Saturday, March 4, 2017

Founding Mothers by C. M.

John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and so on. All founding fathers that have had an influence during the Revolution. But what you will most likely never see in a history book is how women played a role into the revolution as well.  Rosemarie Zagarri, a history teacher at the George Mason University, discusses how the war had an affect on both women and slaves and why they should be recognized as important figures in the Revolution. She went on to provide three significant women had their own contributions; Esther Derberdt Reed, Phyllis Wheatley, and Elizabeth Alexanader Stevens.
Zagarri explains how Esther Derberdt Reed and other women contributed by not purchasing English goods in hopes that Britain would repeal the taxes. Secondly, these women also went door to door and raised money for the Continental Army and made socks for them as a personal donation. Phyllis Wheatley was born in Africa and captured as a child and sold into slavery. Despite it being forbidden, her owners taught her to read and write and even taught her Latin which was considered to be something that gentlemen knew. She was encouraged to do poetry and her writings brought her fame in England and in the colonies. Figures such as George Washington even enjoyed her work. The last woman Zagarri mentioned was Elizabeth Alexander Stevens. Stevens was a widow living in New Jersey. Once her husband had passed, she now owned the land and the rules were that only landowners could vote and she became one of the first females to vote in New Jersey.
In class we discussed further in depth as to why these people and events were important. For instance, women were the source of economic influence because they were the primary consumers. the economic boycott was to apply pressure to have Britain repeal. There were also discussions about how the men would leave for war and the women had to take over care of the slaves and the land and even businesses. The new roles were sometimes successful because women would learn new things that they couldn't have before and the down side was that not all were successful. Other downsides included food shortages, dislocation, and even the threat of violence. Even with all the down sides, the result was the same. The Continental Army beat the British in the Revolution and a lot of that had to do with the support of women.
Even with all the examples and praise from men at in the era the questions that still remains are why were women not recognized as citizens? Why were these rights exclusively only for certain men even after womens influence during the Revolution?