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Civil War Era and Women

Civil War Era and Women

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The Civil War period caused transformation within various aspects of the U.S. society, including woman rights. During the conflict, a plenty of men had to take weapons and struggle for freedom, and, consequently, women took the work someone had to perform at home. After the War, as black people started receiving previously unavailable rights, women, finally, attempted to claim for deserved preferences as well. Previously vulnerable and unseen, they gradually transformed to the proactive members of the society struggling for rights.

Published in 1852, Uncle Toms Cabin became a best-seller among the Northern anti-slavery supporters within the United States. Describing the fictional slave stories, Harriett Beecher particularly stressed the place of black slave women within the society as the ones whose kids can be sold by the slave-owner, or ones hunted with dogs. Through the stories of broken motherhood, the author particularly addressed the defenseless position mothers had to endure during that time (Montoya et al., 2018, p. 352). This book took its roots from the stories of runaway slaves, whom her family took care of for some time, and, thus, could describe the realities a black woman had to withstand in the world before the Civil War.

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Yet, during the Civil War, the situation has shifted. Previously unseen women undertook the obligations to support the state in aspects more visible to publicity and consequently attracted attention. Particularly, Harper Weekly, popular Northern magazine illustrated the woman activities such as filling cartridges, sewing shirts, washing, home tiding or serving as sisters of charity (Montoya et al., 2018, p. 387). Still vulnerable, now they became not a mere symbol but a part of a struggling society.

Women also found their place on the battlefield. The production of new weaponry increased the death rate among soldiers, as well as wounds, consequent amputations, and infections. Women eagerly joined the army in order to take care of the wounded and sick. The Northern women, whom various reforms adjusted to self-organization, consequently created the United States Sanitary Commission in spring 1861 (Montoya et al., 2018, pp. 378-379). Learning from British comrades, they gathered donations in order to supply medicine and blankets to war hospitals. The government legally allowed female nurses corps. In fact, 3,000 women legally provided the medical services during that period, escaped slave volunteers assisted as well. Consequently, Northern nurses remained working even after the war. Less organized Confederate women still assisted as nurses as well, fixing clothes and bondages. Sometimes, women also provided cooking, cleaning, and sexual services in the soldier camps.

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As at the war beginning, women remained pure, domestic, and self-sacrificial, to the end of it, they had to undertake male jobs as well; both Union and Confederate women equally managed it. Yet, under the condition of massive destruction in Southern states, Confederate women had to let go the idea of the search for equality available to union comrades and to proceed with daily survival necessities (Montoya et al., 2018, p. 392). Yet, Northern feminists decided that it would be the correct time to fight for own rights, though without interference with the rights of black people. The attempts to balance between these two concepts in issues of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments split woman right advocates camp into two organizations, American Woman Suffrage Organisation and National Woman Suffrage Organization (Montoya et al., 2018, pp. 413-414). Yet, both organizations faced rejection in their initiatives, and the idea of woman emancipation during the period proved futile.

During the Civil War Era, a position of women within the society has drastically changed. Forced to be organized in order to protect their rights and lives, as well as lives of men, they gained a sense of responsibility. Women learned from reforms that they had to endure or support, from examples of the successful women around the world, and from the male tasks they had to perform. Despite remaining rejected in the end of the era, women acquired an immense amount of possibilities through their initiatives and hard work.

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