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Early Feminists Changing the Future of Women Today Essay

After the 14th amendment was passed, all citizens were guaranteed equal protection right under the law. In the years to come this caused a lot of chaos and misunderstanding. The second part of this amendment narrowed the aforementioned rights to men only. This statement influenced numerous females, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth to oppose the amendment that was made. These women were the first to start the women suffrage movement in America, that definitely influenced the equality between men and women in the years to come.

Contemporary women can indisputably feel the effect of this movement in their everyday lives. The issues raised by Susan Anthony were straightforward: “We demand the abolition of slavery because the slave is a human being. ” Anthony and her friend Elizabeth Stanton organized a Women’s National Loyal League to support and petition for the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. Not only did she campaign for the slaves, but also for the blacks and women’s full citizenship, including the right to vote, in the 14th and 15th amendments.

Anthony continued to campaign for equal rights for all American citizens, including ex-slaves. As an educational reformer, Susan took position of headmistress of the girls’ department at Canajoharie Academy, her first paid position. She was known to the townspeople as “the smartest woman who ever came to Canajoharie” (38) At the teacher’s state convention Anthony called for women to be admitted to the professions and for better pay for women teachers. She also asked for women to have a voice at the convention and to assume committee positions.

(Anthony) Anthony served on the board on trustees of Rochester’s State Industrial School, campaigning for coeducation and equal treatment of boys and girls. She wanted equal education opportunities for all regardless of race, and for all schools, colleges, and universities to open their doors to women and ex-slaves. Anthony seeing that she had reached the top of the career ladder in the most respectable field for women, she still felt that she earned less than a man and had no possibility of further promotion.

So at the age of 29, she was ready to move beyond the role of schoolmarm, she decided to “ help right the wrongs of society” As a Labor Activist, Anthony encourages working women to call for votes for women and equal pay for equal work. She urged employers to hire women instead, believing this would show how they could do the job as well as men, and therefore deserved equal pay. While being president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Anthony emphasized the importance of gaining the support of organized labor. Anthony and other reformers set their goal to seek protection for working women through trade unions.

Anthony tends to always set many goals for her. While trying to get women better working conditions, she was also trying to limit the sale of liquor. Anthony believed drinking liquor was sinful; she drew attention to the effects of drunkenness on families and campaigned for stronger liquor laws. Anthony wanted to join a leading temperance organization known as Sons of Temperance, but it didn’t allow women to join. Anthony and the other temperance workers determined to participate, in spite of the men’s attitude, formed the Daughter of Temperance.

(Dubois 55) Anthony formed another group like this in Albany because she believes that men become abusive under the influence of alcohol. Having been convinced, Susan knew that her work for temperance needed the vote if they were to influence public affairs. Anthony was introduced to the leader of the women’s right movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Anthony and Stanton put their heads together and started building support for the 13th amendment, which allowed the women to vote, but that did not happen. Anthony then advocated dress reform for women.

She cut her hair and wore bloomer (pants) for a year, until she was convinced that it detracted from the causes she supported. Later, Anthony and Stanton founded the American Equal Rights Association; they adopted a strategy of getting vote for women on a state-by-state basis. (105) Anthony campaigned strongly for women’s suffrage on speaking tours accompany by her three sisters and Stanton. Anthony tried another approach, by going to vote, she decided that although the Constitution did not say women could vote, it did not say the couldn’t, she was determined to see what would happen if she voted.

Anthony was arrested, with other suffragists. Anthony refused to pay her streetcar fare to the police station because she was “traveling under protest at the government’s expense. ”(Kendall 89) She was put on trial, the judge was bias so he did not let the jury reach a verdict, and he decided that she was guilty. Anthony never paid the fine for the crime of voting. Later Anthony wrote in her newspaper “The Revolution” about racial prejudices, and gender biased. Anthony motto for the newspaper was “ Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.

” Beginning in 1890 with Wyoming, states began to grant women the right to vote. One famous reformer was woman named Sojourner Truth. Sojourner Truth was a slave: she washed the dishes, did gardening a lot, harvest the foods, fruits, and vegetables, and did all of that again and again. When the year that every slave was waiting for {which is the year 1829} her master said she didn’t or wasn’t working hard enough, so she run away. A family named Quaker helped to get her freedom. After Belle left, her son was sold when he was five.

Peter was now a slave in Alabama, but the law said no slave in New York could be sold to someone in a different state. Belle went to a judge, won the case and got her son back. It was a very important case because a black woman had won. She went to New York to work as a housekeeper, but when her son became a sailor, she left the city. In the 1840s, slaves were treated like animals, they had no rights. Many people spoke out against slavery. Sojourner met these people during her travels and decided to become a speaker against slavery and woman rights.

First she changed her name to Sojourner (person who travels from place to place) Truth (because she planned to tell the truth wherever she spoke. Sojourner became a powerful speaker. Some thought she had a mystical effect on her audience. But she maintained that she had strong beliefs in her causes and was determined to stand up for them. Even though she was physically beaten for speaking out against slavery, this brave woman could not be stopped. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery.

But the Southern States did not recognize the law until they were defeated in the Civil War. During the war, Sojourner nursed wounded soldiers. She advised the freed slaves to get an education and to own land. After the Civil War, she continued to fight for black people and women’s rights. She dedicated her life to opening the doors of freedom to all people. Truth’s famous speech made a great impact on the gender outlook of a great part of females of that time and generations to come. She was assuring that women must be active members of the social order; that they leave their personal spheres and face the world.

She also believed sturdily that women should be permitted to the same privileges and rights that men at that time were entitled to. This proved women could speak publicly just as well as men. She begins this speech with calling her audience children; not because she thought highly of herself or of her intellect for that matter. She was incredibly straight-forward and blunt. She may have referred to them as children because she was an older woman and had been through many trials. They were also bickering and had much to learn from someone with wisdom.

Her down-home attitude was reflected in her dialogue, which was not quite what one would call standard English. It just showed her audience her beliefs had come from experience, not schooling. She was there to inform them of the conflict that she felt was very apparent. Because she wouldn’t wish to contradict her own arguments, to prove her point more effectively, she listed examples that she felt contradicted each other. Men said women were too delicate; they must be over protected. This was a contradiction to the conditions she faced while she was a slave.

At one point, she rolled up her sleeve to showed off her muscles; this was to prove that she was as strong as any man. To appeal to the audiences logic she cleverly yet humorously uses examples from the Bible. She points out,”Christ came from God and a woman, and man had nothing to do with Him! ” To boost her credibility, she also uses Eve as an example. “God made Eve strong enough to turn the world upside down, so why could not all the women now turn it right side up? ” Many members of her audience also connected with her message emotionally. She spoke about having to watch her children being sold to slavery.

It must have struck a chord to any mother in the audience because if they thought of themselves being in that situation, they would sympathize with her. At another point she called a member in the audience “honey. ” By using specific examples she made her message more personal. The way she carried herself and spoke brought one to feel as if one were a friend or family member, rather than a stranger. Ending with a down home tone, yet being quick to the point, she thanks the audience for listening to her and says,”Now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

” Anthony, Stanton, and Truth were influential persons during the1800’s. They had help women gain equal privileges with men. The result of their efforts has shown to us that, as Anthony once said “Failure is Impossible. ” For the help of these reformers, many feminists today belong to national, state and local organization that promote equal rights for women in education, employment, religion, health care, and government. Bibliography: 1. Stanton, E. C. A history of woman suffrage. Rochester, NY: Fowler and Wells, 1989 2.

Stanton, E. C. Elizabeth Cady, eighty years and more: Reminiscences 1815 – 1897. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993 3. Allan Estlake, The Oneida Community; A Record of an Attempt to Carry Out the Principles of Christian Unselfishness and Scientific Race-Improvement, Ams Pr. , June 1973 4. Wells-Barnett, Ida B.. Crusade for justice; the autobiography of Susan B. Anthony, Boston: Beacon Press, 1995. 5. Davis, Allen F. American Heroine: The Life and Legend of Sojourner Truth. London: Oxford University Press, 1973.


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