The Impact of the Civil War on Women's Rights Essay

2410 Words10 Pages
“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

After four years of seemingly endless battle between a divided nation, more than 600,000 people were killed. These lives, however, were not given in vain. Had it not been for the American Civil War, abolition may not have been carried out. The nation might have remained divided. Women might have remained confined to their roles as the "homemakers." Although the Civil War was fought in hopes of preserving the nation and ridding it of slavery, another war raged on within the depths of this war--the women's war. Serving as nurses both in the hospital and on the battlefields, women came to know a whole
…show more content…
Certain laws even made it nearly impossible for women to divorce their husbands. This being the case, most women were completely financially dependent upon men.

In a few cases, however, women began to advance towards equality with men. For example, around the early 1850's, elementary teaching increasingly became a feminine affair. Prior to the Civil War, Kentucky took partial steps to allow women suffrage. In this state, widowed mothers were allowed a limited vote in school elections. As early as the 1840's, modern women's colleges began to replace the older, "female academies" (Donald & Randall 20). For the most part, however, attempts at female advances-which were made in hopes of achieving equal footing with men-were unacceptable. At the World Anti-Slavery Conference in 1840, for example, women were only allowed to listen and observe behind a screen of the gallery in which the conference was held. Women were denied verbal participation because male leaders refused to speak on the same platform as them. To these men, it was a disgrace to speak on the same platform as the "inferior" gender.

Such denials of equal opportunity gave rise to advocates of women's rights. Women's rights activists, such as Abby K. Foster, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Angelina Grimke, were deeply disappointed that they could not have a voice in the World Anti-Slavery Conference. Like most female radicals during this time, these women

More about The Impact of the Civil War on Women's Rights Essay

Get Access