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Women In Colonial America Essay

897 words - 4 pages

Women in Colonial America
When women first arrived to the new colonies, many did not have the money to pay in order to get off the boat. This forced them into 4-5 years of servitude. Women would then be free to search for a husband. In Colonial America, the social status of citizens was based on financial standings, ethnicity, and religious beliefs. Social class was a determining factor of opportunities available to women. They had considerably greater rights than their counterparts in England, however women faced the strict rules and discrimination of a predominantly Puritan society.
Education in the colonial era was highly dependent on the financial prosperity of individual families. Most could not afford to send their children to school, however wealthier families could afford to send their daughters to primary school to learn basic skills including the alphabet, reading, writing, and womanly chores such as sewing and knitting. Boys had the opportunity to further their education past the basics; however, young girls often were not granted this privilege. Women possessing higher education were often considered unusual. This was detrimental to their likelihood of finding a suitable husband.
Women primarily undertook the role of being a mother from a considerably young age. Prejudice views prevented many women from holding office let alone playing influential public roles. Most men in the colonial era were farmers or merchants, very few having careers in the medical or law fields. Women seldom held jobs of higher nobility, yet a fraction practiced the trades of their husband or served as midwives. Religion in the colonial era emphasized women balancing the roles of mothering and serving their husband as an idealistic wife. Roles of women included maintaining household order, provide spiritual guidance to their children, and remain subordinate to men. Labor of women in the home was crucial. Women weaved and spun yarn, which were necessities in household production. Society was greatly unappreciative of women’s exhausting efforts of homemaking. In families of lower class women held a full job tending their homes, children, husband, animals, garden, cooking, cleaning, clothing production, and making products to use and sell. Middle class families could afford servants to aid in the complex, time consuming job of maintaining a home and a family in the colonial era.
Young girls were often married by the ages of 13 or 14. It was considered socially humiliating to be unwed by mid 20s. The purpose of marriage was mainly intended for financial benefits. Once married, women bequeathed property, wealth, and rights to inheritance to their husband. Widows were pressured by views of society to quickly wed after the death of their husband. However, widows held considerably more...

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