To analyze several pages of “Married Women’s Property Act” and compare to present circumstances. SHORT ANSWER Women were afforded very minimal rights prior to the Civil War. However, economic stress ultimately gave new opportunities to women. Firstly, men wanted to give women property rights for as protection against debt. This was drafted into the state constitution several years later. Public opinion of women ownership gradually changed throughout the 1820s and the 1840s. However, there were very few women activist during this time.
Most women were either dependant or too afraid to speak out. DISCUSSION The financial panic of 1837 left Georgia in a depression. There was a large strain on the agricultural industry, and Georgian men needed a way to protect their property from creditors. Consequently, many men saw the advantages to letting their wives own their own land. The legislation of that time period began to shift to favor women’s ownership rights. This caused the structure of society to begin to change. Women were beginning to have some equality with men.
They were allowed to make their own decisions, just as single women in the past. Women were no longer considered their husband’s property. Instead, women were in charge of maintaining the home. This recognized a women’s roles such as a caregiver and housekeeper. Public recognition of women slowly began to take form. The most important influence that this had was on women themselves. Many women were hesitant for social change. Some did not know they were being robbed of human rights. However, other women felt too weak to influence their own lives.
However, even if a women did feel robbed she may not have spoken out. To speak out would bring upon social condemnation. Those who protested for women rights also protested against slavery. They felt they could relate to other’s who had their rights infringed upon. In 1848, many women activist held a convention; however, it was not viewed seriously. At the Georgia Constitution of 1868, women’s property rights were incorporated into the state’s constitution. The leaders of the convention were not Georgian men.
Instead, they were Northern’s who had taken an interest in the state. The homestead and exemption provision of the 1868 Georgian Constitution allowed a women to keep her personal possessions separate from her husband’s possessions. Unfortunately, this rule was not retroactive. However, it significantly changed a married woman’s outlook. CONCLUSION Today women are allowed equal ownership of property. A married woman has the options of keeping her bank account, land, and other property separate. While this does require a marriage agreement, women still have legal rights.
Georgian women really owe thanks to the Civil War and women activist. Without these two factors, it might have been impossible to achieve this drastic change. The most surprising element of this article was how much the Civil War gave women rights. While it was not the focus of the war, it is a favorable byproduct. In many countries, women still live similar pre-Civil War conditions. Without the war, the outlook of women’s rights might not have ever changed. Personally, I am now even more grateful for the Civil War.