Women's History

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Discussion Question #1
Part 1: The Republican Mother
As Colonial America came to an end in the late 1600’s and entered into a new phase of the Revolutionary era in America, the role of women was beginning to take a new form. The actions of the Salem Witch trials in 1693 brought about changes, and forced the passage of new rights and laws enacted such as the “Widows Third” to help establish a better financial system to keep a woman from becoming dependent on society and allowing her more self sufficiency. Almost a century removed from the actions that spawned these changes, came a new idea and view of women called “The Republican Mother”. Society’s needs for women had begun to transform, which brought about changes such as citizenship for women. “The model republican woman was competent…..she was rational, independent, literate, and self-reliant”(pg.147). These new views of women challenged the foundations of the Colonial establishment of the Doctrine of Coverture, the law that forced a married woman to become a dependant and fall under her husband’s protection. However, significant changes may have conflicted with some of the ideologies of Colonial America and the Doctrine of Coverture; it also helped strengthen its hold on domestic relations. “Every free man, rich or poor, white or black, gained something from the system of domestic relations already in place; they had no need to renegotiate it”(pg.149). The Republican mother was seen as a teacher of liberty and government to her sons, and also a supporter of the overall system, but still without the right to vote, and with the judicial system still not interfering with domestic relations, there was little change to be seen.

Part 2: "The Hemings-Jefferson Treaty: Paris 1789
The relationship that developed between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings in the 1780’s raises very interesting questions about women born into slavery, and gives a strong example of the difficult positions they found...
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