Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
All Bound Up Together

All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    All Bound Up Together
    Book Description:

    The place of women's rights in African American public culture has been an enduring question, one that has long engaged activists, commentators, and scholars.All Bound Up Togetherexplores the roles black women played in their communities' social movements and the consequences of elevating women into positions of visibility and leadership. Martha Jones reveals how, through the nineteenth century, the "woman question" was at the core of movements against slavery and for civil rights.Unlike white women activists, who often created their own institutions separate from men, black women, Jones explains, often organized within already existing institutions--churches, political organizations, mutual aid societies, and schools. Covering three generations of black women activists, Jones demonstrates that their approach was not unanimous or monolithic but changed over time and took a variety of forms, from a woman's right to control her body to her right to vote. Through a far-ranging look at politics, church, and social life, Jones demonstrates how women have helped shape the course of black public culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0501-2
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    When African American poet and essayist Frances E. W. Harper took the podium during the inaugural meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, she spoke with both trepidation and conviction. Aiming to set forth a creed that might guide the fledgling women’s rights organization, Harper declared: “We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity.” The year was 1866, and the nation was in the midst of what Harper termed a “grand and glorious revolution.” In the wake of the Civil War, all Americans—especially those of African descent—were engaged in a highly charged debate over...

  4. 1 Female Influence Is Powerful Respectability, Responsibility, and Setting the Terms of the Woman Question Debate
    (pp. 23-58)

    Maria Stewart need not have posed the woman question; she was its embodiment. In September 1832, Stewart spoke at Boston’s Franklin Hall on the prejudice to which African Americans were subjected. She shattered long-standing proscriptions against women speaking on politics. Stewart is often cited by historians as one of the first American women to address a “promiscuous” audience comprised of both men and women. It is of no small significance that Stewart was black. Yet what drew her to the podium were as much concerns about womanhood as about blackness. She queried her audience: “Who shall go forward, and take...

  5. 2 Right Is of No Sex Reframing the Debate through the Rights of Women
    (pp. 59-86)

    Of the many resolutions adopted during the September 1848 National Convention of Colored Freedmen, none was more novel than that which called for women’s “equal” participation in the proceedings.¹ During three days of deliberations in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates considered a dizzying array of issues, including the upcoming presidential election, armed opposition to slavery, the defense of fugitives, temperance, patronage of the black press, and the dignity of labor. Late in the final day, Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany petitioned for women to be “speaking and voting as men did.”² When met with defeat in committee, an undeterred Delany brought the...

  6. 3 Not a Woman’s Rights Convention Remaking Public Culture in the Era of Dred Scott v. Sanford
    (pp. 87-118)

    Mary Ann Shadd could not escape the woman question. During the winter of 1855–56, Mary Ann Shadd toured the United States promoting the emigration of African Americans to Canada. Her subject matter was provocative, yet Shadd found herself ridiculed for her womanhood as much as for her political point of view. Her travels brought her to the National Convention of Colored Citizens, where she sought delegate status and intended to make the case for Canadian emigration. Despite the efforts of a most influential ally, Frederick Douglass, the male delegates barred Shadd by a vote of twenty-three to three. When...

  7. 4 Something Very Novel and Strange Civil War, Emancipation, and the Remaking of African American Public Culture
    (pp. 119-150)

    On St. Helena Island, Charlotte Forten’s sense of duty was forever transformed. Forten was among the first African American teachers to venture South and work with black refugees behind Union army lines. When she arrived at St. Helena Island, South Carolina, in 1862, she was twenty-five years old. Forten was reared in the midst of Philadelphia’s reform community. Her grandfather, James Forten, was an adviser and financial supporter of Garrison’sLiberator, a manager of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), and an officer of the American Moral Reform Society (AMRS). Her grandmother Charlotte, her mother, Mary Virginia Woods, and three of...

  8. 5 Make Us a Power Churchwomen’s Politics and the Campaign for Women’s Rights
    (pp. 151-172)

    In 1876, African American women won the right to vote. Through a broad campaign that began before the Civil War, black women secured the right to choose leaders, serve as representatives, and decide on legislation. Their campaign was waged by a multigenerational cadre of women; some gained their political acumen in the antebellum abolitionist movement, and others came of age in the tumult of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Male allies who advocated the extension of public authority to women offered essential support to the campaign. This victory was not entirely revolutionary, however; the advent of female suffrage did not...

  9. 6 Too Much Useless Male Timber The Nadir, the Woman’s Era, and the Question of Women’s Ordination
    (pp. 173-204)

    Heads bowed for the opening benediction at the First National Conference of the Colored Women of America. The voice of Eliza Ann Gardner, the meeting’s chaplain, filled the hall. Seventy-three delegates from African American women’s clubs in twenty-five states and the District of Columbia had come to Boston in 1895. Their purpose was to discuss “vital questions concerning our moral, mental, physical and financial growth and well-being.” After spending three days deliberating an ambitious array of topics, including higher education, industrial training, justice, mental elevation, race literature, political equality, social purity, and temperance, the women resolved to meet again. This...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-208)

    In the summer of 1907, the Reverend J. W. Brown presided over the dedication of the newly constructed Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Rochester, New York.¹ Even prior to the opening ceremonies, Memorial Church was touted as black Rochester’s grandest edifice. Among its outstanding features were four stained-glass windows, illustrating the causes to which Zionites had devoted themselves during the denomination’s 120-year history. One window depicted Harriet Tubman, a member of Zion’s Auburn, New York, congregation, who symbolized overt resistance to the institution of chattel slavery. Tubman famously shepherded enslaved African Americans northward via the Underground Railroad. Another...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 209-270)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 271-300)
  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 301-304)
  14. Index
    (pp. 305-317)