Condition of Women in 19th Century Right from the history of America, those who were at the forefront were men including politicians, explorers and merchants. This therefore has made women relatively inferior and invisible from the overall mainstream scene despite the fact that women comprised half of the population of the country.
Zinn is of the view that women were discriminated just on the basis of their biological makeup and the male dominance in 19th century continued from the past. He argued that white societies actually changed the very basis upon which women were treated equally under the previous American societies. (Zinn)
During 19th century, the role of women were also being redefined under the religious code wherein women were required to be pious and has a separate and defined role in the family. Sexual purity of women was considered as important and it was believed that men by virtue of their biological nature can sin however. women were not considered as prone to sin and were dealt very strictly under the new religious interpretation regarding the role of women. The prevailing vision was that the women should be limited to the home, marriage and mother hood and women were mostly limited to the nursing and teaching as their chosen profession. (Tindall and Shi)
Women were able to cope with the new realities in different manner and by developing close family bondage with other family members. Women were also involved in relatively higher disorderly acts as compared to men especially in slavery conditions. Harriet Tubman was one woman who was able to not only gain freedom but was also successful in helping other women to get free and was active in the Underground Railroad. (Johnson)
19th century also witnessed constitutional changes which allowed further rights to the women.
Westward Expansion in 19th Century
The westward movement of whites during 19th century witnessed a series of clashes as well as reconciliation efforts with the Indians. This expansion was achieved through extensive support from the government and the role of Jefferson remained important as he continued to force the expansion of whites in areas such as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and other parts of the country. (Zinn)
The Westward expansion was also the result of the devastation caused by the war as well as the advancements in the agriculture. The civil war reconstruction coupled with greed and passion for profits further resulted into the westward expansion and systematic extinction of Indians in the West of the country. (Johnson). Due to the geographic nature of the area around the Mississippi river, the area presented a more profitable opportunity for merchants to engage into the construction and expansion of the region. The expansion was therefore the result of economic opportunity offered by the region as well as the democratic individualism and personal freedom.
However, this expansion resulted into the drastic extinction of the Indians as well as Mexicans as over the period of time, White population greatly increased in the region. The land from the native Americans were ceased which caused the gradual weakening of the economic power of the Native Americans and to some extent that of the Mexicans also. (Tindall and Shi)
The westward expansion therefore can easily be considered as the result of greed and economic opportunity.
Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People. Washington: HarperCollins, 2009.
Tindall, George Brown and David Emory Shi. America- A Narrative History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
Zinn, Howard. A Peoples History of the United States. New York: Harper Perennial, 2010.