African American Women In The 1800s

Saturday, November 20, 2021 2:11:17 PM

African American Women In The 1800s



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Tasks like sewing, spinning, cooking, cleaning, and gardening were all familiar to most working-class women. Marriage and children were also inevitable for the majority of women, as they provided a certain degree of security and social status. In many places, women were unable to inherit property or money. However, despite the fact that they were not legal citizens at the time, many women did their best to maintain a degree of autonomy. Women would often run their own small businesses from home by trading homemade cloth or food for cash or other goods. There are accounts of women taking up jobs outside the home as well, especially with the onset of industrialization.

In the early 19th century in America, women had different experiences of life depending on what groups they were part of. A dominant ideology at the beginning of the s was called Republican Motherhood: middle- and upper-class white women were expected to educate the young to be good citizens of the new country. The other dominant ideology on gender roles at the time was separate spheres : Women were to rule the domestic sphere home and raising children while men operated in the public sphere business, trade, government.

This ideology would have, if followed consistently, meant that women were not part of the public sphere. However, there were a variety of ways women participated in public life. Biblical injunctions against women speaking in public discouraged many from that role, but some women became public speakers anyway. The Declaration of Sentiments of clearly describes the limits placed on women in public life before that time. Women of African descent who were enslaved usually had no public life. They were considered property and could be sold and raped with impunity by those who, under the law, owned them. Few participated in public life, though some came to public view.

Many were not even recorded with a name in the records of the enslavers. A few participated in the public sphere as preachers, teachers, and writers. She was also the mother of children most scholars accept Jefferson fathered. Hemings came to public view as part of an attempt by a political enemy of Jefferson to create a public scandal. Harriet Tubman took her first journey to emancipate herself and others in Not only were schools segregated by gender, but also by race.

In those schools, some African American women became educators. For instance, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a teacher in the s, and also published a book of poetry in An Indiana audience threatened to torch the building if she spoke. Every American school child has heard of Harriet Tubman — , undoubtedly the best known of all the female abolitionists. Escaping from slavery in , Tubman quickly became involved with abolitionism.

Respected by both blacks and whites, she worked with abolitionists as part of the Underground Railway, and probably even brought fugitives to the home of Frederick Douglass. Though she did not start the Underground Railway, Tubman is the name most associated with it. Recent scholarship suggests that the number of slaves she spirited away from the South may be less than once thought, but this in no way diminishes her courage and cleverness. The estimates range from as few as 10 trips up to about 19, with the number rescued ranging from 57 to But nonetheless, she risked her life to rescue many slaves, both relatives and other men and women, leading them through dangerous and difficult Southern terrain to freedom in the North and in Canada.

Her successes were due to both clever disguises and unwavering courage. Babies were given paregoric a kind of sedative to keep them from crying. There were many more black women abolitionist activists than will fit in this column. But there are some who should be mentioned for their outstanding courage and ability. Elizabeth Freeman — was born into slavery in Claverack, New York in She found a sympathetic ear with attorney Theodore Sedgwick, the father of the writer Catherine Sedgwick. Apparently, as she served dinner to her masters, she had heard them speaking of freedom—in this case freedom from England—and she applied the concepts of equality and freedom for all to herself.

In Freeman, with the assistance of Sedgwick, initiated the case Brom and Bett v. Ashley that set a precedent for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts. This case was a direct challenge to the very existence of slavery in Massachusetts. Once free, Freeman stayed with the Sedgwick family as a servant. Born of free blacks, she made her first speech against slavery when she was only sixteen years old. As a young woman, Remond delivered antislavery speeches throughout the Northeast United States.

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