The Rise of Public Woman: Woman's Power and Woman's Place in the United States, 1630-1970 / Edition 1

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This richly woven history ranges from the seventeenth century to the present as it masterfully traces the movement of American women out of the home and into the public sphere. Matthews examines the Revolutionary War period, when women exercised political strength through the boycott of household goods and Elizabeth Freeman successfully sued for freedom from enslavement in one of the two cases that ended slavery in Massachusetts. She follows the expansion of the country west, where a developing frontier attracted strong, resourceful women, and into the growing cities, where women entered public life through employment in factories and offices. Matthews illuminates the contributions of such outstanding Civil War women as Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, who supervised a cattle drive down the banks of the Mississippi so that soldiers would have fresh milk; Clara Barton, whose humanitarian work on behalf of the International Red Cross led her to become the first American woman to serve as official representative of the federal government; and Sojourner Truth, the impassioned black orator who devoted herself to emancipation. And Matthews brings the narrative to the 1970s, detailing the growing presence of women in American politics—from the suffrage marches of the early twentieth century, to the courageous stands women took during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. A fascinating and perceptive look at women throughout our history, The Rise of Public Woman offers an important perspective on the changing public role of women in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A valuable and immensely readable new contribution to American studies."—San Francisco Chronicle

"In breaking down the well-known history of the effort to win equality for women into four quite specific elements, Glenna Matthews has given that vital story a novel meaning as well as a closer analysis. The women's movement now means the achieving of new space, new power, new laws, and a new culture for women. Once again, as in her earlier, path-breaking study recognizing the American housewife, Matthews has thrown a bright, fresh light on a subject once thought to be all too familiar."—Carl Degler, Stanford University

"Glenna Matthews' account of women's evolving public voice is a tremendously enjoyable book—both moving and illuminating. It helped me put my own experience as an elected woman in the context of over 300 years of women's insistence on expanding their opportunities to shape the public world."—Loni Hancock, Mayor, City of Berkeley

"A wise, selective history as informative as her earlier Just a Housewife....She has found a way to hold the attention of readers who may not ordinarily stay with a historical theme."—Christian Century ust

"In an era when debate about women's place—in the home or in the White House—occupies politicians no less than theorists, historians of women have much to say. Drawing on this rich historical literature, Glenna Matthews surveys the efforts of diverse American women over three centuries to establish a public role commensurate with that of men. General readers especially will find The Rise of Public Woman an accessible and useful introduction both to the new scholarship and to the complex, ongoing struggle to reconfigure the gendered domains of public and private."—Jane Sherron De Hart, coauthor of Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA

"An unprecedented expansion in women's presence and influence in the public arena has taken place since the early 1970's. This expansion did not spring from an historical tabula rasa. In The Rise of Public Woman, Glenna Matthews begins to uncover and lay out the antecedents for today's movement of women into positions of visible leadership. This is an extremely worthwhile study which makes a long overdue contribution to our heretofore slim knowledge of the circumstances and events which facilitated women's growing participation in US public life."—Ruth Mandel, Director, Center for the American Woman and Politics, Rutgers University

"The material is fascinating. The sweep of the subject matter makes this an important book to have. The footnotes alone are worth the price."—Penelope Power, KLIATT

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195090451
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenna Matthews is an Affiliated Scholar with the Beatrice Bain Research Group, University of California, Berkeley.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Woman's Power and Woman's Place in Seventeenth-Century America 13
2 The Erosion of Patriarchy 32
3 Women and Republicanism 52
4 The Power of the Word 72
5 "Woman's Place" and Public Space, 1800-1860 93
6 Northern Women and the Crisis of the Union 120
7 Public Womanhood and the Incorporation of America 147
8 A Kind of Power: Women and Politics, 1900-1960 172
9 Working-Class Women and Public Activism 196
10 The Rebirth of Feminism 222
Afterword 241
Notes 245
Index 289
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