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Political Partisanship By Women

 Political partisanship by women in Virginia had been practiced since the 1840s. However, most of the women who were mainly in political partisanship were the elite. It is important to note that at the time, women were still not eligible to hold office or even vote. However, this did not quench their thirst to participate in politics as they still did so through the expression of political opinions as well as close participation in politics at the party level. It was not however until the early 1840s that women (Whig women) openly expressed sentiments in Virginian newspapers that were considered to be largely partisan.

Black women were also not left out and way before their enfranchisement; they soon came up with ways of putting forward their political opinions. For instance, there were “secret societies” in Richmond organized by African American women. The Raising Daughters of Liberty was one such “secret society.” Such organizations were considered vital as far as the organization of political rallies and mobilization of resources as well as convincing the black populace to register as voters was concerned.

The participation of black women was not only limited to meetings and mobilization of resources only and to underscore their raising political fortunes, they in March 1867 organized demonstration to voice their displeasure at the reelection of Richmond’s mayor into office for another term. Similarly, earlier on in 1800, women had organized an event aimed at petitioning deacons at a prominent black church to allow them to vote as far as church affairs were concerned. The event ended up being so steamy that police had to step in and quell the disagreement before things got ugly.


            It is important to note that reform politics was what mainly informed political partisanship of white as well as black women. This could have been informed by the fact that the Whiggish political culture was of much influence in the 19t century as far as the rearing and rising of reform minded women was concerned. The Whig party was largely appealing women due to its support of issues dear to middle class women reformers including but not limited to public education and moral reform. According to Boyer (2009), they saw public education as the only way to ensure that children were more disciplined. Some of the 19th century most prominent women from the Whig families included Orra Langhorne and Elisabeth Van Lew.


Boyer, P.S. (2009). The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, 6th Edition. Cengage Learning

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