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If you ask a young girl what she wants to be when she grows up, she may tell you she wants to be a doctor, lawyer, or even a teacher. That is what any child would percieve their future to become, just like their parents. But what that little girl is unaware of, is that if she had lived a little over 150 years ago, her future dreams would be quite different. Women living a life of religious freedom, having a voice in government, and attending schools is normal in our everyday lives as we reach the new millenium. However, women did not always have an equal say or chance in life. In our American History, women have demonstrated and worked for reform of women's rights. Through seven generations, it took many meetings, petition drives, lobbying, public speaking, and nonviolent resistance to make our world the way it is now.
The Women's Rights Movement begins its task on July 13th, 1848, where a lady named Elizabeth Cady Stanton decided enough was enough, and she started the fight for her rights as well asall women's rights. Within the next week of her decision she held a convention in Seneca Falls called, "A convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman". Stanton created a list to present called "Declaration of Sentiments" which stated areas in life where women were treated unjustly. (*1) After the second day of the convention, every resolution on her declaration was passed except the one that called for women the right to vote. As time passed, however, many conventions were held all the way up to the Civil War. Women just like Stanton, such as Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth traveled throughout the country lecturing and organizing for the next fourty years.
A 72 year battle includes many speakers, political strategists, organizers, lobbyist, and so forth, until what is needed is done. Thousands of people participating in the movement to now win "that most basic American civil right"...the right to vote.
The vote was finally won in 1920, but this was not the end. Suffragists became active in fighting for the rights for protection from abuse in work (1919), Equal Rights Ammendment (1923), and abortion. The birth control movement was fought for some time and denied in 1936. Birth control became legal in 1965.
The second wave for this era started mainly in the sixties. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed, prohibiting employment discrimination for the sexes as well as race, religion, and national origin. Two years later, a woman named Betty Friedan opened the National Organization for Women, which was followed by other organizations tending to other minorities as well.
By 1972, the Equal Rights Ammendment is re-introduced and finally passed and sent to the states for ratification. "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United Stats or by any state on account of sex". To be ratified, it required 38 states to approve, which was said to be just about a "shoo-in". So, the campaigns started, and marches, and demonstrations....by 1982 the deadline for ratification reached and they had just about enough votes to support the ERA.
Today, at the begining of the millenium, women have made clear progress since Elizabeth Stanton declared enough was enough. The first woman elected to Congress was in 1916. By 1971, women were still less than 3% of our political representatives. And today women only hold an 11% of seats in congress, and 21% of state legistative seats. Although these these numbers seem small, women have made a big impact and changed thousands of local, state, and federal laws that had limited women's legal status and social roles.
In our country today, a man, or a woman has chance to fulfill their dreams, to go to a good school of choice and become something. When you ask that little girl what she wants to be when she grows up, she is no longer influenced by society's discriminations, she can reach for the stars.
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The French Revolution
During the late 1700s, France followed in Americas footsteps towards their own revolution. A major shift in power would be seen within the short time period of 1789-1799, and with it a large advancement away from the absolutist government of France. During the late 1700s France was the most powerful estate in the world. The effects of the countrys revolution would soon spread from France to the rest of Europe and finally result in a continental war.
The French Revolution was based mostly on the Third Estates desire to obtain liberty and equality. Frances social system was set up in such a way that it was only a matter of time before a revolution took place. The economic classes of France were set in three estates. The first estate was the church, or clergy, the second estate was the nobles, and the third estate consisted of peasants and the uneducated. Frances economic system allowed for the highest taxation of the third estate while the clergy members were exempt from taxes, and the nobles paid little or no taxes at all. People who are starving and can barely afford to survive can only pay so much before they refuse to pay anymore. It is not suprising that the third estate was driven to immediate action with Louis XVIs demand for higher taxes. Ideas of liberty and equality sprang up with the onset of the American Revolution and paved a way for the third estate to change Frances system of government. Philosophes such as Voltaire spread ideas of reform that excited the peasants to believe there was a chance for a better life.
Along with the social causes of the revolution, economic and political events brought about the desire for change as well. Economic conditions such as poor harvests made the price of food rise to such high prices that half a workers wages were spent on trying to feed the family alone. The taxation system took money from the peasants, yet they did not reap any of the benefits that were supposed to come from their money. For Example, King Louis XVI lived such and extravagant life that three percent of the nations GNP was spent on royal family lifestyle. Wars also played a major role in depleting the nations funds. The cost of maintaining a standing army exceeded half of Frances expenditures. The taxes were not used however to improve infrastructure, health facilities, schooling, or general life of the third estate from which all the money was being generated. These economic hardships set the stage for some major changes in France. Louis XVI did try, but was unsuccessful in reforming the political system of France. When King Louis XVI came into power, he realized that these problems existed. Louis appointed a man by the name of Robert Turgot ease the financial crisis of France, but he had difficulties when he tried to introduce a major reform. Turgot could not establish a change in the taxation policies of France. He was unable to introduce a higher tax to the second estate because the king could not tax the nobles unless the Parliament approved of the new tax laws. The people in the courts that voted on these laws were the nobles, called nobles of the robe, and therefore rejected Turgot's reform. After Turgot was rejected, the king fired him from his office. With the economic problems of France ever increasing, Louis XVI summoned the Estates General in 1789. The Estates General was a council where each social class could be represented. Louis convened the Estates General with the intent on raising taxes even higher within the third estate. However, the third estate thought that they would finally be able to express their ideas about a national change that would promote liberty and equality. When the Estates General met in 1789, the representatives from the third estate outnumbered the representatives of the first and third estates (reflecting the social class pyramid of the time). When the king realized this, he closed the doors to the third estate members. Outraged by the unwillingness to hear their views, the third estate convened in an indoor tennis court, declared themselves the National Assembly and made ... more
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