Between the American Revolution and the outbreak of the Civil War, the ideals of womanhood were changed-not necessarily significantly-and evolved into a more “positive” image for woman. The idea of Republican Motherhood that took root during the American Revolution, which basically labeled women as having the job to train their children (especially male), eventually transformed into the idea of a Cult of Domesticity, which gave women the sole task of caring for the home and leaving real jobs and politics to the men. These ideas of Republican Motherhood and a Cult of Domesticity, along with the household traditions of women long-established over history, greatly influenced the lives of women during this period.
The concept of Republican Motherhood began around the start of the Revolutionary War. The main concept of this role of women was that their purpose was to educate their sons properly and to make sure that when they grew up, they would be functional and hopefully upstanding members of society. This was a major development, as it made sure women knew their place in the world; they were to serve the men of the world, and were not to get directly involved in any of a “man’s decisions.” This thought was also shared by Benjamin Rush, who stated that women should be educated just enough so that they could teach their sons about the principles of liberty and government (DOC B). While this did proved women with some educational opportunities, said opportunities were very limited, and their small amount of education could never land them a good job or allow them to be “free”, as Margaret Fuller wrote in “Woman in the Nineteenth Century” (DOC E).
The Cult of Domesticity was probably the most dominant and most binding “institution” that developed in this era. It was based around four principal ideas: piety, purity, domesticity, and submissiveness. Women were expected to be very religious, and as caring mothers and wives women should also be...