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Changing Roles of American Women 1865 to 1899

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1865 -- 1899

Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Motherhood was regarded as women's most significant profession. However, women's roles have changed during the late nineteenth century. Women began to challenge laws and set to organizations to protect their rights. Many women activists who had been active in the abolitionist movement believed that suffrage for women and African Americans was linked; women should be freed from domestic chores and share the same rights as men. Throughout the late nineteenth century, feminists founded a number of associations to promote women suffrage and protect the rights of women. As the result of the American Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, women from all parts of life gained more opportunities to work. Women also had a chance to be educated in high schools and colleges to devote to the running of industries and governments. Several prominent women activists led the way of campaigning for womens' rights as citizens and helped build both the labor and agrarian movements. Furthermore, as the United States American had been more powerful and influencing, women led the social gospel movement and played an important role in missionaries especially outside the country. Changes in the nineteenth century pioneered the path for later women's movements.

Women abolitionists had long been active in the abolitionist movement. They hoped their hard work in abolitionist movement would result in suffrage for women as well as for blacks. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, adopted in 1868 and 1870 respectively, granted citizenship and suffrage to blacks; nevertheless, both acts did not mention women suffrage. These amendments caused controversy to women suffrage campaigners. The controversy led to a split in the women's rights movement in 1869. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), while Lucy Stone organized the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). The NWSA agitated for a woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, as well as for married women to be given property rights, while the AWSA aimed to secure women suffrage through state legislation. Susan Anthony and Stanton established an independent women suffrage movement and drew millions of women into public life.

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