This week Mr. Quigley gave an intriguing speech on feminism long before feminism, as I know it to be, was created. How can a woman fight for women’s rights for women who don’t even have basic freedoms? This was the struggle of Frances Kemble. I really enjoyed reading her article again after the meeting on Monday night because I felt as though I had more feel from where she was coming and I picked up on more of the sarcasm and her attacking language. I really enjoyed how she described slavery as “unmanly” and how she pointed out the incongruencies surrounding cleanliness and overseers raping slaves. I thought that most women living in that situation, being the headmistress of a southern plantation, were happy with their lives, but clearly there were some that saw through the money and false justifications. Sometimes it takes an outside eye to notice the faults within a system. That’s why I think this journal was best written by an Englishwoman, who has high standards, ideals, and morals and can view the slave industry with an impartial eye. I liked when Ms. Clinton said Kemble was “ill-prepared” for life as an American housewife, implying there is a certain way for women to behave and act and an independent woman would not be able to fill that role.
Something new to me this week was the idea of micro-histories, a term I had heard before but never really understood. Micro-history makes sense to me. History is just recounting events of the past and what better way to do that than through stories. The brief paper on them made clear some worries I had about them. I can think of many stories that don’t fit the feel of an era properly. However, Kemble’s story, as Mr. Quigley noted, could be a micro-history for many different ideas. It was evident that her story spanned many big ideas.
Also, what shocked me was her loyalty to her family. She wrote an extremely revealing and insightful collection of letters that could have made a difference, like she wanted to do, but she held off out of respect for her husband. That’s incredible. She despises this man as a slave owner but tries to make their life together work. Her loyalty is as shocking as her letters when they were finally released many years after they were written. Although she doesn’t fit the bill as an ordinary American housewife, she is still a loyalty mother who wants to keep her family together torn between her morals and her love.