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Northern Poverty and Southern Slavery

Uploaded by planotJ on Oct 26, 2011

This paper compares the lives of poor northern women with the lives of southern slaves. (3+ pages; 2 sources; MLA citation style)

I Introduction
Life in the United States has always been marked by class distinctions. What we are witnessing today—a vast amount of money going to the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poor—is not new. It’s a phenomenon that has been part of American economics since the founding of the nation.
This paper examines the life of the poor, especially poor women, in the North and contrasts it with the live of the slaves in the South. It also discusses how the two systems varied.

II Discussion
Christine Stansell’s book City of Women, as its title implies, deals mostly with the lives of working women in New York City. The earliest period she describes (1789-1820) was characterized by a tremendous growth in the city, in size, importance, wealth—and the number of poor who struggled to make a living there. In a time when women simply did not work outside the home, a family was dependent on the husband’s salary, and many times his work was seasonal (sailor, builder, etc.) and the family would be without any income during the winter. This meant that poor women somehow had to find work, even in a society that disapproved of the idea and refused to understand why it might be necessary.
Wealthy married women, however, were at the other end of the scale. Invoking images of themselves as protectors of the home and the bearer and guardian of the children, they did well: “For privileged women, this perspective on woman’s social role was to foster the cult of domesticity.” (Stansell, p. 22).
In the decades before the Civil War, the continuing development of the city brought with it a continuing dependence of women on men. But capitalism and patriarchy didn’t mesh well:
“By 1860, both class struggle and conflicts between the sexes had created a different political economy of gender in New York, one in which laboring women turned certain conditions of their very subordination into new kinds of initiatives.” (Stansell, p. 217).

Women began to fight for their rights just as the nation was coming apart. Ironically, northern women generally agreed to put aside their struggle for equality until after the conflict. However, the mere fact that they could organize...

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Uploaded by:   planotJ

Date:   10/26/2011

Category:   American

Length:   3 pages (721 words)

Views:   1751

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