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Reforming America 1815-1860 - Essay Example

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The Roots of Womanhood: Feminist Figures in the 19th Century America (YOUR NAME) (YOUR PROFESSOR) (THE DATE) Sarah Girmke’s “Letters on the Equality of Sexes and the Condition of Woman”, Catherine E. Beecher’s “The Peculiar Responsibilities of American Women” and the Declaration of Sentiments are interesting primary sources about the feminist movements in the early 19th century America…
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Reforming America 1815-1860
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Reforming America 1815-1860

Download file to see previous pages... She was a staunch defender of the true message and essence of the Declaration of Independence. As others saw the independence movement as the liberation of the American people from the colonial government and the dominion of great American men in shaping the nation’s early history, women activists such as Girmke were critiques of men’s monopoly over the political affairs of the country. She published her letters in 1838 during the administration of President Martin Van Buren of the Democratic Party. The historical context of her letters was indeed important because the existing federal government supported the policy of slavery in the southern states. Girmke’s letters, in line with the liberal principles of the Abolitionist movements, were justifiable as women were looked down upon not only in terms of political field but also in the society. The collection of Girmke’s letters was addressed to the president of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, Mary S. Parker. In this respect, the prominent activist was addressing her concerns to the whole women population of the American nation who, like her, experienced discrimination and oppression based on gender biases.2 In her first letter to Parker entitled “The Original Equality of Woman”, she admits that according to the Bible God (Jehovah addressed in her letters) created man as the resident and caretaker of His Paradise. This means that man is superior to all living things including animals, plants and others that dwell in the world. However, the Scriptures tell that the opposite sex is not an inferior being to man. God created woman second to man in this chronological order alone, but never second in God’s favour. Girmke goes on by citing Biblical stories to defend her thesis. She retells the case of Adam and Eve as her example. She argues that Adam and Eve fell into sin and damnation but never from equality. The author admits that it was woman who commits sin first and influences man into temptation by following her example of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore, man and woman worked hand-in-hand in their decline from God’s Word. Inequality and bias towards men would only be justified if Adam had scolded Eve in her succumbing to temptation and ultimately if Adam had persuaded Eve to repent and ask God for forgiveness.3 In her second letter to Parker entitled “Woman Subject only to God”, Girmke deepens her argument not only with the illegitimate construct of man dominating the woman but also with the thought that woman was never subject to man’s obedience. She argues that before the establishment of a patriarchal society, the Scriptures themselves manifest that woman was created as an independent being, free from the clutches of men.4 Clearly, the examples of Girmke’s letters take evidence from the Scriptures which make her thesis more compelling due to the gravity of the Holy Word. She makes use of Biblical cases that clearly show that from the very beginning, there was no formal or official establishment of a patriarchal society. She makes it clear that God had created man and woman in equal terms and was supposed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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