History 246 Reading Guide

The “Woman Movement”:  The beginnings of white middle-class feminism and “woman’s rights” in the 19th century

Documents:

  • Sarah Grimke, “Letter in Response to the Pastoral Letter” (July 1837), published as “Province of Women: The Pastoral Letter” in The Liberator, 6 October 1837; at Zulick Home Page, Wake Forest University.  LINK  .pdf
  • Sarah Grimke, “On the Condition of Women in the United States,” Letter VIII from Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women (1838).  .pdf
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions,” Seneca Falls Convention, Seneca Falls, New York (1848), at The Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony Papers Project, Rutgers University.  LINK  .pdf
  • Sojourner Truth, “A’n’t I a Woman?” Women’s Rights Convention, Akron,Ohio (1851), at Zulick Home Page, Wake Forest University.  LINK  .pdf

Questions:

  • In “Province of Women: The Pastoral Letter” (1837), how did Sarah Grimke craft her letter? What “tone” did she use when she discussed the Pastoral Letter? How did she invert the claims of the Massachusetts clergy? What was her strongest critique of the clergy? Why? Of what did she want to persuade her audience?
  • In “The Condition of Women” (1838), what measures did Grimke use for “grouping” or “classifying” women? Why? What did she suggest about each group of women, and toward what end? Taken together, what did her account of the condition of women propose as the problem for women in American society—and the solution? What call to women did she make—and why? Why did she end by “saying a few words on the benefits to be derived by men, as well as women, from the opinions I advocate relative to the equality of the sexes”?
  • In The Declaration of Sentiments (1848), where did Stanton simply add women to the Declaration of Independence, and where did she reconstruct that document altogether? In which instances (of “injuries and usurpations”) did she present the problem simply one of omission? Which injuries and usurpations were specific to the condition and situation of women in the United States? How did she order the list of complaints and the list of resolutions? Why?
  • In “A’n’t I a Woman?” (1851), what arguments did Sojourner Truth offer in support of the woman’s movement? What challenge did she pose to the participants at the convention?