By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield
The late 1890s brought America into the limelight like never before. It was the dawning of a new era when Charles Dana Gibson illustrated the free-spirited
Gibson Girl. Her face was etched in bold black strokes across magazine pages and newspapers, sometimes coupled with the gallant Rough Riders that would soon embark on their own world adventure. They would leave the comforting Stars and Stripes and everything they held dear for the unknown coastal seashores of Cuba.
But upon America’s star-spangled beaches was a war yet to be resolved. Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton dauntlessly pushed on with their Woman’s Suffrage Movement, marching to the tune of equal rights for women as for men.
In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment granted voting rights to men of all races. The chains of slavery dissipated, giving men who were considered property, the privilege to vote.
This was the era of social and political reform directed toward a better society, a new America, and it was in full swing beginning in the 1890s through the 1920s, known as the Progressive Era.
Mother’s Day was established in 1914, but it would be six years later before women were recognized as intelligent, a person of merit—not the legal property or chattel of their husbands.
During the 1700s and 1800s, women were not allowed the privilege of voting, or holding government positions, and they could not own property.
Ironically, women’s lives in most states during America’s early history were circumscribed by common law founded by the English colonists.
During this period, women given in marriage were considered a dependent, and could not own property in her name or control her own earnings. Because they were the property of her husband. A woman’s body, her children, even her clothes belonged to her husband.
Coverture interpreted the legal identity at birth that a female baby was covered by her father’s identity. When she married, the husband and wife became one—and that one was the husband.
This took the Bible completely out of context and plunged the women into the plight of coverture property. Not what the Bible intended as written in the Word of God, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 NKJV)
As also stated in Ephesians 5:25,28,29: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”
As far back as the Old Testament, Judges 4 and 5 attest to the value of women. God appointed Deborah as a judge in Israel to guide His people back to righteousness.
During the 1800s, a married woman could not sue or sign contracts on her own. The considerate husband often sought his wife’s counsel to obtain her consent before he sold any property that his wife inherited.
Realizing that this law was harsh and unfair, beginning in the first half of the nineteenth century, wealthy fathers and husbands started leaving their daughters' estates in a trust. But for the women born in humble circumstances, hunger and want haunted many a widow’s step. She was subject to the law and oftentimes, upon her husband’s death, would lose her house and property oftentimes to unscrupulous relatives and lawyers. She and her children were forced to cross the doorway of the poor house. As was the chilling future of Maggie and her children in my novel Destiny’s Whirlwind.
It was because of the foresight of women like Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who fought diligently to change the plight of the American woman that these laws were changed. And after lengthy struggles and protests came their hard-won victory!
On August 18,1920, Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment and granted women the right to vote. Six years after Mother’s Day was established, women were finally honored and recognized as intelligent, hard-working, and loving mothers who reared presidents and statesmen, doctors and lawyers, throughout the timeless ages.
Though in 1900, the states did pass legislation granting married women the right to keep their own wages and to own property in their own name, the Nineteenth Amendment did not give women the right to own property without a husband.
Nor had women achieved equality with men in the workplace. Coverture has been eroded slightly; however, it still exists. The reason women weren’t regularly allowed on juries until the 1960s, and marital rape wasn’t a crime until the 1980s, was due largely to coverture.
During the twenty-first century, the plight of women has seen definite improvement; however, the movement for women’s rights has fire-balled into an explosion of hostility toward the very meaning that motherhood embodies. This poses the question, would our Lord and Savior approve?
Deborah arose into power full of God’s grace because God needed a brave prophetess who would go into battle unafraid. All because “…Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.” (Judges 4:1 Who will be the woman to lead America and guide His people back to righteousness as Deborah did?
Destiny’s Whirlwind: As Collina fights to keep the family estate, Shushan, the words of Esther 8:6 ring in her thoughts. “How can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people?”
A death-bed promise, a dashing Rough Rider, and the Parable of the Sower take on unimaginable consequences.
The McConnell clan finds themselves in the clutches of life’s tangled web of deception and greed. Rough Rider Franklin Long holds the key to Collina’s heart. Will he return from war in time?
“Destiny’s Whirlwind by Catherine Brakefield is a beautiful inspirational love story that will reel you in and win your heart…The story is beautifully written and filled with triumph and heartbreak. I couldn’t put it down…” LSAn award-winning author, Catherine’s inspirational historical romances include Wilted Dandelions, her Destiny series Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny. Her newest book is Love's Final Sunrise. She has two pictorial history books: The Lapeer Area, and Eastern Lapeer Area. Her short stories have been published by Guideposts Books, CrossRiver Media, Revell Books, and Bethany House Publishers. See catherineulrichbrakefield.com for more information.