How Women Were Muted By The Declaration Of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was viewed as a document that was fair and positive, but was it fair to all people, including oppressed groups like women? In the 17th and 18th century women helped create the society, but unfortunately, they were never given the opportunity to be recognized. Women played many important roles during this specific time period, from being mothers and raising the future generations of patriots to participating in the war. Since women were not seen as equal, they were oppressed and were not given the opportunity to have the same rights, like voting. After years of being oppressed, women got tired of being pushed aside and decided to fight for themselves. In order to create a major impact, women came together to help change society’s view on women. Despite the concept of the Republican Motherhood, the ideals of equality and rights contained in the Declaration of Independence were never realized for women between the years 1776 and 1877.

In 1776 one of America’s most important documents was published, the Declaration of Independence. This document was created to assure and protect the rights of the people. As quoted by the Declaration of Independence, “...all men are created equal...”. When people read this quote in 1776, it was assumed that everyone would be included.

Some people saw The Declaration of Independence as a document of hope, especially the minorities. When the document was published on July 4, 1776, people saw The Declaration of Independence and read the words “....that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson 1776). By reading this, many of the minority groups received hope, the hope of finally being recognized and treated with respect. They hoped that they would finally be treated as well as the white males they saw every day. They started to dream of all the new opportunities they had. By reading those words, they believed they would receive the right to vote, own land, and simply live a life they wanted to live, without having any obstacles holding them back. Women, specifically, hoped to live better lives. Women wanted to be treated differently, they wanted to be recognized for their dedication to the society and effort they made to make it a better place for everyone. They hoped that they would be able to own their own property, either inherited from their own families or a new piece of land that they wanted to buy. Women started to think that they were able to participate in a society where their efforts were acknowledged instead of their efforts remaining unknown and a secret. Many people started to believe that since the Declaration of Independence was published, the way government worked would change. Women thought that the government would be true to their word and have the rights and fair treatment be available to everyone. However, they soon realized the unfortunate truth that nothing was going to change. This upset the women, so they decided to take matters into their own hands.

From the years 1776 to 1877 women learned a valuable lesson, if they wanted something to change, they had to take charge and fight for it. Women made several attempts to make the rights between men and women equal, for example, the Seneca Falls Convention. On July 19 and 20, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was held in Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. This convention is often referred to as the birthplace of American feminism. At the Seneca Falls Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted a document that would soon have a major impact on women’s rights. This document is called the Declaration of Sentiments. The Declaration of Sentiments was written mainly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the document was based on the Declaration of Independence to parallel the struggles of the Founding Fathers with those of the women’s movement. The Declaration of Sentiments begins by stating the equality between all men and women and how both genders have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The document argues that women are oppressed by the government and the society that they were part of. 16 facts were listed that were illustrating the extent of this oppression. It included the lack of women’s suffrage, participation, and representation in the government; women’s lack of property rights in marriage; inequality in divorce law; and inequality in education and employment opportunities. The Declaration of Sentiments insisted that women should be viewed as full citizens of the United States and that they should be granted all the same rights and privileges the men had. Another attempt that was made was when Abigal Adams sent her husband, John Adams, a letter. This letter is known as the “Remeber the Ladies” letter. In this letter, Abigal used her words to try to convince her husband John and the other members of the Continental Congress to consider the rights of the women. Unfortunately, her effort was pushed aside.

During this time period, many women came together to make a difference in the society that they were apart of. A few women, other than Abigal Adams and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, would be: Dorothea Dix, Sojourner Truth, the Grimke Sisters, Lucy Stone, and Susan B. Anthony. To start off, Dorothea Dix was an early 19th-century activist who helped change the medical field during her lifetime. Dix championed the causes for the mentally ill and for the indigenous populations. As a result, Dorothea challenged the 19th-century notions of reform and illness. Dorothea Dix also helped recruit nurses for the Union army during the Civil War. By doing this, Dix transformed the field of nursing. Sojourner Truth was a former slave, who was an outspoken advocate for abolition, temperance, civil rights, and women’s rights. In 1851, Truth began a lecture tour that had a women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio. This is where Sojourner delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. In her speech, she challenged prevailing notions of racial and gender inferiority and inequality. The Grimke Sisters were the first American female advocates of abolition and women's rights. They were writers, orators, and educators.

In 1836, one of the Grimke sisters, Angelina, wrote her Appeal to the Christian Women of the South urging white southern women to embrace the antislavery cause. Angelina wrote, “I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken.” Her writing upset southerners who opposed its abolitionist message. It also displeased northerners who felt that women had no business writing and speaking about something as controversial as slavery. This outcry over women abolitionists prompted Angelina’s sister, Sarah, to write Letters on the Equality of the Sexes. By the late 1830s the Grimke sisters were known not only as abolitionists but also as proponents of women’s rights.

Although Sarah and Angelina did not attend the First Woman’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848, Sarah received an invitation to the event from Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Lucy Stone.

The Declaration of Independence was considered to be a document that was honorable and fair; but it was not fair to all people, including women. Between the 17th century and the 18th century, women participated in the creation of society but were never given the recognition for their efforts. The ideals stated in The Declaration of Independence did not include women. As a result, women were oppressed and treated unfairly. It was not long until women did not tolerate such inequality, they took control and fought back. Women came together to change the view society had towards them. They played very important roles within these specific centuries. They raised the next generations of patriots, fought in the war, and most importantly they fought for equality between the sexes.

31 August 2020
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