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Religion inhibited the lives and freedom of women in the early 19th century. Religious men found ways that oppressed even the free women and used religion to justify their actions. In the Declaration of women’s right the women lamented that men “allowed (women) in the church…” but gives them the “subordinate positions…and excludes them from the ministry and church affairs” and use the Apostolic authority. Similar case applied to Sojourner Truth who was sold by Dumonots to Van Wagenens, both religious men, after freeing herself from slavery.
She later met Matthias who inflicted corporal punishment to his wife and children and at one time Truth. He claimed that the patriarchal system made him the “father” and according to his wife, the “father could execute wrath…” on whoever dictates to him.
Furthermore, Joseph Smith used biblical chapters to justify the plural marriage. He used David, Abraham, Jacob, and Solomon among others and the scripture to show that if men have more than one wife, then they will not have committed adultery.
However, according to Smith, a woman is adulterous if she sleeps with another man after she has been espoused. These religious practices oppressed women even those freed from slavery. The people in the reform movements viewed the government as a positive force that could help them end slavery in the nation.
James McCune’s speech called upon the North American government to implement full emancipation rather than semi-emancipation. By following the example of France and Britain who “began at home” to abolish slavery, the northern government can abolish slavery at home before “…calling upon the southern states to emulate the example.
”. Reformers applauded nations that abolished slavery entirely. Furthermore, the women during the declaration of sentiments such as “insist upon the institution…” and “refuse allegiance to it…” showing that they were not separating from the government.
Instead, they would go on insisting while using any instrumentality that they can find to influence their object. Both the Convention attendees and McCune believed that the government was a positive force that would listen to their sentiments. However, there were some abolitionist who viewed the government, especially the southern government as oppressive and going against human rights. In her appeal, Angelina Grimke states that the system of the south was “oppressive and cruel, wrong and licentious” and the women could help overthrow “this horrible system. It is the same government that James McCune was appealing the north government to set an example for them to follow.
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