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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Cult of Domesticity
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Cult of Domesticity
Text 1. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Text 2. Caroline Gilman
Text 3. Catharine E. Beecher
Text 4. Harriet Jacobs
Text 5. Fanny Fern
Text 6. Godey's Lady's Book
Text 7. Rev. Theodore Parker
Text 8. Elizabeth Cady Stanton
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Reading Guide
8.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Address known as "Seneca Falls Address," 1848

This text represents a culmination of all the readings in this section. Neither the keynote address at the Seneca Falls Conference, nor the well-known "Declaration of Sentiments" issued by its delegates, this speech was delivered by Elizabeth Cady Stanton at several occasions after the famed conference. It stands as an extended argument for women's rights as (1) the logical application of history's lessons and of Christian faith, and (2) as a path to greatness for the American nation. (Of interest, she does not argue from the standpoint of justice.) She is insistent, strident, and uncompromising. "The right is ours," she declares: "have it we must—use it we will." Can be paired with Catharine Beecher's "Peculiar Responsibilities of American Women" as a point-counterpoint debate. Excerpted, it would provide provocative discussion prompts in the classroom. 15 pages.


Discussion questions
  ·  What inspires Stanton's firmest convictions, and her deepest fury?
  ·  How does Stanton refute men's assumption that women are inferior?
  ·  How does her view of woman's burdens in married life compare with those of Gilman, Phelps, Beecher, and Parton (Fanny Fern)?
  ·  Why does she firmly mark a difference between the issue of rights and the issue of equality?
  ·  How does she use the language of bondage to connect the concerns of the abolitionist movement with those of the women's suffrage movement?
  ·  How does Stanton use Christian tenets to underscore her position? How would Catharine Beecher and Fanny Fern respond to her interpretation of Christianity?
  ·  To Stanton, how does the subjugation of women keep America from achieving true greatness? How would Catharine Beecher argue in opposition?


Reading highlights
  ·  Note Stanton's militant tone in this address—a departure from feminine gentility. Compare her contempt for the status quo to Douglass's in the appendix to his Narrative.


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Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did women of this period define themselves? What stories did they choose to tell?
  •  In what ways did these women exercise—and define—power and influence?
  •  How did the “cult of domesticity” shape the debate over woman’s place in antebellum American society?
  •  In what ways did this debate reflect the prevailing tensions of race, class, region, and religion in American society?




Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

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