Author Archives: Laura MacDonald

The Civil War and Women’s Sufferage

 

The woman’s role and the treatment of women during the Civil War played a direct role in the development of the women’s suffrage movement. As the expectations of a woman grew and developed during the civil war this caused women’s desire for independence and representation to grow.

 Women in the Civil War

Clayton

Frances Clayton, aka Frances Clalin, who is one of many women who disguised themselves as men to serve during the civil war.

During the Civil War time period, women were taught to be housewives and in wealthy homes were treated primarily a decoration, a figure meant to sit prettily and serve her husband readily. In Letters on Female Character, written by Virginia Clay, a southern housewife, she says,

“… my duty required me to submit to his will. That his reveries might be important to other people, if not to me. O, how my heart beat with pleasure, when I heard him applauded vehemently for a speech, made on the very subject that occupied his mind so long. If I had interrupted him with my selfishness, now thought I, he never would be able to concentrate his attention so as to excel.”

As context, this selfishness she is referring to is addressed earlier in the book and is having a conversation with him during his work day. This shows that during this time period, women were not expected to be intellectual or purposeful, but were supposed to act in a way that solely supported their husbands.

While this was the expectation, many women rebelled and found more purposeful occupations for themselves and their ample capability.

Although there are only a few women who are well known for their service during the Civil War, it is estimated that anywhere from 400-750 women posed as men to serve in the civil war. While some women worked in positions that allowed them to serve as women, for example in factories or as nurses, there were a number of women that served in the front lines, bravely acting as men; this shows active defiance to the way things were “meant to be,” according to social norms.

Defiance in the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Poster from women’s suffrage movement. This shows the attitude that was taken which treated the movement as an ad campaign of sorts used to promote the cause of the woman gaining her ability to vote.

As women grew more and more determined to gain their independence and a voice and representation, the woman’s role shifted greatly. They become more vocal in asking for what they wanted, which specifically was the right to vote. The Women’s Suffrage Movement began in 1848 when a group of men and women led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to present a Declaration of Sentiments. This document called for women to join the group of people that were represented in by the Declaration of Independence, specifically the portion that states,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

On January 17th, 1920, the 19th Amendment was added to the American Consitution which gave anyone the right to vote, regardless of their sex.

Map showing woman’s right to vote in different states.

When comparing this animated map of the civil war, and the map shown above, you can see that where there was a concentration of Civil War battles, there are also states that allowed women to vote after the 19th Amendment was created, which was a direct product of the Woman’s Suffrage Movement.

As seen in this Google NGram, equality was not reached in this time period, but progress has been made in leaps and bounds, empowering women.

The woman’s role in the Civil War as a supporter of her husband, with no real voice or power of her own, caused women to defy what was expected of them and step into roles that were thought to only be able to be filled by men. This step helped women find their power and their voice and eventually lead to the Women’s Suffrage movement by helping women discover that their potential was not related to their sex, but rather their ability to work hard and chase what they wanted.

In the words of Harriet Beacher Stowe, an active leader in the Woman’s Movement,

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

The women who so bravely fought in the movement to secure women’s right to vote worked hard against their adversaries and through determination were able to meet their goal.

Works Cited

B, Greta. “Suffrage Photo Analysis.” Women in the Workplace. Blogspot, 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 3 May 2017.
“The Entire Civil War.” Civil War Trust. Civil War Trust, n.d. Web. 3 May 2017.
“Female Soldiers in the Civil War.” Civil War Trust. Civil War Trust, n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Google Ngram Viewer.” Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
“Harriet Beecher Stowe Quotes.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 10 May 2017.
Mg. “Women’s Suffrage Maps from Ball State University Libraries Mark 19th Amendment Anniversary.” GIS Research and Map Collection. BlogSpot, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 7 May 2017.
Staff, History.com. “The Fight For Women’s Suffrage.” History.com. History.com, 2009. Web. 5 May 2017.
Thomas, Ella Gertrude Clanton, and Virginia Ingraham. Burr. The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1990. Print.

 

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Working Class Poverty in America

The Cambridge dictionary defines “Working class,” as “The group of people in society who use physical skills in their jobs and are usually paid by the hour.” In July of 2015 it was found that roughly 106 million Americans fell into this classification (that’s 71% of all nonfarm payroll employees. That being said, the average weekly income a person is working in the service sector is about $896.60 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The poverty line for a one-person household is $12,060 per year, as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An average service worker’s yearly income is only 46,623.20. While that may not initially seem alarming, that is comparing only to the poverty line for a one-person home. Add in a family, say, 2 kids, as the average American home has and the poverty line is lifted to $28,780. That still may seem like it is not that concerning still. Let me put it this way. Poverty is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “The state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” Poverty is not a tight wallet. Poverty is not skipping eating out to save a few bucks. Poverty is not having to wear last years model of the latest and greatest trend. Poverty is not even struggling to make ends meet. Poverty is having to skip meals. Poverty is having the same two shirts that you wear every day and not being able to afford to clean them. Poverty is holes in your shoes. Poverty is street corners. Poverty is cardboard signs. Poverty can be homelessness. It can be shelters. It can be not knowing how you will somehow scrape together your next meal. Poverty is barely having enough to scrape by. While $30,000 above the poverty seem like living some luxurious life it is just not that.

Another concern that comes from these working conditions and wage issues is a rise in mental health issues. In an interview posted in an article by The Atlantic, “One man I talked to was 47 years old, the son of a Detroit factory worker who headed into the plants himself… He told me how he recently lost his $11-an-hour job: He was driving a forklift at his company’s plant when he accidentally crashed into a ladder. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged—but he was an at-will worker at a company with no union, and he was fired. Shortly afterward, his wife, who was making $8 an hour at a cleaning company, decided to leave him. The stress of failing to find a job and being alone made him too depressed to eat, and he started taking antidepressants.” This was especially striking to me that as a high school student with no formal training or background I work in a job that pays me $11.50 an hour.

Most if not all of the Service Sector jobs exist because of the Industrial Revolution. While the innovations and technology brought by the Revolution are incredible and bring very necessary jobs and tools to modern society, the setup for these jobs is not ideal as it leaves people barely getting by.

 

In an interview J.D. Vance, Author of Hillbilly Elegy, a book which explores “hillbilly” life in the Appalachian Mountains, said, “So this area of the country – and I’m not talking about just Jackson. I’m talking also about southwestern Ohio. In some ways, it’s been decimated by the decline of the industrial economy. So people used to rely on automotive jobs, steel mill jobs, coal jobs. And those things, for the most part, simply don’t exist. The factories have either shed those jobs or closed down altogether.”

In an economy where millions of jobs depend heavily on industry that was brought forth by the industrial revolution, the current decline in these areas has caused a great upset in the economy leaving more working class Americans far too close to the poverty line.

 

 

Works Cited
Chen, Victor Tan. “All Hollowed Out.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 16 Jan. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
DeSilver, Drew. “10 Facts about American Workers.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research, 01 Sept. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
“‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Author On The White Working Class And America’s Greatness.” NPR. NPR, 04 Aug. 2016. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
“Poverty Guidelines.” ASPE. APSE, 22 Mar. 2017. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.
“Table B-3. Average Hourly and Weekly Earnings of All Employees on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Industry Sector, Seasonally Adjusted.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 07 Apr. 2017. Web. 07 Apr. 2017.

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