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A Short History of Women's Rights From the Days of Augustus to the Present   By: (1884-)

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A Short History of Women's Rights

From the Days of Augustus to the Present Time. With Special Reference to England and the United States

By Eugene A. Hecker

SECOND EDITION REVISED, WITH ADDITIONS

To

MY MOTHER

PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

In this edition a chapter has been added, bringing down to date the record of the contest for equal suffrage. The summary on pages 175 235 is now largely obsolete; but it has been retained as instructive evidence of the rapid progress made during the last four years.

E.A.H.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. August, 1914 .

PREFACE

While making some researches in the evolution of women's rights, I was impressed by the fact that no one had ever, as far as I could discover, attempted to give a succinct account of the matter for English speaking nations. Indeed, I do not believe that any writer in any country has essayed such a task except Laboulaye; and his Recherches sur la Condition Civile et Politique des Femmes , published in 1843, leaves much to be desired to one who is interested in the subject to day.

I have, therefore, made an effort to fill a lack. This purpose has been strengthened as I have reflected on the great amount of confused information which is absorbed by those who have no time to make investigations for themselves. Accordingly, in order to present an accurate historical review, I have cited my authorities for all statements regarding which any question could be raised. This is particularly so in the chapters which deal with the condition of women under Roman Law, under the early Christian Church, and under Canon Law. In all these instances I have gone directly to primary sources, have investigated them myself, and have admitted no secondhand evidence. In connection with Women's rights in England and in the United States I have either consulted the statutes or studied the commentaries of jurists, like Messrs. Pollock and Maitland, whose authority cannot be doubted. To such I have given the exact references whenever they have been used. In preparing the chapter on the progress of women's lights in the United States I derived great assistance from the very exhaustive History of Woman Suffrage , edited by Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Ida H. Harper, and others to whose unselfish labours we are for ever indebted. From their volumes I have drawn freely; but I have not given each specific reference.

The tabulation of the laws of the several States which I have given naturally cannot be entirely adequate, because the laws are being changed constantly. It is often difficult to procure the latest revised statutes. However, these laws are recent enough to illustrate the evolution of women's rights.

Finally, this volume was written in no hope that all readers would agree with the author, who is zealous in his cause. His purpose will be gained if he induces the reader to reflect for himself on the problem in the light of its historical development.

E.A.H.

CAMBRIDGE, MASS., 1910.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

WOMEN'S RIGHTS UNDER ROMAN LAW, 27 B.C. 527 A.D.

Originally women were always under guardianship But under the Empire the entire equality of the sexes was recognised Women in marriage Their power over their property Divorce Women engaged in all business pursuits Instances of women suing and pleading in law Partiality of the law towards women Rights of inheritance Rights to higher education fully allowed Provision made for poor children to be educated The Vestals Female slaves Remarkable growth of humanitarianism towards slaves under the Empire Sources

CHAPTER II

WOMEN AND THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Christ laid down ethical principles but not minute regulations The Apostles affected by Jewish and Oriental or Greek conceptions of women Examples of these St. Paul and St. Peter on the position of women The Church Fathers elaborated these teachings Examples of their contempt for women Mingled with admiration for particular types of women Their views of marriage Their strictures on unbecoming dress Summary of their views and how the status of women was affected by them Sources

CHAPTER III

RIGHTS OF WOMEN AS MODIFIED BY THE CHRISTIAN EMPERORS

Old Roman Law not abrogated suddenly Divorce Adultery Second marriages Engagements Donations between husband and wife Sundry enactments on marriage Inheritance Guardianship Bills of Attainder of Christian Emperors merciless, in contrast to acts of pagan predecessors Sources

CHAPTER IV

WOMEN AMONG THE GERMANIC PEOPLES

A second world force to modify the status of women Accounts of Caesar and Tacitus on position of women among Germanic peoples The written laws of the barbarians Guardianship Marriage Power of the husband Divorce Adultery The Church indulgent to kings Remarriage Property rights Peculiarities of the criminal law Minutely graded fines Compurgation and ordeals Innocence tested by the woman walking over red hot ploughshares Women in slavery Comparison of position of women under Roman and under Germanic laws Influence of theology Sources

CHAPTER V

DIGRESSION ON THE LATER HISTORY OF ROMAN LAW

Explanation of the various social and political forces which affected the position of women in the Middle Ages

CHAPTER VI

THE CANON LAW AND THE ATTITUDE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Canon law reaffirms the subjection of women Women and marriage Protection to women Divorce Cardinal Gibbons on protection of injured wives by Popes Catholic Church has no divorce But it allows fourteen reasons for declaring marriage null and void and leaving a husband or wife free to remarry Some of these explained Diriment impediments and dispensations Historical instances of the Roman Church's inconsistency Attitude towards women at present day Opinions of Cardinals Gibbon and Moran, and Rev... Continue reading book >>




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