What Was the Concept of Republican Motherhood?

Republican motherhood was the idea that a woman’s role was to support her husband and guide her children from within the home. As women were seen as being morally superior to men, it was thought that they should promote a virtuous lifestyle and influence the voters of the next generation.

The idea of Republican motherhood emerged following the American Revolution. It dictated that women were best placed as homemakers rather than participating in politics or business. Part of their role included ensuring their children were shielded from society’s immoral values, while supporting their husbands’ roles in the workplace. This theory stated that women were pious enough to influence society as homemakers.

While Republican motherhood did not promote the idea of women taking a formal role in politics, those following this concept were not without their influences. Their grassroots efforts played a part in discouraging heavy drinking among men, promoting the abolition of slavery and establishing Maternal Associations.

Such Maternal Associations attempted to direct women’s parenting methods, and stated that they should offer their children moral guidance, while refraining from becoming outwardly frustrated with their efforts. During the Suffragist movement, some used Republican motherhood as an example of how women would make ideal voters by citing their ability to remain moral and influence good decision making.