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In Her Place Essay

2966 words - 12 pages

In Her PlaceKimberly HensonHistory 113: Final PaperOctober 21, 2014The nature of this paper is to compare and contrast the role of women in regards to race and class while examining the socioeconomic, demographic, and cultural elements of life during the Colonial/Revolutionary (1607-1776) and the Industrial Revolutionary Ages (1800-1880).The experiences of women varied greatly from colony to colony. Northern colonial women experienced a different life than those in the Southern and Middle Colonies. However, women across all boundaries shared a common bond. They were bound to, yet separated by race, marriage status, and socioeconomic class.Women who married lost any legal identity of their own. "According to English common law, a wife's status was defined as feme covert, which meant that she was covered by (or hidden behind) her husband. The husband controlled his wife's labor, the house in which she lived, the property she brought into the marriage and any wages she earned." Until 1840 many colonies and states passed laws that prohibited a woman from spending money without approval from a male guardian. During the Colonial Period, women were not the only ones who were governed by the head of the household who was typically an adult male in the family, but children and servants also fell under patriarchic rule. [1: Hewitt and Lawson. "Family and Household Dynamics." In Exploring American Histories to 1865, 116. (Ashville, NC 28801: Soomo Learning, 2014.)131]This patriarchic model was set to thwart the possible chaos and disorder that people feared by the continuous growth and diversity of towns and cities although it existed in the pre-urban era as well. The patriarchal family model was defined as "a model in which fathers have absolute authority over wives, children, and servants…" "Families with wealth during the colonial period were extremely eager to control the behavior of their sons and daughters as they sought to build commercial and political alliances." This often led to a marriage of convenience between a man and a woman in order to benefit the families of the two. Marriage was also a lifetime contract as women had very limited legal power. "In the rare instances when a woman did obtain a divorce, they had to bring multiple charges against their husband. Domestic violence, adultery, or abandonment alone was insufficient to gain redress." Women who could prove extreme brutality found difficulty in gaining redress because husbands had the legal right to "correct" their wives and children through physical punishment. This made it difficult to distinguish between abuse and correction.[2: Ibid,131][3: Ibid,132][4: Hewitt and Lawson. "The Limits of Patriarchal Order." In Exploring American Histories to 1865, 116. (Ashville, NC 28801: Soomo Learning, 2014.)139]Although women could find bonds through these similarities, life for women during this era dramatically differed when it came to duties and roles which were determined by wealth,...

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