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02-First Wave Feminism Discovered

02-First Wave Feminism Discovered - First Wave Feminism...

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1 First Wave Feminism and the Emergence of the New Woman HST/WMS 389 Fall 2009 Professor Lavender First Wave Feminism then… Primary (public) focus on female citizenship – So, Abigail Adams’s “Remember the Ladies!” – And the suffrage movement But also (less public, less clearly identified as “feminist”) focus on challenging assumptions about women’s “essential natures” – In this way, very much in line with Wollstonecraft and Mill, both of whom were much-read by First Wave feminists. Abolitionism and Feminism First Wave Feminist activism grew out of Abolitionism – Which in itself led to the rise of a suffragist movement Originally to ensure the ending of slavery – Because it was assumed that women as a group would end slavery if given the vote But later as a basic human right – That had been denied women politically – In this latter sense, it needed to disprove theories about women’s supposed inability to exercise citizenship on their own behalf. Abolitionism as both Inspiration and Experience Women’s moral opposition to slavery – Part of Second Great Awakening But also source for political experience – In abolitionist societies Such as the Boston Women’s Antislavery Society – And as a place where women’s discourse could be heard In part because of the support of leaders like William Lloyd Garrison And because women were speaking to OTHER women as well as society as a whole. Women’s Voices in Abolitionism One of the chief sites where women’s political voices can be heard in nineteenth- century America And even more interesting, a site where women of broad class and race backgrounds leave their publicly- expressed political thoughts behind for us to rediscover. Maria W. Stewart (1803-79) One America's first black women political writers. In 1832, in Boston, she mounted lecture platform to speak to assembled crowd of men and women (promiscuous assembly) against the colonization movement, a scheme to expatriate black Americans back to West Africa. Her public career was barely 3 years long.
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2 Maria W. Stewart After husband (a free black shipfitter) died in 1829, underwent religious conversion and gave self over to career of secular ministry of political and religious witness. Stewart published a political pamphlet, a collection of religious meditations and delivered 4 public lectures which were later printed. Took public stage after the mysterious death of David Walker, a black Boston author of an inflammatory pamphlet “Walker's Appeal,” a call for slave rebellion in the American South. Maria W. Stewart Stewart knew that she too faced danger for her unpopular political and abolitionist beliefs, perhaps especially because of her race.
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