Throughout his book Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville identifies the things that have made the United States a unique and, yes, an exceptional nation. But what is the most important thing Americans have done? What has led to the great flourishing of this nation? De Tocqueville concludes it is the superiority of American women.
In our first post we saw that de Tocqueville was strongly impressed by the co-equal partnership between the man and the woman. Their reciprocal and complementary roles forged families which became the backbone of the nation.
Our second post suggested that de Tocqueville was watching the emergence of maternal feminism. This is distinct from today’s feminism in its high value placed on the role of the family.
Third, we wrote about the domestic nobility de Tocqueville observed in American women. He saw the great contribution mothers made on impressionable children, their influence for good.
American lawyer/poet and contemporary of the maternal feminist Lydia Sigourney, William Ross Wallace (1819 –1881) profoundly stated the incredible impact of American women in his poem titled “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World.”
American women nurtured the leaders of a free republic
Sigourney concludes: “[The mother’s] influence is most visible and operative in a republick. The intelligence and virtue of its every citizen have a heightened relative value.”
A mother shapes children into adults. If she is wise and good, she shapes responsible adults. If she is blessed to live in a free republic, she shapes responsible citizens. She cultivates the minds and hearts of her children, and in doing so helps to build the next generation of leaders.
A free society is established by the character and the teaching of the conscientious mother.
As we wrote previously, if the mother is wise and other oriented, she will imprint virtue on her children, thereby blessing the next generation. If she is narcissistic, self-indulgent, foolish, she will imprint these vices on her children. And future generations will suffer the consequences.
Sonya Carson is a twentieth-century woman whose story reflects Lydia Sigourney’s observations. As a single mother, Carson raised two sons in impoverished conditions in Detroit, Michigan. She exemplified the wise and hard working mother. With only a third-grade education, at age 13 she married a 28-year-old man. She birthed and mothered two boys, Curtis and Ben.
After her boys were born, their father left. Sonya’s life motto was, “Learn to do your best and God will do the rest.” She lived her motto, working three jobs to pay the rent and keep food on the table.
She insisted that her boys become readers and apply themselves in school. Her older son, Curtis, became a mechanical engineer living in Georgia. Her younger son, Ben, became a world-renowned pediatric neuro-surgeon, the first doctor to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head.
At this writing, Dr. Carson is a candidate for president of the United States. He credits his mother for creating the conditions for his life to be successful. “I not only saw and felt the difference my mother made in my life, I am still living out that difference as a man.”
A mother like Sonya Carson not only shapes her children, she imparts a vision to them of what it means to live as a free people.
The nations have something to learn from American women
Of course, what Alexis de Tocqueville observed in American women is not exclusive to America. Wherever feminine distinctives are upheld, wherever motherhood is championed, we are seeing the fruit of strong families and the seeds of enduring freedom. Recently a group of women representing maternal feminists defended motherhood at the United Nations. They spoke of the necessity of women being women and not competing to be men.
We openly claim and embrace our feminine nature and biology. These qualities are divine and foundational to humanity. By striving to nurture our innate feminine qualities, we are empowered to bring about positive change in the world. Our biological capacity to give life, and our feminine capacity to nurture and heal, connects generations of families and propels humanity and humanness forward. Civilizations begin and grow because of our special nature, but crumble when misused and abused. Thus, women, mothers, and allies, must fiercely protect womanhood and motherhood.
What has contributed to the United States becoming a nation of unparalleled political freedom and economic prosperity? It is “the superiority of their women.”
(See an earlier post with a companion idea, Husband and Husbandry: Preserving and Protecting)