Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s and Susan B. Anthony’s Proverbial Rhetoric Promoting Women’s Rights
1. “These are the times that try women’s souls”
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“These are the times that try women’s souls”
The Multifaceted Rhetoric of the Women’s Rights Movement
The American nineteenth century is marked by a series of significant cultural, political, and social upheavals, among them the charged problem of slavery, the devastating Civil War resulting from it, and the demand by women for equal rights. Abolitionists like Theodore Parker (1810–1860) and Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) as well as President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) remain heroic figures to this day for their struggle to rid the nation of the inhumane institution of slavery while at the same time trying to keep the young political union in tact. Their powerful declarations, speeches, essays, and letters are lasting examples of their deep-rooted commitment to basic human decency and compassion, and they most certainly rose to unsurpassed rhetorical heights in their sociopolitical discourse. This communicative prowess was to a considerable degree informed by their effective employment of folk speech in the form of proverbs and proverbial expressions that rendered their important messages not only accessible to the general public but also charged them with emotional expressiveness (Mieder 2000 and 2001). While their proverbial rhetoric has been studied in considerable detail—something that is also true for later male orators as for example Harry S. Truman (1884–1972), Martin Luther King (1929–1968), and Barack Obama (born 1961)—no detailed investigations of the proverbial speech of female reformers and politicians have been...
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