Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/399

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385
THE AMERICAN WOMAN.

mains common to the Americans and the English in their relations to women; and the large place given to woman in the United States, and the greater independence she enjoys, flow as much from the change of medium as from the advanced intellectual position which she was able to take at the beginning and has long held.

But as the United States grows and becomes more refined, the difference between the sexes in this respect is diminishing! Yet while man has to a large extent recovered possession of the vantage-ground in mental cultivation occupied by woman, and while his stronger faculties, more robust organization, and more sustained will give him the superiority everywhere else, there is a social domain from which he could not and would not dispossess her—a domain hers by tradition and by concessions which he has made and she has accepted and extended. At this point becomes manifest the contrast between the Anglo-Saxon and the Latin races, the antithesis between the conception of the East and that of the West, the two poles of which are Asia and the United States, while its mean term is found in central and southern Europe. To these two poles correspond, in effect, a maximum and a minimum of human personality. This personality is nowhere so intense as in the United States, and nowhere less so than in the extreme East. England transmitted to the United States, with that basis of personality peculiar to the English race and more accentuated there than anywhere else in Europe, that respect for individuality which made itself manifest at an early period in British laws and institutions.

Cantoned in her family and social domain, the American woman has till this time made only rare and timid incursions into the field of politics. But in the field in which she usually moves, we are struck, on a close examination of the various phases and' details of life in the United States, with the important place she occupies. This is true to a higher degree in modest conditions, in the agricultural districts, in the farms and settlements and in populations of working people, than in the large cities. Not that these, too, do not contain curious types for study, essentially original, and tending in a high degree to reconcile the exigencies of the external features of modern life with lofty aspirations and an active philanthropy.

I Given, as the points of departure for woman's position in the United States, equality with man, intellectual and social predominance, with the charms of her sex refined and developed by natural selection, by unions between young women free to choose and a race of colonists energetic, vigorous, deeply imbued with religious convictions, and respecting the conjugal bond, woman must necessarily appear, at any given moment, as the definite ex-