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Q: What was the republican motherhood from 1780 to 1830 (concept of) ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: What was the republican motherhood from 1780 to 1830 (concept of)
Category: Reference, Education and News > Homework Help
Asked by: demigoddavid-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 28 Feb 2005 17:31 PST
Expires: 30 Mar 2005 17:31 PST
Question ID: 482587
From the War of Independence, the concept of the republican mother
arose. What was the concept of republican Motherhood form 1780 to
1830? Who were its strongest advocates and why? And, what impact did
the concept have on women and society?(Please provide at least three references)
Subject: Re: What was the republican motherhood from 1780 to 1830 (concept of)
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 28 Feb 2005 23:03 PST
Hi, thank you for the question. I have provided some categorized
information on the concept of Republican Motherhood below. I hope that
it suits your needs.



Republican Motherhood

"Republican motherhood was the concept that women should educate
themselves in the principles of liberty, independence, and democracy
so as to inculcate the coming generation with these republican values.
This was one sign that women were becoming more respected as
intellectually capable."

History of women in the United States

"The American Revolution had a deep effect on the philosophical
underpinnings of American society. One aspect that was drastically
changed by the democratic ideals of the Revolution was the roles of
women. The idea of the republican mother was born in this period.

The mainstream political philosophy of the day assumed that a republic
rested upon the virtue of its citizens. Thus, women had the essential
role of instilling their children with values conducive to a healthy
republic. During this period, the wife's relationship with her husband
also became more liberal, as love and affection instead of obedience
and subserviance began to characterize the ideal marital relationship.
In addition, many women contributed to the war effort through
fundraising and running family businesses in the absence of husbands.

Whatever gains they had made, however, women still found themselves
subordinated, legally and socially, to their husbands, disenfranchised
and with only the role of mother open to them."

Melanie Klark

"In the early history of the United States, there was a movement to
develop the youth of this nation into better citizens who would later
be responsible to take the leadership of this country. The thought was
that if the children of this nation were raised to be more conscience
of God, family, and country, that there would be a better, stronger
nation for the future. In order to accomplish this task, the leaders
of this nation turned to the mothers. In their roles as mothers, women
of this period were able to indirectly become more influential
publicly and politically. Women's historian, Linda Kerber, coined this
experience "Republican Motherhood."

Republican Motherhood came into American ideology after the
Revolution. There was much concern over where the new nation was
heading and how the republic would develop. In the years of the early
republic a consensus developed around the idea that a mother,
committed to the service of her family and to the state, might serve a
political purpose. Those who opposed women in politics had to meet the
proposal that women could- and should- play a political role through
raising a patriotic child. The Republican Mother was to encourage her
son's civic interest and participation (Kerber 1980, 283)."



**Abigail Adams is often noted as an example of a "Republican Mother"

Melanie Klark

"Abigail Adams, wife and mother of two United States Presidents, is
the best example of a woman in the role of Republican Mother. In a
letter to her son, John Quincy Adams, while he was away at Holland
College in 1780, she give advice to the foundations of virtue and
obligations she is hopeful he will achieve."

Justice, humanity, and benevolence are the duties you owe to society
in general. To your country the same duties are incumbent upon you,
with the additional obligation of sacrificing ease, pleasure, wealth,
and life itself for its defence and security. To your parents you owe
love, reverence, and obedience to all just and equitable commands. To
yourself- here, indeed, is a wide field to expatiate you. To become
what you ought to be, and what a fond mother wishes to see you?"
(Adams 1848). "

Melanie Klark

<<Mrs. Adams is advised her son on his duties. The role of mother had
never been this effective in the raising of their sons. Mrs. Adams is
also one of the earliest examples of Republican Motherhood because she
had very little formal education which was later encouraged of young

Because women were having more duties in raising their sons and
teaching them virtue, they should also be educated. The role of
Republican Motherhood had finally opened the doors to education which
women had been denied. The founder of one of the female academies at
this time was Dr. Benjamin Rush. Dr. Rush argued for female education
and the importance it would have on the

"The equal share that every citizen has in the liberty and the
possible share he may have in the government of our country make it
necessary that our ladies should be qualified to a certain degree, by
a peculiar and suitable education, to concur in instructing their sons
in the principles of liberty and government." (Rudolph 1965). >>

Woman's Role in the Republic

<<Let us not forget the ladies. During the post-Revolutionary period
women remained subordinate to men, but after the turn of the century
their subordination became constructed in a new way. Broadly speaking,
the "Republican motherhood" of the immediate postwar period shaded
into the "true womanhood" of the early nineteenth century. The roles
are not sharply distinguished. Both, for example, attended to the
domestic sphere and to matters moral and religious. The difference
between them lay in the way they engaged the world beyond the home.
Republican mothers would not be ignored. Inspired by the Revolution,
they claimed a role in the civic ethos of the new nation. True women,
on the other hand, were more passive. Inspired by evangelicalism, they
focused on home and family. The selections provided here illustrate
the contrast.
Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, is
a model republican mother. Intelligent and well read, she employs the
rhetoric of the Revolution to address issues of power between men and
women. Even when she writes of virtue and religion, she does so with
an eye toward their relationship to power and the uses to which it is
put in the public sphere. The Married Lady's Companion was written by
a well-meaning physician primarily to instruct poor women on
pregnancy, birth, midwifery, and raising children (especially
daughters). He devotes one chapter to "The Proper Conduct of the Wife
towards Her Husband." In its own way it urges women to pay attention
to power, but here it is emotional power, deployed in the private
sphere to move a husband to accede to his wife's wishes or to avoid a
wife's ruin.>>



**The concept of "Republican Motherhood" impacted society by paving
the way for a greater role for women in public life.

Melanie Klark

<<The willingness of the American woman to overcome this ancient
separation brought her into the all-male political community. In this
sense Republican Motherhood was a very important, even revolutionary,
invention. It altered the female domain in which most women had always
lived out their lives; it justified women's absorption and
participation in the civic culture (Kerber 1980, 284). The role of
Republican Motherhood paved the way for the emergence of the public
woman. Their influence on their sons through the teachings of civic
duties and virtue changed the element of American politics. Republican
Motherhood was a very important step for women towards the public

**The concept also led to a new characterization of women's roles in
society. It legitimized women in professions like teaching and
charitible work.

<<Kerber maintains that "Republican Motherhood. . . guaranteed the
steady infusion of virtues into the Republic, . . . The mother, and
not the masses came to be seen as the custodian of civic morality"
(11). "Challenging the traditionally vaunted moral, and often even
intellectual, superiority of men, authors increasingly celebrated
examples of female piety, learning, courage, and benevolence" (Bloch,
116). Churches, too, played their part. "Even New England clergymen
regarded 'the superior sensibility of females,' their 'better
qualities' of tenderness, compassion, patience, and fortitude, as
inclining them more naturally toward Christianity than men" (Bloch,
116, see also n60). Since the majority of their parishioners were
women, New England clergymen also "helped to formulate a new
definition of female character. . . endorsing female moral superiority
in exchange for women's support and activism" (Wolloch, 120). Mothers
could "generate those moral tendencies which cover the whole of
existence," wrote one minister in the Ladies Magazine (Wolloch, 118).
Historians Nancy Cott and Elizabeth Pleck point out that "evangelical
works of the 1790s, claimed that female piety and sincerity would
bring 'effectual reformation. . . in every department of society'
because 'all virtues, all vices, and all characters, are intimately
connected with the manners, principles and dispositions of our
women.'" In fact, "the collective influence of women was an agency of
moral reform" (166). As Bloch suggests, "Women came to be perceived
as, essentially, 'moral mothers,' not only in relation to their
children, but also in their other major supportive and did active
roles as teachers, charity workers, and sentimental writers" (120).>>

**The concept may have also impacted the civil war. 

Cynthia A. Kierner. Beyond the Household: Women's Place in the Early
South, 1700-1835.

<<While after the war women retained a public presence, notably
through petitions filed, Kierner contends that men embraced a
specifically masculine ideal of the citizen-soldier which excluded
women, and that their hostility to politically-minded women only grew
during the French Revolution. Thus, male writers appealed to the
patriarchal family to establish order. Here, Kierner shows that the
Southern press did not embrace the Republican Mother, whose political
and patriotic duty was to educate her sons to be moral and virtuous
citizens. They instead focused on her domestic role, portrayed women
as politically apathetic and frivolous, and in fact, ridiculed women
who were perceived as too political. This is an interesting comparison
between North and South, and the study overall could have been
improved with a stronger regional comparison. In fact, although she
notes that the South was more rural, less industrial, and more
influenced by evangelical religion, Kierner seems to minimize
differences between North and South until the early nineteenth
century. This leaves questions concerning eighteenth century Northern
women and their participation in the making of a genteel culture, as
well as why the Republican Mother model did not hold up in the 1790s
South. A stronger attention to slavery and the effect of race
relations on gender formation may have helped.>>



Female Political Culture


Rosemarie Zagarri, ?Morals, Manners, and the Republican
Mother,? American Quarterly 44, no. 2 (1992) : 192-215




"republican mother"
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