Between 1815 and 1860, mass revolutions in industry and religion spread throughout America, changing it politically, economically, and socially. These revolutions affected all of the country in various aspects, especially in opening new opportunities for women at this time. The Market Revolution and Second Great Awakening affected the evolution of women's role in the family, workplace, and society by expanding their roles and introducing them to reform and the strength of womanhood.
During this time of the Market Revolution and the Second Great Awakening, women began appearing as an important member of family life. Women became the leading family member because of her significance in keeping the family together and raising intellectual and idiosyncratic individuals (doc. E). However, families began growing smaller at this time with each one only having one or two children (doc. G). This was primarily due to the emerging of domestic feminism, which was the growing power of women in making decisions. These smaller families however, allowed the mother to spend more time with each individual child. This, in turn, would allow each one to grow up and be more practical, candid, and diligent citizens.
Although, not all women wanted to have less kids in spite their growing power. This was especially true for African American women in slavery. These women were worst off during this time. Many slave women would often be sold separately from their child at auctions in the south. This was one of the worst products of slavery- the forced separation of a mother from her child (doc. B). During this time, most women were gaining more power and becoming the leading figure in family life. In the years of the market revolution and Second Great Awakening, women started making strides in changing their roles in society socially, politically, and economically. During this time, they became more renowned in religion; they made their presence known in politics and took part in many reforms.
Socially, women of that period became very passionate and religious, as Charles G. Finney observed, some women who were very sociable yet fearful of revival became the most dedicated members of the church and spread the enthusiasm to their friends (Doc A.) On the subject of reform, women gained the most fame and unpleasant reputation, as their determination to see change where they saw wrong eventually led to the earning of their rights.
Politically, women fought for reform, like Dorothea Dix who protested the cruel treatment of the insane and prisoners (Doc F.) Women also protested for reform through their clothing, as these brave women wore bloomers instead of traditional garb, despite harassment and pestering from the people (Doc H.) Economically, women also changed in society, as a petition to the Massachusetts legislature stated, women wanted to be treated as equal as men, even when it came to taxation, representation, and labor, as well as having a voice in the latter (Doc I.) In summary, the role of women in society changed as they became more zealous in religion, more outspoken in politics and reform, and demanded equality politically and economically. Throughout the market revolution and Second Great Awakening period, women started to become more involved in the workforce. Women became more well-known in the Northern textile factories.
These women, often called factory girls, worked to collect as much money as they could. These factory girls earned higher wages than the women engaged in other occupations (Doc. D). Even with women earning wages, they still were not close to equaling men in the workforce. Although these women in the North worked for wages, the African American women were not as grateful, working for free. These women worked on the Southern plantations all day without relief. They not only worked in the fields, but also in the house with their masters.
Though people thought slavery was a sin, as Mrs. A did, women could not challenge slavery politically because there was a great lack of decorum in women getting involved with politics, thus African American women continued to work for free (Doc. C). Even though this was a setback, women in the workforce pushed forward and strived to become equal. As women continued to chase their equality in the workforce, they petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to try and equal themselves with men (Doc. I). Although women started off slow, working for low wages, they continued to challenge for their equality in the workforce.
The Second Great Awakening and the Antebellum Market helped women to become the leaders of their family, movements in social reform, and their independence from industrial workplaces. This helped America have an important role in the future American society, and the global economy and eventually politics. Although women were still a minority in the 19th century, the Second Great Awakening and Market Revolution transformed the roles of the family, workplace, and society and made great stepping stones to women’s equal rights.