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: Jennifer L. Morgan
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Release Date: 2011-09-12
When black women were brought from Africa to the New World as slave laborers, their value was determined by their ability to work as well as their potential to bear children, who by law would become the enslaved property of the mother's master. In Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, Jennifer L. Morgan examines for the first time how African women's labor in both senses became intertwined in the English colonies. Beginning with the ideological foundations of racial slavery in early modern Europe, Laboring Women traverses the Atlantic, exploring the social and cultural lives of women in West Africa, slaveowners' expectations for reproductive labor, and women's lives as workers and mothers under colonial slavery. Challenging conventional wisdom, Morgan reveals how expectations regarding gender and reproduction were central to racial ideologies, the organization of slave labor, and the nature of slave community and resistance. Taking into consideration the heritage of Africans prior to enslavement and the cultural logic of values and practices recreated under the duress of slavery, she examines how women's gender identity was defined by their shared experiences as agricultural laborers and mothers, and shows how, given these distinctions, their situation differed considerably from that of enslaved men. Telling her story through the arc of African women's actual lives—from West Africa, to the experience of the Middle Passage, to life on the plantations—she offers a thoughtful look at the ways women's reproductive experience shaped their roles in communities and helped them resist some of the more egregious effects of slave life. Presenting a highly original, theoretically grounded view of reproduction and labor as the twin pillars of female exploitation in slavery, Laboring Women is a distinctive contribution to the literature of slavery and the history of women.
Author: Jen Manion
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Release Date: 2015-10-07
Liberty's Prisoners examines how changing attitudes about work, freedom, property, and family shaped the creation of the penitentiary system in the United States. The first penitentiary was founded in Philadelphia in 1790, a period of great optimism and turmoil in the Revolution's wake. Those who were previously dependents with no legal standing—women, enslaved people, and indentured servants—increasingly claimed their own right to life, liberty, and happiness. A diverse cast of women and men, including immigrants, African Americans, and the Irish and Anglo-American poor, struggled to make a living. Vagrancy laws were used to crack down on those who visibly challenged longstanding social hierarchies while criminal convictions carried severe sentences for even the most trivial property crimes. The penitentiary was designed to reestablish order, both behind its walls and in society at large, but the promise of reformative incarceration failed from its earliest years. Within this system, women served a vital function, and Liberty's Prisoners is the first book to bring to life the experience of African American, immigrant, and poor white women imprisoned in early America. Always a minority of prisoners, women provided domestic labor within the institution and served as model inmates, more likely to submit to the authority of guards, inspectors, and reformers. White men, the primary targets of reformative incarceration, challenged authorities at every turn while African American men were increasingly segregated and denied access to reform. Liberty's Prisoners chronicles how the penitentiary, though initially designed as an alternative to corporal punishment for the most egregious of offenders, quickly became a repository for those who attempted to lay claim to the new nation's promise of liberty.
Author: Richard Rothstein
Publisher: Liveright Publishing
Release Date: 2017-05-02
Genre: Social Science
"Rothstein has presented what I consider to be the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation." —William Julius Wilson In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north. As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post–World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.
Author: Marylynn Salmon
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Release Date: 1998-03-01
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction
The Young Oxford History of Women in the United States (an eleven-volume series) show the variety and importance of American women's experiences in the history of our nation. Written by distinguished American historians, each book is comprehensive, describing women of varying ethnic backgrounds and economic circumstances in the context of a particular time of the country's development. Profusely illustrated throughout.
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: Akhil Reed Amar
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2012-02-29
In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it. We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius. Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president. From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans. We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election. Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.
Author: Linda K. Kerber
Publisher: UNC Press Books
Release Date: 2000-11-09
Women of the Republic views the American Revolution through women's eyes. Previous histories have rarely recognized that the battle for independence was also a woman's war. The "women of the army" toiled in army hospitals, kitchens, and laundries. Civilian women were spies, fund raisers, innkeepers, suppliers of food and clothing. Recruiters, whether patriot or tory, found men more willing to join the army when their wives and daughters could be counted on to keep the farms in operation and to resist enchroachment from squatters. "I have Don as much to Carrey on the warr as maney that Sett Now at the healm of government," wrote one impoverished woman, and she was right. Women of the Republic is the result of a seven-year search for women's diaries, letters, and legal records. Achieving a remarkable comprehensiveness, it describes women's participation in the war, evaluates changes in their education in the late eighteenth century, describes the novels and histories women read and wrote, and analyzes their status in law and society. The rhetoric of the Revolution, full of insistence on rights and freedom in opposition to dictatorial masters, posed questions about the position of women in marriage as well as in the polity, but few of the implications of this rhetoric were recognized. How much liberty and equality for women? How much pursuit of happiness? How much justice? When American political theory failed to define a program for the participation of women in the public arena, women themselves had to develop an ideology of female patriotism. They promoted the notion that women could guarantee the continuing health of the republic by nurturing public-spirited sons and husbands. This limited ideology of "Republican Motherhood" is a measure of the political and social conservatism of the Revolution. The subsequent history of women in America is the story of women's efforts to accomplish for themselves what the Revolution did not.
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.
Part family story and part urban history, a landmark investigation of segregation and urban decay in Chicago -- and cities across the nation The "promised land" for thousands of Southern blacks, postwar Chicago quickly became the most segregated city in the North, the site of the nation's worst ghettos and the target of Martin Luther King Jr.'s first campaign beyond the South. In this powerful book, Beryl Satter identifies the true causes of the city's black slums and the ruin of urban neighborhoods throughout the country: not, as some have argued, black pathology, the culture of poverty, or white flight, but a widespread and institutionalized system of legal and financial exploitation. In Satter's riveting account of a city in crisis, unscrupulous lawyers, slumlords, and speculators are pitched against religious reformers, community organizers, and an impassioned attorney who launched a crusade against the profiteers—the author's father, Mark J. Satter. At the heart of the struggle stand the black migrants who, having left the South with its legacy of sharecropping, suddenly find themselves caught in a new kind of debt peonage. Satter shows the interlocking forces at work in their oppression: the discriminatory practices of the banking industry; the federal policies that created the country's shameful "dual housing market"; the economic anxieties that fueled white violence; and the tempting profits to be made by preying on the city's most vulnerable population. Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America is a monumental work of history, this tale of racism and real estate, politics and finance, will forever change our understanding of the forces that transformed urban America. "Gripping . . . This painstaking portrayal of the human costs of financial racism is the most important book yet written on the black freedom struggle in the urban North."—David Garrow, The Washington Post