What were the roles of women in the American Revolution and the restraints they faced, according to Foner's Give Me Liberty!, chapter 6?

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Females participated in the events leading up to the American Revolution as well as in the revolution itself. Their roles were sometimes supportive, but they also participated in combat. Because the war affected all the residents of the former colonies, children as well as adults felt the impact and took active roles.

Eric Foner provides some specific examples, such as a woman named Deborah Sampson who was among the many women who entered combat. As was usual, she dressed in men’s clothes so that her gender would not be detected and impede her participation.

The vast social changes underway were subjects of vigorous debate, both within people’s homes and outside them. Women were active participants, although public spaces were highly gender-segregated, as men also prevented women from becoming members of their clubs or socializing with them in coffeehouses. Committees associated with churches were especially crucial sites for women’s political education.

Issues of legal rights were important to many women, as they were governed by the idea of husbands's legal authority (coverture), but women’s rights were generally not a focus of the “liberty” promoted during this war. Women generally did not have property-ownership rights except in special cases of inheritance or absence of male relatives. The restrictions extended into the independent nation and blocked women from holding office, among other restrictions.

The idea of “republican motherhood” means that women are channeled primarily into traditional, gendered roles and duties. Along with enforcing patriotic ideology in their children, which included supporting teenage boys to join the fighting, these traditional roles extended into the inculcation of patriotic values into the newly born citizens, who were free Americans.

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