Letters from George E. Post (1887)
These two letters were written by Reverend George E. Post concerning the education of his daughter, Freda, at The Packer Collegiate Institute in 1887.1 In his first letter, written on July 26th, 1887 Reverend Post expresses the concern he has about his daughter being introduced and working with men who were foreign to him. In his second letter written August 8th of the same year, he requested to have his daughter removed from her Latin classes, in order for her to take more math and science courses. Even though the number of white women enrolled in schools was increasing to be the same as that of men, men still wanted to keep the traditional social structure intact.2 Reverend Post shows here that regardless of the courses his daughter wanted to take, he still had complete control over her life. This may seem extremely oppressive compared to modern times, but during the 1820s men had a full range of educational opportunities, while American girls only had what their mother's were capable of teaching them.3 However, this was not enough for the women of America. Many felt that they were being kept in the domestic sphere by men, and that they were being denied their constitutional rights. There were many different reactions to this oppression. Some high ranking officials like future president Abraham Lincoln disagreed with the unfair distribution of rights.4 Many women even rallied together to discuss equal rights. Frederick Douglass, a former slave, spoke out and said that everything that makes men intelligent is equally true for women, and because of this, women should receive the same rights as men.5 Not only were female students like Freda being oppressed, but the entirety of the American female population as well. This was especially true for the non-white and non-upper class female community, who could not attend schools like Packer because of their social status. Although this letter was written at a time when the social structure Americans had come to know was being challenged, men still exercised their authority over women. Reverend Post is just one of the many men who felt uncomfortable with the idea that women were now allowed a chance to become more active members in society.