Revolution can be defined as the act of overthrowing or repudiating and immediate topples of an established reign or political system by the subjects. It involves radical and pervasive change in the general social and political structure of the society. American Revolution saw the end of two centuries of British rule. Heated protests and resentments from the colonists commenced when the British government made attempts to raise government revenue by taxing the colonies. Skirmishes intensified further where many colonists resented over lack of representation in parliament as well as demanding equal rights as other British subjects leading to what seemed to be the struggle and fight for independence. After six years of bloodshed and fighting which utterly involved the use of guerilla tactics and ungainly militias together with the French aid against highly trained and effective British soldiers, America eventually was able to topple the British government by the Peace of Paris, took control of their resources and gained independence thereafter. However, the revolution was accompanied with several changes. Besides America having been granted land and sovereignty, its economy experienced uncertainty and instability and the women, African Americans, and Native Americans also underwent a dynamic change in their positions in the society. This essay will explore the experience of women in the American society during the revolutionary era citing evidence that indeed, the American Revolution was not revolutionary as assumed.
The gain of independence from the British reign through the American Revolution was thought to liberate all Americans and bring them together but instead, more setbacks and challenges were experienced. The irony about this revolution is clearly unveiled through the change in the structure of the society that it was perceived to have brought either socially, politically or economically with reference to women’s life, freedom, property and voting rights. The revolution was majorly political in the quest to gain home reign and to liberate Americans from the British’s unjust laws and rules instead of implicating an overall change in the structure of the society. The revolution did not advocate for the liberty of women and their rights just like for men in the society. Men exercised ultimate and complete power over women just like the British government exercised complete power and dominance over the colonists.
During the revolutionary period, women were utterly considered to be inferior compared to men,- a perception that stripped them off their legal rights. The laws did not consider nor recognize the liberty of women as far as economic, political, or civic matters were concerned. The revolution did not even consider the possibility of including women representatives in the parliament. It only advocated the interest of men with regard to securing position within the federal government, a fact that justifies the non-revolutionary claim of the American Revolution. Their voice was never to be hearkened to and they were never allowed to air their grievances nor participate in the creation and development of the federal government.
Property ownership was also another issue, since women were never granted the freedom to own nor have control over any property. Women were only entrusted with housekeeping and were not allowed to have a life outside their home. They were to nurture their husbands and to raise virtuous children so that the United States republic would flourish; a concept termed as “Republican Motherhood”. They belonged to their fathers until they got married where they became the property to their husband; whatever they possessed either acquired or inherited was passed to the ownership of their husband, the children in a marriage belonged to the father alone and the custody of the children if one was to get divorced was usually given to the father and in the case of a husband’s demise, the wife could only access one third of hers husband’s real estate. It was even worse for the single women who were excluded from earning a living and worse still, women could not boycott being battered by their husbands a fact that reveal the irony behind the “revolution” that America claimed to have undergone.
Women were also deprived of their rights and sentiments. The right to contract and the right to own property among other rights denied, women were not allowed to vote. Their desire to vote was like a dream that would never come true. This revelation explains why the American Revolution was not revolutionary, since the freedom fight that involved women was not fully attained and instead, a part of the freedom fighters (men) was enjoying that freedom while the other part (women) was languishing in complete negligence and oppression. In their quest to obtain liberty, they ended up inventing another form of power that saw women under the legislative authority of man.
Despite the exhilarating and disturbing moments during the revolutionary era, this also marked a time of progress for some whereby, in the wake of the revolution, the drafting and ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America was considered vital in a bid to proclaim liberty for all the American citizens. Most people got to comprehend critically the true meaning of revolution-a revolution of revolutionary and hence, drawing their attention to political matters as well as issues of liberty and equality. It was at this time that women begun to realize the need to claim for their rights an influence that saw them hold a number of conference in their endeavors to fight for equality in the United States’ society. More and more radical voices of the revolutionary era supported the issue of gender equality raise by some elite women leading to a significant change in the perception about the relationship between men and women.
In the wake of true revolution, property rights moved a little bit more within reach for women as men began to realize the importance of gender equality. Men left and allowed their women to run the farm, home and businesses. This was all due to the efforts of a few elite women like Abigail Adams, who advocated for equal rights asking men to always remember and consider women too to be having talents and abilities beyond that of a housekeeper and that they can also participate in the building of the nation either economically, politically and socially. As a result, women were granted their wish and could at least enjoy some rights that they had never had a chance to in the past.
Women’s social status no longer remained static as Americans began to realize that the revolution was, indeed, to act as a catalyst to win political freedom from the England and equal rights for all Americans irrespective of the gender. It dawned on them that the base of the democracy was the integrity of every US citizen and mothers who were once considered as social objects presented proper republican models for desired behaviors in the society. They were given a role of the guardians for American’s moral values. As a result, more opportunities of receiving education for women were created and the men’s perception that a woman did not deserve higher profiles in the society was disapproved.
The new drafted and ratified constitution incorporated the law that recognized women’s impendence in economic, political, and civic matters in the society as women continued to challenge the views that men had greater intellectual capacities than women. Women were allowed to air their grievances as well as participate in making of critical decisions that affected the society either socially, economically, or politically. Other than just being simple housekeepers, women got the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities such as sewing clothes, spying, making gunpowder as well as helping to inspire people through writing of books and poems.
The revolution further brought a better meaning to the American women and a new outlook among many American people took toll with more and more of the American women getting updated of their rights as citizens of now considered a free country. Women begun to view politics from a different perspective and grew interest to follow the progress of the politics of the country. They grew concerned and wanted the equality principle to apply even in voting where they demanded to be given a chance to take part in the voting exercise. To a greater degree, the revolution acted as a wakeup call for women to stand up and defend their rights which they deeded. Men realized the potential behind women and accepted their contribution towards the development of the country.
In conclusion, although women had limited rights during the revolutionary era, they contributed a lot towards making a hospitable nation that catered for the needs of all American citizens irrespective of their gender, color, and social status. The American Revolution that led to the evacuation of the British army out of the American soil can be said to have played a very important role in the aspect of awakening women to realize their potential as citizens of a free nation and that the nation needed them for the best of the country. Women deserved the transformation and through their unrelenting efforts, they managed to convince America and the world at large that the society relies on women as much as it does on men.