The blooming industrialization period preceding the civil war is characterized by a revolution in the cotton textile manufacturing industry due to invention imported by British immigrants. The impact of the industrial revolution goes beyond the industrial sector to the non- industrial sector where wages in the sector increase and urban centres rapidly develop. In addition, other benefitsinclude increased life expectancy and a greater role of women in labour force, reform activities and contemporary politics (Dublin, 2017).
Rise of Feminist Movements in the North
The first coordinated form of feminist movement begins in 1841 in New York. The Seneca Fall convention, New York is organized by prominent feminist-abolitionist women of the era such as Elizabeth Cady Stantony and Lucretia Mott (Head, 2017). Elizabeth Cady authors a declaration of sentiments drawing from the declaration of independence which she presents to the other women in attendance.Notably, the idea of a womens convention itself is born out of the World Anti- Slavery Convention of 1841 where women are discriminated against in the deliberations (Head, 2017). For instance, both Elizabeth and Lucretia have to sit with other women behind a partition and only follow what the men are discussing. Evidently, women are not considered intellectual enough to deliberate with men on matters of national importance.
The Seneca fall convention passed a resolution that men cannot bar women from their personal rights including the right to own property and vote. Nevertheless, the convention received sharp criticism and scorn from many quarters including the media and religious leaders (Head, 2017).
Role of Women in the Textile Mills Industrial Reform
Women are seen to play a key role in the textile industries even thought they are considered less intelligent than their male counterparts who are paid better wages and are to work in the background. Nevertheless, women get engaged in labour union movements advocating for textile workers rights (Dublin, 2017). For example, at the height of the labour protests in the mills of New England, women establish the Lowell Factory Girls Association to organize for a protest. Notably, 2500 women workers join the movement to protest against increased boarding fees at the facility without no corresponding increase in wages(Dublin, 2017).The women in one accord leave the mills to join in the protests and their efforts yield fruits after milling companies reduce boarding fees after several months of protests. Another vivid example of womens role in the industrial reform is the formation of the Lowell Female Land Reform to push for a reduction in the hours of labour. The women in the movement call petitions for legislative action to reduce the working hours to ten hours a day as the legal limit (Dublin, 2017).
The womens experience in textiles reformredefines the role of women from primarily being at home to engaging in formal employmentandfurther to social reforms. For instance, Lowell women are further involved in women rights movement, prison reforms, labour reform, moral reforms as well as labour reforms.
Women are greatly involved in the industrial reforms agenda of the pre-civil war era taking a different dimension from the traditional view that the womans place is at home. Whereas women in the modern world are in positions of influence that their counterparts did not enjoy year ago, there still exists gaps that need to be looked into (Bennett, 2014, p. 1-5). The history of the challenges that feminists have been through mirrors the existing gaps in society today though in a different dimension.
Bennett, J. M. (2014). History matters: Patriarchy and the challenge of feminism. Johanneshov: MTM.
Dublin, T. (2017). Women and the Early Industrial Revolution in the United States | the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Retrieved from https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/age-jackson/essays/women-and-early-industrial-revolution-united-states
Head, T. (2017). History of Feminism in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/feminism-in-the-united-states-721310
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