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Abolitionism - Abolitionism And Feminism

women abolitionist movement rights

The history of feminism in the United States is very directly linked to the abolitionist movement. Black and white women in northern cities in the United States were very active in various religious and benevolent organizations before they joined the abolitionist movement in the 1830s. The administrative and leadership skills and experience they had gained in these organizations were then utilized in the abolitionist movement. It is clear why black women were involved in the struggle to end slavery; however, white women from the working class to the upper middle class saw a correlation between the oppression of slaves and their oppression as women in terms of their legal status, which defined them as the property of their husbands and as their inferiors in society. Women found an outlet in the abolitionist movement for expressing their ideas toward marriage, divorce, and domestic violence. Men made up most of the leadership in abolitionist organizations, and their treatment of female members convinced many of these women that both slaves and women needed to be emancipated. Some abolitionist organizations did not allow African-Americans to join, while others curtailed the participation of women, especially in public speaking, voting, and business decisions. Many of these women continued their efforts to transform society through social movements by working on women's rights in the campaign for suffrage and property rights, along with the rights to file lawsuits, obtain a divorce, and obtain custody of children. The intersection of abolitionism and women's rights influenced the ideas and work of Sarah and Angelina Grimké, Abigail Kelley Foster, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The Grimké sisters, who were Quakers, believed they had been called to do God's work in the antislavery movement. Moreover, the linkages between abolition and women's rights in the work of black women abolitionists such as Sojourner Truth cannot be overstated. They were fighting for a double victory—one to end slavery and the other to end discrimination based on gender.

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883). Born into slavery in upstate New York, Isabella Van Wagener gained her freedom when the state abolished the practice in 1827. In the early 1840s she took the name Sojourner Truth and began touring the country to advocate abolition. ARCHIVE PHOTOS, INC.

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