White Women's Rights: The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States

By Louise Michele Newman | Go to book overview

1
Evolution, Woman's Rights, and Civilizing Missions

It matters not whether we regard the history of the remotest past or the diverse civilizations of the present, the emancipation and exaltation of women are the synonym of progress.

Otis T. Mason, Woman's Share in Primitive Culture, 1894

AS THEY LOOKED BACK over recent decades, contemporary observers of the 1890s recognized this period in U.S. history as "the Era of Woman"--a time when women's organizations proliferated and the country seemed especially focused on women's issues and women's rights. Richard T. Ely, director of the School of Economics, Political Science, and History at the University of Wisconsin, declared, "Our age may properly be called the Era of Woman, because everything which affects her receives consideration quite unknown in past centuries."1 Commentators at the time were impressed with the recent "progress" of woman, her increased visibility in public and political affairs, her entry into colleges and universities, and her commitment to social reform. Those in sympathy with the woman's movement viewed these changes in woman's status as the manifestation of evolutionary progress, a sign that the civilization of the United States was equal to the higher civilizations of Europe and far superior to the primitive cultures of Asia and Africa. In the words of Joseph Rodes Buchanan, a professor of physiology, medicine, and anthropology, "sustained womanhood is a Western condition, as degraded womanhood is the Oriental condition. . . . The darkness that rests upon Asia and the midnight that enshrouds Africa, where woman has no rights . . . have their appointed time to pass away in the illumination of which the American Republic is the destined centre."2

For Buchanan, as for many others, social evolution theory provided the framework and language through which changes in woman's sphere were interpreted. Demands for woman's rights arose simultaneously with the spread of evolutionist ideas about racial development, sexual difference, and social progress. For prescient observers, it was not merely coincidental that the woman's movement had grown to unprecedented heights in the 1880s, at precisely the same moment that politicians, busi-

-22-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
White Women's Rights: The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 262

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.