The Antebellum Women's Movement

Sam, Thomas, Shawn, Devon, Selena

Between the years of 1760 and the 1830s a monumental transformation took place in America, The Industrial Revolution. This period created a different political and economic structure and brought America, and other areas in the world, into a more modern era. The main charicterizing factor of this movement was the creation of several more factories that provided simple labor jobs for anybody willing to work. This promise of a steady paying job drew in workers from around the country trying to make a living, urbanizing several cities especially in the Northern states.

While this may have seemed like a perfect opportunity for a small farmer or other profession on the frontier or southern colonies, it soon became a nightmare, especially for the women. While the men who came to the factories were usually strong and got paid a decent amount, women were taken advantage of. They wanted to have a better standing in society than a keeper of the house, and they would do anything to get it. This may have included having their pay cut in half, but their workload doubled. Soon, groups of women, fed up with the way they were treated, got together and took a stand. This inspired other women from across the United States to search for ways to attain equality with the men in their societies, and show they were more than just a house cleaner or baby watcher. This Women's Movement took the nation by storm and even continues today through various other ways and methods.

The Second Great Awakening and a New Look on Society

  • Many women’s movements were influenced by the Second Great Awakening.

  • The Second Great Awakening was driven primarily towards middle class women.

  • The Benevolent Empire, a religious movement that occurred during the 19th century, created an institutional place in their order for women’s auxiliaries that were able to with all of their current Christian reform organizations.

  • Before the awakening, society had seen families led by the father, or patriarch, of the house who used strict disciple to control his wife and children.

  • New views from The Second Awakening introduced a family organization that had the father and mother equally cooperating in their household to raise their children with love and kindness.

  • Middle class women of the northwest were the first to incorporate this style of family life into their society.

  • In the 1820s and 30s, women began to replace male workers in the jobs of schoolteachers.

  • These roles allowed women to acquire an advanced education, which they needed to get the job, and gave them a higher moral status and an acknowledged role in their societies.

  • However, this showed that there were still little positions open to women that could have them make a large difference in the world.

  • Women tried, and succeeded many times, to acquire much more Christian virtue than the men in their village, giving them a more upstanding look in society.



  • Louis Dwight and Dorothea Dix wanted better prison conditions or possibly better care for people who were in mental institutions

  • Women would join many reform movements in an effort to help those in need and improve the American society

  • Women began to organize their own civil rights because they were irritated with discrimination and the antislavery movement

  • The reform movement of the 19th century had inspired women to participate in society in roles that were denied

    • Abolition Movement

  • Women’s experiences in the antislavery movement would lead to the formation of the women’s right movement

  • The American Anti-slavery Movement was formed in 1833- women were allowed to join and had proved to be hardworking and enthusiastic members

    • From Abolition to Women’s Rights

  • Women were not deemed equal

  • Angelina Grimke and Sarah Grimke became notable writers and and speakers

  • Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton went to the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London but they were not allowed to speak and were forced to sit in a separate area

    • The Women’s Rights Movement

  • In 1848, Mott and Stanton had organized the Seneca Falls Convention to address the status of women’s rights. This marked the beginning of the political movement for women’s rights

  • Demanded equal rights to the protection of the law, education, voting, and employment

  • Mainly led by white women

    • The Temperance Movement

  • Eighteenth Amendment in 1919 that banned alcohol

  • Women’s Christian Temperance Union- Women would actively participate and lead the movement against alcohol

  • Woman’s Crusade- Women would petition and organize prayer vigils targeting those who were involved in the alcohol industry

  • Provided a pathway for women to participate in politics and the public sphere

Utopian Societies and Women

Some of the communities in the utopian groups wanted to raise the status of women and have some equality in work and social life. This helped to change how society looked at the roles women had

In the Oneida Community the committees that made government decisions allowed men and women to have equal rights within the committees. They wanted to have a community that had no classes because they wanted to help the community to be more creative and they thought that the elimination of classes would help that. That was one of the main reasons as to why they had gender equality in the community.

Brook Farm got rid of some of the gender roles. Women were free to work in what they wanted to work in, they could work in things that would typically be thought of as jobs for men, and men could do what would be thought of as women’s jobs

Utopian movements for gender equality is what would be the basis for later movements that tried to improve women status in society. It would be the foundation for movements in the 1800s and 1900s

Modern Day Movements and Issues

Pregnancy Discrimination Act - This act prevented women from being fired or be judged by other co workers based on their gender. This act was passed in 1978 and it didn’t stop anything. The supreme court has even allowed some of these practices to go on unnoticed. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) organization has fought such issues in courts and legislatures.

Violence Against Women - Still today women are treated with violence. These such action can occur at work, home, and even in the military. Many groups are fighting to show that this issue is actually a big problem. The goal is to stop the violence against women so they can live equally with men and without worry that their rights are being taken advantage of.

Women’s Rights in the Work Place - Today women still unable to do some jobs that men are allowed to do. This both hurts women economically because they end up not getting jobs with less pay than men, and have a chance of being fired for certain things like being pregnant. One big example of women not being able to work in a certain field is the military. Women can join the military but they can’t be on the front lines. At least they couldn’t do that until Congress recently passed an act called Women’s Armed Services Integration Act.

Women’s Right in Education - Women were discriminated in education in the past but now it really isn’t heard of. This is mostly because the Title IX law that guarantees that education is free from sex discrimination. This is good but it didn’t completely stop discrimination in education. One big thing that is holding this movement back are schools for each separate gender that are justified by scientific theories that show the differences between male and female brains.

Women and the Criminal Justice System - Women's rights in Criminal Justice system are not as equal as you think. The ACLU has been trying to fight to insure that the criminal justice system is equal. The main goal for most of the movements is to make sure that the Health and Safety of women in custody are taken very seriously and are given equal rights in custody.

MLA Citations

"New Roles for White Women." U.S. History. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"Reforming America (Overview)." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"Transcript: Family, Gender Roles, and Race." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"Women's Rights." American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.