Women in Politics

During the revolutionary era, American leaders decided to use economic boycotts in their struggle against Britain. The goal of these boycotts was to stop the purchase of imported goods (which could only be purchased from England). For this to be successful, women would have to increase the production of homespun while finding a way to do without certain products that could not be obtained locally. This gave women’s domestic roles political significance. The success of this political tactic rested on the shoulders of women. Their participation in politics, even in this slight way, produced a change in the way women thought of themselves. Prior to the revolutionary era, should a woman had made a comment about politics, she would instantly apologize for her ‘mistake’. Women no longer thought of themselves as excluded from politics. They began to discuss politics widely. The discussion of politics among women soon led to political participation outside of domestic roles. A trend started by Esther Reed, women’s groups started collecting money. This money was collected for the sole purpose of being donated to the American war effort. The money was greatly needed and accepted with much gratitude by General Washington. Female political participation would not stop there. In 1790, New Jersey adopted an election law referring to voters as “he or she”, thereby giving women the right vote more than a century before the 19th amendment would be added to the constitution. For the first time women could actively participate in politics. Not just by discussion or donations. Women had the ability to effect the outcome of an election. The American leaders who had proposed the economic boycotts had no idea what they had started. Women’s roles would never be the same. Even though women’s roles had changed through the course of the revolution, the men were still reluctant to acknowledge any sort of equality. The …

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