The destruction of slavery led feminists to search

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The destruction of slavery led feminists to search for ways to make the promise of free labor real for women. Every issue of the new women’s rights journal, The Agitator , edited by Mary Livermore, who had led fund-raising efforts for aid to Union soldiers during the war, car- ried stories complaining of the lim- ited job opportunities and unequal pay for females who entered the labor market. Other feminists debated how to achieve “liberty for married women.” Demands for liber- alizing divorce laws (which gener- ally required evidence of adultery, desertion, or extreme abuse to termi- 6 0 8 C H . 15 “What Is Freedom?”: Reconstruction, 1865–1877 T H E M A K I N G O F R A D I C A L R E C O N S T R U C T I O N A Delegation of Advocates of Woman Suffrage Addressing the House Judiciary Committee, an engraving from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, February 4, 1871. The group includes Elizabeth Cady Stanton, seated just to the right of the speaker, and Susan B. Anthony, at the table on the extreme right.
nate a marriage) and for recognizing “woman’s control over her own body” (including protection against domestic violence and access to what later generations would call birth control) moved to the center of many femi- nists’ concerns. “Our rotten marriage institution,” one Ohio woman wrote, “is the main obstacle in the way of woman’s freedom.” F E M I N I S T S A N D R A D I C A L S Talk of woman suffrage and redesigning marriage found few sympathetic male listeners. Even Radical Republicans insisted that Reconstruction was the “Negro’s hour” (the hour, that is, of the black male). The Fourteenth Amendment for the first time introduced the word “male” into the Constitution, in its clause penalizing a state for denying any group of men the right to vote. The Fifteenth Amendment outlawed discrimination in vot- ing based on race but not gender. These measures produced a bitter split both between feminists and Radical Republicans, and within feminist circles. Some leaders, like Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, opposed the Fifteenth Amendment because it did nothing to enfranchise women. They denounced their former abolitionist allies and moved to sever the women’s rights movement from its earlier moorings in the antislavery tradition. On occasion, they appealed to racial and ethnic prejudices, arguing that native- born white women deserved the vote more than non-whites and immi- grants. “Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung, who do not know the difference between a monarchy and a republic,” declared Stanton, had no right to be “making laws for [feminist leader] Lucretia Mott.” But other abo- litionist-feminists, like Abby Kelley and Lucy Stone, insisted that despite their limitations, the Reconstruction amendments represented steps in the direction of truly universal suffrage and should be supported. The result was a split in the movement and the creation in 1869 of two hostile women’s rights organizations—the National Woman Suffrage Association,

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