Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America
With this book, Nancy Isenberg illuminates the origins of the women's rights movement. Rather than herald the singular achievements of the 1848 Seneca Falls convention, she examines the confluence of events and ideas--before and after 1848--that, in her view, marked the real birth of feminism. Drawing on a wide range of sources, she demonstrates that women's rights activists of the antebellum era crafted a coherent feminist critique of church, state, and family. In addition, Isenberg shows, they developed a rich theoretical tradition that influenced not only subsequent strains of feminist thought but also ideas about the nature of citizenship and rights more generally.
By focusing on rights discourse and political theory, Isenberg moves beyond a narrow focus on suffrage. Democracy was in the process of being redefined in antebellum America by controversies over such volatile topics as fugitive slave laws,
temperance, Sabbath laws, capital punishment, prostitution, the Mexican War, married women's property rights, and labor reform--all of which raised significant legal and constitutional questions. These pressing concerns, debated in women's rights
conventions and the popular press, were inseparable from the gendered meaning of nineteenth-century citizenship.
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American antebellum antebellum feminists antebellum period Anti-Slavery Bugle argued authority Bloomer body Boston century Child Christian church citizens citizenship civil claimed common law constitutional convention contract courts coverture Culture custody debate Declaration of Sentiments defined democracy democratic dissent divestment divorce dress duties Elizabeth Cady Stanton equal FALL OF WOMAN Feminism feminists free blacks fugitive slave Gage gender Gerrit Smith Herttell History of Woman husband Ibid issue Journal labor letter liberty Lily Lucretia Mott Lydia Maria Child male marital marriage married women Massachusetts MATRIM ONY meeting Mexican moral nineteenth Nineteenth-Century NOTES TO PAGES Ohio Paulina Wright Davis petition Philadelphia POLITICAL FALL Progressive Friends prostitutes protection public sphere punishment reform religious Republican rule Sabbath Seneca Falls convention Sentiments sexual slavery social status Swisshelm theory tion University Press vote wages wife wife's William wives Woman Suffrage women's rights activists women's rights advocates women's rights convention