Civil War Gender Roles

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Nineteenth century America was a time when women were expected to follow the cult of domesticity, a widely accepted opinion at the time. While fathers, brothers, sons, husbands and other male loved ones went off to fight in the American Civil War, women were left behind to take care of the remaining members of the family. “It was in the home that woman’s influence was paramount and her position assured.” For some women, this was enough, however, there were others who were not satisfied with this idea, and felt as though they were meant to become something more. However, there were some opportunities for women to step outside of the social customs and gender roles of the time. In fact, “the Civil War dramatically tested those boundaries of…show more content…
Boyd served as a spy for the Confederacy, and Edmonds and Velazquez “were two of the hundreds of women who passed as men to fight on the front lines, refusing to be left behind with weeping mothers and sweethearts…” Each woman who chose to make such a decision had her own individual reason for doing so. While some women who had posed as men prior to the start of the war felt pressured to enlist as any man would, there were others who chose to join the army so that they could follow family members and loved ones into battle. In literature, the idea of women following their men into battle during this time period has been romanticized, and one couple did reportedly enlist together on their honeymoon, however, this was not necessarily true for all women who chose to get more involved in the war effort. In fact, “patriotism and the love of a good man may have driven some women into the armies of the Civil War, but so, too, did their quest for adventure and their hope for a different sort of paying job than was typically available to…show more content…
Edmonds was born in Salisbury, New Brunswick, Canada in December of 1841. A majority of her childhood was spent trying to please her father, who was “prone to violent rages”, and bitterly detested his daughters because they were not the sons he had hoped for. In fact her father, “he had gone about selecting a wife who would be a good breeder in much the same way he chose a female animal for a stud, hoping to raise a large family of sons to help grow potatoes, the most important crop for New Brunswick farmers.” Edmonds put a great deal of time into becoming the son her father had always wanted, she learned how to hunt, fish, and shoot amongst other activities, but none of it was ever enough for her father. In order to escape an arranged marriage, at the age of seventeen, Edmonds disguised herself as a man, Frank Thompson, and left her family behind. She worked as a bible salesman for several years in St John, New Brunswick, and later on continued her work in Hartford, Connecticut. “Five years previous to the time of which I write, I left my rural home, not far from the banks of the St. John’s River, in the Province of New Brunswick, and made my way to the United States.” Edmonds claimed that her reason for leaving the country was primarily “an insatiable thirst for
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