The French Revolution and the Birth of American Feminism


On January 24, 1793, when France officially broke ties with England during a bloody revolution that had just seen the beheading of King Louis XVI, cannons rang out in Boston to celebrate the new French Republic’s first victory. Although the American government did not support the revolution, everyday Bostonians celebrated their allies across the Atlantic. Exceptionally, women gathered and rejoiced in the streets that day alongside men.

In an unusual take on history, the web-magazine OZY describes how the brazen women of the French Revolution inspired women in the United States to enter into the political realm. As French women marched against their monarchy, American women marched to celebrate them, wearing tricolor ribbons as a show of solidarity. In some of the earliest demonstrations of women’s equality and pride, early feminists from all classes began wearing white and asking to be called “citess,” the feminine term for “citizen.” On both sides of the Atlantic, women were entering the political sphere, much to the fright of men. Although the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. began in 1890, the roots of its strength and progressive demands may have been planted by a solidarity with the French, a century earlier.

Read more at OZY.

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