June 14, 1838 – U.S. Congressman Benjamin Howard Expresses His Regret that Women are Straying from Their Proper Sphere

Benjamin Chew Howard was an American congressman from Baltimore County, Maryland. His father was John Eager Howard, a Revolutionary War officer after whom Howard County, Maryland was named when it officially was formed as a county in 1851.

Benjamin Chew Howard

Benjamin Chew Howard

On this day in history, Representative Howard rose in the House during the debate over the annexation of Texas to express his “regret” that so many women had presented petitions on this matter:

These females could have a sufficient field for the exercise of their influence in the discharge of their duties to their fathers, their husbands, or their children, cheering the domestic circle, and shedding over it the mild radiance of the social virtues, instead of rushing into the fierce struggles of political life.”

By leaving their proper sphere, Howard charged, women were “discreditable, not only to their own particular section of the country, but also to the national character.”

Source: Signatures of Citizenship: Petitioning, Antislavery, & Women’s Political Identity by Susan Zaeske, University of North Carolina Press, 2003)

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