This early in American history, it is rare to see a woman’s name mentioned among a bunch of men that helped shape our country’s history. Unfortunately, women weren’t allowed to take a prominent role in forming our country because of the strong sexism of the era. However, there were some that pushed past the barriers put in front of them because of the time period they were born into.
Some women defied the norm and served on the front lines, like Deborah Simpson and countless others whose names are lost in time. They had to disguise themselves as men just to be given the opportunity to fight for what they believed in. These women were willing to put their lives on the line but the revolutionaries wouldn’t take them because of the sole fact that they weren’t men, which is literally one of the dumbest reasons in history.
People like Margaret Cochran Corbin and Mary Hays were “camp followers” and followed the military and offered all the support they could give. Another important woman to remember is Abigail Adams. She advocated for women’s rights and opportunities, and believed that a woman should be more than her husband’s bauble. She thought women needed to realize and be able to act on their intellectual capabilities.
After the revolution, not much changed for women. Despite the major change going on with colonial government, women’s roles stayed pretty constant. They were still expected to fulfill the traditional roles as mother, wife, and housekeeper. One important change was how these positions were regarded. The new concept of “republican motherhood,” which appeared right around the end of the revolution, put more importance in these customary tasks. Women were seen as more important to society. Women were regarded as keepers of the nation’s conscience by teaching their children democratic ideals and good morals. It let women be seen as closer to equals with men because their job was just as important, whereas before it was seen as irrelevant.
These ideals did not extend to the lower classes, where women were uneducated and under appreciated. With slave women it was even rarer. Life continued relatively as it had before. Options in life for women were severely limited, and this limitation stayed in place for so many years afterward. Abigail Adams told her husband “remember the ladies” when founding the future of America, yet it seems that at our countries start they were forgotten.
The American Pageant by Thomas Bailey, David Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen