Different groups in early American history used Liberty Rhetoric to assert their interests in different ways. Making the argument that you were carrying on the real tradition of the American Revolution became a very important bargaining point in American culture. Workers, African-Americans, immigrants, and women all used Liberty Rhetoric to demand equal citizenship.
The purpose of this website is to provide an introduction to the ways in which some American women used Liberty Rhetoric to argue for their rights as citizens of the United States long before they gained the vote. In this website, you will examine several examples of women's use of Liberty Rhetoric for a variety of goals.
This site focuses on three major topics:
Uses of Liberty Rhetoric Among Lowell Mill Girls;
and The 1848 Declaration of Sentiments as an Expression of the Tradition of Liberty Rhetoric.
For a first-hand overview of the Lowell experience, see Harriet Hanson Robinson's account of her life in the mills, published as "Early Factory Labor in New England," in Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Fourteenth Annual Report (Boston: Wright & Potter, 1883), pp. 380-82, 387-88, 391-92. Robinson's account provided online by the Modern History Sourcebook (also mirrored locally).
For an idea of how these issues could be expanded to address African-American women, see: How did African-American Women define their citizenship at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893?, a site prepared by Erin Shaughnessy, State University of New York at Binghamton.