The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the reasoning and events that took place that drove radical Republicans from acknowledging women's rights and why women in general stopped supporting the Republican Party.
As Anna Yeatman (1993) explains it, "the dominant discourses of modern citizenship are predicated on systemic exclusions of those who are othered by these discourses" (quoted in Kingfisher, 1998, p. 128). When "woman" is added to the previously mentioned descriptors, another layer of exclusion is added. For example, the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enacted after the Civil War, granted suffrage rights to black men, but excluded women of all races.i
The famous line from the Constitution that "All men are created equal" was written completely literally; this line did not include women or slaves as they were considered property. The founding fathers did not think twice when it came to denying the freedoms they had fought for to others, and it has been a long struggle since then to reclaim equal rights for all. Even with constitutional amendments making discrimination based on sex or skin color illegal, it still seems as though the white men in their suits have some sort of advantage over everyone not exactly like them. This undoubtedly is one of the reasons why Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have seemed like such a breath of fresh air in this year's political landscape.
Of course, with this year's main democratic candidates being a black man and a white women running for president, it's easy to forget that it was President Lincoln's Republican Party that emancipated the slaves and supported women's rights. So why exactly were the slaves freed in 1865 and women weren't given the right to vote until 1920 The women's rights movement and the abolition movement were conjoined before the Civil War, but afterwards, the Republican Party that had been given so much support by women in the abolition movement promptly dropped their support for equal rights for women.
To begin explaining how all of this took place, it is necessary to go back one hundred years before the emancipation of the slaves to obtain a more complete story. The society of 1750's was still highly centered on the farm. Since there was so much work required to be done around a farm, men and women had to invest there full time into the work required. As factories began to become more prominent, many of the traditional jobs delegated to women began to change. These factories took the place of many jobs, such spinning and weaving, and this left women with much more time on their hands. With this extra time, they searched for ways to be more productive. They formed different organizations, some social, and these organizations became the foundations of many women's rights groupsii.
The accepted notion of the time was that men and women belonged to different "spheres" of work and socializing, and that it was inappropriate for either men or women to cross the boundaries of these spheres. Men were supposed to work and engage in politics, while women were supposed cook, clean, and take care of the children. It is important to remember that at this time men thought that women should remain submissive. They were thought to have weak constitutions and needed men to take care of them. Throughout the history of the women's rights movement, this attitude was so prevalent that some women even spoke out against being given the right to vote, thinking that it gave too much responsibility. After being told that they were inferior for so long, they apparently began to think that the way they were treated was fair. It took a lot of courage for a woman during this time period