For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence

By Alexander Tsesis | Go to book overview

12
ADVANCING WOMEN’S CAUSES

CHANGES TO THE RACIAL STATUS QUO OCCURRED ALONGSIDE AN evolving understanding of women’s rights. As they had from the inception of the women’s rights movement, during the early decades of the nineteenth century activists of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era of en looked to the Declaration of Independence to buttress their political message. Although the Reconstruction Amendments provided the national government with added power to make the Declaration’s promise of self-government a reality, after the Civil War women’s political rights trailed far behind men’s.

The Fifteenth Amendment failed to address the central issue of the women’s rights movement. Writing during the tumult of the Civil War, Harriot K. Hunt openly described the hypocrisy of bat ling for a representative government while excluding taxpayers from the voting roles. Had the principle of the Declaration of Independence been “recognized in its essence,” she wrote in a letter to the Boston tax assessor, “sex alone could not have monopolized the right of suffrage.” Hunt denounced the “shams, cheats, [and] falsities” that embedded the word male into the statute books. The “latent principles of the Declaration of Independence,” she continued, the “moral and intellectual growth” of the American people required the hugely important subject of suffrage to be understood without the trappings of sex.1

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For Liberty and Equality: The Life and Times of the Declaration of Independence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Becoming Independent 6
  • 3 - The Nation’s Infancy 24
  • 4 - Youthful Republic 40
  • 5 - Compromising for the Sake of Expansion 57
  • 6 - Jacksonian Era Democracy 75
  • 7 - Subordination 100
  • 8 - The Unraveling Bonds of Union 129
  • 9 - Sectional Cataclysm 148
  • 10 - Reconstruction 179
  • 11 - Racial Tensions 202
  • 12 - Advancing Women’s Causes 215
  • 13 - The Changing Face of Labor 227
  • 14 - International Impact and Domestic Advance 241
  • 15 - The Declaration in a New Deal State 264
  • 16 - Independence Principles in the Civil Rights Era 283
  • 17 - Epilogue 312
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Appendix - The Declaration of Independence 321
  • Notes 327
  • Index 377
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