In this first comprehensive study of women's property rights in early America, Marylynn Salmon discusses the effect of formal rules of law on women's lives. By focusing on such areas such as conveyancing, contracts, divorce, separate estates, and widows' provisions, Salmon presents a full picture of women's legal rights from 1750 to 1830. Salmon shows that the law assumes women would remain dependent and subservient after marriage. She documents the legal rights of women prior to the Revolution and traces a gradual but steady extension of the ability of wives to own and control property during the decades following the Revolution. The forces of change in colonial and early national law were various, but Salmon believes ideological considerations were just as important as economic ones. Women did not all fare equally under the law. In this illuminating survey of the jurisdictions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, Salmon shows regional variations in the law that affected women's autonomous control over property. She demonstrates the importance of understanding the effects of formal law on women' s lives in order to analyze the wider social context of women's experience.
Author: Thomas A. Foster
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 2015-03-20
Women in Early America, edited by Thomas A. Foster, tells the fascinating stories of the myriad women who shaped the early modern North American world from the colonial era through the first years of the Republic. This volume goes beyond the familiar stories of Pocahontas or Abigail Adams, recovering the lives and experiences of lesser-known women—both ordinary and elite, enslaved and free, Indigenous and immigrant—who lived and worked in not only British mainland America, but also New Spain, New France, New Netherlands, and the West Indies. In these essays we learn about the conditions that women faced during the Salem witchcraft panic and the Spanish Inquisition in New Mexico; as indentured servants in early Virginia and Maryland; caught up between warring British and Native Americans; as traders in New Netherlands and Detroit; as slave owners in Jamaica; as Loyalist women during the American Revolution; enslaved in the President’s house; and as students and educators inspired by the air of equality in the young nation. Foster showcases the latest research of junior and senior historians, drawing from recent scholarship informed by women’s and gender history—feminist theory, gender theory, new cultural history, social history, and literary criticism. Collectively, these essays address the need for scholarship on women’s lives and experiences. Women in Early America heeds the call of feminist scholars to not merely reproduce male-centered narratives, “add women, and stir,” but to rethink master narratives themselves so that we may better understand how women and men created and developed our historical past. Instructor's Guide
Author: Larry Eldridge
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 1997
It is virtually impossible to generalize about the degree to which women in early America were free. What, if anything, did enslaved black women in the South have in common with powerful female leaders in Iroquois society? Were female tavern keepers in the backcountry of North Carolina any more free than nuns and sisters in New France religious orders? Were the restrictions placed on widows and abandoned wives at all comparable to those experienced by autonomous women or spinsters? Bringing to light the enormous diversity of women's experience, Women and Freedom in Early America centers variously on European-American, African-American, and Native American women from 1400 to 1800. Spanning almost half a millenium, the book ranges the colonial terrain, from New France and the Iroquois Nations down through the mainland British-American colonies. By drawing on a wide array of sources, including church and court records, correspondence, journals, poetry, and newspapers, these essays examine Puritan political writings, white perceptions of Indian women, Quaker spinsterhood, and African and Iroquois mythology, among many other topics.
Author: Joan Hoff
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 1994-04-01
In this widely acclaimed landmark study, Joan Hoff illustrates how women remain second- class citizens under the current legal system and questions whether the continued pursuit of equality based on a one-size-fits-all vision of traditional individual rights is really what will most improve conditions for women in America as they prepare for the twenty-first century. Concluding that equality based on liberal male ideology is no longer an adequate framework for improving women's legal status, Hoff's highly original and incisive volume calls for a demystification of legal doctrine and a reinterpretation of legal texts (including the Constitution) to create a feminist jurisprudence.
Author: Louis P. Masur
Publisher: JHU Press
Release Date: 1999-04-20
In The Challenge of American History, Louis Masur brings together a sampling of recent scholarship to determine the key issues preoccupying historians of American history and to contemplate the discipline's direction for the future. The fifteen summary essays included in this volume allow professional historians, history teachers, and students to grasp in a convenient and accessible form what historians have been writing about.
Author: Carol Berkin
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Release Date: 1997-07-01
Indian, European, and African women of seventeenth and eighteenth-century America were defenders of their native land, pioneers on the frontier, willing immigrants, and courageous slaves. They were also - as traditional scholarship tends to omit - as important as men in shaping American culture and history. This remarkable work is a gripping portrait that gives early-American women their proper place in history.
Author: Loren Schweninger
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
Release Date: 2012-09-10
In the antebellum South, divorce was an explosive issue. As one lawmaker put it, divorce was to be viewed as a form of "madness," and as another asserted, divorce reduced communities to the "lowest ebb of degeneracy." How was it that in this climate, the number of divorces rose steadily during the antebellum era? In Families in Crisis in the Old South, Loren Schweninger uses previously unexplored records to argue that the difficulties these divorcing families faced reveal much about the reality of life in a slave-holding society as well as the myriad difficulties confronted by white southern families who chose not to divorce. Basing his argument on almost 800 divorce cases from the southern United States, Schweninger explores the impact of divorce and separation on white families and on the enslaved and provides insights on issues including domestic violence, interracial adultery, alcoholism, insanity, and property relations. He examines how divorce and separation laws changed, how married women's property rights expanded, how definitions of inhuman treatment of wives evolved, and how these divorces challenged conventional mores.
Author: Edward G. Gray
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2012-12-06
The Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution draws on a wealth of new scholarship to create a vibrant dialogue among varied approaches to the revolution that made the United States. In thirty-three essays written by authorities on the period, the Handbook brings to life the diverse multitudes of colonial North America and their extraordinary struggles before, during, and after the eight-year-long civil war that secured the independence of thirteen rebel colonies from their erstwhile colonial parent. The chapters explore battles and diplomacy, economics and finance, law and culture, politics and society, gender, race, and religion. Its diverse cast of characters includes ordinary farmers and artisans, free and enslaved African Americans, Indians, and British and American statesmen and military leaders. In addition to expanding the Revolution's who, the Handbook broadens its where, portraying an event that far transcended the boundaries of what was to become the United States. It offers readers an American Revolution whose impact ranged far beyond the thirteen colonies. The Handbook's range of interpretive and methodological approaches captures the full scope of current revolutionary-era scholarship. Its authors, British and American scholars spanning several generations, include social, cultural, military, and imperial historians, as well as those who study politics, diplomacy, literature, gender, and sexuality. Together and separately, these essays demonstrate that the American Revolution remains a vibrant and inviting a subject of inquiry. Nothing comparable has been published in decades.
Author: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Release Date: 2000-11-09
Genre: Social Science
Documenting the difficult class relations between women slaveholders and slave women, this study shows how class and race as well as gender shaped women's experiences and determined their identities. Drawing upon massive research in diaries, letters, memoirs, and oral histories, the author argues that the lives of antebellum southern women, enslaved and free, differed fundamentally from those of northern women and that it is not possible to understand antebellum southern women by applying models derived from New England sources.
Author: William E. Nelson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Release Date: 2008-08-05
Drawing on groundbreaking and overwhelmingly extensive research into local court records, The Common Law in Colonial America proposes a "new beginning" in the study of colonial legal history, as it charts the course of the common law in Early America, to reveal how the models of law that emerged differed drastically from that of the English common law. In this first volume, Nelson explores how the law of the Chesapeake colonies--Virginia and Maryland--differed from the New England colonies--Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth, and Rhode Island--and looks at the differences between the colonial legal systems within the two regions, from their initial settlement until approximately 1660.
Author: Sheryllynne Haggerty
Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Release Date: 2012-05-15
In 1780 Richard Sheridan noted that merchants worked 'merely for money'. However, rather than being a criticism, this was recognition of the important commercial role that merchants played in the British empire at this time. Of course, merchants desired and often made profits, but they were strictly bound by commonly-understood socio-cultural norms which formed a private-order institution of a robust business culture. In order to elucidate this business culture, this book examines the themes of risk, trust, reputation, obligation, networks and crises to demonstrate how contemporary merchants perceived and dealt with one another and managed their businesses. Merchants were able to take risks and build trust, but concerns about reputation and fulfilling obligations constrained economic opportunism. By relating these themes to an array of primary sources from ports around the British-Atlantic world, this book provides a more nuanced understanding of business culture during this period. A theme which runs throughout the book is the mercantile community as a whole and its relationship with the state. This was an important element in the British business culture of this period, although this relationship came under stress towards the end of period, forming a crisis in itself. This book argues that the business culture of the British-Atlantic mercantile community not only facilitated the conduct of day-to-day business, but also helped it to cope with short-term crises and long-term changes. This facilitated the success of the British-Atlantic economy even within the context of changing geo-politics and an under-institutionalised environment. Not working 'merely for money' was a successful business model.
Author: Paul D. Escott
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Release Date: 2012-09-01
Although North Carolina was a "home front" state rather than a battlefield state for most of the Civil War, it was heavily involved in the Confederate war effort and experienced many conflicts as a result. North Carolinians were divided over the issue of secession, and changes in race and gender relations brought new controversy. Blacks fought for freedom, women sought greater independence, and their aspirations for change stimulated fierce resistance from more privileged groups. Republicans and Democrats fought over power during Reconstruction and for decades thereafter disagreed over the meaning of the war and Reconstruction. With contributions by well-known historians as well as talented younger scholars, this volume offers new insights into all the key issues of the Civil War era that played out in pronounced ways in the Tar Heel State. In nine essays composed specifically for this volume, contributors address themes such as ambivalent whites, freed blacks, the political establishment, racial hopes and fears, postwar ideology, and North Carolina women. These issues of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras were so powerful that they continue to agitate North Carolinians today. Contributors: David Brown, Manchester University Judkin Browning, Appalachian State University Laura F. Edwards, Duke University Paul D. Escott, Wake Forest University John C. Inscoe, University of Georgia Chandra Manning, Georgetown University Barton A. Myers, University of Georgia Steven E. Nash, University of Georgia Paul Yandle, West Virginia University Karin Zipf, East Carolina University
Author: Merril D. Smith
Publisher: NYU Press
Release Date: 1992-03-01
"In Breaking The Bonds, Merril Smith establishes the ambitious goal of determining 'what kind of problems arose in troubled marriages' and of analyzing 'how men and women coped with marital discord.' . . . To accomplish this, Smith studied hundreds of divorce petitions, other legal documents, newspapers, almshouse dockets, and prescriptive literature. She concludes that, as in the present day, married couples fought and parted over sex, money, and abuse." —Pennsylvania History "A richly textured study. . . With an eye to cross-class and cross-race representation, Smith utilizes diverse sources, including memoirs and diaries, correspondence, probate records, newspaper advertisements, depositions and petitions for divorce, and various moral reform and social regulatory organization records. . . . A brave attempt to write a description of 'the development of the Puritan concept of spirtiual growth.' . . . Gracefully written. . . provides specific new insights into a too-neglected area of early republican domestic politics." —William and Mary Quarterly The late eighteenth century marked a period of changing expectations about marriage: companionship came to coexist as a norm alongside older patriarchal standards, men and women began to see their roles in more disparate ways, expectations about the satisfaction of marriage grew, and gender distinctions between husbands and wives became more complicated. Marital strife was an inevitable outcome of these changing expectations. The difficulties that rose, including abuse, a lack of sexual communication, and domestic violence (frequently brought on by alcholism) differ little from those with which couples struggle today. Breaking The Bonds is an imaginative and original account that brings to light a strongly communicative world in which neighbors knew of, dinscussed, and even came to the aid of those locked in unhappy marriages.