1st Edition

Men in the American Women’s Rights Movement, 1830–1890 Cumbersome Allies

By Hélène Quanquin Copyright 2021
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book studies male activists in American feminism from the 1830s to the late 19th century, using archival work on personal papers as well as public sources to demonstrate their diverse and often contradictory advocacy of women’s rights, as important but also cumbersome allies.

    Focussing mainly on nine men—William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, James Mott, Frederick Douglass, Henry B. Blackwell, Stephen S. Foster, Henry Ward Beecher, Robert Purvis, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the book demonstrates how their interactions influenced debates within and outside the movement, marriages and friendships as well as the evolution of (self-)definitions of masculinity throughout the 19th century. Re-evaluating the historical evolution of feminisms as movements for and by women, as well as the meanings of identity politics before and after the Civil War, this is a crucial text for the history of both American feminisms and American politics and society.

    This is an important scholarly intervention that would be of interest to scholars in the fields of gender history, women’s history, gender studies and modern American history.


    Chapter One: William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips: The "Man Question"

    Chapter Two: Frederick Douglass and James Mott: Women’s Rights Partners

    Chapter Three: Stephen S. Foster and Henry B. Blackwell: Women’s Rights as Men’s Rights

    Chapter Four: Robert Purvis and Henry Ward Beecher: Men v. Women’s Rights

    Chapter Five: Frederick Douglass and Thomas Wentworth Higginson: The "Back Benches" of the Women’s Rights Movement


    Hélène Quanquin is a Professor of American Studies at the University of Lille (France). She studies 19th-century reform movements and activists. She is primarily interested in the mutual influence between the personal and the political and the different sites where political work is done and ideas are produced. She has published essays in European and American journals and books. She has received fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Schlesinger Library, the American Antiquarian Society, the Sophia Smith Collection and the Association Française d’Etudes Américaines.

    "Accessible and involving ... the object of study resonates with our own present. It highlights the many tensions brought by the confluence of personal ideals and collective actions, as well as the problematic relation between "allyship" and oppressed groups. ... The book eventually contributes to an intellectual genealogy of the American feminist movement."

    - Adeline Vasquez-Parra, Canadian Journal of History Volume 56 Issue 2