Kathryn Kish Sklar







I have read Kathryn Kish Sklar book, brief History with documents of “Women’s Rights Emerges within the Antislavery Movement, 1830-1870” with great interest and I have learned a lot. I share her fascination with the contours of nineteenth century women’s rights movements, and their search for meaningful lessons we can draw from the past about American political culture today. I find their categories of so compelling, that when reading them, I frequently lost focus about women\'s rights movements history and became absorbed in their accounts of civic life.
I feel Kathryn Kish Sklar has every right to produce this documentary, after studying women’s rights movements since before college at Radcliff College, Harvard University and U. of Michigan where earned various degrees in history, and literature. After reading her book, it doesn’t seem right that a women’s right movement would not come out of the antislavery movement in the early part of this century. The United States was under a lot of stress as a country. They were still forming governments and unity amongst themselves. States were divided by slavery. As abolitionist groups started to form and slavery was being fought, women started to realize that they had no rights and began their battle. Her book includes brief documentaries of Grimke Sisters, Maria Stewart, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth; all became important symbols of the continuity between the antislavery and women’s rights movements.
Beginning in the 1830s, white and black women in the North became active in trying to end slavery. These Women were inspired in many cases by the religious revivals sweeping the nation. While women in the movement at first focused their efforts upon emancipation, the intense criticsm that greeted their activities gradually pushed some of them toward an advocacy of women’s rights as well. They discovered that they first had to defend their right to speak at all in a society in which women were expected to restrict their activities to a purely domestic sphere. Angelina and Sarah Grimke , left South Carolina because they were swept up in the religious current called the “Second Great Awakening" and felt that Philadelphia Quakers offered a surer form of saving their souls than the Protestant ministers of Charleston. During their influential speaking tour in 1837, about the anti-slavery movement, everyone wanted to hear them, so they broke the prohibitions against women speaking in public and, when clergymen opposed such public speaking by women, they launched the women\'s rights movement. (Sklar, 1)
Angelina Grimkeís work makes more sense for me if we take her religious motivations seriously. The change she and her sister introduced into American political culture was very, very large. In a cascade of publications in the late 1830s they created a new language to describe women\'s participation in public life. That language changed the minds of many people about what was respectable and appropriate behavior for women. It laid the foundation for a women\'s rights convention movement that began with Seneca Falls, New York, and swept through New England, New York, and the Midwest in the 1850s
Angelina Grimkeís example in the 1830s was not an abnormal case within the history of American women who reconfigured American political culture. She was an early example of what became an important tradition whereby women relied on religious, ethical, or moral discourse to introduce new ideas and values into American political culture during the “Second Great Awaking”.
The theme to the book is the fact that these revolutionary women drew heavily on religious, or moral or ethical language and ideas. This theme was well supported not only by the author’s opinions, but mainly by the amount of reference materials used to support her ideas. Sklar disproves the idea that these revolutionary women started a abolitionist movement which in turn transformed into a women’ rights movement because they witnessed the harsh ideals of slavery, but the fact the they enjoyed the Philadelphia Quaker religion, and that in turn swept them up into the abolitionist movement. People who have little knowledge of this time period have the misconception that these revolutionary women were moved by experience of slavery, but they were in fact moved by the second great awakening that interfered with the abolitionist movement. The very first women then inspired others, like Sojourner Truth and others