Feminist Abolitionism and its Ostensible Paradox in Mid-Nineteenth Century America

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The focus of this thesis is on reasoning of the white advocates of women’s rights at the time of the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. The advocates for women’s rights were collaborating with the abolitionist movement because they both were suffering from white supremacy. White women were often confined to the private sphere and suffered from the patriarchal norms in the society. The suffragists had become social reformers for the slavery cause and they actively fought for emancipation. When the Civil War had come to an end, the American political system was going to be restructured because the war had changed hierarchies and conventions. It was a window of opportunity for previously excluded groups to step in the political arena. Both the women’s rights movement and the black rights movement started to prioritize their own gain and started to agitate for voting rights. The considerations of Congress about the Reconstruction Amendments proved that Congress was more open for voting rights for black men than it was to voting rights for women. When this was noticed by the suffragists, some of them started to engage with harmful rhetoric that often included racist sentiments and they made alliances with notoriously racist historical figures. Not many scholars have explored this ostensible racism at length, instead, they confirm its existence and provide an often limited theory to explain it. This thesis aims to examine the hearts and minds of the suffragists from the very beginning of the collaboration to its split in the Reconstruction Era and thus explores the origins of their ostensible racism. Other scholars’ theories are analyzed and I come up with a restored view at the end. I suggest that instead of the racism being a matter on its own, it should be looked at with the reasoning of the suffragists in mind. They desperately wanted to prevent a new confirmation of male domination and their belligerency made them relentless.
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