Posted on July 17, 2019 by Diana Roberts
Not only was this nation formed and developed by Founding Patriots and Founding Fathers, but there were also many freethinking academics who continued the public discourse. While women’s rights would not be addressed until the 20th Century, and even then, continue for recognition in the 21Century, the seed was there at the very beginning.
“Are we deficient in reason? We can only reason from what we know.” Said Judith Sargent Murray. “If the opportunity of acquiring knowledge hath been denied us, the inferiority of our sex cannot fairly be deduced from thence,” she wrote in her 1790 essay “On the Equality of the Sexes.”
Growing up alongside her Harvard educated brother in Massachusetts, Murray considered herself equally capable and deeply resented the differences in their education. While her sibling received the well-rounded schooling of a wealthy merchantman, Murray was trained in sewing and household skills. But she taught herself philosophy, literature, geography, and she began penning essays at just nine years old.
Murray’s essays argued that women in the post-Revolutionary era were no less competent or intelligent than men; they were merely hindered by a dearth of opportunities for growth. She contended that if the future of the new republic rested on intelligent citizens, then it required well-educated mothers to raise them.