Final Essay.wps - Lauren Fortson Section 3134 4-24-07 The...

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Lauren Fortson Section 3134 4-24-07 The Struggle for Women’s Equality This paper will explain and assess the struggle of women for liberty and equality from the early seventeenth century to 1870. This is a complicated issue that historians have struggled to explain for many years. We are all aware that women did not receive full suffrage until the twentieth century, and furthermore that the struggle was intricate during the years in question. I will divide this paper into several complimentary sections designed to answer both the required prompts, as well as offering a glimpse of the persons, events, and episodes that came to define this weighty struggle in United States history. Women never fully achieved true liberty in the time period in question, the early seventeenth to 1870, but they did make prominent progression towards their ultimate goal of equality. Two prime examples are the portrayals of courage of the women of the Lowell Mills and the resounding results of the Seneca Falls Convention. The textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, at their introduction, seemed to be the coveted location by most young, middle class, white women. “In the years before 1850 the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, were a celebrated economic and cultural attraction.” 1 The young women’s thoughts of living away from home, independence, and making their own income drew them to Lowell. Realizing that they could accomplish work they never thought they could instilled a great sense of pride in these women. One woman described the learning process in a letter reprinted in the Offering: 1 Thomas D., “Women, Work, and Protest in the Early Lowell Mills” in Binder and Reimers, The Way We Lived Vol. 1, No. 5 (New York, 2004) 142.
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“Well, I went into the mill, and was put to learn with a very patient girl…You cannot think how odd everything seems…They set me to threading shuttles, and tying weaver’s knots, and such things, and now I have improved so that I can take care of one loom. I could take care of two if only I had eyes in the back part of my head…” 2 The women shared living quarters, spent all of their time together, and quickly formed close knit bonds with one another. These close unions would eventually be the core of their opposition and their diving board into women’s rights movements. The Lowell Mills started to decline in conditions of living, work, hours, and treatment: “The work structure, the workers’ housing, and workforce homogeneity were the major elements which contributed to the growth of community among Lowell’s women operatives…For in these struggles, the new values and attitudes which developed in the community of women operatives are most visible.” 3 This environment finally prompted the first strike in Lowell in 1834. This strike neither successful nor unsuccessful, but the most important fact is that it simply happened. “In an era in which women had to overcome opposition simply to work in the mills, it is remarkable that they
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course AMH 2010 taught by Professor Minor during the Spring '08 term at University of Florida.

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Final Essay.wps - Lauren Fortson Section 3134 4-24-07 The...

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