Women's Changing Roles from 1865 - 1920

Essay by michelle8998College, UndergraduateA, November 2004

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The role women play in our society is an ever-changing one, from mother to lawyer and doctor and everywhere in between. With increasing demands on them to be the one to keep families grounded and together in a turbulent society that thinks none to highly of them or their rights as citizens. I chose to focus on womens changing roles during the time period from 1865 through 1920. The reason I chose this period in history was because this was a very turbulent time in history, due to the changing status of minorities in the culture at this time due to the end of the Civil War and the impending revolution for womens rights with the passage of the 19th amendment.

Dating as far back as the early 1800's womens roles were being challenged and questioned, it was not so much the womens rights marches of the 60's but it was the beginning of that revolution.

During the early part of the 19th century womens character was espoused with four basic attributes: piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity. Even foreign visitors to America during this period found fault in American males attitude towards women, they thought males treated women as inferiors and subjected women to double standards. "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law; that is, the very being and legal existence of the woman is suspended during marriage." This is according to a 1765 law established by Sir William Blackstone an English barrister, and American law followed this principle thereby the wife "belonged" to the husband.

These were the times that women lived through and the conditions they lived with during the early part of the nineteenth century. At the end of the Civil War and throughout the Reconstruction, America began to feel the beginnings of...