Women's Rights in the American Revolution

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In Charles Brockden Brown’s article “The Rights of Woman”, Mrs. Carter states that “Even the government of our country, which is said to be the freest in the world, passes over women as if they were not [free]. We are excluded from all political rights without the least ceremony”. Mrs. Carter represents the condition that most American women were in after the Revolution, angry at the contradictory society in which they live in. The American Revolution had been fought to gain equality and rights for American citizens, but in actuality, these rights did not seem to apply to the women of the country.

Throughout history, the idea of women as equals has been a conflicting argument. Some believed that women were inferior to men, both physically and mentally, while others argued that women were only held back by their circumstances; that they too could succeed in society. In John Locke’s Essay on Human Understanding he supports the belief that women are equal to men, saying that “the mind is a blank slate shaped by the environment and education rather than innate ideas” and that women’s “deficiencies were the result not of inherent incapacity but of the failure to receive adequate educational opportunities” (Zagarri 12). Despite the immense amount of evidence of women’s achievements throughout history, many people were still not convinced of their equality. Up until the American Revolution, women had restrictions laid upon them, limiting their success in society. But during the Revolution, men realized that women should not always be seen as a threat, but rather can lend a hand to the cause.

The start of the Revolution marked a change in the popular perceptions of women and state. Men began urging women to join in on the cause, realizing that their support could be used to fight against the British in several different ways. Although they still could not directly participate in politics, there were plenty of indirect ways to help the cause. They boycotted goods...
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