The Impact of the American Revolution on the Women's Rights Movement

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The Impact of the American Revolution on the Women's Rights Movement

By | Jan. 2007
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The lack of participation of women in society in the United States before the women's rights movement in 1948 was remarkable. They did not participate in activities such as voting and fighting in wars. They also could not own property and "belonged" to their father until they were married, when they would then become the property of their husband. They were brought up to get married, often while they were still very young, then to become a good mother and housewife. The lack of activity though changed during the American Revolution that lasted from 1775 to 1783. This American Revolutionary experience had a great impact on the eventual movement for women's rights. Previous to their rights movement, women, by law, were declared inferior to men, had no separate existence from their husbands and every one of their possessions, acquired or inherited, would be passed on to the ownership of her husband. The children in a marriage belonged to the father alone and the custody of the children if one was to get divorced, was usually given to him. If a woman's husband died, she would receive only the use of one third of his real estate. They could be beaten as long as the stick was no bigger than a man's thumb and single women were excluded from earning a living, with the exception in a few poorly paid trades. They wanted to feel useful to society so during the American Revolution, women, who did not usually participate in the war, actively participated on the home front. They knitted stockings and sewed uniforms for the soldiers. They also had to replace men out in the factories as weavers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and shipbuilders. Other women also volunteered out on front to take care of the wounded, become laundresses, cooks and companions to the soldiers and some turned their houses into hospitals to take care of the injured. Several women fought on the front such as Deborah Sampson, who called herself Robert Shirtliffe to enlist in the army, Mary Hays, known as Molly...