdinand to finance Christopher Columbus’s exploration to find a route to Asia by traveling west. Then Elizabeth, Queen of England, decided to try to colonize the Americas to get tax revenue thus causing great numbers of Englishmen to colonize the United States. Some women did what they could within the confines of their traditionally established role of nurturer and were involved in the medical field. Two examples are Susie King Taylor and Mary Edwards Walker. Susie King Taylor traveled with her husband who was in E Company 33rd United States Colored Troops during the Civil War. She was a former slave who became their nurse, laundress, cook, teacher, and even comforted the sick soldiers even on their deathbed. Mary Edwards Walker was also a Union nurse during Civil War who finally won a commission in the army as a surgeon, and was the only woman to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor. Dorthea Dix helped organize the Union Army Corp of Nurses and was appointed superintendent of the Union nurses. There was the teacher, Clara Barton, now a famous humanitarian, who, after the outbreak of the Civil War, remained in contact with many former students in the New England Volunteer Regiment that went south. Their mothers gave her gifts for their sons as they thought that she, as a nurse, would be able to get packages to them. She realized that these were not gifts, but rather necessities like soap; from this she created the American Red Cross. She was also a Union nurse who bravely stayed to help surgeons under fire when all the male assistants fled. Some women personally aided soldiers and the underprivileged. One such woman was Margaret Corbin who traveled with her husband to take care of him during the war, doing woman’s work, but was in a battle with her husband. When he died in battle, she took over the cannon; she was wounded and later received the first retired disability pension for a woman. Some women created inspiration in various forms of literature to give hope to the men of this nation. One was Ethel Lynn Beers who wrote poetry and published a poem she'd titled "The Picket Guard." The poem was adapted to music and sung by soldiers on both sides in the Civil War. Another woman of inspiration is Lydia Maria Child who wrote An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans_ _that was a key to persuading many Americans of the need for abolition of slavery. Some women were acclaimed worldwide, like Catherine Maria Sedgwick, who wrote numerous historical sketches and biographies. Her writing is considered to be completely American in both thought and feeling; it captured the all of the characterx and manners of New England. Another American author was Mercy Otis Warren, the wife of politician, James Warren; the couple had a close friendship with Abigail and John Adams. John encouraged her to write the...
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