By Kate Grandfield
From the Author: This paper is the product of the toughest seminar class I took in my time at Goucher. I have always been drawn to the stories in history that have not traditionally been told, so I was fascinated by the role of women in early American politics. These women did far more than sew flags and raise sons; they were an integral part of the battle for control of the new nation’s political symbols and culture. Yet women still did not receive even the right to vote until more than one hundred years later. I wanted to explore both women’s participation in politics and the limits to their political power during the crucial early years of America’s history.
From the Faculty Nominator: Kathleen (Kate) Grandfield’s essay, which was completed for HIS 321, "Atlantic Revolutions," in the fall of 2008, is a model of historical research and analysis. The paper is on one level a sensitive treatment of a hard-to-document group (women) as they ventured forth in public celebrations during the 1790s, and Kate made especially good use of newspapers found on the "America’s Historical Newspapers" database at Goucher College. One of the hidden gems she located was a description of a symbolic marriage between a French and an American widow, a union that purportedly mirrored the connection between the fledgling revolutionary republics.
Kate’s essay is more than a collection of interesting anecdotes, however. She frames the essay by talking about democratization and the way in which non-voting actors nonetheless gained power and asserted a public voice by demonstrating in favor of the French Revolution. Along these lines, Kate’s notion that the meaning of "politics" seemed to expand at this time is particularly intriguing. Kate also did an excellent job of defining her terms, presenting background material, and balancing details with theory. In short, Kate’s paper reflects an intellectual maturity and sophisticated approach that merits a wide readership.
Read: Gender, Celebration and Politics: American Women Celebrating the French Revolution
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