Republican Motherhood and the Cult of Domesticity in America
The United States of America had gained a reputation for equality and social democracy. Religious tolerance, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press were rights that Americans hailed as revolutionary. Indeed, compared to the Old World Europe economic opportunity and social mobility were in great supply in the United States. However, an entire section of the population was excluded from these promises of social and economic improvement Agnomen.After the American Revolution, “republican motherhood,” the idea that women were responsible for guarding the nation’s values and passing them n to the country’s youth, had taken hold in American society. The “cult of domesticity” developed to relegate women to their specific sphere of influence, in the home.
While “republican motherhood” and the “cult Of domesticity” were embraced by most people as the ideal of American womanhood, these goals were not achievable by all women. Lower class women and blacks were unable to achieve the objectives of “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity because of economic and social repression.However, these same ideals handicapped the efforts of educated, diddle and upper class women to gain social, economic, and political equality. Poor women worked endlessly in factories while the institution of slavery in the South often separated women from their families. Reformers such as Margaret Fuller were unable to attain the social and economic equality they desired for their sex because of stigmas created by “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity. ” The first Great Awakening and other religious movements often gave women a greater sense of equality within the church.However, because omen were some of the most faithful and dutiful of the religious movements, they were often regarded as morally superior to men.
This moral supremacy led to society’s view that women were responsible for safeguarding the country’s values. However, at the same time, Old World beliefs of men’s intellectual and physical superiority kept women out of government and economic enterprises. The “cult of domesticity’ created and ideal forum for moral preservation and instruction. As a result, a woman’s place was generally assumed to be in the home, educating the children.Similarly, the occupation of teaching came to be increasingly dominated by women. The gender homogeny of the teaching profession, specifically by young, unmarried women, caused the ideals of “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity’ to be further ingrained in American society. Women, generally educated and from the middle class, also played an important role in social reform.
Women were some of the most fervent advocates of temperance and prohibition. Often organizing into anti-alcohol groups, women rallied the nation to the moral cause of temperance.Abolitionists also counted many women among their ranks. The Grime sisters were leaders of the abolitionist movement. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was also written by a woman and sparked international outrage over Southern slavery. However, while women were often encouraged to participate in social reform, they were mocked and reprimanded when they attempted to advocate women’s political rights. Suffragists were often looked down upon as women who had ceased being ladies but had yet to become gentlemen.
The Seneca Falls Convention initiated no immediate political change, and Susan B.Anthony had garbage and curses thrown at her while she made speeches. Margaret Fuller, a staunch feminist and editor of the Transcendentalist journal The Dial, was often frustrated by the lack of political and economic change she could make for women. The ideas of “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity” were chains for women who advocated female rights. While middle-class women were tied by the established ideas of women, lower class and black women were not even able to accomplish the objectives that society placed on them.Many young women, especially in industrialized areas, Were forced to work in factories to provide for their families. The Lowell girls worked in semi-acceptable conditions and were supervised.
They were obligated to attend church. However, these girls did not have any hope of economic advancement because the higher levels of business were allotted to men. Throated Dixie and Clara Barton worked to make nursing a respectable occupation, but women still had very few career options aside from teaching, nursing, or working in factories.White women were generally bound by “the cult of domesticity” but black omen, freed and enslaved, were unable to practice the ideals of “republican motherhood. ” Black women were often torn apart from their families and their opportunity to instruct and preserve moral values was thus destroyed. The black family was also destroyed by the legal rights of the masters. No white man could be punished for forcing himself on a slave.
Also, black slaves were forbidden to marry. The black women were taught to admire and emulate “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity”, but most often she was denied the opportunity to do so.Although Ignited States society adulated “republican motherhood” and the “cult of domesticity’, social and economic factors forced many young women to abandon the home for the workplace. Reformers and feminists who wanted to achieve political equality with men were tethered to the home. The entire populations of enslaved black women were completely denied the opportunity to practice the ideals. The ideals of womanhood during this time would eventually lead to a stronger, more united women’s rights movement that would gain suffrage for American women with the passage of the 1 9th Amendment.