Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America

Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America by Nancy Isenberg: Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America by Nancy Isenberg is all about the violation of the women rights and the struggle of the women human right activists in the United States of America.Such struggle is not easy and bed of roses.Many hurdles are waiting for the them to cross and face during this struggle. Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America describes the human rights and the activists in America.

it is not easy job but the most difficult and uphill task.The novel deals with the crimes and the criminals that are there to disrupt the peace and calm of the society.The suspense and thrill is kept till the last line of the novel and the readers would never lose their interest and concentration until the last line is reached and the climax is resolved.Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America is quite amazing novel.

Sex and citizenship by Nancy Isenberg

Nancy Isenberg illuminates the origins of the women’s rights movement in this book. Rather than extolling the individual accomplishments of the 1848 Seneca Falls assembly, she investigates the convergence of events and ideas that occurred before and after 1848, which she believes represented the true birth of feminism.She shows that antebellum women’s rights activists built an unified feminist criticism of religion, state, and family, drawing on a variety of sources.

Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America

This book gives the most accurate understanding of antebellum woman’s rights activists’ arguments to date, and as a result, sheds whole new light on this crucial era in American women’s political history. Isenberg begins her examination with “a distinctively American yet radically uncertain concept: equality,” which she bases on political theory. She then goes on to look at feminists’ attempts to grasp the idea of equality in light of their unique status as American citizens who were yet legally disfranchised or crippled.

Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America

They also produced a rich theoretical legacy, as Isenberg demonstrates, that affected not only succeeding strains of feminist thought but also notions about the nature of citizenship and rights in general. Isenberg goes beyond a basic concentration on suffrage by focusing on rights discourse and political theory.

In antebellum America, conflicts over such contentious issues as fugitive slave laws were redefining democracy. Temperance, Sabbath laws, capital penalty, prostitution, the Mexican War, married women’s property rights, and labour reform were all major legal and constitutional issues. These critical challenges, which have been discussed in the context of women’s rights, The gendered meaning of nineteenth-century citizenship was inextricably linked to traditions and the popular press.

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She reminds out that antebellum feminists included the basic right of political representation, the right to vote, in their definition of “woman’s rights,” but they also demanded much more. To explore the breadth of women’s rights arguments, Isenberg employs her own modification of Habermas and Arendt’s current theories of the public realm. She agrees with them that the early nineteenth century was a pivotal period in the development of the public realm. Indeed, in the greater history of constitutional government in the United States, this period of epochal political shift from republicanism to democracy made women’s rights movement all the more crucial.

She claims that the passionate arguments for women’s rights only helped to exacerbate the existing discussions over the meaning of virtue and citizens’ abilities to contribute to the common good. Unlike Habermas and Arendt, however, Isenberg does not consider the church to be outside of the public sphere.

She exposes the intersection of the church, the state, and the family as “complementary arenas in defining rights” to her benefit . She therefore corrects the historical record on a wide range of problems that women’s rights advocates tackled, including temperance, health and dress reform, slavery, Sabbatarianism, marriage, divorce, and domestic abuse, as well as the Mexican War and Manifest Destiny.

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Sir William Blackstone, whose Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford, 1765) defined the notion of overture, the “civil death” of married women, that inspired antebellum feminist critiques of marriage and the family, is inextricably linked to Isenberg’s thesis.

Regrettably, her otherwise thorough analysis  the workof Mary Ritter Beard. While Isenberg emphasizes the importance of antebellum feminists in moulding “the historical development of a vocabulary of constitutional sovereignty and American Democracy (204),” Beard comes to the opposite conclusion.

In emphasizing on common-law limits rather than actual practices of equity, Beard contended that antebellum feminists established a fiction of woman’s subjugation to man, which functioned largely to obscure the role of women as historical actors.

Because Beard’s Woman as Force in History: A Study in Traditions and Realities (New York, 1946) is regarded as a classic text in the field of women’s history, and because Isenberg addresses the mythical elements of the early history of the women’s rights movement that have become embedded in recent scholarship, a nod in Beard’s direction would have been appropriate.

About the Writer:

Nancy Isenberg is the author of Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in Biography and won the Oklahoma Book Award for best book in non-fiction. She is the co-author, with Andrew Burstein, of Madison and Jefferson. She is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at LSU. ISenberg was named to the 2016 Politico 50 list and received the Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. She splits her time between Baton Rouge and Charlottesville, Virginia.

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