CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT VS. WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT (1860-1870)
This research paper discusses the nature and course of the movements for civil rights and women's rights in the United States during the 1860s and draws appropriate comparisons and contrasts between them.
The principal struggle for civil rights related to improving the political, legal and, to a lesser extent, the economic status of blacks in the South, their emancipation from slavery and succor by the North during the Civil War (1860-1865) and their achievement of suffrage and other rights during the initial phases of Reconstruction (1865-1870). Emancipation only gradually became a central goal of Union policy during the war and its full parameters were far from settled by the time President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Reconstruction policy followed an even more tortured course. Such progress as was achieved in securing political rights for the black freedmen was largely temporary but a framework for their future realization on a permanent basis was laid during this period. As an almost incidental byproduct of this process, the civil rights of blacks in the North were substantially expanded, but patterns of racial prejudice and discrimination remained. Native Americans (Indians) were not recognized as having any civil rights and moved closer to extermination as peoples as the westward frontier expanded after the end of the war.
The women's rights movement was largely frozen during the Civil War during which middle and upper class women made major contributions to the war effort which improved their leverage to press broader demands after the war. The interests of black suffrage and women's rights advocates ran parallel until 1866 when the vast majority of men in the former Movement and in the dominant Republican Party refused to give woman's suffrage anything remotely resembling the priority they gave black suffrage. This produced a deep split in t...