Women's Suffrage Movement II

Women's Suffrage Movement II

At the time of Revolutionary War, only white male property owners were allowed to vote. Many females were upset because they felt they had endured many hardships and contributed just as much, but did not receive any of the benefits. The females decided to secure the rights of others, in hopes in securing their own rights. 

It is unknown if Elizabeth Fry had attended or knew of the London "Women's Rights" convention. I suspect she may have. Dorothea Dix became acquainted with Elizabeth while recovering from a serious illness. Elizabeth Fry had a huge impact on prison reform worldwide. 

Upon return to the United States, Dorothea decided to teach Sunday School to female inmates in a small jail in Massachusetts. There was a particular door at the jail that she was instructed not to open. Of course, one day she opened the door and proceeded to the basement. In the basement was men and women chained to the wall by their necks. Even though it was the middle of winter, none of these inmates had any clothes on. This was the Mental Health section of the jail. It was believed that when a person had a mental illness, they were actually reverting back to the animal state therefore not needing clothes. Dorothea became a nationwide supporter of mental health reform. 

In England, two inmates were sitting in a prison cell discussing the problems England was having to settling a new territory - Australia. While Australia provided new opportunity, few wanted to settle there. A few convicts had been sent there that it did not provide a willing workforce. One of the inmates suggested contacting his cousin (Elizabeth Fry) with a novel idea. What if the inmates volunteered to work off their sentence in Australia? If the inmate successfully completed their sentence, they would be given an acre of land to settle.  If they did not complete the sentence, they would be sent back to prison. Elizabeth Fry presented the idea to the English government. The shipment of inmates to Australia began almost immediately. 

When the female inmates arrived in Australia, they were lined up on the shipping dock. The male land owners were allowed to survey the new female inmates. If the male land owner dropped a handkerchief, then they were proposing marriage immediately (housekeeping and other duties). If the female picked up the handkerchief, then she accepted the proposal. If she declined the offer, she would finish her sentence working in factories. Women were not allowed property ownership under English common law. 

The Women's Suffrage movement was involved in improving the rights of many people. The efforts of a few affected so many. A woman's right to vote was secured through the efforts of others.

References: 

Lewis, J.. (2001). Women's history: Women's Suffrage Movement. Retrieved May 24,2008. www.About.com

Samuel, B. (2001). Elizabeth Fry (1780- 1845) Quaker prison reformer. Retrieved May 24, 2008. 
    www.quakerinfo.com/fry.shtml

North Carolina Division of Mental Health (2001). Dorothea Dix. Retrieved May 24,2008. 
    www.dhhs.state.nc.us/mhddsas/DIX/dorothea.html

 

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