Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

In its result – the Paris Peace

In
the recent 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton has vanquished another
part of the remaining patriarchal myth that dominates American society.

Becoming the first female to be nominated by a major party is first an
achievement in itself, and secondly, it exemplifies the transition the feminine
archetype has made since its beginning on the early frontier. Since their
coming to America in the early 1600’s; American women played a role of
servitude to men and were politically silenced until their movement towards
gender equality beginning in the latter half of the 19th Century. Republican
Motherhood was the start of this movement, spreading the idea that women served
a greater role to society than taking care of the home. The Revolutionary
notion of “all men are created equal” proclaimed in the Declaration of
Independence fails to acknowledge the female counterpart and can permit readers
to forget the influence of women in Revolutionary America. While previous
authors such as Linda Kerber and Judith Sargent Murray have included Republican
Motherhood in their discussion of Enlightenment theory and others have written
about its effects on education, there has not been a study that analyzed how
Republican Motherhood changed women’s roles in politics. It is important to
analyze Republican Motherhood and the American Revolution because without it,
women striving to become President like Hillary Clinton or be the 1st
female Supreme Court Justice like Sandra Day O’connor, would not have the
ability to without the transition away from the home. This essay focuses
heavily on the breaking away from the British Parliament, and asserts that
without the American Revolution Republican Motherhood would not have been able
to progress in the fashion it did.

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The analyzation of the history of
any country, including the United States, provides an opportunity to learn a
lot about the way people have traveled, expands the knowledge of world history
and the laws of their development. During 1775-1783, an event known as the
American Revolution occurred, which represents the break away from the British parliament
by the colonists in Eastern North America. Triggered by a number of economic,
social and political reasons, this revolution left an everlasting impression on
the way civilizations view government and the ways in which they let government
influence their lives. The continual battle between the colonists and the
British parliament innately brought women into the argument. The main stage of
the revolution was the US War of Independence, and its result – the Paris Peace
of 1783 – the defeat of Britain, and the recognition of a new state, the United
States of America. The colonists laid the foundation that shaped the formation
of one of the world’s most powerful countries and in a short period of time,
the political life of the country was marked by a turn towards democracy. 1

            In
the early 1760s, the British government decided to charge the colonists with a
tax to keep the 10,000-strong garrison in Canada, as well as to prevent clashes
between expansionist settlers and Indian tribes.2 This
was soon followed by the Revenue Act of 1762 which tightened the collection of
trade duties on colonists who evaded taxes and required the British Royal Navy
to pursue smugglers. Two years later, a law was passed to reduce duties on
imported molasses from six to three cents per gallon and increase duties on all
other goods from the French West Indies. Amidst a chaotic system of taxation
and under representation,
statutes were continually imposed to restrict the political role of women. During
this period of time, the government also expressed its firm intention to
collect these funds from the population of the American colonies which began to
anger some colonists. Strict restrictions were imposed on the coastal trade
between the colonies, and in Halifax (Nova Scotia) a special vice-admiralty
court was established to punish those caught in smuggling.3 In
1767 a council of customs commissioners was formed to control the collection of
colonial duties. Finally, in order to centralize the administration of the
colonies, the position of Secretary of State was established. All these
measures caused a strong discontent among the colonists. American merchants had
previously resorted to bribes and other tricks to evade the laws on duties, but
now they were outraged by new bureaucratic slingshots, undisguised corruption
of officials, the issuance of “illegal” search warrants, and the
absence of juries in the Vice Admiralty court.4 As
soon as 1763, the merchants were not the only colonists protesting the British Parliaments
outrageous tax policy.

.

The Docile Mother Speaks Out

 

While men fought continuously with
the British parliament, women were battling against the Law of baron et femme.5 The legal status of a wife who was
legally bound to the decisions made by her husband was frequently in question
throughout the course of the revolution. Reeve’s treatises of “the lord and
lady” provided further deterrents to any women who had any political ambition.

His treatises represented “hierarchical relationships of property and power” and
influenced prospecting leaders such as his brother-in-law Aaron Burr and future
U.S. Congressmen that would lead the way in preserving the Revolutionary
domestic relationship between man and woman.6
The laws that were passed were comparable to that of a master’s relationship
with its servant. Women during the 1790’s were not able to buy property, vote or
voice a defying opinion to that of her husband. Men silenced a woman’s political
voice by making it a requirement to be an owner of land before they could vote.

This, in turn, led to the detainment of a woman’s political agenda inside of
her homestead permitting the outdated patriarchal society to flourish. To defy
this corrupt system, working in Philadelphia and New Jersey in 1780, influential
women such as Esther de Berdt Reed spoke their political opinion by organizing committees
that raised money to contribute to national efforts. Shortly after the release
of her book The Sentiments of An American Woman, Reed was able to spread
the scope of her fundraising project nationwide to states like New Jersey,
Maryland, and Virginia. 

The
New York Assembly joined the merchants and protested against the laws of 1765
and 1766 on the cantonment of the army, which obligated the colonists to
station English soldiers in their homes. Land traders and small farmers opposed
the Decree of 1763, barring access to fertile lands West of the Appalachian
Mountains. Some colonists sent protest petitions to the king and to parliament,
while others resorted to physical violence, resisting representatives of the
authorities who were trying to introduce new rules.7 The
implementation of the Stamp tax, adopted in 1765 by the British Parliament,
caused the first mass outbreak of violence. The law itself required the payment
of tax on all legal documents, newspapers and other printed materials, did not
come into force.8 Riots
initiated by merchants and lawyers under the name of the secret society
“Sons of Freedom” forced the tax collectors to withdraw. A meeting on
the Stamp duty law with the participation of representatives of the majority of
the colonies gathered in New York to protest the taxation imposed without their
knowledge by the British Parliament. Scared by the magnitude of resistance present
by Americans, the governments of the Marquise of Rockingham abolished the law
on stamp duty in 1766.9At
the same time, a Declaration was adopted, which confirmed the priority of the
power of the parliament over the colonies in all cases. The only prominent
British politician who challenged the absolute sovereignty of parliament over
the colonies was William Pitt. He believed that the parliament could engage in
lawmaking for the colonies, but the collection of taxes was the business of the
colonists themselves. Some Americans were inclined to draw a clear line between
local taxation and legislation, while others believed that the parliament had
the right to impose external taxes to regulate trade. Taking advantage of this
idea, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Charles Townshend, in 1767, with the
consent of Parliament, introduced duties on the import of tea, glass and other
colonial goods.10 Townshend
expected to release some of the funds raised to cover administrative expenses
in the colonies, in order to deprive local assemblies of the traditional
financial leverage used to fight imperial officials. Townshend’s duties again
provoked resistance from the colonists. There were pamphlets in which it was
asserted that the new duties were not aimed at settling trade, but only to
receive additional profits from the colonies. Open protests in Boston
transformed to cases of physical violence against customs officials, causing a
transfer of troops within the British garrison. However, this precautionary
measure only heated the atmosphere of discontent. The Americans tried to put
financial pressure on the government of Great Britain with the help of
agreements on the refusal of import, agreed between different colonies.11 True,
some merchants refused to obey these agreements, but a large majority stood
with the “Sons of Freedom.” Nevertheless, thanks to these agreements in 1770,
the cancellation of almost all Townshend duties was achieved. The only tax that
now remained was the Tea duty – an indisputable symbol of the power of the
metropolis.12

Based heavily on the writings of
John Locke, “the great majority of
women’s lives were changed by the American Revolution: they were increasingly
drawn into the political debate as household producers and consumers and as
wives and mothers.”13
Besides the acts of fundraising, boycotting tea/textiles and petitioning, A woman’s
political duties primarily included that of raising a child to reflect
patriotic republican values which is an aspect of Republican Motherhood. The
goal of Republican Motherhood is to raise competent and committed citizens
–especially males – to continue republican values of the current generations. While
teaching their children these essential values and traits, women gained an
access to the vast network of education that would change the gender role women
were previously categorized too. Republican Motherhood is centered around the
idea of men and women serving equal roles in marriage.  Locke’s treatises were used by Kerber to
highlight the important role of the female in society. Advocates for equal
education rights, Lydia Marie Child, Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Lydia
Sigourney view Republican Motherhood as a principle that can be used to unite
state and one’s family. As Linda K. Kerber asserts in her essay titled “The
Republican Mother and the Woman Citizen”…
that “the family is the basic part of the system of political
communication and… patterns of family authority influence the general political
culture.”14 Influential
actors like Abagail Adams and Judith Sargent Murray used Republican Motherhood methodology
to access education and promote the presence of women in political discourse. Although
Women’s success in attacking legislation around education standards succeeded,
their political influence remained to a halt.

The
revision of the tea tax in 1773 and the provision of trade benefits to the East
India Company provoked a series of events that led to the defeat of the
imperial authorities.15 The
new Prime Minister, Lord North, was not satisfied with the declaration on the
supremacy of the British Parliament, but considered it his duty to put it into
practice.16 Within
the colonies, the new legislation was seen as part of a carefully planned and
far-reaching strategy of imperial domination. New laws and officials infringed
upon the traditional freedoms of Americans, parts of the regular army were
thrown against them, five people were killed in clashes in Boston, juries were
abolished, and taxes were introduced for the third time without the consent of
the colonists. All these events taken together could mean only one thing: the
king and his ministers intended to establish a system of absolutism in America.

Similar sentiments were particularly
strong in New England. In December 1773 several colonists, disguised as
Indians, made their way to merchant ships and dropped 342 chests of tea in
Boston Bay.17 In
response, Lord North enlisted the consent of the Parliament to carry out severe
repressive measures. British lawmakers soon regretted their conciliatory
decision to repeal the law on the Stamp tax and Townshend’s duties. The reaction
of the British parliament rallied the colonists instead of breaking them apart.

The spirit of the struggle for a
common cause was clearly manifested at the First Continental Congress, which
was held in Philadelphia in September of 1774. Delegates from New England
proposed the adoption of a declaration of the rights of the colonies and the
imposition of economic sanctions against the mother country. The Virginia Group
supported these demands, but representatives of the mid-Atlantic colonies took
a more cautious stance. Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania urged the congress to
approve a plan for the joint management of the colonies by the royal
governor-general and the council elected by the colonists, endowed with all the
powers of the British House of Commons.18 After
this proposal to create a new imperial system was rejected with a margin of one
vote, Congress accused the parliament of carrying out plans to enslave America
and established the Continental Association to coordinate agreements banning
import and export operations with the metropolis. In February 1775, Lord North
issued an initiative similar to that proposed by Galloway’s plan.19 At
the same time, he sent an order to General Thomas Gage to detain the leaders of
the Massachusetts Assembly and destroy the warehouses of arms and ammunition
belonging to the colonists. In pursuance of this order, the British troops
marched in April 1775 to Lexington and Concord.

 

The Break with the Metropolis, and
the Beginning of Hostilities

 

In this situation, the Continental
Congress, which resumed its work on May 10, 1775, assumed the functions of the
central government of the colonies. The Continental Congress combined the legislative
and executive powers within the same body of government. One of its’ first decisions
was the creation of a regular army and the election of its commander-in-chief
George Washington. Within the next month on June 17, 1775, they demonstrated
the possibility of countering the British regular army, inflicting a severe
loss to it at Bunker Hill.20
The break with the metropolis seemed inevitable, but a year passed before the
congress decided on its’ final action. A decisive turning point in the mood for
independence was produced by T. Payne’s pamphlet “Common Sense”
(1776).

New democratic constitutions were
adopted in the colonies, and their own bodies of power were created. On May 15,
1776 Congress decided to transform the colony into independent states of the metropolitan
state. On June 7, R.G. Lee introduced a “resolution of independence”,
on the basis of which the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776,
was drafted. The declaration was a fundamental document of the American
Revolution, and it proclaimed the secession from Britain of its 13 North
American colonies. The inevitability of a break with the metropolis, especially
increased after the start of the April 1775 war, was recognized by an
increasing number of Americans.21 At
a meeting of congress on June 7, 1776, R.G. Lee introduced a resolution
supported by J. Adams, who asserted: that these United Colonies are and by
rights should be free and independent States; that they are completely freed
from loyalty to the British crown; that any political connection between them
and the state of Great Britain is and must be completely dissolved. The Declaration
of Independence did not only explain the reasons that prompted the Americans to
secede from the mother country. This was the first document in history that
proclaimed the principle of sovereignty as the basis of the state system. Its
hammered language asserted for the people the right to insurrection and
overthrow of the despotic government, proclaimed the basic ideas of democracy –
the equality of people, their inalienable rights, among which the right to
life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

The
ultimate result of the revolution was the document, the first article of which
recognized the independence of the United States and the borders proposed by
the American side was concluded on September 3, 1783. Women’s direct political action
was fought with resistance, so a woman sought to influence her surrounding
society anyway she could. As women transitioned their role of a mother to a
mentor, influential men like Thomas Jefferson were strongly committed to
containing their influence inside of the home.22
Although women lacked direct political office and the right to vote (until
1920), the concept of Republican Motherhood allowed them to have an impact on
the political culture of the era. Although the concept of the Republican Mother
was popular for about half of a century, it served as the integration of
domesticity and politics. During the latter part of the Republican mother movement,
the second form of it sprouted known as the Cult of True Womanhood or Cult of
Domesticity. The Cult of true womanhood defined roles in marriage and
motherhood by encouraging women to embrace the four cardinal virtues of piety,
purity, submissiveness and domesticity.

Conclusion

Thus,
Without the American Revolution
and the revolt from the British Parliament’s corrupted rule, Republican
Motherhood could have possibly taken decades to formulate.

The American revolution ended in 1783 with the conclusion of a peace treaty
with England, which affirmed the successful conclusion of the war for
independence. Its main result was the formation of a new state on the North
American continent and a new way of life for women. Speaking about the results
of the American revolution, it must be emphasized that the elimination of
feudal institutions (however weak they may be) is one of its most important
results. Despite the modest list of feudal orders imported to America, they
represented a certain historical tendency, supported by a number of factors,
economic and political. The American revolution opened a new stage in the
historical development of the United States. After reading this paper, it is evident
that the reader can view the current position of women and compare it to the
American Revolution and see the vast transition the female archetype has made
since its early beginning.

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