Antebellum Women: Private, Public, Partisan

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How did diverse women in America understand, explain, and act upon their varied constraints, positions, responsibilities, and worldviews in changing American society between the end of the Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War? Antebellum Women: Private, Public, Partisan answers the question by going beyond previous works in the field. The authors identify three phases in the changing relationship of women to civic and political activities. They first situate women as Odeferential domesticsO in a world of conservative gender expectations; then map out the development of an ideology that allowed women to leverage their familial responsibilities into participation as Ocompanionate co-workersO in movements of religion, reform, and social welfare; and finally trace the path of those who followed their causes into the world of politics as Opassionate partisans.O The book includes a selection of primary documents that encompasses both well-known works and previously unpublished texts from a variety of genres, making Antebellum Women a unique one-volume work that will introduce readers to the documentary record as well as to the vibrant body of historical work on gender in the early nineteenth century.
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Editorial Reviews

Mary Kelley
Combining lucid analysis of women, black and white, Native and Euro American, elite and laboring classes, with a dazzling variety of documents, Lasser and Robertson freshly synthesize decades of scholarship and introduce us to women's experiences in all their richness and vibrancy. We learn how women's civic identity and impassioned participation changed the face of antebellum America's society and politics. We find in the documents women playing multiple roles—Cherokees filing petitions to resist cessions of land, Lowell Mill girls laboring in factories, elite Blacks and Whites organizing benevolent societies, activists calling for the end of slavery, suffragists claiming the vote. Bravo for splendid presentation of women's kaleidoscopic lives.
Rosemarie Zagarri
Carol Lasser and Stacey Robertson have compiled a superb work that will challenge readers' conventional understanding of American women's involvement in politics in the decades before the Civil War. The wide range of primary sources allows women from a variety of social classes and races to express their political opinions in their own words. Lasser's and Robertson's excellent introduction provides readers with a compelling framework for understanding the changes and continuities in women's political role throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742551961
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/16/2010
  • Series: American Controversies Series
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Lasser is professor of history at Oberlin College. Stacey Robertson is Oglesby Professor of American Heritage, chair of the History Department, and director of the Women_s Studies Program at Bradley University, where she has been teaching since 1994. She is the author of Hearts Beating for Liberty: Women Abolitionists in the Old Northwest (University of North Carolina Press, 2010) and Parker Pillsbury: Radical Abolitionist, Male Feminist (Cornell University Press, 2000) as well as several articles and chapters. She has received various fellowships and teaching awards and has lectured extensively on her research.
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Table of Contents



Section I Antebellum Women 1

Phase 1 Deferential Domestics 1

Phase 2 Ciompanionate Co-laborers 27

Phase 3 Passionate Partisans 56

Conclusion 77

Section II Primary Documents 79

Phase 1 Deferential Domestics 79

Document 1 Excerpts from Charlotte Temple, 1791 Susannah Rowson Rowson, Susannah 79

Document 2 Martha Ballard's Diary: Two Months in the Life of a Maine Midwife, 1800 84

Document 3 "The Slaves," a Short Story from The Young Ladies' Mentor, 1803 Eliza Leslie Leslie, Eliza 84

Document 4 Excerpts from The Law of Baron and Femme, 1816 Tapping Reeve Reeve, Tapping 95

Document 5 Cherokee Women's Petitions, 1817, 1818 and 1831 98

Document 6 Excerpts from The American Frugal Housewife, 1830 Lydia Maria Child Child, Lydia Maria 102

Document 7 Excerpts from Democracy in America, Volume II, 1840 Alexis de Tocqueville de Tocqueville, Alexis 107

Document 8 Excerpts from A Treatise on Domestic Economy, 1841 Catharine Beecher Beecher, Catharine 113

Document 9 Letters by Amy Galusha, A Lowell Mill Girl, 1849-1851 117

Phase 2 Companionate Co-laborers 123

Document 10 Salem Female Charitable Society Constitution, 1804 123

Document 11 African Dorcas Association, 1828 127

Document 12 Female Moral Reform Society Report, 1835 133

Document 13 Address to Christian Females in Slaveholdign States, 1836 Maria Sturges Sturges, Maria 139

Document 14 Fathers and Rulers Petition, 1836 143

Document 15 Controversy over Abolitionist Lectures by the Grimke Sisters, 1837 145

Document 16 Mary Lyon's Plans for the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, 1837 148

Document 17 "Anti-Slavery Sewing Circles," 1847 Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock Jones Jones, Jane Elizabeth Hitchcock 154

Document 18 "World's" Temperance Conventions, 1853 158

Document 19 "Linda Brent" (Harriet Jacobs), Excerpts from Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself, 1861 164

Phase 3 Passionate Partisans 170

Document 20 Mary Davis Letter in Support of Abolition and the Liberty Party, 1847 170

Document 21 Resolutions and Declaration of Sentiments Adopted by the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention, 1848 171

Document 22 Mary Sheldon's Composition Book Entry: "Women and Politics," 1848 175

Document 23 Jane Swisshelm Attacks the Compromise of 1850 177

Document 24 Harriet Beecher Stowe, Excerpts from Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1851 180

Document 25 Sojourner Truth's "Aren't I a Woman?" Speech, as Reported in 1851 and 1863 192

Document 26 Frances Ellen Watkins Harper on Free Labor, 1854 195

Document 27 Jessie Fremont Song, 1856 196

Document 28 Lydia Maria Child's Letter to Governor Wise Regarding John Brown, 1859 197

Document 29 Susan B. Anthony Letter Describing a "Wide Awake" Republican Serenade, 1860 203

Document 30 Anna Dickinson's Letter in Support of the Reelection of Lincoln, 1864 205

Index 211

About the Authors 217

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