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Married Women In The 1800s Essay

In the 1800’s married women were treated unfair and unequal, and in this case inequality of all women, of all races, was very evident by the way women were merely property. State law governed in all states that married women were legal possessions rather than equal persons. Married women could not own any personal possession or property, all they had, became their husbands. In the 1800’s women had no rights to vote, and women would not have the right to vote until 1920. There were unequal wages for women in the work force, and men who did the same work load would be paid much higher than women.

All Women, especially married women, were treated very unfairly and unequal, Because, they did not have legal rights to vote, own their own property, or earn equal wages for performing the same job as men. To begin with, in the 1800’s women were not allowed to vote, and it would be over a century before women would finally have that right. The laws against women voting would remain in place, equally important, “in 1838 women played no almost no role, and in 1877 they were still lacking the vote, and still unable to serve on juries.

Women began to forge a powerful suffrage movement, certain women were participating in the public political discourse, and the nation had ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which would eventually be used to fight sex discrimination. What’s more, organized American womanhood had done much to humanize society. As for the public sphere itself, it was growing because of democratic ferment and because of new forms of organization and communication in the nineteenth century. ” (Glena Mathews) (“Women in the public sphere, 1838-1877,” The Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History).

However, others argued and disagreed, over the Fourteenth Amendment, which strongly stated that voting was for men only, because the word male was placed next to the word “voters”, this would be a major set-back for women. In the late 1870’s, two Suffrage Associations would be formed, the first would be, the American Women Suffrage Association, which believed in the Reconstruction Amendments. The second which was led by the two best-known suffragists “Susan B. Anthony” and “Elizabeth Cady Stanton”, the National Women Suffrage Association, which did not agree with the Reconstruction Amendments.

Although the Suffrage movement was essential to improving women’s rights, it was not the only means women were establishing themselves with the government in the 1800’s. Women were beginning to show loyalty to political parties, for example, they began to attend political rallies, as well as, attended debates. Obviously, in the early part of the 1800’s, married women faced harsher laws and restrictions, than they did in the late 1800’s. Secondly, married women of the 1800’s had no rights to property, moreover, married women had no rights to their real or personal property, or guardianship to their children born into the marriage.

State law in all states governed, that married women were legal possessions of their husbands, and not legal persons. “Under coverture” (the status a woman acquired upon marriage, under common law), women had no contract rights. A married women’s legal existence was extinguished by the status of marriage, although the law nominally recognized a marital community of goods, all personal property and community property was vested in the husband’s control, what’s more, the marriage restricted the wife’s legal capacity.

Despite all the struggles married women went through to gain legal rights, it would not be until 1848 before changes began to happen, when New York, followed Texas and Mississippi, by passing the Married Women’s Property Act, which gave married women ownership over their own property, property inheritance, and property that had been acquired. When article 1, section 10 passed it constituted a clause that adopted the married women’s property acts, in addition, article 1, section 8 gave the U. S. overnment the right to levy taxes directly to the people, and acknowledged married women’s rights to possess assets of their own. (Woody Holton) (“Equality as unintended consequence: the contracts clause and the married women’s property act. ” Journal of Southern History). Soon thereafter, at the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton” read the “Declaration of Sentiments,” which described many of the ways that men had power over women. (Gayle V. Fischner) (“Women,” Encyclopedia of the United States in the nineteenth Century).

The Declaration of Sentiments also states that women are to be equal to men, and should have all the same rights, and responsibilities that men do. For the same reason, this would lead many to the conclusion, that women also should have the right to vote, because, through voting women would gain more empowerment for themselves. In the 1890’s, women began to display different habits: women were having fewer children, going to college for a degree so they could find a better job outside the home, as well as, demanding their voice to be heard in politics.

In brief, the 1890’s also brought a more confident, and self-sufficient woman whose lifestyles drastically differs from those of past generations. Summing up, in the beginning of the 1800’s, women struggled, as men accelerated in the work environment. The 1800’s would also highlight the differences between women and men workers, nevertheless, women brought cash into their households by participation in the cottage industry, however, it was not enough income to support the family.

As technology grew between 1800 to 1850, merchants found it profitable to hire women, widows, and children to spin and weave. However, women found it hard to cope with the hard work, and worries of making a living to support their families due to mill owners cutting wages and the intensity of the work. In any case, it would be women who played an active role in the industrial revolution of 1820 to 1865. By using their traditional skills of sewing, stitching, and looming cotton. Although this may be true, U. S. deology discouraged women from doing paid work.

Women where viewed as naturally inferior, physically weaker, and more emotional than men. (Gayle V. Fischer) (“Women,” Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century). It was these beliefs that justified a women’s domain over her family home and for the nurturing of the children, as well as, spiritual teaching. A women’s place was then viewed to be that of a wife and homemaker. As the 1800’s reach the Mid to later part of the century, Women began to be employed in more two hundred different jobs.

In 1850, 330,000 women worked in domestic service, 62,000 worked in the clothing industry, moreover, women also began to work in professional careers, such as teaching, clerical work, and nursing. (Gayle V. Fischer) (“Women,” Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century). By comparison, the number of married women working outside the home was much lower, because married women where not supposed to work outside the home, nonetheless, between 1870 and 1900 the number of women working grew by twothirds.

In brief, although the beginning of the 1800’s had little to no hope for married women, it would prove that by the later part of the 1800’s, married women had finally received the rights they deserved. The many challenges and hardships married women struggled through, would in the end, prove to empower women, because of the many laws that had passed giving married women rights to personal and real property, as well as, the fair acts of wages. Not to mention, the right to earn degrees for much higher paying careers.

In conclusion, it is clear to see the unfairness for women of the 1800’s. Women were not allowed to do as men did, they had no rights. Women could not vote, this would not come to be until 1920. Women were not allowed to own their own property, not to mention, any of their personal property. Women did not earn equal wages for the same work provided as a man. Some would argue not much has changed there! Married women were nothing more than mere property, once married, they became personal possessions of their husbands.

All women rather married or not, had unjust rights. Women of different races had it even worse. Therefore, it is safe to say the 1800’s was a very harsh time for women. However, towards the later part of the 1800’s, women began to gain more rights, giving them the feeling of empowerment as they kept moving forward in their fight to vote, own their own property, not to mention, earn fair wages. Therefore, although it was unfair in the 1800’s for women, one could argue that it certainly changed by the late 1800’s.

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