No one topic touches so many elements of society quite like sex. Talking about sex means we have to consider gender, politics, culture, faith, morality and equality. Looking back we might think sex was a simple subject in the past – but as we see in the documents presented here, there is a lot going on. 

For this assignment, write at 1,000-1,500 word argument agreeing or disagreeing with this statement:

“Sex in Antebellum period was not just something everyone was having – it was something competing groups used to try to change social, political and economic culture in America as well.” 

Include an explanation of each of the four “frameworks” presented and at least five of the primary documents. 

Possible things to consider

  • How did Americans from different walks of life view sex?
  • Was sex something that was openly talked about? How was it used as a form of entertainment?
  • What role did sex play in determining gender roles?

What evidence should you use?

  • The documents presented in Attitudes Toward Sex should be your main source
  • Information presented in class lectures 
  • Any documents we have studied in class or from Reading the American Past
  • Chapters 1-13 in The American Yawp
  • Outside research is NOT allowed for this assignment

Things to include:

  • Brief introduction and conclusion
  • A thesis statement (a one sentence direct answer to the main question)
  • Evidence. Include citations IN THE BODY OF YOUR PAPER for where your evidence comes from. If you do not do this, your paper cannot be graded.
  • Examples:
    • Historian Helen Horowitz argues that there are four different frameworks through which to view antebellum sexuality (Horowitz, 2).
    • In the early American colonies, women worked right alongside men in almost every task (American Yawp, Chapter 3, Section II).
    • Women began making arguments for equality shortly after the Revolution (Reading the American Past, 9-3)
    • The Great Awakening changed many everyday people’s views on the role of religion in society (Wade Merrill, lecture, Week 3 Unit I)


  • Submit electronically through Blackboard in one of the following formats: pdf, doc, docx, txt or rtf. Pages format cannot be read by the system.
  • Include a word count at the end of the document
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