After examining the movements of the abolition of slavery and for the advancement of women's rights, who were the leading figures and how were they influenced by the Enlightenment as well as the French and American Revolution?
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There are many people who can be seen as leaders in the movements for women’s rights and for the abolition of slavery. In your textbook (Traditions & Encounters by Bentley and Ziegler), the main leaders mentioned are William Wilberforce, who fought for the abolition of slavery, and Mary Astell, Mary Wollestonecraft, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, all of whom were most prominent in the movement for women’s rights.
The Enlightenment held that all people should have equal rights. Enlightenment thinkers believed that all people have basic rights simply by the fact that they are human. These ideas inspired the American and French Revolutions. They (along with the revolutions) also inspired these leaders. They took very seriously the idea that all people should have equal rights. If all people should have equal rights (and if it was worth fighting revolutions to accomplish this for white men), it surely must be right to fight to give equal rights to women and to people of African descent. These leaders, then, were taking the ideals of the Enlightenment and of the revolutions and were extending them to their logical conclusions. By doing this, they helped to pave the way for the changes that would happen later. These later changes brought us much closer to achieving equal rights for all.
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