Continental Congress in Philadelphia Essay
Continental Congress in Philadelphia
One of the most well-known “female politicians” of the time was Mercy Otis Warren of Massachusetts. Like several other women concerned with public issues, Warren grew up in a political family. Her father James Otis, Sr. , had long been active in high-level provincial politics; her brother James Otis, Jr. , had been an outspoken detractor of British rule, and her husband James Warren was a most important member of the Massachusetts legislature. Mrs. Warren would write several pamphlets, poems, and plays in support of the Patriot movement.
One of her plays, The Adulateur (1772), implicated a legendary kingdom named Servia, where the good subjects possessed with a love of liberty were being enslaved by a tyrannical ruler. Warren took some pride in women’s contribution to the colonial resistance. “Be it known unto Britain even American daughters are politicians and patriots, and will aid the good work with their feeble efforts. ” 7 Even though she was well aware that politics remained “a subject . . . much out of the road of female attention,” 8 she quietly defended the right of women to articulate their opinions.
During the war period, she frequently corresponded with like-minded individuals for instance Abigail Adams regarding the latest developments, and afterward wrote an extremely partisan three-volume history of the American Revolution. Equally eager of speaking out politically (albeit in private correspondence) was Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams. Throughout the pre-Revolutionary years, Abigail had ready comments on the regal conflict and very much favoured separation from the mother country.
When her husband John was a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and beginning to prepare a new system of government, she even confided to him regarding what she considered a very important domestic matter–the rights of women. On the eve of American independence, Abigail wrote: “By the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.
” 9 Abigail was not a contemporary feminist and had no wish to change the conventional relationship between man and woman; however she apparently did want some restraint placed on the use of male power within the family. John appeared more amused than angry at the outburst but made no effort to follow through on Abigail’s request. Neither did any of his congressional colleagues take up the subject. While John Adams had no wish to alter the legal status of women or grant them voting rights, he did think that they could hold political opinions and comment on significant issues in a family setting.
So frequent were his discussions with his wife on such matters that at one point Abigail declared: “What a politician you have made me. ”10 Abigail Adams of all the women at the time would have welcomed the possibility to use the ballot had it been given to members of her sex. On Election Day in 1780, she confirmed her desire to be part of the political process by assisting at the local polling place, preparing tickets. “If I cannot be a voter upon this occasion,” she said, “I will be a writer of votes. I can do some thing in that way.
” 11 Several years afterward, Abigail commented on the existence of woman suffrage in New Jersey, saying that “if our state constitution had been equally liberal . . . and admitted the female to a vote, I should certainly have exercised it. ” 12 Later, during her husband’s presidency, she explicitly handled some of his political correspondence, even writing to Elbridge Gerry, emissary to France, amid the controversial XYZ affair in 1797. She as well carried on an widespread exchange of letters with such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson after her husband left the White House.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 May 2017
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