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Belonging to the World

Women's Rights and American Constitutional Culture

Sandra F. VanBurkleo

Publication Date - 11 January 2001

ISBN: 9780195069723

432 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Belonging to the World: Women's Rights and American Constitutional Culture surveys the treatment of women in American law from the nation's earliest beginnings in British North America to the present. Placing the legal history of women in the broader social, political, and economic context of American history, this book examines the evolution of women's constitutional status in the United States, the development of rights consciousness among women, and their attempts to expand zones of freedom for all women. This is the first general account of women and American constitutional history to include the voices of women alongside the more familiar voices of lawmakers. An original work of historical synthesis, it delineates the shifting relationships between American law practice and women, both within the family and elsewhere, as it looks beyond the campaign for woman suffrage to broader areas of contest and controversy. Women's stories are used throughout the book to illustrate the extraordinary range and persistence of female rebellion from the 1630s up through the present era of "post-feminist" retrenchment and backlash. Belonging to the World: Women's Rights and American Constitutional Culture dispels the myth that the story of women and the law is synonymous only with woman suffrage or married women's property acts, showing instead that American women have struggled along many fronts, not only to regain and expand their rights as sovereign citizens, but also to remake American culture.

Table of Contents

    Editor's Preface
    Part I. "The Way of Obedience": Foundations
    1. Governing Women in British North America
    2. Toward the Revolutionary Settlement
    Part II. "Talk is the Fountain-Head of All Things": Republican Speech Communities and Coequality
    3. Law, Gender, and Domestic Culture
    4. Republican Speech Communities
    5. Toward Coequality and Self-Possession
    6. Capitalism and the New American Empire
    7. The Civil War Settlement
    Part III. "Governments Try Themselves": Democratic Suffrage Communities and Equality
    8. Democratic Suffrage Communities
    9. Economic Protection versus Equal Rights
    10. Physical Protection versus Self-Sovereignty
    11. The Civil Rights Settlement
    12. Afterword
    Bibliographic Essay

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