The civil war was a great war in the history of the United States, and women played a great role in it. Most of the women in the country had their husbands leave to join the war, and for most, this was a very hard situation. Men were breadwinners and especially in the south where they were the ones responsible for food production running businesses, and other occupation. At the time of the war, women were known for their household duties only. The war and the absence of women at homes left great responsibilities to women to handle. It was a time in history whereby women also had no power as far as political aspects of society were concerned and therefore, did not have any influence in war. The impacts of the war on women vary greatly depending on race and social status. For example, elite white women, especially from the south, inherited great responsibilities associated with the need to take care of the plantations left behind by their husbands. The south was associated with the wealthiest people in the country, and during the war, the women were the ones left to look after the businesses. Women also played the roles of nurses during the war where they looked after the injured and other casualties of war. They also had great influence in encouraging young men to join the war. Poor white women, on the other hand, had it a little bit harder because of having access to little wealth and during the war food shortage went on the rise because women had little experience in farming. However, they also play great roles in supporting their husbands during the war the same as the rest of the women. As African American women, the war gave them great opportunities to escape to the north (Dwyer, 2015).
The civil war was a very significant war because it was a war based on aspects that threatened the livelihoods and future of many. It was one of the most devastating wars in the history of the United States, and not having the war would have made the country split in half and slavery would have still been in existence. Women had taken part in it, and in some instances, women tried to disguise themselves as men so that they could join the fighting. Others took the responsibilities of working as spies for their different sides as ways to gather information about the enemy strategies. Others play the crucial role of being nurses where they would tend to the wounded during the war, and the majority as explained d above remained at home and took over businesses and food production (Dwyer, 2015).
The war was responsible for many and women were the ones with the greatest losses because they the people who died were their husbands, the sons, their brothers and other friends and family. Some of the women disguised themselves sneaked into the war to fight, but some of them did not have to. For example there those daughters of the men in the regiment. These are some of the women who had the chance to take part in quasi-aspects of the war where they helped their regiment relatives. However, the role of nursing is the biggest role that was associated with women during the civil war for which they provided a lot of efforts. It was a very difficult contribution because of the grisly aspects of the war, but the women offered their capacities to the best to help the wounded and ill during the war (Marshall, 2007, p.214).
Women were always known for their domestic duties, and after the war, they returned to their usual way of life, the war had seen them take responsibilities that had never ben witnessed before such as handling businesses. It was during this period of time that many started to see the great potential in women and thus began the slow changes in the gender roles of women in the American society. The end of the war became the beginning of the fight for women’s right that started to take shape and become influential in the United States. Before the war women played a great role in the fight for the abolition of slavery and after the war, such movements began to develop with a mandate to fight for the rights of women in society. The war had showed the world the capabilities of women where they could take part in responsibilities that most men did and this a factor that greatly encouraged women to fight for their place in society (Giesberg, 2012, p.10).
It began with the development of the women suffrage movement that saw its beginnings at the Seneca fall convention which took place in the year 1848. This was just soon after the war, and it gathers a lot of following. Women had limited rights I society, and for example, they had no right to vote. At the time the 15th amendment of the constitution provided for the rights to vote for citizens but was ambiguous and did not provide for women’s voting right. Women, especially in the suffrage movement, wanted the amendment to the constitution whereby it would provide voting rights for women and other forms of equality (Mcdonnell, 2004, p.195).
Most of the agendas of the suffrage movement incorporated great aspects of the abolition of slavery, and they greatly made efforts to stop it, however, their support for abolition was a great as their support for the rights of women and they did not support the passing of the 15th amendment unless a provision was developed that would specify equality for women as well (Giesberg, 2012, p.9). Despite these efforts by women, the end of the civil war affected many women in the United States. African American women faced the end with hopes of freedom promised by the 15th amendment of the constitution. However, the situation was completely different because the end of slavery brought about the rise of slavery. Many whites of the south were angered with the outcome of the war whereby they had lost their most important source of livelihood which was slavery. Most of the women during this time took part in wage labor as a source of livelihood. The situation was new to many African Americans because they were never used to the freedom given to them and at first it was very tough because they now had to make a living on their own and had to work for money.
The end of the war, therefore, saw a lot of changes in the American society. The abolitionist movements won by having slavery end. Women, on the other hand, developed a chance to show their efforts in the society and the end of the war provided them with newer opportunities other than household duties. The suffrage movement enlightened many women to take part in their own fight for equality (Mcdonnell, 2004, p.196).
Dwyer, Maddie. The Changing Role of Southern Women During the Civil War. 2015. <https://ctlsites.uga.edu/hist2111-wolf2015/2015/11/30/the-changing-role-of-southern-women-during-the-civil-war/>.
Giesberg, Judith. "Northern Women." The Journal of the Civil War Era (2012).
MacLean, Maggie. "Black Women After the Civil War." Civil War Women (2016). http://www.civilwarwomenblog.com/black-women-after-the-civil-war/.
Marshall, Anne. "The Essence of Liberty: Free Black Women during the Slave Era, and: Women on the Civil War Battle Front (review)." Civil War History (2007).
Mcdonnell, Lawrence. "Neither Lady Nor Slave: Working Women of the Old South (review)." Civil War History (2004).
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