Amelia Jenks Bloomer is considered one of the most influential American advocates of both temperance and women’s rights. Born in 1818, she had only a few years of formal schooling. At 22, she married Dexter Bloomer, the owner of the Seneca County Courier who encouraged her to write for the paper.
In 1848, Seneca Falls held the Women’s Rights Convention and Bloomer attended. The following year, she was inspired to publish her views on social issues and temperance in her publication The Lily.
The Lily was truly the first of its kind. Published bi-weekly, it eventually had a circulation of over 4,000. It was in publication from 1849 to 1853. Many later periodicals were believed to be modeled after The Lily, especially periodicals published by women and periodicals that focused on women’s suffrage issues.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t only Bloomer’s publication that had a huge effect on women at the time. Her style of dress was also hugely influential. Bloomer believed that “pantalettes” were appropriate clothing for women. These were baggy pants that narrowed at the ankles and were meant to be worn under dresses. Bloomer advocated them because they both preserved a woman’s decency, allowing her to participate in more activities without having to worry about indecency. Her support eventually led to the outfit to be known as “The Bloomer Costume” and the pants are now referred to as bloomers, even though Bloomer did not design them. Bloomer eventually abandoned the outfit because she felt it was giving people the opportunity to focus on the outfit rather than the issues she was advocating.
Bloomer used The Lily to advocate the style of dress for quite awhile before she gave it up. She also used the paper to focus on subjects like temperance and women’s rights. Bloomer advocated temperance – a social movement against alcohol that encouraged moderation rather than abstinence like Prohibition. Bloomer used The Lily to write speeches encouraging temperance despite many people’s insistence that a woman should “keep silent” about those sorts of things. Bloomer was quick to point out that it was often women who bore the brunt of a drunken man’s bad behavior.
The Lily allowed Bloomer to express her views in other ways as well. She made a point not only to just speak about issues but she also used her paper to try and educate other women on the issues that affected them. Many people credit The Lily with encouraging other women to have their own views and essays published in papers as well.
In 1854, Bloomer sold The Lily and moved to Iowa with her husband. However, she did not give up her fight for women’s suffrage. Instead, she established churches, helped pass suffrage legislation, and she even founded the Soldier’s Age Society. In 1871, she became the president of the Iowa Women Suffrage Society and helped pass a law that put an end to the distinction between male and female property rights. She petitioned congress to either end her taxation or end the “political disabilities” that did not allow her an active role in the government. Many women followed suit.
To know more about Bloomer, check out these definite websites:
Bloomer passed away on December 30, 1894 in Iowa. Up until her dying day, she continued advocating women’s rights. If not for her, women may not be free to vote, use dating services, or enjoy any of the other rights women like Bloomer fought so hard to win.
page last edited by Sue Jones
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