The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists

320 pages

July, 2017

ISBN: 9781479893256



Add to Cart Available: 6/16/2017

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Lisa Pace Vetter is Associate Professor of Political Science and Affiliate Faculty member of the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the author of “Women’s Work” as Political Art: Weaving and Dialectical Politics in Homer, Aristophanes, and Plato.

All books by Lisa Pace Vetter

Recovering the powerful and influential contributions of women from the nation’s formative years.

The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists traces the significance of Frances Wright, Harriet Martineau, Angelina and Sarah Grimké, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth in shaping American political thinking. These women understood the relationship between sexism, racism, and economic inequality; yet, they are virtually unknown in American political thought because they are considered activists, not theorists. Their efforts to expand the reach of America’s founding ideals laid the groundwork not only for women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery, but for the broader expansion of civil, political, and human rights that would characterize much of the twentieth century and continues to unfold today.  

Drawing on a careful reading of speeches, letters and other archival sources, Lisa Pace Vetter shows the ways in which the early women’s rights movement and abolitionism were central to the development of American political thought. The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists demonstrates that early American political thought is incomplete without attention to these important female thinkers, and that an understanding of early American women’s movements is incomplete without considering its profound impact on political thought. 

A complex and thoughtful guide to the indispensable role of women in shaping the American way of life, The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the history of American political thought.   


  • “Vetter looks beyond formal conventional modes of theorizing to consider women’s activism, as well as their speeches, letters, and the writings of their contemporaries. She includes nontraditional perspectives, such as the religious underpinnings of their activism and philosophies. The influence of these nontraditional perspectives illustrates her point that American political theory emerged from unexpected venues and diverse voices.”

    Hypatia Reviews Online

  • “In this innovative book, Vetter expands the contours of U.S. political theory. The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists compellingly demonstrates how feminist and critical race theory enrich the conceptualization of liberty, equality, citizenship, self-ownership, and democracy.”

    —Mary Hawkesworth, author of Embodied Power: Demystifying Disembodied Politics

  • "The Political Thought of America’s Founding Feminists is both wide-ranging and deep. It tells us about early women's rights advocates, but it does far more than that. Lisa Pace Vetter's book bears not merely on our understanding of particular moments or issues in American political history but on our understanding of American political history itself."

    —Susan McWilliams, author of Traveling Back: Toward a Global Political Theory