Women and Civil Rights


The Position of Women in 1865

Before the outbreak of the civil war, Women were active in many public affairs such as:

  • The growth in religion meant Women were often active in church societies, Sunday Schools and religious meetings.
  • Women participated in campaigns against slavery
  • Some, like former slave Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape from the South into the North.
  • Involved in Temperance and later prohbition
  • Women's suffrage movement
  • Orgainsations like helping the poor, Bible study, teaching and better property rights for women.

These demonstrate that women were active in things elsewhere outside the home. Women also had a minor role in politics with the first Anti-Slavery Convection in 1837, which also encouraged the development of groups protesting for women's votes. Then there was the first ever women's surffrage group organised in Seneca Falls, New York 1848. Women who tended to fight for anti-slavery campaigns and temperance were often however middle-class woman. The working class women tended to be the breadwinners of the family if there husband had loss of work, particulary during the Great Depression.

Main identified women

  • African-American, Sojourner Truth
  • Middle class white women, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The Impact of the Civil War

It led to more public participation by women. They did not fight but they supported the war effort on both sides and organised array of charitable orgainsations and fund raising for the respective causes. The war became something of a modern war so rural areas, women in particular took over the men folk who went to war. Some became nurses however this was only seen as a extent to domestic skills that a woman would of obtained (1860s medical colleges had strict regulations on the number of women admitted). With the South destroyed and the North demanding for men to fight, women had to take on a new type of warfare. The growth in industry meant it increased work opportunites for women when the war ended. By 1970 13% of all unmarried women had worked in domestic occupations or factories. Married women, however, were often barred from working outside the home and state legislatures. It was very much still the principle that women had to remain at home and look after the family.

Westward Expanison had made it extremely more difficult for women. The lack of main communications meant married women were the cleaners, cooks, nurses, teachers and medicine makers and what not. Worringly, many died in child labour or became either seriously depressed.

The Campaign for Political Rights 1865-1960


This was seen as the greatest participation by women in public life. Also one of the main reasons for the suffrage movement. The Women's Christian Temperance Union emerged and fought to rid of acholol with the argument that it threatened family life (1874). It was under the powerful leadership of Frances Willard and appealed to the Protestant opinion in Midwest. By 1880, it had grown to become…


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