By Susan Zaeske
During this finished heritage of women's antislavery petitions addressed to Congress, Susan Zaeske argues that via petitioning, ladies not just contributed considerably to the flow to abolish slavery but additionally made vital strides towards securing their very own rights and reworking their very own political id. by way of studying the language of women's antislavery petitions, speeches calling girls to petition, congressional debates, and public response to women's petitions from 1831 to 1865, Zaeske reconstructs and translates debates over the that means of woman citizenship. first and foremost in their political crusade in 1835 ladies tended to disavow the political nature in their petitioning, yet by means of the 1840s they often asserted women's correct to make political calls for in their representatives. This rhetorical switch, from a tone of humility to at least one of insistence, mirrored an ongoing transformation within the political id of petition signers, as they got here to view themselves no longer as topics yet as voters. Having inspired women's involvement in nationwide politics, women's antislavery petitioning created an urge for food for additional political participation that spurred numerous ladies after the Civil struggle and through the 1st a long time of the 20th century to advertise motives comparable to temperance, anti-lynching legislation, and lady suffrage.
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Additional info for Signatures of Citizenship: Petitioning, Antislavery, and Women's Political Identity
5 Support for abolition was further weakened during the last decade of w h at c a n wo m e n d o ? : 31 the eighteenth century by a number of bloody slave revolts throughout the world, which decreased tolerance for criticism of slaveholding. Americans learned of the massive 1791 slave uprising in St. Domingue from large numbers of French planters seeking refuge with their slaves in Virginia. The ﬁrst major slave revolt in the United States occurred on August 30, 1800, when a Virginia slave named Gabriel assembled an army of at least 1,000 slaves to seize the Richmond arsenal.
Northern states set in motion both judicial and legislative mandates that eventually emancipated slaves, and during the 1780s and 1790s a growing number of slaves were manumitted in Maryland, Delaware, and especially Virginia. This progress was dealt a serious blow in 1787 with ratiﬁcation of the federal Constitution, which failed to end slavery in the new nation. Although the Constitution permitted the federal government to end the African slave trade in 1808, not only did it fail to abolish slavery, but it aﬃrmed the right of masters to recover runaway slaves.
1 L. ’s recommendations echoed those of other antislavery leaders, male and female alike, who urged women to wield their inﬂuence over male relatives and friends, to teach free blacks, and to boycott products of slave labor. By and large, however, they did not encourage women to take direct action, such as public speaking or petitioning. Yet although by 1833 petitioning had emerged as the major tool through which male abolitionists pushed for an end to slavery, women were discouraged from this type of public activism even by the antislavery press.