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Women’s Roles Then and Now Essay

Abigail said she was born November 11, 1744 in Weymouth, Massachusetts to the Reverend William and Elizabeth Quincy Smith. She stated that she married John Adams on October 25, 1764 and they moved to Braintree, Massachusetts where she gave birth to six children. She cared for her children at the Braintree home while her husband was an accomplished lawyer. She was left largely alone for ten years during the American Revolution to run the household. Women running a family home were also running a family business. The family homes were centers of production; households often had to produce their own food, clothing, and many of their own supplies. Women were often in charge of coordinating and producing these materials and, thus, were an essential part of keeping the family alive and well.

Catherine the Great said that she was born May 2, 1729 in Stettin, Prussia to Christian Augustus and his wife, Johanna Elizabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. She said her baptismal name was Sophia Augusta Frederica. In accordance with the custom then prevailing in German princely families, she was educated chiefly by French governesses and tutors. In 1744 she was taken to Russia, to become the fiancé to the grand duke Peter, the nephew of the empress Elizabeth, and her recognized heir. They married on August 21, 1745 at St. Petersburg. Unlike Abigail, Catherine did not have to do the day to day chores of raising a family and running a home. She had servants to do that job.

The historical status for women in general during the 18th century in America changed from the previous years. Married women’s lives revolved to a large extent around managing the household, a role which in many cases included partnership in running farms or home businesses. Even those women whose social standing afforded increased leisure took up spinning and other activities to replace imported goods. They prepared food for militia musters and made cartridges. War, when it came, touched everyone. Abigail stated that she joined her diplomat husband in Europe in 1784 where they spent eight months in Paris. In 1785, she filled the role of wife of the first U.S. minister to the Court of St. James in London.

They returned in 1788 to a house known as the “Old House” in Quincy, Massachusetts which she set about vigorously enlarging and remodeling. When John was elected President of the United States, Abigail continued a formal pattern of entertaining. With the removal of the capital to Washington in 1800, she became the first “First Lady” to preside over the White House. She told Catherine that she took an active role in politics and policy. She was so politically active; her political opponents came to refer to her as “Mrs. President”.

Catherine said that once she married her husband she set about winning the hearts of the Russian people. She learned the language of the people and made up her mind to do whatever had to be done, and to profess to believe whatever she was required to believe, in order to be qualified to wear the crown. Being raised in the Lutheran faith she declined the religious services of a Protestant pastor, and sent for an orthodox priest who had been appointed to instruct her in the Greek form of Christianity. On June 28th, 1744 she was into the Orthodox Church at Moscow, and was renamed Catherine Alexeyevna. Catherine was emphatically a sovereign and a politician who was in the last resort guided by the reason of state. Her foreign policy was as consistent as it could be considering the forces she had to content against.

It was steadily aimed to secure the greatness and the safety of Russia. She stated that she loved her adopted country and had affection for her people. She incorporated Enlightenment ideas into her politics, commissioned art, and created s successful foreign policy. She also expanded the Russian Empire to the Black Sea by defeating the Ottoman Empire in two major wars. Catherine’s empire spanned over three continents: Europe, Asia, and part of North America. It stretched form the Arctic Ocean to the North, the Black Sea to the South, Alaska and the Pacific to the East, and the Baltic Sea to the West. She reformed the system by creating a legislative commission in 1767, introducing a system of local self-government in 1775, and issuing the Charter to the Nobility in 1785.

Russia became the largest producer of iron, cast iron and copper. She had more than 200 factories and workshops. Industrial production had doubled the value of domestic and foreign trade tripled. Though she had mounted the throne by a military revolt and entered on great schemes of conquest, she never took an intelligent interest in her army. She neglected it in peace, allowed it to be shamefully administered in war, and could never be made to understand that it was not in her power to improvise generals out of her favorites.

Each of the women had opinions on the role women should play in society during their lifetimes. Abigail told Catherine that she was an advocate of married women’s property rights and more opportunities for women, particularly in the field of education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest, nor should they be content with the simple role of being companions to their husbands. She said that women should educate themselves and thus be recognized for their intellectual capabilities, so they could guide and influence the lives of their children and husbands. Abigail along with her husband believed that slavery was evil and a threat to the American democratic society.

Catherine stated that she was kind to her servants, and was very fond of young children. She was rarely angry with people who merely contradicted her or failed to perform their service in her household. Her renowned toleration stopped short of allowing the dissenters to build chapels, and her passion for legislative reform grew cold when she found that she must begin by the emancipation of the serfs. She saw no reason to emancipate the serfs because there would be no one to do the work.

Abigail Adams would greatly admire the current roles of women today. Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American woman to become the U.S. Secretary of State advising the leader of the world largest superpower, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a U.S. Senator for the state of New York and then the Secretary of State, and Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Catherine the Great would also greatly admire the current roles of women today. Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India from 1966-1977. This was the highest position in the world’s most populous democracy and was especially significant for Indian women, who had traditionally been subservient to men. Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996, the first female leader of a Moslem country and Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel form 1969-1974.

Both Abigail Adams and Catherine the Great would approve of the fact that women have the right to study and become doctors, lawyers, scientists and even politicians. No longer are women confined to the home raising children. Today’s modern woman has a home, works a full time job and takes care of her children and some even decide to continue their education. Women have come a long way since the beginning of time.

Reference
http://www.bookrags.com/printfriendly/?p=essays&u=2005/5/23/231755/036 http://ezinearticles.com/?How-the-role-of-Women-Has-Changes&id=3602156 http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/11/DFBA.html
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/11/DZTZ.html
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2005/11/MTNG.html
http://www.123helpme.com/american-womens-changing-roles-in-society-view.asp?id=15… http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?titlr=Abigail_Adams&printable=yes http://fr.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Catherine_11_de_Russie&printable=yes


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