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The Importance of Women Linda K. Kerber's Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America

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When considering the American Revolution most histories fail to recognize both sides of the fight for liberty. Men were certainly the central figures; however could they have succeeded without the periphery support of women? In her book, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America, Linda K. Kerber explores the contribution of women to the war and demonstrates the rising of “Republican Motherhood” during and following the war. Through this ideology, women merged their traditional roles with their new sense of civic duty. In the beginning chapters, Kerber examines women’s engagement in the war effort, explores the emerging idea of female patriotism and states the proper loyalties of married women during the time. Kerber then looks at the consequences of the Revolution in relation to the female concerns of divorce, education and women’s reading. In these chapters, and her concluding chapter, “The Republican Mother,” she evaluates the representation of womanhood in the early republic. According to Kerber, the American Revolution had an enduring and significant change in the role of women in society and created a new political role for women, known as “Republican Motherhood”.

Kerber uses research from legal records, diaries, memoirs, and letters to demonstrate how the war affected the lives of women and the new responsibilities that fell to them as a result. When the American Revolution began, men and women did not know what role women would play. It was certainly evident that someone would have to tend the farms and run the men’s property. No man would want to leave their estate without knowing it would be taken care of, leaving women to become leaders on the home front. Men left their property with the ...

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... Northern and Middle States. She does not look into the minds of the impoverished women of the time. She also fails to research the ladies of the Southern States. Other researchers will need to test her claims by doing their own research involving the lives of the lower-class and Southern women.

Linda K. Kerber accomplished a rather large task by researching and completing Women of the Republic. Aside from her lack of research of lower-class and Southern women of the Revolution, Kerber portrays an excellent amount of research and information. Her work is very well-written and articulate and would be very beneficial to anyone hoping to find information about the role women played during the American Revolution. This work does a great job presenting information about the role of Revolutionary women; it is a must read for anyone interested in the subject matter.
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