Encyclopedia of women in American history

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Encyclopedia of women in American history

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Half Title......Page 2
Title......Page 4
Copyright......Page 5
Contents......Page 6
Consultants and Contributors......Page 13
Preface......Page 14
Timeline of Historical Events (Vol. 1)......Page 15
Timeline of Historical Events (Vol. 2)......Page 16
Timeline of Historical Events (Vol. 3)......Page 17
PART 1: ESSAYS......Page 18
Women in Colonial and Early National America......Page 20
Women and the Law in Colonial and Revolutionary America......Page 23
Domestic Life in the Colonial Years......Page 27
Women and Religion......Page 31
Gender Ideology in the Revolutionary Era......Page 36
Social Control......Page 40
Stages in a Woman's Life in the Early Republic......Page 44
Women's Citizenship in the Early Republic......Page 48
PART 2: ARTICLES......Page 54
Adams, Abigail Smith......Page 56
Adams, Louisa Catherine Johnson......Page 57
Aitken, Jane......Page 58
Algonquian Household Economy......Page 59
American Revolution......Page 60
Anti-miscegenation Laws......Page 63
Arnold, Peggy Shippen......Page 64
Arts, Patrons of the......Page 65
Bailey, Lydia R,......Page 66
Baptists......Page 67
Benevolent Associations, Women's......Page 68
Bethune, Joanna Graham......Page 69
The Bible and the Subordination of Women......Page 70
Bingham, Anne Willing......Page 71
Bradford, Cornelia Smith......Page 72
Brant, Molly......Page 73
Brewer, Lucy......Page 74
Brown, Phoebe Hinsdale......Page 75
Captivity Narratives......Page 76
Catholics......Page 77
Childbearing Years......Page 79
Childbirth......Page 81
Child Custody......Page 82
Childhood......Page 83
Christianity......Page 84
Church Membership......Page 85
Civic Life......Page 86
Colonial Household Economy......Page 88
Common Law......Page 89
Constitution, United States......Page 90
Corbin, Margaret Cochran......Page 91
Courts......Page 92
Coverture......Page 93
Crimes Against Women......Page 94
Custis, Eleanor Calvert......Page 95
Darragh, Lydia Barrington......Page 96
Declaration of Independence......Page 97
Denominationalism......Page 98
Diaries and Journals......Page 99
Diseases......Page 100
Divorce Laws......Page 101
Domestic Arts......Page 102
Domestic Life......Page 104
Dow, Peggy......Page 106
Duchesne, Rose Philippine......Page 107
Eldridge, Elleanore......Page 108
Entertainment......Page 109
Entrepreneurs......Page 110
Estaugh, Elizabeth Haddon......Page 111
Factories......Page 112
Family Life, Colonial......Page 113
Family Life, Native American......Page 114
Family Life, Republican......Page 115
Fashion......Page 116
Ferguson, Elizabeth Graeme......Page 117
Foster, Hannah Webster......Page 118
Franklin, Deborah Read......Page 119
French and Indian War......Page 120
Friendship......Page 121
Frontier Life......Page 122
Galloway, Grace Growdon......Page 123
Games......Page 124
Gender and Racial Differences......Page 125
Gender Frontiers......Page 126
Gentility......Page 127
Gossip......Page 128
Graham, Isabella Marshall......Page 129
Great Awakenings......Page 130
Greenleaf, Anna......Page 131
Gynecology......Page 132
Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler......Page 133
Health......Page 134
Hemings, Sally......Page 135
Hume, Sophia Wigington......Page 137
Hutchinson, Anne Marbury......Page 138
Immigration and Naturalization......Page 139
Indentured Servitude......Page 140
Jackson, Rachel Donelson Robards......Page 141
Jemison, Mary......Page 142
Jews and Judaism......Page 143
Jones, Rebecca......Page 144
Judson, Ann Hasseltine......Page 145
Kaahumanu......Page 146
Knight, Sarah Kemble......Page 147
Law, Elizabeth Custis......Page 148
Lesbians......Page 149
Literacy......Page 150
Literature, 18th Century......Page 151
Litigation......Page 152
Logan, Martha Daniell......Page 153
Madison, Dolley Payne Todd......Page 154
Magic and Astrology......Page 156
Marriage, Companionate......Page 157
Marriage Laws......Page 158
Mathews, Ann Teresa......Page 159
Medicine......Page 160
Methodists......Page 161
Midwifery......Page 163
Missionaries......Page 164
Montour, Madame......Page 165
Morton, Sarah Wentworth Apthorp......Page 166
Murray, Judith Sargent Stevens......Page 167
Native Americans......Page 168
Newell, Harriet Atwood......Page 169
Novels and Romantic Love......Page 170
Nurse, Rebecca......Page 171
Old Age and Mortality......Page 172
Painting and Sculpting......Page 173
Patriarchy......Page 174
Pelham, Mary Singleton Copley......Page 175
Philanthropy......Page 176
Philipse, Margaret Hardenbrook......Page 177
Pinckney, Eliza......Page 178
Poetry......Page 179
Preaching......Page 181
Pregnancy......Page 182
Printing and Publishing......Page 183
Property Rights......Page 184
Pueblo Household Economy......Page 185
Puritans......Page 186
Quakers......Page 187
Randolph, Mary......Page 189
Religious Sects......Page 190
Republicanism......Page 191
Republican Motherhood......Page 192
Rowson, Susanna Haswell......Page 193
Rural Life......Page 194
Sacagawea......Page 195
Schools......Page 197
Schuyler, Catherine van Rensselaer......Page 198
Science......Page 199
Servants, Domestic......Page 200
Sexuality, Regulation of......Page 201
Shakers......Page 202
Shippen, Anne (Nancy)......Page 203
Slavery......Page 204
Slocum, Frances......Page 205
Spanish Household Economy......Page 206
Starbuck, Mary Coffyn......Page 207
Tekakwitha, Catherine......Page 208
Thompson, Sarah, Countess of Rumford......Page 209
Tituba......Page 210
Tyler, Mary Hunt Palmer......Page 211
Van Buren, Hannah Hoes......Page 212
Voluntary Associations......Page 213
Voters, Women......Page 214
Watteville, Henrietta Benigna Justine Zinzendorf von......Page 215
Widowhood......Page 216
Wilkinson, Eliza Yonge......Page 217
Winthrop, Elizabeth Fones......Page 218
Witch Trials, Salem......Page 219
Women, Status of......Page 220
Wood, Sally Sayward Barrell Keating......Page 222
Wright, Patience Lovell......Page 223
Wright, Susanna......Page 224
Zane, Elizabeth "Betty"......Page 225
PART 3: DOCUMENTS......Page 226
Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London (1619-1624)......Page 227
An Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (1637)......Page 230
Selected Poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1650)......Page 235
The Poems of Phillis Wheatley (1773)......Page 241
Selected Letters of the Adams Family (1775-1776)......Page 245
The Gleaner (1798)......Page 248
History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805)......Page 252
PART 1: ESSAYS......Page 256
Women and Nineteenth-Century America......Page 257
Domesticity and Ideology of Separate Spheres......Page 262
Family, Marriage, and Sexuality......Page 265
Public Life: Citizenship and Women's Rights......Page 269
Women and Reform......Page 272
Women and Religion......Page 276
Women and Western Expansion, 1820-1900......Page 280
Race and Slavery......Page 285
Women, Work, and Industrialization......Page 288
Immigration and Urbanization......Page 291
PART 2: ARTICLES......Page 294
Abolition......Page 295
Abortion......Page 297
Adams, Marian Hooper......Page 298
Addams, Jane......Page 299
Advice Books......Page 300
African-American Women......Page 301
Ah Tsun......Page 302
American Anti-Slavery Society......Page 303
American Woman Suffrage Association......Page 304
Anthony, Susan B.......Page 305
Anti-miscegenation Laws......Page 306
Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary......Page 307
Baptists......Page 308
Barnett, Ida B. Wells......Page 309
Barton, Clara......Page 310
Beecher, Catharine Esther......Page 311
Benevolent Societies......Page 312
Blackwell, Elizabeth......Page 313
Blake, Lillie Devereux......Page 314
Boyd, Belle......Page 315
Bradwell, Myra Colby......Page 316
Bryn Mawr College......Page 317
California Gold Rush......Page 318
Carlisle School......Page 319
Catholics......Page 320
Centennial Exhibition of 1876......Page 321
Chicago Women's Club......Page 322
Child Custody......Page 323
Childhood, Children......Page 324
Chinese Immigrants......Page 325
Civil War......Page 326
Colleges......Page 329
Collins, Jennie......Page 331
Contraception......Page 332
Courtship......Page 333
Croly, Jane Cunningham......Page 334
Davis, Paulina Kellogg Wright......Page 335
Denominationalism......Page 336
Dickinson, Anna Elizabeth......Page 338
Dickinson, Emily......Page 339
Dix, Dorothea Lynde......Page 340
Domestic Arts......Page 341
Douglass, Sarah Mapps......Page 342
Eddy, Mary Baker......Page 343
Education......Page 344
Elaw, Zilpha......Page 345
Emancipation Proclamation......Page 346
Entertainment......Page 347
Entrepreneurs......Page 348
Etiquette Books......Page 349
Factories and Factory Workers......Page 350
Family, Nuclear and Extended......Page 351
Fashion......Page 352
Fillmore, Abigail Powers......Page 353
Foster, Abigail Kelley......Page 354
Freedmen's Schools......Page 355
Frémont, Jessie Ann Benton......Page 356
Fuller, Margaret......Page 357
Gage, Matilda Joslyn......Page 358
General Federation of Women's Clubs......Page 359
German Immigrants......Page 360
Godey's Lady's Book......Page 361
Greenhow, Rose O'Neal......Page 362
Grimké, Sarah Moore......Page 363
Gynecology......Page 365
Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins......Page 366
Hayes, Lucy Ware Webb......Page 367
Hispanic Family Life......Page 368
Housework......Page 369
Hull House......Page 370
Indian Removal......Page 371
Indian Rights Movement......Page 372
Industrial Revolution......Page 373
Insanity......Page 375
Irish Immigrants......Page 376
Jackson, Helen Maria Fiske Hunt......Page 377
Jacobs, Frances Wisebart......Page 378
Jewett, Helen......Page 379
Johnson, Eliza McCardle......Page 380
Jones, Mary Harris "Mother"......Page 381
Journalism......Page 382
Kemble, Frances Anne......Page 383
Labor Reform Association, Female......Page 384
Lawyers......Page 385
Lease, Mary Elizabeth Clyens......Page 387
Lee, Jarena......Page 388
Letters......Page 389
Lincoln, Mary Ann Todd......Page 390
Livermore, Harriet......Page 391
Lockwood, Belva Ann Bennett McNall......Page 392
Lowell, Josephine Shaw......Page 393
Lowell Mill Workers......Page 394
Lynching......Page 395
Lyon, Mary......Page 396
McKinley, Ida Saxton......Page 397
Magazines and Periodicals......Page 398
Marriage......Page 399
Marriage Laws......Page 400
Medicine......Page 401
Methodists......Page 402
Midwifery......Page 403
Mining Camps......Page 404
Missionaries......Page 405
Mormons......Page 406
Motherhood......Page 407
National Association of Colored Women......Page 408
National Woman Suffrage Association......Page 409
Native American Family Life......Page 410
New England Female Medical College for Women......Page 412
New York Female Moral Reform Society......Page 413
Novels......Page 414
Nursing......Page 415
Old Age and Mortality......Page 416
O'Neale, Margaret L.......Page 417
Outwork......Page 418
Page Act......Page 419
Passionlessness......Page 420
Patterson, Mary Jane......Page 421
Philanthropy......Page 422
Pierce, Jane Means Appleton......Page 423
Populism......Page 424
Preaching......Page 425
Prostitution......Page 427
Quakers......Page 428
Rape......Page 429
Reconstruction......Page 430
Richards, Ellen Swallow......Page 431
Rogers, Mary......Page 432
Rural, Farm, and Ranch Life......Page 433
Sanitary Commission......Page 434
Say, Lucy Sistare......Page 435
Science......Page 436
Second Great Awakening......Page 437
Settlement House Movement......Page 438
Sexuality, Regulation of......Page 440
Shoe Industry......Page 441
Slavery......Page 442
Solomon, Hannah Greenebaum......Page 443
Spelman Seminary......Page 444
Spiritualism......Page 445
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady......Page 446
Stone, Lucy......Page 448
Stowe, Harriet Elizabeth Beecher......Page 449
Strikes......Page 450
Suffrage......Page 451
Teaching......Page 453
Temperance......Page 454
Tenements......Page 456
Terrell, Mary Church......Page 457
Thomas, Martha Carey......Page 458
Tillson, Christiana Holmes......Page 459
Truth, Sojourner......Page 460
Tubman, Harriet Ross......Page 461
Tyler, Letitia Christian......Page 462
Underground Railroad......Page 463
Voluntary Associations......Page 464
Wage Earners......Page 465
Weld, Angelina Grimké......Page 467
Wellesley College......Page 468
Widowhood......Page 469
Willard, Frances Elizabeth Caroline......Page 470
Women's Christian Temperance Union......Page 471
Women's Club Movement......Page 472
Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary......Page 473
Women's Rights Movement......Page 474
Woodhull, Victoria......Page 475
Working Class......Page 476
World's Columbian Exposition of 1893......Page 477
Wright, Frances......Page 478
Writers......Page 479
Wu Tien Fu......Page 480
Young Women's Christian Association......Page 481
PART 3: DOCUMENTS......Page 482
Nancy Ward to the Cherokee Council (1817)......Page 483
An Address to the United Tailoresses Society (1831)......Page 484
Letters on the Equality of Women and the Condition of the Sexes (1837)......Page 486
The Lowell Offering (1840s)......Page 490
A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841)......Page 493
Declaration of Sentiments (1848)......Page 496
Maria Perkins to Her Husband (1852)......Page 498
Susan B. Anthony Announcing Her Having Voted (1872)......Page 499
"Solitude of Self" (1892)......Page 500
Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892-1895)......Page 504
Sadie Frowne: A Sweatshop Girl (1902)......Page 508
PART 1: ESSAYS......Page 514
Industry, Modernity, and Diversity: A Historical Overview of the Twentieth Century......Page 515
Women in Public Life......Page 519
Women and the Labor Force......Page 522
Women and the Consumer Society......Page 526
A Woman's Body......Page 529
Violence Against Women......Page 532
The Civil Rights Movement......Page 534
The Changing American Family......Page 537
Women and the Media......Page 540
Feminism......Page 542
PART 2: ARTICLES......Page 546
Abbott, Grace......Page 547
Abzug, Bella Savitsky......Page 548
Actors......Page 549
Adkins v. Children's Hospital......Page 551
Adolescence......Page 552
African Americans......Page 553
Aid to Dependent Children......Page 554
American Association of University Women......Page 555
American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations......Page 556
Anderson, Mary......Page 557
Anorexia Nervosa......Page 558
Arden, Elizabeth......Page 559
Artists......Page 560
Asian Americans......Page 561
Athletics......Page 562
Aviation and Space......Page 564
Baez, Joan......Page 565
Baker, Josephine......Page 566
Beard, Mary......Page 567
Benedict, Ruth Fulton......Page 568
Bethune, Mary McLeod......Page 569
Bonnin, Gertrude Simmons (Zitkala-Sha)......Page 570
Brooks, Gwendolyn......Page 571
Brownmiller, Susan......Page 572
Bush, Laura Lane Welch......Page 573
Business and Industry......Page 574
Cable Act......Page 575
California Federal Savings and Loan v. Guerra......Page 576
Cannon, Annie Jump......Page 577
Carson, Rachel......Page 578
Cather, Willa......Page 579
Child Care......Page 580
Child Custody......Page 582
Child Labor......Page 583
Children's Bureau......Page 584
Cisneros, Sandra......Page 585
Congress, Women in......Page 586
Coolidge, Grace Goodhue......Page 587
Dance......Page 588
Day, Dorothy......Page 590
Del Rio, Dolores......Page 591
Division of Labor, Sexual......Page 592
Divorce Laws......Page 593
Domestic Service......Page 594
Dyk, Ruth Belcher......Page 595
Earhart, Amelia......Page 596
Education......Page 597
Eisenstadt v. Baird......Page 598
Entertainment......Page 599
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission......Page 601
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 and 1972......Page 602
Equal Rights Amendment......Page 603
Family and Medical Leave Act......Page 604
Fashion......Page 605
Fiorina, Cara Carleton S.......Page 607
Florence Crittendon Homes......Page 608
Franklin, Aretha......Page 609
Frontiero v. Richardson......Page 610
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader......Page 611
Glass Ceiling......Page 612
Grable, Betty......Page 613
Graham, Martha......Page 614
Great Depression......Page 615
Griswold v. Connecticut......Page 616
Hamer, Fannie Lou......Page 617
Harding, Florence Kling......Page 618
Health......Page 619
Height, Dorothy Irene......Page 621
Hepburn, Katharine Houghton......Page 622
Holiday, Billie......Page 623
Home Economics......Page 624
Homemaker......Page 625
Horne, Lena......Page 626
Huerta, Dolores Fernandez......Page 627
Hyde Amendment......Page 628
Infant and Child Health......Page 629
Jazz......Page 631
Jewish Americans......Page 632
Johnson, Sonia......Page 633
Jordan, Barbara......Page 634
Journalism......Page 635
Keller, Helen......Page 636
King, Coretta Scott......Page 637
Kirkpatrick, Jeane Jordan......Page 638
League of Women Voters......Page 639
Literature......Page 640
Lopez, Jessie de la Cruz......Page 642
Loving v. Virginia......Page 643
McDaniel, Hattie......Page 644
Magazines, Women's and Girls......Page 645
Marriage......Page 646
Maternalism......Page 647
Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson......Page 648
Military Service......Page 649
Miss America Pageant......Page 652
Mitchell, Margaret......Page 653
Morgan v. Virginia......Page 654
Mothers, Unmarried......Page 655
Movies......Page 656
Ms. Magazine......Page 657
Murray, Pauli......Page 658
Music......Page 659
National Abortion Rights Action League......Page 660
National Congress of Mothers......Page 661
National Council of Negro Women......Page 662
National Organization for Women......Page 663
National Women's Conference......Page 664
Native Americans......Page 665
Nevelson, Louise......Page 666
New Woman, The......Page 667
Nineteenth Amendment......Page 668
Norton, Eleanor Holmes......Page 669
Nursing......Page 670
O'Connor, Sandra Day......Page 671
Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy......Page 672
Pacificism......Page 673
Parks, Rosa McCauley......Page 675
Perkins, Frances......Page 676
Photographers......Page 677
Plath, Sylvia......Page 679
Pornography......Page 680
Poverty......Page 681
President's Commission on the Status of Women......Page 682
Protective Labor Legislation......Page 683
Quilts......Page 684
Reagan, Nancy Davis......Page 685
Religion......Page 686
Reproductive Rights......Page 688
Roe v. Wade......Page 689
Roosevelt, Eleanor......Page 690
Rubyfruit Jungle......Page 691
Sage, Margaret Slocum......Page 692
Sanger, Margaret......Page 693
Schlafly, Phyllis Stewart......Page 694
Science and Technology......Page 695
Sexual Revolution......Page 696
Silko, Leslie Marmon......Page 697
Smith, Bessie......Page 698
Social Work......Page 699
Stein, Gertrude......Page 700
Streisand, Barbara......Page 701
Suffrage Movement......Page 702
Taft, Helen Herron......Page 703
Tarbell, Ida Minerva......Page 704
Taussig, Helen Brooke......Page 705
Television and Radio......Page 706
Title VII......Page 707
Tomlin, Lily......Page 708
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire......Page 709
UAW v. Johnson Controls......Page 710
Unions, Labor......Page 711
Urbanization and Immigration......Page 712
Vietnam War......Page 714
Walker, Alice......Page 715
Weeks v. Southern Bell......Page 716
Welfare......Page 717
Wharton, Edith Jones......Page 718
Williams, Claudine......Page 719
Winfrey, Oprah......Page 720
Women Accepted for Emergency Volunteer Service (WAVES)......Page 722
Women's Baseball League......Page 723
Women's Independent Forum......Page 724
Women's Liberation Movement......Page 725
Women's Sports Foundation......Page 726
World War I......Page 727
World War II......Page 728
Youth Culture......Page 731
Zaharias, Mildred "Babe" Didrickson......Page 732
PART 3: DOCUMENTS......Page 734
Muller v. Oregon (1908)......Page 735
A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil (1912)......Page 737
The Woman Rebel (1914)......Page 739
Mothers' Letters to the U.S. Children's Bureau (1916, 1920)......Page 741
'My Day" (1939-1962)......Page 743
The Feminine Mystique (1963)......Page 747
The Equal Rights Amendment (1923, 1972)......Page 750
Our Bodies, Ourselves (1970)......Page 751
Testimony of Anita Hill before Senate Judiciary Committee (1991)......Page 755
Violence Against Women Act (1994)......Page 758
Selected Bibliography (Vol. 1)......Page 760
Selected Bibliography (Vol. 2)......Page 762
Selected Bibliography (Vol. 3)......Page 764
General Index......Page 766

Citation preview





WOMEN IN AMERICAN HISTORY VOLUME I Colonization, Revolution, and the New Nation, 1585-1820

General Editor


VOLUME II Civil War, Western Expansion, and Industrialization, 1820-1900

General Editor


VOLUME III Suffrage, World War, and Modern Times, 1900-Present

General Editor


A dvisers















First published 2002 by M.E. Sharpe

Published 2015 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor &and& Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © 2002 Taylor & Francis. All rights reserved No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notices No responsibility is assumed by the publisher for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use of operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein. Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility. Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. SET ISBN: 0-7656-8038-6 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Encyclopedia of women in American history. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. Contents: v. 1. Colonization, revolution, and the new nation, 1585–1820 / general editor, Joyce Appleby — v. 2. Civil War, western expansion, and industrialization, 1820–1900 / general editor, Eileen K. Cheng — v. 3. Sufferage, world war, and modern times, 1900–present / general editor, Joanne Goodwin. ISBN: 0-7656-803 8-6 1. Women—United States—History—Encyclopedias. I. Appleby, Joyce Oldham. II. Cheng, Eileen K. III. Goodwin, Joanne L. HQ1410 .E53 2001 305.4’0973’03—dc21


ISBN 13: 9780765680389 (hbk)

SET CONTENTS xii Consultants and Contributors Preface xm Timeline ofHistorical Events (Vol. I) x1v Timeline of Historical Events (Vol. 2) xv Timeline of Historical Events (Vol. 3) xv1 VOLUME I

PART 1: ESSAYS Women in Colonial and Early National America Women and the Law in Colonial and Revolutionary America Domestic Life in the Colonial Years Women and Religion Gender Ideology in the Revolutionary Era Social Control Stages in a Woman's Life in the Early Republic Women's Citizenship in the Early Republic

PART 2: ARTICLES Abortion Adams, Abigail Smith Adams, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adolescence Aitken, Jane Alexander, Mary Spratt Provoost Algonquian Household Economy Alston, Theodosia Burr American Revolution Anglicans Anti-miscegenation Laws Apprenticeships Arno ld, Peggy Shippen Arts, Patrons of the Bache, Sarah Franklin Bailey, Abigail Abbot Bailey, Lydia R. Ballard, Martha Baptists Barnard, Hannah Jenkins Benevolent Associations, Women's Berkeley, Lady Frances Culpeper Bethune, Joanna Graham The Bible and the Subordination of Women Bill of Rights Bingham, Anne Willing Bleecker, Ann Eliza Bradford, Cornelia Smith

3 6 10

14 19 23 27 31

Bradstreet, Anne Dudley Brant, Molly Brent, Margaret Brewer, Lucy Brooks, Maria Gowen Brown, Phoebe Hinsdale

Eldridge, Elleanore Emerson, Mary Moody Entertainment Entrepreneurs Equality of Female Intellect Estaugh, Elizabeth Haddon

Bundling Captivity Narratives

Factories Family Life, Colonial

Catholics Charters, Colonial Cherokee Household Economy Childbearing Years Childbirth Child Custody Childhood Choctaw Household Economy Christianity Church Membership Civic Life Cockacoeske Colleges Colonial Household Economy Common Law Congregationalists Constitution, United States Cooke, Harriet B. Coolidge, Ellen Randolph Corbin , Margaret Cochran Corey, Martha Courts Courtship Coverture Crimes Against Women Crocker, Hannah Mather Custis, Eleanor Calvert Dame Schools Darragh, Lydia Barrington Death and Funerals Declaration of Independence Denominationalism Diaries and Journals

Family Life, Free Black Family Life, Native American Family Life, Republican Farrar, Elizabeth Ware Rotch Fashion Feme Sole Trader Acts Ferguson, Elizabeth Graeme Fisher, Mary Fornication Foster, Hannah Webster Franklin, Ann Smith Franklin, Deborah Read Free Black Communities French and Indian War French Household Economy Friendship Frontier Life Gage, Margaret Kemble Galloway, Grace Growdon Games Gender and English Identity in the Seventeenth Century Gender and Racial Differences Gender Frontiers Gentility German Household Economy Goddard, Sarah Updike Gossip Gould, Hannah Flagg Graham, Isabella Marshall Great Awakenings Green, Anne Hoof Greene, Catharine Littlefield

Diseases Divorce Laws

Greenleaf, Anna Gynecology

Domestic Arts Domestic Life Dow, Peggy Dower Rights Drinker, Elizabeth Sandwich

Hall, Thomas/Thomasine Hallam, Mrs. Lewis Hamilton, Elizabeth Schuyler Harrison, Anna Symmes Hart, Nancy

Duchesne, Rose Phillippine


Dutch Household Economy Edwards, Sarah Pierpont

Heck, Barbara Ruckle Hemings, Sally




Hibbins, Ann Hume, Sophia Wigington Hutchinson, Anne Marbury Illegitimacy Immigration and Naturalization Indentured Servitude Infancy Iroquois Household Economy Jackson, Rach el Donelson Robards Jay, Sarah Livingston Jeffe rso n, Martha Wayles Skelton Jemison, Mary Jews and Judaism Jones, Rebecca Judson, Ann H asse ltine Judson , Sarah Hall Boardman Kaahumanu King Philip 's War Knight, Sarah Kemble Lalor, Alice (Mother Teresa) Law, Elizabeth Custis Lee, Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lesbians Lewis, Eleanor Parke Custis Literacy Literatu re, 17th Century Literature, 18th Century Litigation Logan , Deborah Norris Logan , Martha Daniell McCrea, J ane Madison , Dolley Payne Todd Magic and Astrology Marriage Ceremonies Marriage, Companionate Marriage Laws Marriages, Slave Mathews, An n Teresa Mayflower Compact Mecom,J ane Franklin Medicine Merry, Ann Brunton Methodists Midwifery Missionaries Monroe, Elizabeth Kortright Montour, Madame Moody, Lady Deborah Dunch Morris, Elizabeth Carrington Morton, Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Murray, Judith Sargent Stevens Native Americans N ewe II, Harriet Atwood Novels and Romantic Love Nurse, Rebecca Old Age and Mortality Painting and Sculpting Parrish , Anne Patriarchy

Pawnee Household Economy Pelham , Mary Singleton Copley Penn, Hannah Callowhill Perkins, Elizabeth Peck Philanthropy Philipse, Margaret H arde nbrook Pierce, Sarah Pinckney, Eliza Pinney, Eunice Griswold Poetry Poor Laws Preaching Pregnancy Prince, Lucy Terry Printing and Publishing Prior, Margaret Barrett Allen Property Rights Prophesying Prostitution Pueblo Household Economy Puritans Quakers Ramsay, Martha Laurens Randolph , Martha J efferson Randolph, Mary Randolph, Nancy Religious Sects Republicanism Republican Motherhood Rind, Clementina Rowson, Susanna H aswe ll Royall, Anne Newport Rural Life Sacagawea Sanders, Elizabeth Elkins Schools Schuyler, Catherine van Rensselae r Science Seminole Household Economy Servants, Domestic Sexton, Lydia Cadas Cox Sexuality, Regulation of Shakers Shawnee Household Economy Shippen, Anne (Nancy) Slander Slave Family Structure Slavery Slocum, Frances Smith, Margaret Bayard Spanish Household Economy Sports Starbuck, Mary Coffyn Stoneman, Abigail Suffrage, Woman Tekakwitha, Catherine Tenney, Tabitha Gilman

Textbook Writing Thompson, Sarah , Countess of Rumford Timothy, Ann Donovan Timothy, Elizabeth Ann Tituba Trade and Retailing Tureli,Jane Colman Tyler, Mary Hunt Palmer Urban Life Van Buren , Hannah Hoes Van Rensselaer, Maria Van Cortlandt Vickery, Sukey Virginia Company Brides Voluntary Associations Voters, Women Wage Earners Washington, Mary Ball Watteville, Henrietta Benigna Justine Zinzendorf von Weetamoo Wells, Rachel Lovell Widowhood Wilkinson, Eliza Yonge Wilkinson, J emima Wilson, Sarah Winthrop, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop, Margare t Tyndal Witch Trials, Salem Wome n, Status of Wood, Sally Sayward Barrell Keating Wright, Lucy Wright, Patience Lovell Wright, Susanna Zane, Elizabeth "Betty"

PART 3: DOCUMENTS Proceedings of the Virginia Company ofLondon (1619-1624) 210 An Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (1637) 213 Selected Poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1650) 218 The Poems of Phillis Wheatley 224 (1773) Selected Letters of the Adams Family(1775-1776) 228 The Gleaner (1798) 231 History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution ( 1805) 235

VOLUME II PART 1: ESSAYS Women and Nineteenth-Century America


SET CONTENTS Domesticity and Ideology of Separate Spheres Family, Marriage, and Sexuality Public Life: Citizenship and Women's Rights Women and Reform Women and Religion Women and Western Expansion , 1820-1900 Race and Slavery Women, Work, and Industrialization Immigration and Urbanization

245 248 252 255 259 263 268 271 274

PART 2: ARTICLES Abolition Abortion Adams, Marian Hooper Addams, Jane Adultery Advice Books African-American Women African Methodist Episcopal Church Ah Tsun Alcott, Louisa May American Anti-Slavery Society American Equal Rights Association American Woman Suffrage Association Anthony, Susan B. Anti-miscegenation Laws Antislavery Petitions Arthur, Ellen Lewis Herndon Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary Bagley, Sarah G. Baptists Barnett, Ida B. Wells Barry, Leonora Marie Barton, Clara Beecher, Catharine Esther Benevolent Societies Blackwell, Elizabeth Blake, Lillie Devereux Bloomer, Amelia Jenks Bly, Nellie Boyd, Belle Bradley, Lydia Moss Bradwell, Myra Colby Brown, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, Olympia Bryn Mawr College Cabrini, St. Frances Xavier California Gold Rush Carlisle School Cassatt, Mary Catholics Catt, Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Centennial Exhibition of 1876

Chapman, Maria Weston Chesnut, Mary Boykin Miller Chicago Women's Club Child, Lydia Maria Francis Childbirth and Pregnancy Child Custody Childhood, Children Chinese Exclusion Act Chinese Immigrants Chopin, Kate O'Flaherty Civil War Clerical Work Cleveland, Frances Folsom Colleges Collins, Jennie Colored Women's League Comstock Law Contraception Cooper, Anna Julia Haywood Courtship Crandall, Prudence Croly,Jane Cunningham Dall, Caroline Healey Daughters of St. Crispin Davis, Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, Rebecca Harding Dawes Act Denominationalism Diaries and Journals Dickinson, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, Emily Diseases Divorce Dix, Dorothea Lynde Domestic Arts Domestic Servants Douglass, Sarah Mapps Dress Reform Eddy, Mary Baker Edmonds, S. Emma Education Elaw, Zilpha Ellet, Elizabeth Fries Lummis Emancipation Proclamation Entertainment Entrepreneurs Equal Rights Party Etiquette Books Factories and Factory Workers Family, Nuclear and Extended Family Wage System Fashion Fern, Fanny Fillmore, Abigail Powers Foote, Mary Hallock Foster, Abigail Kelley Freedmen's Aid Societies Freedmen's Schools


Freeman, Mary Wilkins Fremont, Jessie Ann Benton Friendships, Female Fuller, Margaret Gage, Frances Dana Barker Gage, Matilda Joslyn Garfield, Lucretia Rudolph Gayle, Sarah Ann Haynesworth General Federation of Women's Clubs German Immigrants Gibson Girl Gilman, Charlotte Perkins Godey 's Lady 's Book Grant, Julia Dent Gratz, Rebecca Greenhow, Rose O'Neal Grimke, Sarah Moore Gynecology Hale, Sarah Josepha Buell Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins Harrison, Anna Symmes Harrison , Caroline Lavinia Scott Hayes, Lucy Ware Webb Health Hispanic Family Life Home Protection Ballot Homestead Act Housework Howe, Julia Ward Hull House Illinois Women's Alliance Indian Removal Indian Rights Movement Industrial Christian Home Industrial Revolution Infancy Insanity Irish Immigrants Jackson, Helen Maria Fiske Hunt Jackson, Rebecca Cox Jacobi, Mary Corinna Putnam Jacobs, Frances Wisehart Jacobs, Harriet Ann Jewett, Helen Jewett, Sarah Orne Jewish Americans Johnson, Eliza McCardle Jones, Mary Harris "Mother" Journalism Kearney, Belle Keckley, Elizabeth Hobbs Kemble, Frances Anne Knights of Labor Labor Reform Association, Female Laney, Lucy Craft Larcom, Lucy Lawyers Lazarus, Emma



Lease, Mary Elizabeth Clyens Lee, Eliza Buckminster Lee,Jarena Lesbians Letters Liliuokalani Lincoln, Mary Ann Todd Lind, J enny Livermore, Harriet Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice Lockwood, Belva Ann Bennett McNall Love, Romantic Lowell, Josephine Shaw Lowell Mill Workers Lynching Lynn Shoe Workers Lyon , Mary McCord, Lousia Cheves McKinley, Ida Saxton Magazines and Periodicals Marriage Marriage Laws Medical College of Pennsylvania, Female Medicine Methodists Middle Class Midwifery Miner, Myrtilla Mining Camps Minor v. Happersett


iVIissouri v. Celia

Mitchell, Maria Mormons Motherhood Mott, Lucretia Coffin Mount Holyoke Seminary National Association of Colored Women National Council of Jewish Women National Woman Suffrage Association Native American Family Life Neurasthenia New England Fe male Medical College for Women New Era Club New York Children 's Aid Society New York Female Moral Reform Society Newman , Angie Novels Nursing O akley, Annie Oberlin College Old Age and Mortality

O 'Neale, Margaret L. Oregon Trail O 'Sullivan, Mary Kenney Outwork Page Act Painting and Sculpture Parker, Cynthia Ann Passionlessness Paternalism Patterson, Mary J ane Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart Philanthropy Piecework Pierce, Jane Means Appleton Plessy v. Ferguson

Polk, Sarah Childress Populism Post, Amy Kirby Preaching Presbyterian Mission Home Prostitution Protective Labor Laws Purvis, H arriet Forten Quakers Radcliffe College Rape Recon struction Rescue Homes Richards, Ellen Swallow Richards, Linda Rogers, Mary Rose, Ernestine Louise Potowski Ruffin, Josephine St. Pierre Rural, Farm, and Ran ch Life Sanitary Commission Say, Lucy Sistare Schuyler, Louisa Lee Science Second Great Awakening Sedgwick, Catharine Seneca Falls Convention Settlement House Movement Seventh Day Adventism Sexuality, Regulation of Sharecropping Shoe Industry Sigourney, Lydia Huntley Slavery Smith, Sophia Smith College Solomon, H an nah Greenebaum Sorosis Southern Lady Spelman Seminary Spies, Civil War Spiritualism Stanton, Elizabeth Cady

Starr, Ellen Gates Stewart, Maria Miller Stone, Lucy Stowe, Harriet Elizabeth Beech er Strikes Suffrage Taylor, Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, Susie King Teaching Temperance Tenements Terrell, Mary Church Textile Industry Thomas, Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, Martha Carey Tibbles, Susette La Flesche Tillson, Christiana Holmes Towle , Nancy Troy Female Seminary Truth, Sojourner Tubman, H arriet Ross Tuskegee Institute Tyler, Letitia Christian Underground Railroad Vassar College Voice of Industry

Voluntary Associations Wage Earners Ward, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Warner, Susan Weld, Angelina Grimke Wellesley College Western Frontier, Family Life Widowhood Willard, Emma H art Willard, Frances Elizabeth Caroline Williams, Frances Barrier Women's Central Association of Relief Women's Christian Temperance Un ion Women's Club Movement Women's Medical College of the New York Infirmary Women's National Loyal League Women's Rights Movement Woodhull, Victoria Woodhull and Claflin 's Weekly

Working Class Working Girls' Clubs Working Wome n 's Protective Union World's Columbian Exposition ofl893 Wright, Frances Writers Wu Tien Fu Young Women 's Christian Association


PART 3: DOCUMENTS Nancy Ward to the Cherokee Council (1817) An Address to the United Tailoresses Society (1831) Letters on the Equality of Women and the Condition of the Sexes (1837) The Lowell Offering ( 1840s) A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1841) Declaration of Sentiments (1848) Maria Perkins to Her Husband (1852) Susan B. Anthony Announcing Her Having Voted (1872) "Solitude of Self' ( 1892) Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892-1895) Sadie Frowne: A Sweatshop Girl (1902)

466 467

469 4 73 476 479 481 482 483 487 491

VOLUME III PART 1: ESSAYS Industry, Modernity, and Diversity: A Historical Overview of the Twentieth Century Women in Public Life Women and the Labor Force Women and the Consumer Society A Woman's Body Violence Against Women The Civil Rights Movement The Changing American Family Women and the Media Feminism PART 2: ARTICLES Abbott, Edith Abbott, Grace Abortion Abzug, Bella Savitsky Actors Adams, Eva B. Adkins v. Children's Hospital Adolescence African Americans Aid to Dependent Children Albright, Madeleine American Association of University Women American Civil Liberties Union

498 502 505 509 512 515 517 520 523 525

American Federation of Labor /Congress of Industrial Organizations American Federation of Teachers Anderson, Laurie Anderson, Mary Angelou, Maya Anorexia Nervosa Anti-miscegenation Laws Arden, Elizabeth Artists Ash, Mary Kay Asian Americans Athletics Avery, Byllye Aviation and Space Baez,Joan Baker, Ella Baker, Josephine Barbie Beard, Mary Benedict, Ruth Fulton Berry, Mary Francis Bethune, Mary McLeod Black, Cathleen Bonnin, Gertrude Simmons (Zitkala-Sha) Brice, Fannie Brooks, Gwendolyn Brown , Helen Gurley Brown , Rita Mae Brownmiller, Susan Bush, Barbara Pierce Bush, Laura Lane Welch Business and Industry Cable Act Cadet Nurses Corps Calderone, Mary Steichen Caldicott, Helen Broinowski California Federal Savings and Loan v. Guerra Callas, Maria Camp Fire Girls Cannon, Annie Jump Carpenter, Candice Carson, Rachel Carter, Rosalynn Smith Cather, Willa Chavez-Thompson, Linda Chicana Child Care Child Custody Child Labor Child Support Children 's Bureau Cisneros, Sandra

Clinton, Hillary Rodham Congress, Women in Consent Laws, Age of Coolidge, Grace Goodhue Cooney,Joan Ganz Dance Daughters of Bilitis Davis, Angela Day, Doris Day, Dorothy Deloria, Ella Cara Del Rio, Dolores De Varona, Donna E. Dewson, Mary Williams (Molly) Division of Labor, Sexual Divorce Laws Dole, Elizabeth Hanford Domestic Service Drew, Nancy Duncan, Isadora Duniway, Abigail Scott Dyk, Ruth Belcher Eagle Forum Earhart, Amelia Education Eisenhower, Mary (Mamie) Geneva Doud Eisenstadt v. Baird EMILY's List Endo, Mitsuye Entertainment Entrepreneurs The Equal Credit Opportunity Act Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Equal Pay Acts of 1963 and 1972 Equal Rights Amendment Fair Labor Standards Act Family and Medical Leave Act Fashion Feinstein , Dianne Goldman Feminism, Radical Ferraro, Geraldine Fiorina, Cara Carleton S. Fitzgerald, Ella Florence Crittendon Homes Ford, Elizabeth (Betty) Bloomer Franklin, Aretha Friedan, Betty Goldstein Frontiero v. Richardson Garland, Judy Gibson, Althea Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Girl Scouts of America Glass Ceiling Goldman, Emma




Governments, State and Local Grable, Betty Graham, Katharine Meyer Graham, Martha Great Depression Griffiths, Martha Wright Griswold v. Connecticut Haley, Margaret Hamer, Fannie Lou Hamilton, Alice Harding, Florence Kling Harlem Renaissance Harvey Girls Health Hearst, Phoebe Apperson Height, Dorothy Irene Hellman , Lillian Hepburn, Katharine Houghton Hispanic Americans Holiday, Billie Hollander, Nicole Home Economics Homemaker Hoover, Lou Henry Horne, Lena Hoyt v. Florida Huerta, Dolores Fernandez Hurston, Zora Neale Hyde Amendment Immigration and Naturalization Infant and Child Health Jazz Jefferson , Mildred Jewish Americans Johnson, Claudia (Lady Bird) Alta Taylor Johnson, Sonia Joplin , Janis Jordan, Barbara Journalism Keller, Helen Kelley, Florence King, Billie Jean King, Coretta Scott Kingston, Maxine Hong Kirkpatrick, Jeane Jordan Kuhn, Margaret League of Women Voters Lesbians Literature Lopez, Jessie de Ia Cruz Lorde, Audre Loving v. Virginia Lynd, Helen Merrell McClintock, Barbara McDaniel, Hattie Magazines, Women's and Girls' MANA, A National Latina Organization Marriage Martin, Anne

Martin, Lynn Morley Maternalism Maternity and Infancy Protection Act Menopause Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson Midwifery Military Service Millett, Katherine Murray Miss America Pageant Mitcheli,Joni Mitchell, Margaret Monroe, Marilyn Moreno, Luisa Morgan v. Virginia Moseley-Braun, Carol Mothers' Pensions Mothers, Unmarried Movies Ms. Magazine Muller v. Oregon Murray, Pauli Music National Abortion Rights Action League National Association of Colored Women National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage National Committee to Stop ERA National Congress of Mothers National Consumers League National Council for Research on Women National Council of American Indians National Council of Negro Women National Education Association National Federation of Business and Professional Women 's Clubs National Organization for Women National Right to Life Committee National Woman's Party National Women's Conference National Women 's Political Caucus Native Americans Nevelson, Louise New Deal New Woman, The Nineteenth Amendment Ninety-nines Nixon , Patricia Ryan Norton, Eleanor Holmes Novello, Antonia Nursing O 'Connor, Sandra Day Old Age and Mortality Onassis,Jacqueline Kennedy O 'Reilly, Leonora Our Bodies, Ourselves Pacific ism Parker, Dorothy

Parks, Rosa McCauley Parsons, Elsie Clews Perkins, Frances Peterson, Esther Eggertsen Photographers Planned Parenthood Plath, Sylvia Pornography Poverty Pregnancy President's Commission on the Status of Women Prostitution Protective Labor Legislation Quilts Rainey, Ma Rape Reagan , Nancy Davis Reedv. Reed Religion Reproductive Rights Rich, Adrienne Ride, Sally Rockefeller, Abby Aldrich Roev. Wade Roosevelt, Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, Eleanor Rubyfruit jungle Rukeyser, Muriel Sabin , Florence Rena Sage, Margaret Slocum Sager, Ruth Salt of the Earth Sanger, Margaret Schlafly, Phyllis Stewart Schroeder, Patricia Scott Science and Technology Sexual Harassment Sexual Revolution Shalala, Donna Siebert, Muriel Silko, Leslie Marmon Smeal, Eleanor Cutri Smith-Lever Act Smith, Bessie Smith, Margaret Chase Social Security Act Social Work Stein, Gertrude Steinem, Gloria Streisand, Barbara Suburbanization Suffrage Movement Taft, Helen Herron Tan, Amy Tarbell, Ida Minerva Taussig, Helen Brooke Taylor v. Louisiana Television and Radio Tenayuca, Emma

SET CONTENTS Title VII Title IX Tomlin , Lily Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Truman, Elizabeth Virginia Wallace UAW v. johnson Controls Unions, Labor Urbanization and Immigration Vanderbilt, Gloria Van Kleeck, Mary Vietnam War Walker, Alice Walters, Barbara War Brides Act Weeks v. Southern Bell Welfare West, Mae Wharton, Edith Jones Wilder, Laura Ingalls Williams, Claudine Wilson, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, Ellen Louise Axson Winfrey, Oprah Womanist

Woman 's Peace Party Women Accepted for Emerge ncy Volunteer Service (WAVES) Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) Women 's Armed Services Integration Act Women's Army Corps Women's Baseball League Women's Bureau Women's Equity Action League Women's Independent Forum Women'sJoint Congressional Committee Women's Liberation Movement Women 's National Basketball Association Women 's Sports Foundation Women 's Studies World War I World War II Yalow, Rosalyn Sussman Young Women 's Christian Association Youth Culture Zaharias, Mildred "Babe" Didrickson



Muller v. Oregon (1908) 641 A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil (1912) 720 722 The Woman Rebel (1914) Mothers' Letters to the U.S. Children's Bureau (1916, 1920) 724 "My Day" (1939-1962) 726 The Feminine Mystique (1963) 730 The Equal Rights Amendment (1923, 1972) 733 Our Bodies, Ourselves (1970) 734 Testimony of Anita Hill before Senate Judiciary Committee (1991) 738 Violence Against Women Act (1994) 741

Selected Bibliography (Vol. 1) Selected Bibliography (Vol. 2) Selected Bibliography (Vol. 3) General Index

743 745 747 749


ADVISERS Miriam J. Cohen

Joyce Appleby (Volume 1) University of California, Los Angeles

Vassar College

Eileen Ka-May Cheng (Volume 2) Sarah Lawrence College

Lyde Sizer Sarah Lawrence College

Joanne L. Goodwin (Volume 3) University of Nevada, Las Vegas

CONTRIBUTORS Dee E. Andrews Department of History California State University Joyce Appleby Department of History University of California, Los Angeles Ruth Bloch Department of Women's Studies and History University of California, Los Angeles Holly Brewer Department of History North Carolina State University Eileen Ka-May Cheng Department of History Sarah Lawrence College Elsie Crowell Department of Insurance State Government of Florida Rebecca Dresser Independent Scholar Sara Dwyer-McNulty Department of History Marist College Elizabeth Faue Department of History Wayne State University Nancy Fernandez Program oflnterdisciplinary General Education California State Polytechnic University Bonnie Ford Department of Women's Studies Sacramento City College Edith Gelles Institute for Research on Women and Gender Stanford University Joanne L. Goodwin Department of History University of Nevada, Las Vegas Laura Goodwin Department of College Resources Sarah Lawrence College


Christine Grant Department of Athletics University oflowa Beth Haller Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies Towson University RonaL. Holub Department of History Barnard College Anna R. Igra Department of History Carleton College Thomas Ingersoll Department of History Ohio State University Gwen Kay Department of History State University of New York at Oswego Jane Lancaster John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization Brown University Peg Lamphier Department of Social Sciences Chaffey College Virginia Leonard-Ewing Department of History Illinois University Karen Meyers Department of Continuing Education University of Toledo David Peterson Del Mar Department of History Portland State University and Oregon State University Ann Plane Department of History University of California, Santa Barbara Laura Prieto Department of History Simmons College

Jessie B. Ramey Department of Women 's History Sarah Lawrence College Mary Reynolds Department of Women 's History Sarah Lawrence College Ruth Rubinstein History of Art Department Institute of Fashion Technology Elizabeth Diane Schafer Independent Scholar Mary Schweitzer Department of History Villanova University Holly C. Shulman Program of Studies in Women and Gender University of Virginia Camille Pepe Sperrazza Department of Journalism Manhattan Community College Amy Gilman Srebnick Department of History Montclair State University Carole Srole Department of History California State University Brenda Stevenson Department of History University of California, Los Angeles Sarah Swedberg Department of Social and Behavioral Science Mesa State College Sherrie Tucker Assistant Professor of American Studies University of Kansas at Lawrence Doris Weatherford Department of Women 's Studies University of South Florida Rosemarie Zagarri Department of History and Art History George Mason University



he topic of women, so long neglected by historians and other scholars, is now the focus of rich research and lively debate. In its entries, essays, and special features, this new three-volume reference-Encyclopedia of Women in American History-brings together the fruits of the past 40 years of scholarship. In successive probes into the past, what has been fascinating about American women is the breadth of accomplishment and variety of experiences from the earliest decades of European settlement to Native American contact to Mrican enslavement to the present. These volumes also provide insight into the ways that encounters among people of various ethnicities and with very particular histories have defined the distinctive, often tragic, history of the United States. It is a history in which women have always played a central part.

The Encyclopedia of Women in American History offers its readers not only an extensive list of entries about particular women but also topical entries that help readers situate women's lives and accomplishments within the larger structures of society. There are also signed essays and longer articles by distinguished scholars, all of which serve to analyze and interpret the developments that have carried women from traditional societies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the complex modern world of the twenty-first century. I would like to thank my fellow editorsEileen Cheng and Joanne Goodwin-as well as the managing and copy editors, designers, and photo researchers at Book Builders, particularly Elizabeth Parry; Phyllis Goldstein, project editor; and Lauren Fedorko, president. Joyce Appleby GENERAL EDITOR



Time line of Women and American History 1820-1900 (Vol. 1)



An expedition commanded by Capt. John Smith establishes the first permanent English settlement in North America, at Jamestown, Virginia. In 1619, English women arrive in Jamestown and the first Africans are brought to the colony.


Puritan Separatists aboard the Mayflower arrive at Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts, and establish a colony in New England. The 102 passengers include 30 women and girls.


Anne Hutchinson is found guilty of Puritan heresy by a Massachusetts general court and banished from the colony.


Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet publishes The Tenth Muse Sprung Up in America, the first book of verse written in North America.

1673-83 1676


English settlers dispatched by Sir Walter Raleigh establish a colony on Roanoke Island, Virginia. Starving, they return to England a year later. In1587, a second group of colonists settles at Roanoke. By 1591, the colony has disappeared. Meanwhile, the French have established outposts to the north and the Spanish have settled the West Indies and Southwest.



The Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals, sweeps the colonies.


French and Indian War


The American Revolution


The Declaration of Independence is adopted. Abigail Adams appeals to her husband, John Adams, and the other members of the Continental Congress to "remember the ladies" and consider granting rights to women in the laws of the new nation.


The U.S. Constitution is drafted. Voting rights, established by the laws of individual states, are limited to white males.


The religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening begins. The first textile mill in the colonies is established in Pawtucket, Rhode Island; many of the workers are women and children.


The Louisiana Purchase. From 1804 to 1806, Lewis and Clark explore the territory, crossing the Rockies and reaching the Pacific Coast.

France expands its holdings in the Mississippi Valley. Connecticut colonist Mary Rowlandson and her children are captured by Narragansett Indians during King Philip's War. Her 1682 account of the experience, The Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, is to become a classic of colonial literature.

Witchcraft trials are held in Salem, Massachusetts, resulting in the execution of 19 "witches," most of them women.


The War of 1812. When British troops burn Washington, D.C., first lady Dolley Madison rescues a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington and vital documents before fleeing the president's house.


Time line of Women and American History 1820-1900 (Vol. 2)

1821 Emma Willard opens the Troy (NY) Female Seminary, the first American institution to provide higher education for women.

1833 Oberlin College, the nation's first institution of

1869 The transcontinental railroad is completed.

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton establish the National Woman Suffrage Association.

higher learning to accept both men and women, opens in Ohio.

1870 The Wyoming Territory grants suffrage to

The American Anti-Slavery Society is founded.

1872 Susan B. Anthony is arrested in Rochester, New

1834 Women mill workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, stage a strike to protest wage cuts. The strike proves unsuccessful.

1836 Texas declares independence from Mexico.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke begin to lecture against slavery.

1845 The United States annexes Texas. 1846-48 The Mexican War is fought. 1848 The Women's Rights Convention, the first

public meeting to promote women's rights in America, is held at Seneca Falls, New York. Leaders issue the "Declaration of Sentiments."

1849 California gold rush. Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery and begins to transport fugitive slaves north via the Underground Railroad.

1850 At the peak of the California gold rush, the

great migration west is still predominantly male. The population of California is only 8 percent female.

1852 Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin, her best-selling and highly influential novel depicting the injustices of slavery.

1861-65 The Civil War is fought. Some 3,000

women serve as nurses for the Union and the Confederacy. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) abolishes slavery; 1.9 million enslaved women are freed.


York, for attempting to vote in the presidential election.

1874 The Women's Christian Temperance Union is founded in Cleveland, Ohio.

1877 At the close of Reconstruction, an estimated one-half of African-American women have wage-earning jobs.

1881 Clara Barton founds the American Red Cross, becoming its first president.

1889 Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr open Hull House, one of the nation's earliest and most famous settlement houses, in Chicago.

1890 At Wounded Knee, South Dakota, U.S. soldiers

kill more than 200 Indian men, women, and children; it is the last major encounter between Indians and white men on the Northern Plains.

1892 Newspaperwoman Ida B. Wells Barnett begins

her antilynching campaign in Memphis, Tennessee; she is forced to flee when her offices are burned.

1893 At the World's Columbian Exposition in

Chicago, a special pavilion is dedicated to the artistic and cultural achievements of women in America.

1895 Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes the controversial Women's Bible.

1898 The Spanish-American War is fought. The

United States annexes Hawaii and the Philippines. Charlotte Perkins Gilman publishes Women and Economics.



Time line of Women and American History 1900-Present (Vol. 3) 1903

Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight of a self-propelled airplane.


In a landmark case, Muller v. Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that states are constitutionally permitted to limit the work day of women laundry workers to ten hours.


Julia Lathrop is appointed director of the Children's Bureau, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. federal agency.


The Panama Canal is opened, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

1916 Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) becomes the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. 1917-18

The National Organization for Women is founded.


After four years of escalation, U.S. military forces in Vietnam total 500,000; during the course of the war (1964-75), some 1,200 women serve as nurses. At home, massive peace demonstrations begin to turn public opinion against the war. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated.


The Apollo 11 space mission successfully lands two men on the moon.


In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court rules, with qualification, that state laws prohibiting abortion are unconstitutional.


Under threat of impeachment for his involvement in the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon resigns from office.

U.S. fights in World War I.



The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is ratified.

Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first woman justice of the Supreme Court.


The proposed Equal Rights Amendment fails to win ratification.


The U.S. Congress establishes a national quota system, which remains in effect until 1965, to limit immigration.


Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first woman m space.


Democrat Geraldine Ferraro is the first woman nominated by a major political party for vice president of the United States.







The Great Depression. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt launches the relief and recovery program known as the New Deal. Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins becomes the first woman to serve in a cabinet position. U.S. fights in World War II. The Women's Army Corps (WAC) is made a regular component of the U.S. Army in 1943; the major contribution by women, however, is made on the homefront. The United States fights the Korean War. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy attacks alleged communist subversives in the federal government and remains a powerful figure until his allegations are discredited in 1954. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated. The civil rights movement reaches a climax with antisegregation demonstrations in the South and the historic March on Washingtonculminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


The Cold War comes to an end, as Soviet-bloc countries throughout Europe install democratic governments and the Soviet Union is dissolved.


First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton heads a national task force on national healthcare reform. Carol Moseley-Braun becomes the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.


President Bill Clinton is acquitted on two charges of impeachment stemming from his affair with a young White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.


George W. Bush is declared the winner of one of the closest and most controversial presidential elections in U.S. history.


In the aftermath of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, the United States declares war on world terrorism.

PA R T 1 Essays

Page Intentionally Left Blank

Women in Colonial and Early National America


n 1607, the English succeeded in establishing a colony in North America, naming it Virginia after their virgin queen, Elizabeth. Soon 12 more settlements stretched up and down the Atlantic coast joining Spanish colonies in Florida and Mexico and French ones in Louisiana and Canada. European colonization in North America brought profound changes in the lives of three groups of women: the settlers, the Native American women, and the women stolen from Africa and brought to the colonies as slaves. With the formation of the United States after a successful revolution fought under the banner of equality and liberty, descendants of all three of these groups became a part of the new American nation. In the pages that follow, you will find information about many events, places, and developments in the years between 1585 and 1820. You will also find fascinating stories about individual women, some pacesetters, others distinguished by their creative talents, still others known to us because they got caught up in historic events. The European men and women who came to North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not expect, or want, things to be different in these new homes precariously perched on the western edge of the Atlantic world. They yearned to recreate the familiar. They brought with them decided ideas about proper personal behavior and social mores, but they could not anticipate what starting a European outpost in this new world (as it was to them) would be like, much less replicate their old ways in it.

THE SCARCITY OF WOMEN Initially there were many fewer women than men. The Puritan leaders of the New England colonies insisted that men bring their wives and children with them, but throughout the colonial period a majority of communities, especially in

the South, had too few women. Because marriage was a sign of maturity and an ideal for men as well as women, women benefited from the shortage; they enjoyed a higher status in North America than in Europe. They also proved more hardy, surviving in these wilderness communities better than men. Widows remarried rapidly. The most dramatic break with Europe came from the introduction of SLAVERY in the English colonies, principally the southern ones. Here, too, many more men than women came as slaves from Africa to North America. Transportation across the Atlantic for enslaved women was a horrible experience. Forced into the hold of merchant slave vessels, chained to their narrow berths, roiled by storms and weakened by disease and hunger, African women arrived in North America ill prepared for the rigors of their new lives as enslaved laborers. Only their incredible resilience enabled them to achieve a modicum of family life within the slave system that developed in the English colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

THE STATUS OF WOMEN In the early years of Virginia as in the French and Spanish colonies, many men took Native American wives, but the English disliked this practice. While intimate relations continued between a few Africans and Europeans, and Native American and Europeans, racial “purity” became very important to British Americans. This attitude, principally a reaction to slavery, persisted in the nation that emerged at the end of the eighteenth century. To be part of a charter colony was to plant values and habits with long-range influence. Most of the colonies in setting up their governments drew on the English COMMON LAW for their system of rules and procedures. Differing from the European courts, the common law placed great importance on securing rights to




individual property. The common law also determined the STATUS OF WOMEN according to whether they were single, married, or widowed. When women married, their legal personality dissolved into that of their husband. They could not hold property or enter into contracts binding at law. They were rarely given custody of their children should the marriage come to an end. Single women, unmarried or widowed, could control their own property and some even went into business. Many settlers came to North American for religious reasons, either to act on their own beliefs undisturbed or to found churches that would be examples for other Protestant Christians. There were few CATHOLICS or JEWS, and even fewer Moslems, in the English colonies. The PURITANS went mainly to New England; the QUAKERS to Pennsylvania; and BAPTISTS and ANGLICANS lived in all of the colonies. Women, especially Quaker women, played a major role in their communal life. Where people followed closely their religious precepts, families were held in high esteem; women gained respect; and authorities were vigorous in punishing sexual crimes. For most women, the weekly church services were the only occasions for leaving the round of domestic duties—child care, cooking, sewing, preserving, spinning, and house cleaning. Because of the shortage of women, the importance of their labor, and the religious support for strong morals, white women’s position improved, in comparison to Europe. Women also shared in the unusual health enjoyed in the colonies after the initial months of “seasoning.” Many more children lived to adulthood, and the life expectancy of men and women extended longer than in Europe. What women did not have in the colonial period were many opportunities to act as individuals, to receive an education, to cultivate their talents, and to participate in public life. The American Revolution ushered in a new era that changed this situation, but slowly. Because of the rhetoric of revolution, new ideas about personal liberty circulated widely. Men became more selfconscious about their institutions—be they of family, government, or church. Women were drawn into these discussions, first as listeners and later as contributors. Revolutions exert unex-

pected influences. When established ways are swiftly and violently ended, people begin to reflect on other customs, bringing them under the microscope of reasonable inspection. Many women ardently supported the colonial resistance movement that turned into rebellion. They discovered ways to make their voice, their work, and their spending influence events. More tangibly, the free black population grew dramatically after the Revolution. In cities, African Americans founded churches, VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS, SCHOOLS, and newspapers, which gave women a whole new world to explore in the new nation.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WOMEN AFTER THE REVOLUTION Although it had been no part of the reasoning behind the American Revolutionary movement to extend the range of opportunity for women, the convergence of national independence and unprecedented economic developments introduced an array of possibilities for women’s lives that had never existed before. Many women lacked even the minimal resources to change their lot in life, and a majority still found their lives circumscribed by the persisting authority of the man of the house, armed by law and custom with enormous power over his dependents. Still, some women moved outside the limits of domestic life and transformed people’s attitudes about women’s capabilities. Perhaps nothing challenged the careful differentiation of women and men’s activities more than women’s education. Women, it was argued, must be educated so that they could rear boys to be citizens and girls to be the mothers of future citizens. The vibrancy of urban culture found expression in lecture series, scientific demonstrations, and a heightened appreciation of learning. The simultaneous growth of female literacy and publishing enterprises opened the doors to a writing career for many women. Commercial expansion and democratic politics facilitated women’s access to a larger world more than any other development in the early nineteenth century. Unlike the campaign to get the vote that would emerge in the 1840s, the effects of publishing and writing did not appear to intrude upon male prerogatives.


Protestant women responded passionately to the religious revivals that began in the 1730s and again in the 1790s. Many participated more actively in their church activities or became effective fund-raisers. A few flouted the biblical injunction, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” and became itinerant preachers. Others wrote on religious topics and one actually preached before Congress. A group of young American ministers formed the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missionaries and raised money to send preachers and teachers to India, Syria, and Hawaii as well as to Native Americans in the West. When MISSIONARIES went to India and Burma, they called upon their wives to reach the sequestered women in these missionary fields. Some of these missionary wives discovered a talent for translating the Bible for the converts. More than women, men began discussing women’s role in politics, debating its merits pro and con. Hard-pressed to fill all his Post Office positions, Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, appointed in 1801, actually suggested that the government might name women to the vacant posts, a notion that prompted a brusque reply from President Thomas Jefferson: “The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I.” Despite attitudes like Jefferson’s, within a generation women would be pressing for the vote. In New Jersey, single, propertied women actually voted until 1807 when a law was passed denying them suffrage. Manufacturing developed quickly in the United States after independence. Advertising throughout the farming villages of northern New England, Boston’s pioneering industrialists drew young, unmarried women to planned communities to work in their textile mills. In new towns like Lowell, Massachusetts, adolescent girls and young women lived in dormitories under strict discipline, but with lots of female conviviality. Still other women helped their husbands as printers, journalists, storekeepers, and tavern-owners, often inheriting and running the family business after their husbands’ deaths. Teaching became the opening to a larger world for many women in the early nineteenth


century. District schools and private academies hired thousands of teachers on yearly contracts. Young men and women turned to teaching to support a bid for independence, churning annually through primary schools where farmers’ children went for a few months for four or five years to learn the fundamentals of reading, writing, and “summing.” A large number of women took advantage of the quickening of interest in girls’ education to establish their own schools, and many more were hired to teach, mastering math, the classics, and the natural sciences in order to earn positions in the private academies which sprang up everywhere, North and South. To a remarkable degree women were able to capitalize on the general enthusiasm for educating future mothers, now construed patriotically as providing the critical bridge between childhood and republican citizenship. North and South they stepped forward to claim the teaching jobs which materialized quickly during the early decades of the nineteenth century. EMMA HART WILLARD (see Volume 2) opened her TROY FEMALE SEMINARY in 1821 (see Volume 2), her fame having spread across the country after she petitioned the New York legislature to give state aid to girls’ schools. Access to academy education became critical to these pioneers in women’s education, but equally important was the support they gave each other, hiring one another in their schools while they raised money and circulated plans for new schools and seminaries for women. The most common female occupation was domestic work, since many American families employed maids. The spirit of independence even influenced women in these humble jobs. They disdained being called servants. One European traveler was so astounded by the behavior of maids that he recounted a conversation that he had at the front door of an acquaintance: “Is your master at home?”—“I have no master.”— “Don’t you live here?”—“I stay here”—“And who are you then?”—“Why, I am Mr. ———’s help.” During these same years, more and more American families were becoming prosperous enough to permit wives to cultivate refinements like polite conversation, painting, and piano playing. The pressures upon middle-class women



became acute when they were expected to maintain a refined atmosphere in their house and ensure that all its members behaved respectably. People expected a woman to preside gracefully in the parlor and to teach both her sons and daughters how to conduct themselves in society. At the same time the death of her husband or a downturn in the economy could upset the family’s support and require the wife to find the means to care for herself and her children when her husband was unable to. Both colonial America and the new nation presented societies in flux. Traditional institutions backed by law had defined a very narrow sphere of action and responsibility for women. Independence brought new challenges to these customary arrangements, and slowly the patriarchal world changed to one in which women had a great scope of action. When they succeeded in acting in a larger public realm, they became living proof of the injustices of unequal treatment. Joyce Appleby


Appleby, Joyce O. Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. DePauw, Linda G., and Conover Hunt. Remember the Ladies: Women in America 1750–1815. New York: Viking, 1976. Juster, Susan. Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986. Kerber, Linda K. No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship. New York: Hill & Wang, 1998. ———. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.

Women and the Law in Colonial and Revolutionary America


ll people’s lives are partially defined by the laws under which they live. Obviously, the extent to which those laws shaped the lives of girls and women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries depended to a large degree on whether or not they were enforced and who enforced them. The fact that men—usually elite men—were in charge of the judicial and legislative systems meant that those who were making and enforcing the laws were not necessarily sympathetic to women’s issues. On the other hand, men’s lives were interconnected with those of their wives and mothers and daughters. So female relations of men who had power usually had their interests better looked after. If one had no illustrious connections and were female, she was doubly distant. If she were also black or Indian she had little in

common with those who set and implemented the laws. Thus she was more likely to find herself on the losing end. In a society that regarded inequality as normal, as did British-American society (especially prior to the Revolution), that losing end meant that “English Liberties” such as they were, generally did not apply to women.

POLITICAL POWER One’s gender, in this society, was less important (in terms of legal status) than one’s “rank.” Consider only the three queens of England who ruled in their own right during the first century and a half of the establishment of the British Empire in the New World: Queen Elizabeth (1558–1603), Queen Mary II (1689–1694), and her sister Queen Anne (1702–1714). While Mary ruled


jointly with her husband William (who also had a claim to the throne, although more distant), Anne’s husband had no such title or authority. Elizabeth never married. The status of these queens reveals something very important about the status of women in the whole structure of English law: birthright trumped gender. While under the English rules of primogeniture the firstborn son had the right to the lands and title, when a father (usually) had no son, his daughter would inherit. The mistress of a household controlled male servants and slaves. If you were female, your status under the law depended to a great degree on your rank. Elite women like LADY FRANCES BERKELEY (and her peers in England) exercised considerable political influence in seventeenth-century Virginia. When Bacon’s Rebellion erupted in Virginia in 1676 and threatened to unseat her husband, Governor Berkeley sent her as his deputy to England to arrange for troops and other support to quash the rebellion, a mission she successfully accomplished. Partly due to her connections in the British Court, Lady Frances actually was considered the leader of what came to be called the “Green Spring Faction” which opposed the new governor after her husband’s death. Likewise, MARGARET BRENT was the executor of the governor’s estate in Maryland, and became virtual lieutenant governor there during the 1640s. While women had no formal seats in the Houses of Parliament in England they could often influence people on those bodies, and often played political roles. The same was true in the colonies, where women were excluded from the upper houses of government, bodies usually called the Governor’s Councils, which also formed the superior courts. Although we have no examples of women actually voting, female freeholders who met the property requirements were not specifically excluded, especially in the seventeenth century. Virginia did not ban female voters until 1699. Even after that, women who owned property could deed it to men and could then influence their votes. The majority of adult men, it should be added, probably did not vote during the colonial period, although the extent to which they did depended on the colony and the time. Women were not generally judges and did not serve on juries, although in some cases,


where women’s bodies needed to be examined, as in a rape, a “jury of women” would be called. These women then made the decisions about what had happened. Other cases that sometimes required a jury of women were infanticide cases and witchcraft cases (where the female jury looked for “witches teats,” what we would probably call warts or moles, where demons were supposed to suck). Male jurors had to meet high property requirements, even higher than those for voting, and judges yet higher, so although gender played a role in this privilege, rank played an even greater one. There were two ways in which women traditionally exercised a political role in English society, both of which women in the colonies used: petitions and riots. In England, where most subjects, male and female, old and young, could not vote (indeed, the privilege of voting was granted to only 5 to 10 percent of English adult males at the time), women found ways to express their opinions, especially in times of crisis such as a famine. They could send the monarch a petition asking for relief, a political device of great importance in a system in which few voted. If the peaceful petition failed, then the subjects could riot. Women who rioted seem to have been treated better by the English authorities than men: perhaps they were less threatening. Women’s riots occurred rarely, but when they did they often accomplished their aims, such as preventing grain from being exported when they were starving. ABIGAIL ADAMS recounts such a women’s riot in Boston, Massachusetts, when women forced a shopkeeper to sell his coffee and sugar for much lower prices. Indeed they shoved him into a wheelbarrow and paraded him around town, paying him only what they chose. When women rioted, they were rarely arrested and prosecuted. For common and middling women, these options were often the only ones available to them—but so, too, were they often the only options for men of the same rank.

WOMEN AND PROPERTY Most historians of colonial America have described women as rarely owning property. Only when they were heiresses not yet married (and such heiresses usually married young) or



when widows, they say, could a woman really “own” property. Once married, most historians agree, women came under COVERTURE, which means that their legal identities were subsumed under their husbands’. According to the English COMMON LAW, a married woman was one with her husband in the eyes of the law, with that one being him. There were broad exceptions to these rules, and the English common law, upon which all colonists drew deeply, underwent fundamental changes during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many of which affected women and the concept of coverture. That definition of a woman’s identity being subsumed under that of her husband, for example, was only written down by the extremely influential judge and professor of law, William Blackstone, in 1765. Before then, coverture had a much narrower meaning. Throughout this period, husbands were to some degree responsible for their wives’ expenditures, and a wife’s credit depended upon her husband’s. In a world where many if not most exchanges were based on credit relationships, this was important. When women became merchants in their own right while they were married, the colonial legislatures actually passed FEME SOLE TRADING ACTS, which allowed married women to be as independent before the law as if they were single. Women often managed estates in their own right upon their husbands’ deaths: it was normal in the seventeenth century for a man to name his wife as the executrix of his estate (a practice which became less common in the eighteenth century). Many women whose husbands practiced trades continued to supervise and practice those businesses upon their husbands’ decease (especially in the printing trade, as women such as CORNELIA SMITH BRADFORD, ANN SMITH BRADFORD, ANN SMITH FRANKLIN, and SARAH UPDIKE GODDARD bear witness). In all of these latter cases, women could (and did) initiate LITIGATION, for example, to demand payment of a debt. Women who carried on their own trades, however, like MARTHA BALLARD the midwife, often had an income and could pay in cash or in kind (trading service for goods). Women might also make small amounts of products for market. Exploring some of the exceptions to coverture reveals that men did not always control the

purse strings, nor could they easily sell property that a wife had brought to the marriage. Men’s ability to control their wives’ property and the family money was actually increased by Blackstone’s definition of feme covert. Elite women, through entails or premarital jointure agreements, could often prevent their husbands from fully controlling the estate. Entails were provisions in wills that determined who could inherit the property. Upon their husbands’ death, women by law had to receive at least one-third of the estate, both real and personal: this was called their DOWER RIGHT, and was usually similar to the amount they had brought as their dowry to the marriage. The real estate (land and slaves) they often received only for the remainder of their life—this meant that they could not designate who would receive the land when they died. The personal estate (from sheets to silver spoons to their own dresses) was their own. When the couple had no children, the wife often received the whole of the estate.

WOMEN AND MARRIAGE The MARRIAGE LAWS of the period were very different from our own: They assumed, for example, that women could be much younger and marry. Even girls under age 12 could legally marry, as they could under the common law until 1753, but most women married in their twenties. Parental consent was expected, but could not always be enforced. For an elite woman, issues surrounding her dowry might often make her (and her suitor) wish to wait until they had obtained her father’s consent. If a man ran off with an heiress under the age of 16, he could be prosecuted for abduction.

WOMEN AND CRIME While women were prosecuted more rarely for crimes than men, for several crimes they were the most likely to be prosecuted: witchcraft, infanticide, FORNICATION and ILLEGITIMACY, and SLANDER. In the WITCH TRIALS in Salem, for example, 80 percent of those prosecuted were female, and most of the men who were accused were the husbands of accused women. The punishment for witchcraft and infanticide was death. The punishment for fornication, illegitimacy, and



slander varied from a fine to a public whipping. Given that women who were indentured servants could not marry without their masters’ permission (and were bound until age 24), if they became pregnant they usually were prosecuted for illegitimacy. In Frederick County, Virginia, in the 1750s, this meant that they had two years added to their term of service (and so had to serve until age 26) and were whipped on the bare back 25 lashes at the public whipping post. Infanticide was the only crime under the common law where guilt was assumed: if a woman was unmarried and bore a child alone who died, she was presumed guilty of murdering it. Thus, if she felt ashamed or had no support, and the child was stillborn or died through her inability to properly sever the umbilical connection, she was assumed guilty. While ABORTION was not considered a crime until a child had “quickened” (begun to kick, at about four months), neither abortion or birth control was easily accessible. Apothecaries could dispense drugs that might cause an abortion, if one lived near enough a town to have easy access. Surgical abortions seem to have been rare and very dangerous. We have no cases of women being prosecuted for abortion. Women technically had the same protections from crimes as did men, and had a few special protections. Rape was punished with death, but it was hardly ever prosecuted. We have no known cases, for example, of indentured servant women successfully prosecuting their masters for

rape, even though it is clear that their masters were not infrequently the fathers of their children. They had no real protection against what we would now term sexual harassment. The age limit for statutory rape, meanwhile, was under ten. These cases, likewise, were rarely prosecuted. Among the difficulties were COMMON LAW rules that stated that a woman’s word should not be taken against a man’s (if they were the only witnesses) and that a woman who was raped could not become pregnant (based on medical theory of the time). As a consequence, many cases that were almost certainly rape were prosecuted, if at all, as “assault with intent to ravish.” Female "Criminals" in Seventeenth-Century New England This table categorizes court cases involving women according to how severely the defendant was judged to have violated the expected passive, deferential female sex role. Total cases:

710 248 135 105 83 61 38 40




Moderate violators of the female sex role: Theft Drunkenness Keeping a disorderly house Running away (servants) Arson

292 180 55 36 14 7


Offenses not in conflict with the passive female sex role: Sabbath violations Operating tavern illegally Lying Non-appearance in court Nightwalking Marrying contrary to law Idleness Card-playing

691 431 146 52 26 11 10 8 7


* In selected counties or towns in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Colony

Other (miscellaneous; nature of offense unrecorded)



Adapted from Lyle Koehler, A Search for Power: The "Weaker Sex" in Seventeenth-Century New England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980.

Adapted from Lyle Koehler, A Search for Power: The "Weaker Sex" in Seventeenth-Century New England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980.

Punishment for Women Suspected of Killing Their Infants in New England, 1620-1700

All cases* Hanged Acquitted Whipped Final disposition not recorded

Total Married Widowed 35 11 1 16 5 10 2 1 5 2 4 1 -

No record of marital Single status 19 4 9 1 6 1 3 1 2

Severe violators of female sex role: Abusive behavior Adultery, adulterous behavior Contempt of the authorities "Heresy" violations (Quakers, e.g.) Witchcraft Swearing Manslaughter, murder





A wife who killed her husband was punished for “petit treason,” meaning that in killing her husband she committed the same kind of crime as if she had killed the king: she killed someone who had just authority over her. Petit treason was a crime for which a woman could be burned alive. A servant who killed her master was guilty of the same crime. This common law principle reflected the way that PATRIARCHY was built into the law.


make divorce much easier: the principle that a people had a right to break the bonds of allegiance translated easily to the personal realm. Surely a man or woman who had experienced “a long train of abuses” could dissolve a marriage on the same grounds as America had dissolved her ties with Britain. While divorce had been legal only in Connecticut prior to the Revolution (except by legislative act for a handful of wealthy individuals in other colonies), virtually every new state enacted DIVORCE LAWS in the wake of the Revolution. Holly Brewer

The idea expressed in the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE that “all men are created equal” had mixed consequences for women: was the term “men” used in a general way to include all people, or did those who signed the document (all male) mean just men, and not women? The ambiguity set off more than a century of debate about who was entitled to the rights listed in the Declaration and on what grounds. Indeed, one of the immediate impacts of the Revolution and the ideals enshrined in the Declaration was to


Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: Norton, 1987. Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980. Spruill, Julia Cherry. Women’s Life and Work in the Southern Colonies. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1938.

Domestic Life in the Colonial Years


uropean colonists brought many things with them to the Americas, but among the most enduring were a set of ideals and practices that organized domestic life. Notions of proper gender roles, household order, and marital relations helped to structure almost every aspect of colonial life—legal, political, economic, religious, and social. The colonial world presented many challenges to European domestic forms, however. Most colonial societies were marked by extreme gender imbalances, with many more European men than women crossing the ocean for the “new” world. The economic or religious goals of many colonial enterprises worked against the establishment of orderly domestic relations on European models. Contact with Native American societies, with their wholly different notions

of proper domestic relations, and the introduction of race-based slavery also stretched early modern European household structures in new directions. The English view of family life is exemplified by William Gouge, who wrote in his 1622 book, Of Domesticall Duties, “a familie is a little Church, and a little commonwealth. Or rather, it is as a schoole wherein the first principles and grounds of government and subjection are learned: whereby men are fitted to greater matters in Church or commonwealth.” Early modern households in the English colonies were generally organized around a single male head (the father, husband, or “patriarch”), and they exemplified “patriarchal” government typical of the time. Heads of household were responsible for the conduct of subordinates in their care, including wives, children, servants,



or lodgers. In theory, the patriarch reigned supreme, though in practice his rule was softened by corresponding responsibilities to care for his dependents. As Gouge’s words suggest, the family was often seen as a mirror of the larger political arrangements in monarchical society. Orderly marriage was essential to the harmony of communities, the transmission of property by inheritance between generations, and the economic survival of its members. Historians have learned much about the family by carefully mining court records, wills, demographic data, and prescriptive texts like that of William Gouge. The picture they have pieced together suggests that while most colonists hoped to create a harmonious “little commonwealth,” the reality often fell short of communal ideals. Take, for example, the family of Nicholas Pinion, an iron worker in seventeenth-century New England. As historian Mary Beth Norton notes, few families “could match the Pinions’ two-generation record of 26 prosecutions over two decades in four [New England] colonies, along with other accusations that did not result in formal charges.” Nicholas, his wife Elizabeth, and their four children came to court “for offenses ranging from profanity and absence from sabbath services to theft, adultery, and infanticide.” Members of the family “were sued for defamation and assaulted by other

colonists; one was the victim of an attempted rape reputedly instigated by her husband; and three others repeatedly engaged in lascivious conduct.” Nicholas failed either to control his wife or to control himself: he once battered her so severely that she suffered a miscarriage. As Norton notes, “a seventeenth-century commentator would have predicted disaster for the Pinions’ children.” Since husband and wife were the models for children of proper social relationships, if parents misbehaved, “their children would not learn suitable modes of conduct.” Though sometimes troubled, family relations in the New England colonies (Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth Colony, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire) came closest to replicating the conditions found back in England. If anything, the region’s town fathers spent even more time observing and ordering families and households than had authorities in the old country. Governance in these colonies was profoundly influenced, at least in the first generation or two, by the goals of radical Protestant reformers sometimes known by the term PURITANS. Courts and congregations worked assiduously to root out transgressions like premarital FORNICATION, often bringing flirtatious individuals to court to answer for such “light” or “lascivious conduct” as might lead to sin. Still, Puritan

Petitions for Divorce in New England, 1620-1699* Total cases Cause cited: Desertion Adultery Bigamy Impotence Abuse Affinity † Refusal of intercourse Incest Mutual consent Disobedience Unknown

Brought Brought Brought by wife by husband by both


Disposition Denied Separated Unknown









51 29 11 10 4 3 2 2 2 1 11

39 18 10 9 3 – – 1 – – 5

10 11 1 1 1 – 2 1 – 1 4

– – – – – 3 – – 2 – 2

45 25 9 5 2 3 1 1 1 – 6

2 – 1 3 – – 1 – – 1 3

1 1 1 1 1 – – – 1 – –

3 3 – 1 1 – – 1 – – 2

*Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, New Hampshire Colony, Connecticut Colony, New Haven Colony, and Rhode Island–Providence Plantations Colony †Discovery of familial relationship between spouses Adapted from Lyle Koehler, A Search for Power: The "Weaker Sex" in Seventeenth-Century New England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980.



strictures worked both ways: had Elizabeth Pinion not resorted to adulterous relations, as she did on more than one occasion, she might have found the courts of New England unusually sympathetic to her plight. She might even have been able to secure a divorce from her weakwilled husband, and well into the eighteenth century Connecticut was known as a colony given to unusually liberal DIVORCE LAWS. This was not so much to protect women from abusive or neglectful spouses as it was designed to ensure that individuals lived orderly lives and households remained harmonious. In Connecticut as in other colonies, informal community censure (through interventions by female neighbors, for example) might also serve to restore order or document transgression. In everyday life, ordinary New England families loved, traded, gossiped, raised children, and lived lives of a complexity that belies old stereotypes of the dour Puritan. Historical records reveal many surprises. For example, married women were frequently entrusted to act in the place of their husbands in all matters of household business. Such “deputy husbanding,” as historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has termed it, depended upon the complementary roles assumed by husband and wife. In the absence of their husbands, women exercised power of attorney, testified in court, oversaw complex business transactions, indentured their children to tradesmen, and, in general, maintained a surprisingly public presence. When their husbands returned, these same women usually retired to the realm of women’s work: preparing meals, gardening, dairying, and participating in neighborhood life. So too, the image of sexual repression has been overturned by careful research: in fact, the rates of premarital pregnancy increased in every decade of the eighteenth century, peaking just before the American Revolution. And because of high fertility rates and relatively limited agricultural resources, many children who lived to adulthood had to move far from their original homes to find farmland for their families. Thus, intercolonial migration would prove to be a critical factor in colonial life, right from the earliest decades of PlymouthColony, in what is now southeastern Massachusetts. But what of life in other parts of the colonial world? Most places lacked the relatively even

gender ratio found among the Euro-American population of the New England colonies. In the plantation societies of the Chesapeake region (Maryland and Virginia) economic conditions and gender imbalances conspired to reshape early modern domestic practices. The seventeenth-century southern colonies had as many as three or four English men for every English woman. These demographic factors forced women’s average age at marriage to drop from the early twenties to the late teens. Some of the evidence that Mary Beth Norton has collected even suggests that frequent economic partnerships between two young men running a tobacco farm together might have also led to other sorts of partnerships. These might have been bigamous, as in the 1651 case of Richard Holt, his wife Dorothy, and his partner, Edward Hudson, or even, possibly, homosexual, as between cohabiting partners or (in local parlance) “mates.” In addition, the Chesapeake saw staggeringly high rates of mortality. Unlike New England, where the relatively healthful environment led to lower infant mortality and longer life span, early residents of Maryland or Virginia were unlikely to reach adulthood without losing one or both of their natural parents to disease. Households thus frequently included step-parents, step-brothers or sisters, half-siblings, more distant, orphaned relations, and an assortment of boarders and tenants. All these demographic factors brought legal and social innovations to the early modern families of the colonial South. One such new institution inspired by the high death rate was the orphans’ court, charged with determining the fate and overseeing the fortunes of parentless minors. Elsewhere in the colonial world the chief influences on domestic life were not European but Native American. In the Hudson’s Bay colony of northern Canada (founded in 1670), English traders, mostly men, frequently married into Native American kin groups. Thus their wives’ relations provided inland trading partners. The men could also count on their wives’ labor in processing and packing furs for shipment. French coureurs de bois (as fur traders were called) frequently traveled hundreds of miles into the interior of North America. Frontier areas like the inland Carolinas, Georgia, and Virginia were also more likely to


see occasional white male traders than settled colonial families. Many of these men took Native women as partners, either temporarily or, less frequently, in lifelong relations. Such men were more likely to identify with Native American than Euro-American domestic life. Since many Native societies were matrilineally organized, such relations did little to disturb extant kin relations: families were used to accepting sons-in-law from far away, and a woman’s loyalty to her home and family were not considered at odds with her love for her husband. Still, such intermarriage opened new opportunities to European men, Native American women, and their offspring (referred to as métis, French for “mixed”) who quickly filled a gap as translators, negotiators, and cultural intermediaries between Native American and Euro-American societies. In most parts of Spanish America (including Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and, by the eighteenth century, Arizona and California), European conquistadores were quickly followed by Catholic missionaries. Mostly men, the missionaries encouraged Natives to adopt white practices of domestic life. In the Jesuit missions among the Apalachee of Florida, Indian couples were encouraged to move to mission communities where they learned Spanish and were baptized with Spanish names. In the Southwest, the missionaries’ influence took longer to take effect: the more tenacious matrilineal systems of the Pueblo were left intact over several centuries of contact. In California, eighteenth-century competition with Russian fur traders to the north encouraged the Spanish to found a series of missions and presidios (fortified garrisons) as far north as San Francisco. In these eighteenth-century missions, celibate priests regulated every aspect of Indian life, especially focusing their efforts on the eradication of polygamy and premarital sexual experimentation among young men and women. A few women—either local Natives or immigrants from Mexico—congregated in the meager pueblos (towns) associated with the presidios, and raised families with husbands who had served at the garrison. Almost all efforts were directed at trade, ranching, or subsistence agriculture. According to Albert L. Hurtado, the majority of Californios (colonists of Mexican origin) in early-nineteenth-century Los


Angeles lived in traditional extended families, augmenting ties of blood through compadrazgo— the naming of godparents who were expected to take a parental and financial interest in their godchildren throughout their lives. In addition to the many European and Native American practices detailed here, African practices of the family also made a mark on colonial domestic life in many parts of North America. In the upper South (Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina) living conditions were such that African-American communities quickly emerged. African slaves appear to have had a high resistance to the strains of malaria that had made the Chesapeake such a death trap for European colonists. African-American men and women frequently formed relationships despite serving different masters, causing many men to travel midweek or on Saturday night for a visit with his wife and children. Thus, John Brown advertised in 1767 for the return of his slave, Peter, who “has a wife at Little Town.” Such “abroad” wives “away from the husband’s domicile” were “very common,” according to historian Mechal Sobel, and in fact constituted “the only possible matches for the large population living on farms with small numbers of other blacks.” One crucial difference marked the domestic lives of enslaved men and women: The system of patriarchal relations often broke down. In the mid-seventeenth century, Maryland and Virginia passed important laws that condemned all children of female slaves to lifelong bondage. The primary allegiance and legal identity of the enslaved lay with their enslaved mother and her Euro-American master, not with the African-American husband or father. Slave marriages had no legal standing. Governed by customary rights, they could be violated at any time by miscegenation, separation by sale, or a forced remarriage, and African Americans had only limited resources at hand to reaffirm their own choices in domestic life. Still, the lives of slaves in the upper South were perhaps preferable to the high mortality rates and very low fertility rates found in the rice and indigo plantations of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Here African-American women had very low rates of pregnancy, given the poor nutrition, unhealthy climate, and arduous nature of their work. Because of low fertility, the proportion of African- or Caribbean-born slaves



remained high. This combined with the large numbers of absentee owners in this region to ensure that family forms, language, and domestic practices remained indelibly West African in style. Colonial America saw a wide range of practices and conditions in domestic life. In every case, family forms, household organization, economic activities, gender roles, childbearing, and child rearing diverged from their original forms, whether Native American, European, or African. Still, the institution of patriarchal family relations and the idea of the family as a “little commonwealth,” whose order reflected the health of the larger society, remained a critical component of early American society. Ann Marie Plane F U RT H E R R E A D I N G

Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial

Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639–1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Demos, John. A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Gutiérrez, Ramón A. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500–1846. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991. Hurtado, Albert L. Indian Survival on the California Frontier. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. Norton, Mary Beth. Founding Mothers and Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996. Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650–1750. New York: Vintage Books, 1980. Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670–1870. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.

Women and Religion


he women and girls who inhabited colonial North America and the new United States were active participants in a stunning array of religious traditions and experiments—from Native American and African religious cultures to nearly every form of Western European Christianity and small congregations of Sephardic Jews. These traditions provided varying opportunities for women. Among Protestants in particular—the faith of the great majority of English America’s colonists—gender roles often reflected churches’ differing views of the clergy and the individual’s relationship to God. The Church of England (ANGLICANS ) stressed the importance of ministers as priestly mediators between believers and the Holy Trinity. Women served as deaconesses in their parish churches, but could not be ordained and were discouraged from seeking too ardent a connection with God. By contrast, beginning in the late sixteenth century, the PURITANS (later Congregationalists) and Presbyterians, products of the Calvinist move-

ment, emphasized Bible-reading over the sacraments and ministers’ role as teachers. Puritans taught that only those predestined by God would enter heaven, but they believed that a Christian’s fate might be known through a personal experience of grace: a powerful idea that produced outspoken women seeking true faith. Separatist movements—breaking from taxsupported churches like the Anglicans and Puritans—often espoused unorthodox teachings. The Religious Society of Friends (QUAKERS) rejected the doctrine of original sin and recruited an unordained clergy from their spiritually gifted followers—including numerous women. Quakers practiced the greatest gender equality by far among colonial churches, but evangelical preachers, first active in the 1730s and 1740s, also encouraged their female supporters to proclaim their spiritual rebirth in the public forum of their churches. Ultimately evangelical women would take their message of religious regeneration to the wider world. In sum,


the growing religious diversity of the colonies and new republic opened doors for women and girls seeking spiritual fulfillment, although, as many were to discover, their strivings for respect were not always welcomed.

THE COLONIAL CONTEXT Among NATIVE AMERICANS throughout North America, women were leaders in all areas of life. While few were shamans—priest-doctors— women acted as healers, clan heads, counselors, and occasionally tribal chiefs. In the densely settled pueblos of New Mexico, women were excluded from the kivas, the ritual center of each village, but female deities called Corn Mothers were believed to have created the earth, and women exercised equal if not greater religious and social power than men. In the colonial period, Spanish and French missionaries extended the influence of the Catholic Church in New Mexico, California, and Canada by converting Native American women and encouraging intermarriage. In 1639, the Ursulines founded an order for French women in Quebec. Otherwise, European women were rare sights in the vast interior and western regions of North America.

ENGLISH AMERICA, 1585–1700 By contrast, women and girls were plentiful in the English settlements on the Atlantic seaboard, and many were participants in bold religious ventures.

First Settlements Following the failed colony at Roanoke in the 1580s, English women, undoubtedly Anglicans, first arrived in Jamestown (Virginia) after 1607. In 1620, separatist Pilgrims, including women and girls, settled Plymouth (later part of Massachusetts) as a holy commonwealth for God’s chosen people. This was the first significant religious experiment in English America. The New England Way Religious women’s importance grew exponentially in the New England colonies of Massachusetts (including Maine), Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Here, beginning in Boston in 1630, the Puritans instituted their ideas for reformation of the Anglican


Church, based on the CHRISTIAN DOGMA of John Calvin. The ideal Puritan woman was wife and mother first, but with public duties tied to her religious faith. ANNE BRADSTREET described her mother as a “worthy matron of unspotted life” and “obedient wife” who was “pitiful to poor” and “wisely awful” to her servants, a “true instructor to her family,” a frequenter of “public meetings,” and “religious in all her words and ways.” After 1650, Puritanism began to lose its allure for many New England men, engaged in trade and other worldly concerns, and women came to make up the majority of CHURCH MEMBERSHIP. This change signaled a new gender divide in Puritan culture, but not as yet a change in women’s place in their churches.

Colonial Diversity European women and girls also emigrated with their families or as indentured servants to the South and the Middle Colonies. In Maryland and Virginia, and then in the Carolinas, most women and girls were Anglicans, but in 1634, English CATHOLICS celebrated their first Mass in Maryland. African women in the lower South almost certainly practiced the religious traditions of their West African homelands, including ring-dancing, trance possession, reverence for ancestors, and “obeah,” or folk witchcraft. The Middle Colonies provide further evidence of the diverse religious character of English America. Dutch Calvinists, as well as small numbers of Swedish and Finnish Lutheran families (similar to the Calvinists), practiced their faiths throughout the New Netherlands (New York, New Jersey, and Delaware). Sephardic JEWS arrived in New Amsterdam (New York City) in the 1650s. The 1664 English conquest opened the region to other European Protestant women and men, including Huguenots (French Calvinists). By 1700, religiously curious girls and women might find nearly every kind of Protestant, as well as Catholics, Jews, and Africans of various faiths, in and around the region. The Quakers were also key figures in the settling of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Quakers argued that St. Paul’s stricture against female PREACHING (1 Corinthians 14: 34–35) was historical rather than universal, and that an alternative text—“there is neither male



nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3: 28–29)—verified that men and women were equal in Christ. Nearly half of the 59 Quaker ministers who traveled to the colonies between 1656 and 1663 were female. Dominant in Pennsylvania, the Quakers ultimately became the third major church in the colonies, after the Puritans (CONGREGATIONALISTS) and Anglicans. At the same time, Germans of varying faiths—Lutherans, Calvinists, and separatists— were attracted by Pennsylvania’s policy of toleration. Calvinist Presbyterians, especially Scottish and Scots-Irish immigrants, settled in New Jersey and along the piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains. Jewish settlers built synagogues in the cities of Philadelphia, Newport, Rhode Island, and Charleston, South Carolina. Each of these groups emphasized the importance of community and family life, central to women’s lives.

Dissent and Danger Three important episodes, all in New England, also signaled the danger, especially for women, of not conforming to the dictates of colonial authorities. In 1637–1638, ANNE HUTCHINSON was twice tried for questioning whether the colony’s leading ministers had experienced saving faith. Hutchinson’s PROPHESYING was among women, but she had important allies among men. Hutchinson claimed to have received her understanding of the doctrine of grace “by an immediate revelation” from God, a claim that the Massachusetts authorities condemned as a dangerous precedent for other religious rebels. The Massachusetts legislature denounced Hutchinson, a faithful wife and mother, as anti-Christian, unchaste, and an outcast. Hutchinson was excommunicated and banished from the colony. Also in Massachusetts, Mary Dyer, a Hutchinson follower and convert to Quakerism, purposefully broke the colony’s laws against Quaker meetings and the dissemination of Quaker teachings. She was hanged in 1660. The Salem Witch Trials in 1692 further revealed the limits of girls’ and women’s power in New England. Unconventional women were regularly suspected of witchcraft. Before Salem, 139 cases, most directed against women, had already been brought to court in New England. In Salem Village, an unusually large number of

girls, many of them poor and socially powerless, claimed to be “possessed” by the Devil and tormented by, among others, the village’s independent older women. Nineteen villagers, the great majority female, were executed as witches.

ENGLISH AMERICA, 1700–1775 After 1700, women and men were no longer hanged for witchcraft. Girls and women, especially along the frontier between New England and French Canada, continued to be victimized by religious conflict. But the freer religious climate also opened up new forms of Protestant ritual and expression for colonial women.

White Indians and Anglo Canadians Beginning with KING PHILIP’S WAR in 1675–76, New Englanders were abducted into French Canada in extraordinary numbers by Indian raiding parties seeking survival through ransoming. Many women were among the 1,641 people known to have been seized between 1675 and 1763. In 1682, Mary Rowlandson published her CAPTIVITY NARRATIVE, emphasizing “the Soveraignty & Goodness of God” despite her afflictions as an Indian captive. The book became an instant best-seller at a time when hundreds of girls continued to be forcefully adopted into Indian or French families. In the early 1700s, Eunice Williams prompted a scandal in New England when she converted to Catholicism and married a Mohawk man. Esther Wheelwright, kidnapped in 1703, became Esther Marie Joseph de L’Enfant Jesus, a sister in Quebec’s Ursuline convent. Eight other New England girls are known to have joined Catholic orders. Quaker Ministers Hundreds of Quaker women continued to serve as public ministers between 1700 and 1775, many traveling great distances from their families, even across the Atlantic, to prophesy “in the service of Truth.” One minister, Pennsylvanian Elizabeth Webb, preached to blacks as well as whites in the early 1700s. Competition from evangelical churches, stricter discipline, and the disruptions of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION turned the Quakers into one of the smaller churches in the new republic. But Quaker innovations in child-rearing, based on their belief in the innate


goodness of children, and their pioneering work in social reforms like the antislavery movement would influence Americans for years to come.

The Great Awakening, 1735–1745 In the mid-eighteenth century, the first of the GREAT AWAKENINGS, or evangelical revival movements, encouraged young and adult women alike to seek religious rebirth—the evangelical equivalent of the experience of grace. Led by Congregational, Presbyterian, and Baptist ministers, and the famous Anglican evangelist George Whitefield, the Awakening drew many men back into the churches, but the emphasis on rebirth inevitably underscored the spiritual equality of women and men. Thirteen women are known to have preached as informal public evangelists in these years. The BAPTISTS, emphasizing the baptism of reborn believers, benefited from revivals in New England and the South, and elevated women to church offices, although not the clergy. In the 1760s, Sarah Osborn led an Awakening-inspired revival in Newport, Rhode Island, that attracted women, men, and children. Presaging the remarkable impact of evangelicalism on African Americans, free and enslaved women and men were also “awakened” at religious revivals. Probably for most girls and women, the Awakening’s significance was profoundly personal. As Sarah Edwards wrote: “The glory of God seemed to be all . . . and to swallow up every wish and desire of my heart.” The Moravians RELIGIOUS SECTS, like the separatists before them, were more inclined toward experiments in gender relations. Survivors of the Protestant Reformation in central Europe, the Moravians sought salvation through communal living and the doctrine of perfection—that believers might become sinless in this life. By the 1730s, Moravian missionaries were at work in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and English America. The best-known American Moravian community was Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, founded in 1741. The settlement represented a radical redefinition of the family, with adherents orchestrated into monastery-style residential groups separated by gender, age, and marital status. Women exercised significant authority at Bethlehem, serving on governing boards on equal terms with men.


The education of girls was promoted by the Girls’ Seminary. By 1759, 600 people were living at Bethlehem. While adult men outnumbered women, unusual proportions of both were unmarried. By the 1760s, women outnumbered men.

THE NEW NATION, 1776–1820 The American Revolution had serious implications for American churches and religion. Congregationalists and other Calvinists tended to favor the break with Britain, while Quakers and German churches were neutral. Anglicans were torn between the two sides. The turmoil of the time and a new emphasis on religious freedom led to new religious sects and marked changes in American DENOMINATIONALISM.

Image Breakers Several women broke dramatically with traditional gender expectations. JEMIMA WILKINSON, influenced by her Quaker background and her Universalist belief that salvation was accessible to all, styled herself the “Public Universal Friend,” dressed in men’s attire, and preached the perfection of believing Christians in the early 1780s. Traveling through the new states, she had several hundred followers by the end of the century. At the same time, the SHAKERS, formed by “Mother” Ann Lee and several male believers, organized a community in upstate New York. Like the Moravians, the Shakers experimented with alternative marital relations, later becoming an exclusively celibate sect. After Lee’s death, LUCY WRIGHT initiated the Gathering Order to seek converts further west. By 1823, the Shakers had established 16 villages from Maine to Kentucky. The Revival Churches After 1800, with the second Great Awakening, many more women joined Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches. The METHODISTS, an English evangelical movement, split away from the Anglicans, now called Episcopalians, and grew spectacularly after 1800. Like other evangelicals, the Methodists preached the new birth, but their doctrines rejected Calvinist predestination and espoused the free will of the believer to convert—a teaching that appealed to Americans newly freed from



their colonial past. The Methodists drew thousands of women and girls into their religious societies, led by young, earnest traveling preachers. Like the other evangelical churches, the Methodists did not accord women preaching authority. But women regularly functioned as class leaders—spiritual guides for other women— and as the confidantes and wives of traveling preachers. Sustained by thousands of women and their families, the Methodist movement rapidly undermined the popularity of the Calvinist denominations. By the Civil War, Methodists comprised an estimated one-third of all church membership in the United States. The BAPTISTS also exploded in numbers and were especially successful in the South and West. Although Baptist clergy attempted to strengthen the place of men in the churches after 1800, individual Baptist congregations continued to include women in church governance. The Presbyterians also expanded into the South and West. The Second Great Awakening transformed the lives of scores of women and girls who sought to convert members of their families, acted as hosts to traveling preachers, distributed Bibles among poor families, and otherwise magnified their authority in the domestic sphere. Even more than in the past, religion was women’s business, as daughters followed their mothers into their chosen churches, swelling church membership.

African Christians Black women, eager to break from SLAVERY and claim new identities, also joined evangelical churches and formed the core of what were now called “African” congregations, celebrating black Christianity. In revival meetings, black women and men merged ecstatic rebirth experiences with West African spiritual practices to create an authentic African-American religious culture. Northern black women, soon to be free, were attracted to African Methodism, while enslaved women in the South tended to join African Baptist congregations, often meeting away from the view of white masters. Baptism— ritual induction into a new life—was especially treasured by slaves, and the millennial language of the Bible provided a rich new vocabulary of liberation. In the early 1700s, an African Catholic community also developed in and around

New Orleans, with Ursuline Sisters educating slaves whenever permitted by slaveholders.

CONCLUSION: MISSIONARIES AT HOME AND ABROAD The Second Great Awakening was in many respects a conservative movement, emphasizing girls’ and women’s roles as religious models in the home and exemplars of domesticity. Yet in the liberating context of the new republic and inevitably through their church activities, religious women honored the dignity of women’s work and traveled far and wide to testify to their beliefs. This new American generation included western women like Julia Anne Hieronymus Tevis, a Methodist convert who founded the Science Hill Academy for Young Women in Kentucky. “Teaching,” Tevis wrote, “should be considered as a Profession, and the loftiest calling except that of preaching the Gospel.” CATHARINE BEECHER (see Volume 2), calling for the professionalizing of home management, published widely and established several schools for girls and young women. New Englander HARRIET ATWOOD NEWELL, traveling with her husband, died on a formal mission to bring the gospel to poor women in India. Thousands of women, working for Bible and religious tract societies, brought the urban poor to Christ. Others became pioneers in TEMPERANCE (see Volume 2), prison reform, antislavery, and the WOMEN’S RIGHTS MOVEMENT (see Volume 2). And for the first time, women, white and black, sought to preach from church pulpits. Bigger changes lay ahead: after 1820 Irish Catholics transformed the religious landscape of American cities. In 1848, after the MexicanAmerican War, Mexican Catholics in New Mexico and California, including thousands of women and girls, became part of the United States. Other women joined the Mormons—a movement synthesizing millennial Christianity with experimental family relations. NATIVE AMERICANS, men and women alike, continued to struggle with the entreaties of missionaries to abandon their ancestral faiths. Even more than in the colonial era, American girls and women, for whom religion had always mattered so much, would learn to live with each other’s religious


differences and come to terms with the challenges of religious freedom. Dee E. Andrews F U RT H E R R E A D I N G

Brekus, Catherine A. Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740–1845. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Juster, Susan. Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and


Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. Larsen, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700–1775. New York: Knopf, 1999. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650–1750. New York: Knopf, 1982. Westerkamp, Marilyn J. Women and Religion in Early America, 1600–1850. London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

Gender Ideology in the Revolutionary Era


merican revolutionaries frequently used the language of gender to express their political passions and ideas. Notions of what they called “manliness” and “effeminacy” permeated their thinking about citizenship, and models of ideal republicans (a term which meant at the time citizens of the new republic, without any connotations of party) took both masculine and feminine forms. At times notions of gender were embodied in abstract symbols like the female figure of Liberty; at times American patriots drew analogies between the duties of government and the everyday familial roles of fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters; and at times sexual metaphors like seduction and rape were used to illustrate the imperial conflict with Britain. Gender imagery at once intensified the rhetorical power of political argument and provided a vocabulary with which to discuss highly charged political issues. Difficult and fundamental questions about the responsibilities of rulers, the justifications of violence, and the meanings of liberty and equality were posed in gendered terms. A new American identity was shaped in part by playing off different masculine and feminine stereotypes and by developing new ones in the process. To grasp the significance of gender to Revolutionary ideology, it is important to understand that scarcely any rhetorical references to male or female qualities were meant to be taken literally. Masculine and feminine images were invoked primarily as symbols—for example, heroic selfsacrifice and corrupt tyranny. Revolutionary

leaders did not think about gender relations in concrete terms as a political problem, and they would be astonished to know that subsequent generations have taken their often casual language so seriously. The very force of their rhetoric depended on unquestioned assumptions about masculine and feminine traits. That these assumptions were malleable, and that gender definitions significantly changed during the Revolutionary period, was largely lost on the Revolutionary generation itself. Those few Americans who publicly advocated a higher social position for women did so privately, like ABIGAIL ADAMS, or only after independence from Britain was won, and they never gained political influence. However radical at the time, JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY and others who wrote on behalf of women in the 1780s and 1790s concentrated their arguments on female education, not political rights. The few legal reforms produced by the Revolution that significantly affected the status of women—changes in DIVORCE LAWS in some states and the gradual erosion of DOWER RIGHTS—were indirect byproducts of other legal changes and had little immediate practical value. However limited in its short-term political impact, the gendered language of the Revolution did help to change the ways that Americans thought about the differences between men and women. This ideological change had a powerful impact on the status and roles of American women in the long run. The Revolutionary decades of the late eighteenth century laid the



groundwork for what in the nineteenth century became the dominant middle- and upper-class attitudes toward women. To appreciate this change it is necessary to compare the typical gender images used in the early years of the revolutionary movement, in the 1760s and 1770s, to the revised images that emerged in the new American nation in the 1780s and 1790s.

1760s AND 1770s: FEMININE LIBERTY AND THE BAD MOTHER When in the mid-1760s American colonists mounted their initial resistance to new British laws, they saw themselves as defenders of traditional English liberties. The ideology of the movement was from the beginning framed in terms of a struggle between the forces of liberty and tyranny. Drawing from older English political debates and from ancient Roman symbolism, the cause of liberty was figured in feminine terms— not only was the concept of Liberty pictorially depicted as a virtuous woman, but, more tellingly, liberty was repeatedly described in patriot propaganda as a passive principle vulnerable to the assaults of power. Tyranny, the most extreme manifestation of unbridled political ambition, typically carried the opposite masculine connotations. According to a widely used Biblical analogy drawn from the Book of Revelation, America was the helpless woman lying in the wilderness exposed to her British predator, the manyheaded Beast of Satan. The aggressive, evil masculinity of the British threat to innocent American liberty was further accentuated by the colonists’ initial tendency to blame specific royal ministers such as Lords Grenville and Bute for the disastrous turn in imperial policy in the 1760s. Never, however, was the gender symbolism of Revolutionary ideology simply a matter of a single, polar dichotomy. Always running alongside this highly negative use of masculine imagery was a contrary, positive vision of manliness. If in the language of the American Revolution the symbol of Liberty was a woman, her defenders were chiefly conceived to be men. While the male British ministers were seen as corrupt and power-hungry, their male patriots counterparts were deemed to be honest and dutiful. The very name “Sons of Liberty,” taken by the most

important popular political organization of the early revolutionary movement, points to the high value attached to male filial loyalty and unblemished youth. The term used most to encapsulate the highest ideal of public service— “virtue”—possessed distinctively male as well as female connotations. The concept derived from classical political theory, and just as the word virtue stems from the same classical root as virility it often referred to specifically masculine traits such as military courage and statesmanship. The noble character of the virtuous male patriot thus complemented that of the virtuous female Liberty. Just as no one image of masculinity dominated American revolutionary rhetoric, neither did one image of femininity. The ideal vision of female Liberty, embodying positive characteristics of innocence and devotion, vied from the beginning with the contrary, negative conception of “effeminacy.” In this variation, the very same corruption and deceit that lay at the basis of British tyranny took feminine rather than masculine symbolic form. Age-old representations of women as shrewish, materialistic, and vain served to illuminate the decadence of English aristocratic values and to cast blame for the supposed over-consumption of luxury goods. Patriots appealing to American women to boycott English textiles and tea during the 1760s and 1770s juxtaposed the allure of such frivolous fineries to the virtue of self-restrained abstinence. The elegant dress and cultivated manners of English high society that normally conveyed GENTILITY were increasingly derided as soft, superficial, and feminine “foppery” during the years of the early American revolutionary movement. British officials who curried favor with superiors and indulged in the common spoils of patronage likewise found themselves likened to females. Even so powerful a man as the royal minister Lord Bute suffered from his rumored dependence upon a woman. The aged Queen Mother together with her favored Bute fell under popular suspicion of wielding despotic power from behind King George’s throne. American colonists often turned to familial imagery to describe their unraveling relationship with Great Britain. Portraying themselves as abused sons and England as the bad “mother


country,” their propaganda evoked powerful feelings of abandonment and betrayal. Had England properly enacted the role of a “tender” mother, they implied, no disobedience on the part of her loving children would have occurred. The metaphorical equation of ordinary subjects with children had long been used by Europeans to justify the hierarchical system of monarchy. As American resistance to imperial laws gained intensity in the early 1770s and broke into war, colonists increasingly turned this metaphor on its head. Instead of taking their dependence as a natural given, they depicted the ruthlessness of the British parent as grounds for separation. At the time of American independence the more general criticism of the “mother country” became a focused attack on the King. In such influential Revolutionary writings as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson’s DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, the image of George III as an evil father against whom Americans had to rebel served to justify a republican rather than monarchical system of government. The Revolutionary depiction of royal rule as irrational and oppressive also drew upon well-known educational writings by John Locke and others that criticized arbitrary patriarchal authority within families. This collective selfportrait of the colonists as enterprising sons coming of age included the promise of a glorious future of independent maturity ahead.

1780s AND 1790s: INDEPENDENT MEN AND VIRTUOUS MOTHERS Behind this association of manliness with independence was the far more traditional association of women with dependency. According to the British law of COVERTURE, which remained in place in America after the Revolution, a married woman’s civic identity was subsumed into that of her husband. As political activism spread among white men in the revolutionary era, women supported the American cause in numerous ways— from participating in organizations such as the “Daughters of Liberty” to becoming writers of polemical literature like MERCY OTIS WARREN. With rare exceptions, however, government remained the province of men. Despite little change in the political rights of women, the revolutionary era brought funda-


mental changes in gender ideology. Familial imagery continued to be used to describe political relationships, but by the 1790s the theme of youthful rebellion was supplanted by that of benign paternal authority. Virtue came to be best displayed in domestic relations rather than in military or political life. George Washington, commonly revered as the father of the country, drew acclaim for his retreat to private life as a farmer after the war and his apparent reluctance to serve as the first president. On patriotic occasions the American family over which he presided was idealized as a happy and harmonious union, in sharp contrast to the fractured family previously headed by the English king. This shift from bad to good father can partly be seen as a postrevolutionary reassertion of patriarchal values. In the new republican model of the political family, however, the authority of the father over his children depended on mutual affection, not birth. Concepts of American masculinity shed much of their earlier militancy and took on a more sentimental and domestic cast. The earlier revolutionary ideal of the independent male citizen was never eliminated—it lived on especially in the Southern white notion of male honor and in a developing national literature celebrating heroic male adventures in the wilderness. But masculine independence increasingly implied devotion to home and hearth, especially among the Northern middle classes. Alongside this new exaltation of private life came a revised conception of womanhood. Wives and mothers embodied the domestic ideal even more than responsible husbands and fathers. Indeed, according to the stories featured in growing numbers of sentimental novels and the first American MAGAZINES AND PERIODICALS (see Volume 2), women exerted key influence upon the moral character of both children and men. Female domesticity was now deemed critical to the development not only of families but of the American nation as a whole. Through the performance of the ideal role of REPUBLICAN MOTHERHOOD, women bore the civic responsibility of raising future generations of responsible citizens. Comparisons of women to men within this new ideology stressed gender differences more than equality. While the best of both sexes presumably shared qualities of generosity and affec-



tion, women were increasingly credited with innately superior morality, greater capacity for self-sacrifice, and stronger feeling for others. Whereas men continued to be regarded as the more rational sex, the supposed emotionalism of women no longer received automatic condemnation. Theories of female education influenced by the Enlightenment blamed women’s intellectual deficiencies on their upbringing and environment. Reflecting a widespread ambivalence about female rationality, these arguments on behalf of women’s education generally stopped short of advocating the same curriculum recommended for men. Marriage and motherhood, most writers agreed, required intellectual training only to a point. Compassion, not reason, was increasingly seen as the source of the goodness of women. In the decades following the Revolution, this tendency to value emotionality and to celebrate female empathy received still further reinforcement from the religiosity of evangelical Protestantism and the beginnings of literary romanticism. The emphasis upon domesticity and the differences between men and women had, in the long run, both conservative and progressive consequences. Women lost a degree of power they had earlier enjoyed outside the home, both in churches and local communities. Femininity became so closely associated with marriage and motherhood that women had to struggle all the harder to overcome the confinement of the domestic realm. Ironically, however, the same middle-class gender ideology that restricted women offered new opportunities. For the qualities associated with female domesticity were never completely encapsulated in private life. As women gained in moral authority they began to take more active roles in education, helping to found new female academies and SCHOOLS and becoming writers and teachers. Through their activities in early nineteenth-century VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS middle-class women stepped into the public worlds of charity and social reform. Only in the 1840s, however, decades after the close of the American Revolution, did a women’s movement draw upon the words of Jefferson to demand equal political rights. Looking back, there is no simple historical explanation for the shifts in gender ideology

during the Revolutionary era. The social and political changes produced by the imperial conflict, together with the effort to create new republican institutions later on, played a part in the transformation. So did the commercialization of the economy and the dispersion of a rapidly growing population. Further complicating the process, the rise of evangelical religion and the incorporation of Enlightenment and romantic conceptions of human nature all stimulated new patterns of thought. Several ideas affecting American notions of gender originated overseas, and similar ideological developments occurred in England around the same time. That the transformation in America so closely coincided with the Revolution, however, meant that new gender definitions became deeply intertwined with the creation of American republicanism and national identity both. Ruth H. Bloch

See also: American Revolution; Civic Life; Equality of Female Intellect; Family Life, Republican; Novels and Romantic Love; Patriarchy; Republicanism; Women, Status of.


Albanese, Catherine L. Sons of the Fathers: The Civil Religion of the American Revolution. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976. Cott, Nancy F. The Bonds of Womanhood: “Women’s Sphere” in New England, 1780–1835. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Davidson, Cathy N. Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America. New York: Oxford, 1986. Fliegelman, Jay. Prodigal Sons and Pilgrims: The American Revolution against Patriarchal Authority, 1750–1800. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982. Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Juster, Susan. Disorderly Women: Sexual Politics and Evangelicalism in Revolutionary New England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. Kerber, Linda. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Yazawa, Melvin. From Colonies to Commonwealth: Familial Ideology and the Beginning of the American Republic. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.



Social Control


oth men and women in colonial North America and the early republic had unquestioned beliefs concerning the necessary subordination of women to men. This essay examines those beliefs and the means by which social leaders and laws enforced the hierarchy.

BEFORE THE REVOLUTION Some women in colonial North America—especially propertied white women—enjoyed more opportunity than women in Europe, but all were under a patriarchal regime of social control. Patriarchy privileged the absolute authority of the husband and father in the family, which custom and Biblical injunctions supported. If American radicals modified or republicanized PATRIARCHY after 1776, it continued to keep women subordinate to men by various means. Key laws excluded women from civil and political rights reserved to men, but less formal social attitudes, conventional wisdom, and ideology, which were shared by men and women, supported the law. Many women upheld the values that seemed to make a hierarchical relation between men and women necessary to maintain the social order—primarily the domestic values of reproduction and “goodwifery.” Some women violated limits and tried to expand their liberty, however, thereby triggering the sanctions of social control.

Reproduction Certainly the key method by which men controlled women was the prevalent view that they must marry, sometimes to a man chosen by their fathers, and should reproduce abundantly in North America. Pioneering farm families regarded children as welcome hands for labor, and the individual woman was thought to be best fulfilled by pregnancy, CHILDBIRTH, and nursing. These beliefs strongly implied the corresponding limitations on women’s behavior in other spheres beyond the child-rearing domes-

tic household. Farm women devoted as much time and energy to heavy farm work as they could spare from reproducing, and gender relations may have been more equal on farms. Everywhere, however, the prevailing social imperative kept the majority of women of childbearing age pregnant or nursing much of the time, which detracted greatly from the energy they had to put into other forms of self-expression, restricting them largely to the roles of wife and mother.

Civil Law The fundamental law that subordinated women was that of feme covert in the COMMON LAW. A basic principle of English law stemming from the Norman Conquest of 1066, COVERTURE ruled that any female was legally “covered” or subsumed in the legal personality of a man: her father, husband, or, at least, a judge. This was less absolute in England than in France, for a queen in the legitimate line of succession could rule in England—like Elizabeth I—whereas this was legally impossible in France. In general, an Englishwoman had no personal standing in the courtroom separate from that of the man by whom she was covered. In the COURTS, women faced a solid phalanx of men, for the law restricted the offices of judge, attorney, and juror to men. Women’s LEGAL PARTICIPATION was restricted to that of witness in criminal cases, and only then when it was necessary. The MARRIAGE LAWS and DIVORCE LAWS were the main statutes by which they were hemmed in. At the same time, most of these laws also contained certain basic guarantees of women’s rights, which they could enjoy only by acknowledging the legitimacy of the restrictions on their behavior. According to law and theory, a woman was so subordinated to her husband that he could discipline her strictly, even by corporal punishment. In practice, marital relations varied widely, even within relatively homogeneous



communities like those of the PURITANS. Corporal punishment was probably the exception rather than the rule, and many companionate marriages existed in which women shared in domestic decision making or might even dominate it in defiance of conventional rules. Still, upon the death of her husband, a widow was usually guaranteed only one-third of the estate during her life. In other words, she had no say in the disposition of the other two-thirds to their children and other heirs, except in the minority of cases in which her husband’s will appointed her his executor. WIDOWHOOD frequently meant poverty or dependency. Cultural and regional differences existed: Wealthy widows might maintain their customary level of comfort by employing poor widows to perform domestic service, and widows in areas where women were few might easily remarry to their advantage. Indentured women had far fewer options either as wives or widows, for their masters had the right to prohibit them from marrying and could discipline them, restrained only by rare interventions by authorities to prevent abuse. The condition of slave women was deplorable, of course, in that they had no rights either to legitimate marriage or inheritance of any kind. Masters might force them into marriage matches and break up families at will. Free AfricanAmerican and Native American women might have formal rights similar to those of white women in some colonies, but in practice they were subject both to legal restrictions as women and to white racial prejudice. Divorce was hard to come by, but an intractable marital difficulty might be solved through separation of bed and board, which meant authorities permitted spouses to live apart. A few women obtained this right in all the colonies. It was subject to civil authority rather than ecclesiastical courts as in England. Divorce was legal from the beginning in Puritan New England, but it remained rare and difficult to procure. Neither separation nor divorce were socially acceptable enough to give women any real leverage to counter domination by their husbands.

Criminal Law The application of criminal justice to women varied from colony to colony. Marked differences of class affected an accused woman’s treat-

ment by a court: Poor women found guilty of offenses were more likely to suffer corporal punishment like whipping, whereas women of property were more likely to pay fines or suffer some symbolic public humiliation. Regional differences existed. In New England, and in parts of other colonies settled by evangelical Protestants like the Puritans, penalties for moral crimes were more severe than in England. These included capital punishment for adultery, and authorities accused women of adultery more often than they did men. The history of criminal justice is best known for the New England colonies, and it is revealing. Statistics show that over two-thirds of accused women pleaded not guilty, and the conviction rate for women was about the same as for men. In other words, many individual women did not behave meekly or fatalistically in court. Nonetheless, women’s crimes were mainly against persons (such as homicide or infanticide) rather than property, and that meant they were more likely than men to face judicial corporal punishments. These could be severe, since long-term imprisonment was unusual for either men or women. In all colonies female convicts could suffer hanging, whipping, and mutilations like branding. Courts required a few women to wear the letter “A” for adultery, just like Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. Others had to stand in a noose in the public gallows. All of these punishments were very public, attended by a ceremonial display of male officialdom and the harassment of the convict by her fellow citizens. For smaller offenses, like drunkenness, the pillory in the town square was ready for man or woman. A pilloried woman would be pelted with dirt, refuse, or eggs by passersby. Executions and public humiliations short of capital punishment served as a warning to others.

Religion Given the sharp legal limitations on women, they had to look elsewhere for acceptable venues of self-expression, and religion was the most likely choice for evangelicals like Puritans or Presbyterians. Very soon after the foundation of Massachusetts Bay, ANNE HUTCHINSON adopted an informal, quasi-clerical role in Boston that deeply divided the town in the mid-1630s. Male


authorities finally silenced her, primarily on the grounds of her heretical views, but also because they regarded her as a presumptuous woman. They exiled her and her followers from the colony. In the 1650s, a ruling of capital punishment was passed and carried out by authority in Massachusetts to punish radical Quaker women who protested the formal theology of the strict Calvinists. These executions for religious offenses were repeated on rare occasions in several colonies, most notably in Massachusetts when several women were hanged for witchcraft in 1692. Women’s moral claim to piety was strong, in that they had a tendency to be the most staunch churchgoers, outnumbering men. The reasons are not entirely clear. One explanation is that evangelical Protestant, Calvinist women had the same obligation as men to search their souls for signs of salvation and describe these to church members to qualify for membership. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP was an extraordinary, empowering outlet that did not exist for women in more ritualistic religions, and the majority of women in the northern colonies and an increasing number in the South belonged to evangelical sects. Female piety also expanded women’s moral claims by a curious development. The evangelical male clergy sought to expand their authority by diminishing the power of the male laity in their churches; and women were better prepared than laymen to accept that new clerical authority, thereby subtly increasing their collective sway in relation to men. Women did not restrict their piety to churchgoing, at least in New England. A series of deeply religious writers from ANNE BRADSTREET in 1650 to ABIGAIL BAILEY in 1815 published works that validated women’s piety and intellect. Countering this “feminization” of the evangelical churches were church morals committees, dominated by male church officials, which kept close watch on the day-to-day behavior of members, and no system of surveillance was more effective in restraining the movements of women. These bodies held the power to excommunicate a member for acts—like drinking or quarreling—that secular courts seldom prosecuted or did not even regard as being illegal. Even if the civil results of excommunication


were not serious in Protestant colonies, the social results for a woman could be devastating.

Economics Personal expression and social control also seemed indissolubly entwined in the economic sphere. Opportunities for women to participate in the marketplace seemed potentially great. Their supposed “sphere” included household production. The high price of imported goods in the colonies meant that women’s production in their houses and barns had a tendency to acquire market value. The production of butter is the best-known example. In most households that kept a cow or a herd, women made butter, and by the end of the eighteenth century they could sell their surplus to people who did not own cattle. The money from these sales became an increasingly important part of family farmers’ income, and informal familial authority could accrue to individual women through this market activity. Household production may have been even more liberating for enslaved women. In areas where slavery was the dominant form of production, sources suggest that they could dominate the local markets for foods they gathered from forests and streams or cultivated in personal gardens. They also sold common kitchen aids they made from natural materials, and provided numerous services like laundering, to earn a small amount of cash in their free time. With that money they could provide their families with a few necessities and luxuries slaves seldom received from masters. Much the same was true of indentured women. Native American women also commanded domestic arts of production by which they might earn some cash in local markets, but household production was most liberating for white women, who might even parlay that production into shopkeeping. By the end of the colonial period, about one-tenth of shopkeepers who advertised in Boston newspapers were women. The liberating effects of profitable economic activity by women had limits, for public opinion widely regarded it as inappropriate for women to engage in such behavior for their own advancement. They could not bargain with men on any basis of equality, they could not claim any customary PROPERTY RIGHTS in courts, and they



risked being regarded as unfeminine if they worked physically like men without restraint. The limits on women’s economic and political ambitions appear in the history of MARGARET BRENT, daughter of a wealthy English family, who established a plantation of her own in Maryland in 1638. Benefiting from her family’s prestige, she also refused to marry and in other ways behaved assertively, in defiance of conventional wisdom about woman’s place. When she demanded a vote in the Maryland assembly in 1648, the legislators roughly rejected her appeal, as well as her remonstrance “against all proceedings in this present Assembly,” which refused her a vote to which her property should have entitled her. Women did not enjoy direct political representation in any colony, and so could not exploit the principal means by which male property owners served their interests in common: in colonial governments.

CHANGES AFTER THE REVOLUTION The War for Independence gave some individual women special opportunities for self-expression, especially through patriotic activities in the army or on the home front. Some black slaves seized the opportunity of wartime confusion to escape SLAVERY by running away. Nevertheless, the AMERICAN REVOLUTION as a social and political event did not lead to dramatic changes in the short term, even though it established an ideological foundation for the later women’s movement. For example, radical women would repeatedly use the language of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE to protest their subordinate status. In the immediate future, however, the social control of women became more methodical than ever before. In the period from 1776 to 1820, several trends pointed in the direction of women’s liberation after 1820. An emergent ideology of REPUBLICAN MOTHERHOOD accorded women a special role in bearing and raising conscious citizens in a revolutionary republic, and a majority of men adhered to this ideology. As a result, republican girls and mothers had better access to education than ever before so as to be effective in that special role. More women came to the fore in radical religion than in the past, like the Quaker JEMIMA WILKINSON or the SHAKERS’

leader, Ann Lee (see RELIGIOUS SECTS). Widely read women writers began publishing, like Mercy Otis Warren or JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY. Secular opinion overcame moral objections to women acting on the stage even in New England in the 1790s. An increasing number of women dared to defy the conventional wisdom that they must marry, finding “liberty a better husband” as one wrote, and remaining single, devoting themselves to a variety of public services. These trends set off loud alarms among most men and conservative women too. A powerful backlash set in during the 1790s. Although aimed at the radical feminism of Englishwoman Mary Wollstonecraft, the criticism reasserted the simple virtues of the domestic sphere in a way meant to quash any change in women’s traditional role. It seems that the equalitarian ideology of white men led them to be just as insistent on women’s subordination as more conservative men, as if white male equality required that everyone else be strictly excluded from it on principle. Newspapers and pamphlets bombarded readers with exhortations to women and men alike to marry and reproduce, and to women in particular not to “unsex” themselves by too much ambition. While the press had an expanded role in influencing women in the new republic, evangelical religion also became increasingly important during the Second GREAT AWAKENING that began about 1800. Morals committees in these churches—still dominated by men—paid disproportionate attention to the disorderly conduct of women, so that they were under virtually constant surveillance by their neighbors. While white and free black women’s participation in churches, BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATIONS, and education would give them moral authority that would nourish political feminism in the future, for the time being they seemed as strictly controlled as ever. As for slavery, the Revolution was a boon to slaves in the northern states, which summarily or gradually abolished the institution. In the South, by contrast, the Revolution freed the slaveholding class to tighten the slave regime for their chattels and expand slaveholding into new territories and states. Native American women were besieged after 1776 by a new wave of white settlement that displaced the Indians east of the Mississippi River. They were subject to all the

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special horrors of war visited on women, and found it increasingly difficult to protect their land and families. While the Revolution made possible certain opportunities for free, propertied white women, for most women in the near future it was the occasion of more effective social controls than ever. Thomas N. Ingersoll F U RT H E R R E A D I N G

Chambers-Schiller, Lee Virginia. Liberty, A Better Husband: Single Women in America: The Generations of 1780–1840. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.


Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Jensen, Joan M. Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750–1850. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. Klein, Laura F., and Lillian A. Ackerman, eds. Women and Power in Native North America. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995. Matthaei, Julie A. An Economic History of Women in America: Women’s Work, the Sexual Division of Labor, and the Development of Capitalism. New York: Schocken Books, 1982. White, Deborah Gray. Ar’n’t I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South. New York: Norton, 1985.

Stages in a Woman’s Life in the Early Republic


achel Mordecai was eight years old in 1796 when her mother died after giving birth to her sixth child. Judith and her husband, Jacob, had understood the hazards to her health of further pregnancies after her fourth child was born three years before. Nevertheless, she bore one more healthy child before succumbing along with her newborn infant, leaving behind a bereft family of four children in addition to Rachel. Jacob Mordecai was grief-stricken; he was also incompetent as a manager of a household with a brood of small children. Therefore, Rachel and her siblings were sent to live with relatives for three years. When her father remarried (his former wife’s youngest sister), the Mordecai family was reconstituted. The three years of exile were a torture to young Rachel, who, along with her younger sister Ellen, lived with an aunt and uncle in Richmond, Virginia. There the girls had a room to themselves and attended Mr. Bodgsin’s School for Young Ladies. But despite the good circumstances of her new life, Rachel longed to return to her family home in Warrenton, North Carolina. The Mordecais are known today—when they are known at all—because of the boarding school

for young women (and a few male day students) that the family ran in Warrenton during the early nineteenth century. For its time, the Mordecai Academy was considered progressive. It offered, in addition to the traditional female curriculum of social and domestic arts, classes in science and geography. The school was operated primarily— its faculty, administration, and staff—by members of the Mordecai family. As a young woman of 20 Rachel became the primary teacher, and eventually she became the chief administrator. Rachel Mordecai was an exemplary woman in the early republican era (1790–1820), not because all women were like her, but because her life represented some of the experiences and issues important to many women of the time. Clearly, there was no one pattern for women’s lives in the early nineteenth century any more than there is one model in the early twenty-first century. However, it is possible to identify similar stages in the lives of most women and recognize similar social constructions of behavior prescribed for all women. Anthropologists note that life stages are culturally determined. In different times and places the boundaries that separate the years from birth to death are adjusted to accommo-


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date the conditions and values of particular people’s lives. Gender is one factor that affects these boundaries; women’s lives follow a different pattern than men’s. In general, it has been noted that while men experience Shakespeare’s “seven stages” from infancy to death (infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, old age, second childhood), women have only four stages: daughter, wife, mother, and widow. All of these stages derive from their relationships with others— father, husband, and children. These stages in women’s lives are further determined by the political and economic context that govern their worlds as well as the social circumstances of race, class, and ethnicity. In most respects Rachel Mordecai is a good model for women during the early national period. She was white and Southern. She was also Jewish in a primarily Protestant world. Her family moved many times before settling in Warrenton; her relatives were widely dispersed in New York, Philadelphia, Petersburg, and Richmond. Her brothers would move to Alabama and Tennessee. The Mordecais’ financial circumstances varied broadly over the years; sometimes they were comfortable, sometimes they were poor. Jacob, the family’s primary breadwinner, started and closed many businesses from tobacco investments to retail shops, never succeeding for long in any of them until he started his school in 1808. The school, ultimately, thrived on the labor of his children, particularly his eldest daughter Rachel, who delayed marriage for many years to serve her family’s interests. Rachel’s work as a teacher was not typical for young women of her time and social class. Most women, like the students she taught, were destined to be wives and mothers exclusively. While the number of married women declined at the beginning of the nineteenth century from a high of 95 percent in the seventeenth century to 90 percent in the postrevolutionary years, the age at marriage had increased slightly from 22 to 23 years. Overall, a woman in 1800 could expect to have slightly fewer children, seven on average. The life span of her students, barring the many hazards of childbirth and disease, was longer. During those long years of adulthood, the workplace of women from the upper and middling classes centered in the home. Their work differed little from that of their mothers and grandmothers.

YOUTH AND EDUCATION Most women received their primary and practical education for their lifelong work as housewives in their parents’ home. Little girls began to do chores as soon as they were capable of performing simple tasks; as they aged they took on increased responsibilities, including cooking, cleaning, and child care. Very early, little girls learned to differentiate women’s work from men’s as their brothers went outside the home to learn their work as farmers or artisans from their fathers or through apprenticeship. The states did not support public schooling until well into the nineteenth century. However, many communities did provide basic learning for small children. At DAME SCHOOLS, which were run by women in their homes, young girls and boys would learn to read and do arithmetic. Most little girls, however, were taught by their mothers or older siblings. Literacy is difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Some demographers claim that at the turn of the nineteenth century, 50 percent of women were literate. This number is derived by counting women who signed legal documents, but it is well known that some women learned to read in order to study the Bible but could not write. In any event, literacy for women lagged behind that of men, whose rate is estimated at 60 percent for the same period. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, numerous boarding schools, like the Mordecai Academy, sprang up, catering primarily to substantial middle- and upper-class girls whose parents could afford the tuition. Most of the girls in the Mordecai school were between the ages of 12 and 18, though some were younger. The school curriculum did not differ greatly from the domestic and fine arts program that traditionally prepared young women for their future social roles as housewives and mothers. In addition to reading some classical and secular literature, they studied music and art and learned some French. The Mordecais stressed geography and mathematics (often taught by a Mordecai son). Their students also learned to sew. In fact, the original building of the Mordecai Academy was burned to the ground one night when a young scholar stayed up late to finish some sewing by candlelight and fell asleep.

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Girls usually stayed at school for one year, just long enough to introduce them to the rudiments of culture, although serious students might remain as long as four years. These were privileged women.

MATURITY AND WORK Women’s work consisted of cooking and cleaning, spinning and sewing, and above all, care of children. Chances are a woman would bear a child every two years, more if she chose not to nurse her own infant (nursing can work as a form of birth control). This was the domestic routine for women, day in and day out, year after year. Variations on this pattern were often a result of economic or cultural circumstances. If a woman was wealthy, she would supervise servants who performed household chores for her. If she was middling, as most women were, she would work alongside of her servants. If she was poor, she would do all of the work herself or with the help of daughters. Young daughters would rock a cradle, spin, or do light cleaning. Eventually they could work alongside their mothers, even taking responsibility for rearing younger siblings, as did Rachel Mordecai. Very poor women, often widows who needed the extra income, performed domestic tasks for other women. They might exchange or barter homemade food or other items for various goods. Some enterprising women ran taverns or shops or worked as midwives, governesses, or servants. Widows remarried quickly if they could in order to gain the support of a man. For some men, marriage to a widow provided a favorable opportunity, either because he, too, was widowed and had children to be cared for or would assume proprietary control of her fortune under the still-prevailing system of the COVERTURE. This legal system, inherited from British law, stated that a husband took control of his wife’s property and wealth after marriage. Not until the middle of the nineteenth century did states begin to change this law so that married women could possess their own property and fortunes. The system of coverture may have accounted for some women’s decision to remain single. Older women, especially widows, could expect to be cared for by children, either those in their homes or living close by. In return, a


grandmother might assist with child care and household chores. For older women who were destitute, churches provided minimal support.

MINORITY WOMEN Such was the working life of most white women. Unlike these women, who were accountable either to fathers or husbands, enslaved women were always subject to their masters. Children born into slavery endured the same harsh conditions as their parents. From the earliest years, as soon as they were capable of performing chores, slave girls went to work. They tended the infants of their white mistresses, carried water, or picked pests from cotton plants. Unlike most white, coastal farm women, enslaved women worked in the fields, toiling to raise rice in the Carolinas as well as cotton and tobacco in the Chesapeake and the western frontier. While some slave women, but not men, worked as domestics, most worked along with the men in the fields. Those who were pregnant worked until they gave birth and returned as soon as possible to the fields, sometimes with their babies. In other cases, elderly slave women tended to the infants. The small minority of Indian women who had survived disease, warfare, and removal had a different tradition from European women. Historians have argued that some tribes, like the Seneca, were matriarchal, meaning that women ruled the household. Others, like the Cherokee, were matrilocal, and husbands moved in with their wives’ families. Farming was women’s work among several tribes, and among the Seneca their power extended to participation in the ruling councils. Still, among all peoples there was gender differentiation, and girls followed their mothers’ tradition, while the boys patterned their lives after their hunter and warrior fathers. In addition to this gendered inversion of work for women, what white people noted was the native women’s sexual freedom. By the early part of the nineteenth century, missionaries were hard at work converting the natives, first to western cultural mores, and then to religion. In all, these labors were minimally effective as the tribes were reduced to destitution by war, disease, and soon by removal to western territories.


S TA G E S I N A W O M A N ’ S L I F E I N T H E E A R L Y R E P U B L I C

WOMEN’S RELIGION By the nineteenth century, religion had been feminized, continuing a long drift toward women’s increasing church membership that began as early as the 1660s. However, the most marked trend in religion during this early republican period was the spread of evangelical religion, a trend also that had begun earlier. While New York had always had a great variety of religious denominations in the eighteenth century, other states were becoming diversified by the early nineteenth century. The QUAKER hegemony of Pennsylvania had given way to Moravians and Lutherans. BAPTISTS and METHODISTS made inroads in the Anglican South. Even PURITAN Massachusetts had given way to other Protestant sects. Historian Ruth Bloch has argued that during this period, women were accorded the primary role as moral mediators in a culture of growing commercialism and secularism. Women not only attended church more but also in some evangelical sects, took over leadership functions. It is not possible to measure church attendance over the life span. Presumably women, if they attended church, took their children with them. The Sunday school movement that began for indigent children in Philadelphia in the early nineteenth century was flourishing and had begun to spread. Women’s historians have suggested that women attended church more often and were more religious than men because they sensed themselves closer to death because of CHILDBEARING and ministering to the sick and dying. Religion certainly was not practiced uniformly throughout the vast expanse of the colonies. In many areas, for instance the South, where people lived at great distances from each other, ministers traveled the circuit. In the frontier regions, where few churches were within reach of many farms, women prayed on their own.

WOMEN’S HEALTH People in the early nineteenth century were sickly much of the time; HEALTH would not greatly improve for another century. Mothers in particular lived close to DISEASE and death. The time of greatest danger was INFANCY. If a child survived her first year, chances for longevity

improved. If she lived to five they improved still more. Then she might be long-lived—particularly if she survived the dangerous years between 20 and 45, the childbearing years. She also faced the threat of tuberculosis or one of the epidemic scourges that periodically occurred— smallpox, influenza, yellow fever, diphtheria, and more. The warm seasons were especially unhealthy. A yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793 resulted in thousands of deaths. In an era before modern medicine was understood, physicians were few and only marginally more helpful than lay people. Women took responsibility for their family’s health. Their best hope for their young children was their own tender care, frequent cleansing, good nutrition—and prayer.

MATERIAL CULTURE Geographic area as well as social standing determined the material surroundings in which a child grew up. By the early nineteenth century, the homes of the privileged had rooms differentiated by function, such as sleeping, entertaining, and cooking. A plantation might boast a large expansive wood-frame house, several stories high, with a surrounding verandah to catch the breezes. A different ambiance was provided by a Manhattan townhouse still in the Dutch mode with narrow gabled roofs, and a Georgian structure in Boston would yet again be different. Material culture was significant for women, because their daily lives revolved around the home and their surroundings determined both how they lived and how they saw themselves. Privileged women relied on servants for many tasks. Still, women did the work of keeping a large, luxuriously furnished house, perhaps with imported furniture or furnishings made by an American craftsman (women did not engage in production crafts). Servants also gave the most affluent women time to read, write, or play the piano. At the other extreme, a farmhouse in Kentucky on average measured 700 square feet with one large room that served all functions. Privacy was not available to most families. Nor did most women have leisure time. It was a hardscrabble life on the frontier, notable for the loneliness


many women might feel for family in the East or female companionship. Clothes were also determined by social advantage. From the age of six, young girls were dressed like their mothers. Their basic attire was a chemise worn close to their bodies and then layered by petticoats (particularly important in cold weather), a blouse, a skirt, and finally an apron. A girl’s hair was covered by a cap. An important option was a pocket, worn as a purse tied around the waist. It was useful for carrying many small items. Affluent women possessed several outfits, often made of material imported from Europe. Poor women wore clothing made of homespun materials. Slaves were given simple outfits several times a year. Their clothing was cheaply made and quickly wore out.


whose lives they would repeat. Education reinforced this image for women in the new nation. But the national image was more. It contained more variety than uniformity, and that was the great achievement of the experiment in “inventing” a nation. The ideal daughter, wife, mother was primarily white, but also black, brown, and red. She was primarily Protestant, but many were Catholic or Jewish or practiced African-American or Indian religions. If she was Protestant, she was perhaps a CONGREGATIONALIST or Unitarian, ANGLICAN or Presbyterian, Quaker, Baptist, Methodist, or Moravian. She was Southern, Western or Northern; she was middle class, frontierswoman, or poor. Her family was indigent. She spent her days in leisure. She was literate, barely literate, or illiterate. She was young and old. This was the national image. Edith B. Gelles



Clearly, no single pattern emerges from this portrait of women’s lives during the period 1790 to 1820. For the most part, women fit into the pattern of daughter, wife, mother, widow over their life spans. Their venue was the home. Their primary work was housework and child rearing. When women needed income to support their families, they performed work that was derived from the domestic sphere and could be done in the home. Little girls learned their roles as soon as they were capable of doing simple chores and their primary teachers were their mothers,

Bingham, Emily Sims. “Mordecai: Three Generations of a Southern Jewish Family.” Dissertation: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1998. Boydston, Jeanne. Home and Work: Housework, Wages and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989. Reinier, Jacqueline W. From Virtue to Character; American Childhood, 1775–1850. New York: Twayne, 1996. Smith, Daniel Blake. Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake Society. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.

Women’s Citizenship in the Early Republic


he AMERICAN REVOLUTION transformed the inhabitants of the United States from subjects into citizens. Prior to 1776, colonists had considered themselves loyal denizens of the British empire, subject to the will of the king whom they regarded as their ultimate protector and guardian. With independence, however, Americans overthrew monarchy and established a republican form of government. In

a republic, the people rule themselves. Rights and liberties are considered inalienable, not subject to human delegation or manipulation. In a very literal sense, the people are the government. In shifting from monarchy to a republic, Americans had to confront the question of whether women were citizens of the new polity. Citizenship was a vague concept, referring to a person’s participation in, or sense of belonging



to, a particular political community. Yet the precise meaning has changed over time and according to circumstances. With the coming of independence, Americans assumed that any free, white person who did not swear allegiance to the British was an American citizen. Eventually, Americans began to distinguish between inhabitants and citizens, between those who merely lived in the United States and those who could participate in its government and enjoy certain rights and privileges. Slaves, for example, were clearly excluded from the benefits of citizenship. Americans also differentiated among other groups, such as free blacks, Indians, and foreigners, when defining citizenship. Women, however, represented a special case. For some purposes they were considered citizens, and for other purposes they were not. It is thus difficult to make generalizations about women’s citizenship without looking at specific aspects of the concept, including naturalization, voting, and civil rights.

they could inculcate virtue, promote patriotism, and encourage self-sacrifice for the common good. Women as well as men could hence be considered citizens of the republic. The Revolution also changed women’s status in a more symbolic way. Early Americans often used feminine symbols and images to portray their country. A bare-breasted woman, Native American in origin, was a common image, a symbol that transformed feminine weakness into a symbol of strength and boldness. Two other female icons, Liberty and Columbia, were even more widespread. Participants would often carry statues of Columbia or wave banners displaying the goddess Liberty during parades or at public festivities. Pictures of these mythic figures appeared in books, broadsides, and magazines. Strong as well as delicate, firm but feminine, these figures conveyed complex notions about the relationship between gender and national identity in the new nation.



As in England, American women had few rights inscribed in law. Women’s legal status was that of feme covert, a person who was protected by a male, usually a father or husband. COVERTURE, as it was called, meant that married women could not own property, make contracts, sue or be sued in court. Only widows left to fend for themselves in the absence of a man were exceptions. Because independence, grounded in the ownership of property, was thought to be the hallmark of freedom, women were precluded from voting or holding public office. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that prior to the Revolution, women were legal and political nonentities. The Revolution altered women’s relationship to the political community. Patriot leaders were quick to realize that their success depended, at least in part, in persuading women to support their side. Using poems, essays, and orations, they urged women to boycott imported luxury goods, produce homemade fabric and clothing, and, if necessary, sacrifice their husbands, sons, and brothers on the field of battle. Women responded to men’s pleas. Their efforts during the war helped create a new understanding of woman’s political role, a concept that historian Linda Kerber has called REPUBLICAN MOTHERHOOD. As wives and mothers,

During the American Revolution, citizenship came to be defined according to a person’s allegiance or voluntary acts of loyalty to the state. Whereas loyalty to the Crown had hitherto been assumed, now everyone could choose their rulers and the form of government they preferred. This situation provided a brief opening for women. Recognizing the need to expand the patriot ranks, several states passed laws acknowledging the possibility that a woman might have a political will separate from that of her husband. In 1779, for example, the Massachusetts legislature enacted a statute that confiscated the estates of men who fled to England. Yet the law also stipulated that wives who remained in this country, presumably supportive of the American cause, could retain a third of the estate. Implicitly, Massachusetts recognized that a wife might make a different choice from her husband. Other states passed similar provisions. The situation changed after the war. State and federal judges retreated from the idea that women could be politically autonomous. They invalidated the Revolutionary-era statutes and reaffirmed the older notion that wives must defer to, and be subsumed by, their husband’s political choices. The legal status of women as citizens remained ambiguous. With independence, all


In this 1796 allegorical image, Liberty, in the form of a goddess, offers a cup to an eagle, symbol of the American republic. She treads beneath her feet chains, a scepter, a key, and other symbols of tyranny.




free white inhabitants were assumed to be citizens, both of the particular state in which they resided and of the United States. Yet it was not always clear what rights and privileges were associated with citizenship. The U. S. CONSTITUTION, for example, did not specifically mention women. However, women were included in the decennial census count. More than simply a tally of inhabitants, the census determined the number of representatives each state received in the House of Representatives. As Senator Samuel Mitchill of New York explained to his wife, “In the theory of our Constitution women are calculated as political beings. They are numbered in the census of inhabitants . . . and the Representatives are apportioned among the people according to their numbers, reckoning the females as well as the males. Though, therefore, women do not vote, they are nevertheless represented in the national government to their full amount.” As part of the enumerated population, women thus helped constitute the body politic. They were nonvoting “political beings.” The issue of naturalization perpetuated the ambiguities regarding women’s status as citizens. The Naturalization Act of 1790 did not limit citizenship to males. “Free white” foreigners, including women, could become citizens merely by residing in the country for two years, proving their “good character,” and taking an oath to support the United States Constitution. In practice, however, most of the people who sought naturalization in the early United States were men, presumably because they wished to purchase land or vote. Other provisions reinforced the law’s male bias. Parents could pass on citizenship to their children, regardless of where they were born. However, children whose fathers had never resided in the country were specifically prohibited from inheriting American citizenship. Nothing was said about the mother’s citizenship being inheritable. Women’s status was thus separate from, and inferior to, that of men. Nonetheless, the fact that women could be naturalized implied that they, like men, had standing as citizens.

SUFFRAGE The vote has not always been considered an essential feature of citizenship. During the colonial period, voting was considered a privilege

rather than a right. As in Britain, colonists believed that only those who owned a certain amount of property were entitled to vote. Enfranchisement required economic independence and an ongoing stake in society. Depending on the colony, as many as 30 to 50 percent of all white males were ineligible to vote. Slaves and free blacks could not vote. Even widows, the only women who might own property and thus be eligible to vote, were considered to lack the judgment and experience necessary for the franchise. After the Revolution, these assumptions came under scrutiny. Young men without property, who were willing to fight and die for their country, wondered why they could not elect representatives to their assemblies. Other groups also began to question their exclusion. Suffrage requirements changed, but did so rather slowly. Most of the first state constitutions, written between 1776 and 1790, lowered but did not abolish property qualifications for voting. Only Vermont, which did not become a state until 1791, eliminated all property restrictions and opened the door for universal male suffrage. By the first decades of the nineteenth century, however, Americans came to realize that voting represented the most direct means of expressing their will to their representatives. States came under increasing pressure to expand the scope of the voting population. By 1830, universal white male suffrage prevailed throughout the country. Newly admitted states as well as many of the original states abolished existing property qualifications for voting. Yet they also added new restrictions, specifically limiting the franchise to “free white males.” Whereas earlier constitutions had excluded women because of their lack of property, the new codes excluded them because they were women. Gender rather than economic status now determined the franchise. Voting became a male prerogative. Moreover, voting became not only one feature of citizenship, but its defining characteristic. The rise of universal white male suffrage meant a decline in the political importance of nonvoting citizens, most especially women. One state, however, took a different course. Under the auspices of its 1776 constitution, the women of New Jersey were allowed to vote. The wording of the New Jersey constitution was gender-neutral, providing simply that “all inhabi-


tants of this colony of full age, who are worth fifty pounds . . . shall be entitled to vote.” The ambiguity in this wording disappeared in 1790 and 1797 when the New Jersey assembly passed election laws referring to voters as “he” and “she.” In subsequent years, women who could meet the rather substantial property qualification of £50 (mostly, wealthy widows) did vote. They voted in both state and federal elections, for state legislators as well as members of Congress. Controversy, however, dogged the women voters. Politics was a masculine preoccupation; voting was considered unfeminine. Partly due to the stigma, women voted in relatively small numbers, with no more than a few hundred voting in any given election. Hostility to the female voters was widespread. Deriding the very idea of woman suffrage, one contemporary author jeered: To Congress, lo! Widows shall go, Like metamorphosed witches! Cloth’d in the dignity of state, And eke! In coat and breeches! Prejudices such as these doomed the experiment. In 1807, the New Jersey legislature passed a law restricting the franchise only to white males. Significantly, women neither objected to its loss of the privilege nor demanded its reinstatement. They did not yet see voting as an essential feature of citizenship.

CIVIL RIGHTS Women of the early republic realized that even if they did not have all the rights of men, they did possess certain rights. The universal ideals of the Revolutionary period enabled women to be regarded as men’s equals in their own appointed realm. The domestic sphere, as it was called, was understood to encompass not only the home but also a wide array of religious matters and moral issues. Women’s growing sense of their own status encouraged them to strive for more equality with men: for greater access to educational opportunities, greater control over national morality, and greater influence on social policy. Women also realized they had some protection for their rights. The Constitution guaranteed women as well as men certain civil rights, including freedom of religion and


speech, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances. This broader understanding of women’s rights allowed women to play a larger role in public affairs than they had before the American Revolution. The right to petition represented one of the most powerful tools women possessed as nonvoting citizens. During and after the Revolution, individual women sought relief from the state and federal government for a variety of reasons, seeking compensation for the ravages of war, reimbursement for wartime expenditures, or payment of their husbands’ pensions. By the early nineteenth century, women began to organize into groups to promote various social causes. Women reformers were especially active in the TEMPERANCE (see Volume 2) and antislavery movements. These causes required women to appeal not just to their fellow citizens but to their government, which could enact legislation to effect their goals. Petitions allowed women to make their voices heard at a time when they could not vote. By gathering signatures and making their wishes known, they hoped to influence Congress and the state legislatures. Some men opposed the women’s involvement in reform movements and denied their standing as petitioners. Women insisted that petitioning was their right. “Although we are women,” noted the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, “we are still citizens.” In 1838 Congress attempted to quash women’s antislavery petitions by imposing the “gag” rule. Congressman (and former president) John Quincy Adams defended the women’s actions. “Are women,” he asked his colleagues, “to have no opinions or actions on subjects relating to the general welfare?” Like men, women had a right to express their views to their government—and to expect legislators to take their views seriously. Ultimately, female reformers realized that petitioning alone would not work. They needed to participate directly in the political process in order to change society in the ways they desired. By the 1830s some women began to campaign for the right to vote and hold public office. Their efforts culminated in the SENECA FALLS CONVENTION of 1848 (see Volume 2). The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, mod-



eled on the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, voiced women’s frustration at their exclusion from government and the professions. It challenged women’s subordinate legal status, their inability to own property, and their lack of educational opportunities. Demanding full equality with men, the Declaration demanded that women gain “immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.” Only by becoming fully enfranchised could women achieve their goals. Their demands would take many years to realize. In fact, not until the passage of the NINETEENTH AMENDMENT in 1920 (see Volume 3) did women throughout the country gain the right to vote. Only then did they move closer to truly equal citizenship with men. Rosemarie Zagarri F U RT H E R R E A D I N G

Ginzberg, Lori D. Women and the Work of Benevolence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Isenberg, Nancy. Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Kerber, Linda K. No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship. New York: Hill & Wang, 1998. ———. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Kettner, James H. The Development of American Citizenship, 1608–1870. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978. Keyssar, Alexander. The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Lewis, Jan. Politics and the Ambivalence of the Private Sphere: Women in Early Washington, D.C. In A Republic for the Ages: The United States Capital and the Political Culture of the Early Republic, ed. Donald R. Kennon. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999. Smith, Rogers M. Civic Ideals : Conflicting Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997. Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement. Troutdale, OR: New Sage Press, 1995.

Part 2 Articles

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The deliberate termination of a pregnancy. There is some controversy about how people in colonial America regarded abortion. Facts and statistics are hard to find, especially because abortions, if performed, were done at home and not recorded. What is known is that until 1821, there were no statutory laws prohibiting abortion. Until that point, American law followed British common law, which allowed abortion until the time of “quickening,” when the mother could feel movements of the child, usually in the fourth or fifth month. At the time, most people believed that the fetus was actually not alive until that point. What abortions were performed were usually done by midwives and involved using herbal remedies or bloodletting. Women were bled to release “menstrual blockages,” many of which were certainly pregnancies. Pills and mechanical devices were also used. In 1989, 400 historians signed a brief presented to the United States Supreme Court in which they cited historical evidence that the United States had from the beginning supported a woman’s right to choose. These historians claim that abortion “was not uncommon in colonial America.” They also claim that the anti-abortion laws enacted after 1821 had little to do with protecting the fetus. They say that the laws were aimed at convincing people to use doctors rather than midwives, protecting women against unsafe procedures, and preventing Catholic immigrants from becoming more numerous than Protestant residents.


(1744–1818) Letter writer, wife of the second president of the United States, and mother of the sixth president. Abigail Smith was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of a Congregational minister, the Reverend William Smith, and Elizabeth Quincy, who was related to many of the old Puritan families who had founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Like most girls of her day, Abigail received no formal schooling, but she was surrounded by books and intelligent conversation and read voraciously.

Abigail was only 14 years old when she met John Adams, a lawyer from Braintree (today called Quincy), Massachusetts. Adams was at first unimpressed with “Nabby.” He later recorded in his diary that she was a “wit” but felt she did not possess the “tenderness” and “fondness” he detected in the woman he was seeing at the time. Just a few years later, however, Abigail and Adams were exchanging love letters; they were married in October 1764. John Adams was 29 and Abigail 19. During the couple’s first ten years together, Abigail gave birth to five children, and Adams became increasingly well known as a lawyer and politician. At the end of that decade, the couple was separated for many years, while John traveled beginning in 1774 when Adams went to Philadelphia as a delegate to the first Continental Congress. During this time Abigail was left to manage the household and the farm. She did the work with such skill that Adams once jokingly wrote that he was starting “to be jealous, that our Neighbors will think Affairs more discreetly conducted in my Absence than at any other Time.” Abigail’s grandson, Charles Francis Adams, believed that Abigail’s abilities as a manager saved her husband from the financial failure that devastated many of the new nation’s public servants. As much as the couple missed each other, their separation had one happy result: the hundreds of letters Abigail Adams wrote to her husband. Although her handwriting was inelegant and her spelling poor, Abigail’s letters are charming and intelligent, giving a lively picture of life during the American Revolution. Among the most famous is one written in March 1776, in which she urges her husband to Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticular care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation. (See Documents.)

At a time when women were not expected to take any interest in or express opinions about politics,




grandchildren. While Abigail did not live to see her son, John Quincy Adams, become president, she did see him appointed Secretary of State under James Monroe in 1817. Many of her letters to her son survived, and it is clear that she never hesitated to give him advice. Abigail Smith Adams died of a fever in October 1818. FURTHER READING

Akers, Charles W. Abigail Adams. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980. Levin, Phyllis Lee. Abigail Adams. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

 ADAMS, HANNAH See civic life


Abigail Adams had strong political opinions.

Abigail’s letter demonstrates that she was quite interested in politics and keenly aware of current events. Abigail also expressed her opinions on the lack of educational opportunity for girls and on racial discrimination. She believed that girls should be educated with the same care as boys and was a vigorous opponent of slavery. After the American Revolution, the family moved to Europe, where John served as American minister to the Hague and then as the first American Ambassador to Britain. From 1789 to 1801, John Adams served as vice-president and then president of the United States. Abigail divided her time between Quincy and the nation’s new capital, Washington, D.C. She occupied the White House even before it was completed. As the White House’s first tenants, the Adamses did not enjoy their time there; the house was cold and damp. Abigail had to hang her laundry in the East Room. Although she was often ill during John’s presidency, Abigail was a dutiful hostess who sometimes surprised people with her strong political opinions. She was an astute adviser to her husband. After John Adams retired from public life in 1801, the couple lived peacefully in Quincy, taking care of the farm and spending time with their

(1775–1852) Only foreign-born First Lady of the United States, wife of John Quincy Adams. Louisa Johnson was born in London and educated in France. In 1795, John Quincy Adams met her while on a temporary mission to London. The couple were married in 1797. In 1801, Louisa traveled with John and their son to the United States, where she met John’s family for the first time. She was intimidated by her famous mother-in-law, Abigail Smith Adams, but had an affectionate relationship with her father-inlaw, former president John Adams. Between 1803 and 1817, John Quincy Adams served as a United States senator and as ambassador to Russia. While in Russia, the couple lost their only daughter, who was born in 1811 and died the next year. When President James Monroe chose John Quincy Adams as his secretary of state in 1817, the couple returned to Washington. Louisa became known for her skill as a hostess, and the parties at the Adamses’ house were famous for good company and lavish entertainment. Louisa continued in this role during her husband’s term as president from 1825 to 1829. Shortly after, John Quincy Adams was defeated in his bid for a second term, their oldest son fell or jumped to his death from a steamer entering New York harbor. In 1830, John Quincy Adams ran for the House of Representatives, a decision Louisa opposed.


Louisa Adams was a famous hostess.

While she feared for his health, she supported him in all the causes for which he fought for the next 17 years. The couple celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1847; John died at the Capitol in 1848. Louisa suffered a stroke in 1849 and died in 1852.


tasks of weaving, spinning, knitting, and sewing. In the South, white girls were even put to the task of making slaves’ clothing—so the slaves could be put to more profitable work. Enslaved children were put to work at very early ages. Young girls often cared for even younger white children. Girls who were in their teens were often sent to live with an older sister to help with pregnancy, childbirth, and child rearing. Some young girls were bound over as servants to help them learn housework. This was true even for girls from wealthy families, since their parents believed that living in someone else’s home would help them learn better manners. Most girls were denied education past the level of dame school. If adolescent girls received any higher education at all, what they learned was usually limited to those skills that would supposedly make them better wives and mothers. Cotton Mather, among the more enlightened men of his generation, wrote in Ornaments of the Daughters of Zion (1691) that women needed education in housewifery, needlework, arithmetic, accountancy, surgery and “such other arts related to business, as may enable her to do the man whom she may hereafter have, good and not evil, all the days of her life.” In the South, girls tended to marry while still in their late teens; in the North, they married a few years later, usually by age 23. See also: Childhood; Infancy; Old Age. FURTHER READING


According to David Freeman Hawke in Everyday Life in Early America, “The colonial child moved toward adulthood in a fairly straight line, with no pause for the miseries of adolescence. That phase, except in its physical manifestations, did not exist then.” At about the age of six, colonial children began wearing adult clothing; this was a symbolic moment in a child’s life, similar to high school graduation today, in that it signaled the end of childhood. At the same time, girls would be given various tasks associated with the manufacture of cloth—spinning flax, combing wool, or weaving. Even if families believed in educating girls beyond their first few years, their labor in the area of cloth manufacture was so important to the well-being of the family that few girls could be spared from the

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.

 ADULTERY See fornication

AFRICAN HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY See family life, free black; marriages, slave; slave family structure

AITKEN, JANE (1764–1832) Bookseller and bookbinder who produced the only Bible ever printed by a woman in North



America. Jane Aitken was born in Paisley, Scotland, to Robert and Janet Aitken. The family emigrated to the United States in 1771 and settled in Philadelphia, where Robert established a printing and bookbinding business. In 1782, he printed the first English Bible in North America. When he died in 1802, Robert Aitken left Jane $3000 in debts and two younger sisters to look after. At 38 years-of-age, Jane took over her father’s business and began to publish books. At least 60 books are known to have been published by her between 1802 and 1812. Aitken’s most important publication was the four-volume Thomson Bible (1808), the first English translation of the Greek version of the Old Testament, and the first Bible. It was also the only Bible ever printed by a woman in North America. Although she printed many volumes, Aitken earned most of her money from bookbinding. Her work showed that she was very skilled and had excellent taste. It may be that Jane, herself, was responsible for much of the bookbinding that was done in Robert’s shop before his death. Unfortunately, Aitken’s abilities were not enough to allow her to pay off all the debt she had inherited, and her business failed several times. In 1814, she was imprisoned for debt, since there was no possibility of declaring bankruptcy in those days. She died in 1832, after “a long and painful illness.”



(1693–1760) Colonial businesswoman. Mary Spratt was born in New York City to John and Maria Spratt. Her father died in 1697, and her mother in 1700. Mary was raised by her maternal grandmother. In 1711, Mary wed Samuel Provoost, with whom she had three children, Maria, John, and David. She invested the inheritance she received from her parents in Samuel’s trading business. After Samuel’s death in 1720, Mary took over his import business and ran it for the next 39 years. In 1721, she married James Alexander, a Scottish immigrant who became one of New York’s leading political figures. Together they had seven children.

Mary was a successful businesswoman. She imported so many goods for her New York store that some said no ship ever entered the harbor without something of hers on board. During the French and Indian War, Mary and her son William supplied the British forces with horses, food, tools, weapons, and boats. While it cannot be documented, it is said that Mary was very much interested in New York politics and that she was the one who persuaded attorney Andrew Hamilton to defend newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger in his trial of libel charges. Zenger’s acquittal helped to establish freedom of the press in America. After John’s death in 1756, Mary administered his estate until her death in 1760.

ALGONQUIAN HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY During the seventeenth century, the Algonquian (or Algonkin), a North American Indian tribe, inhabited the upper St. Lawrence and the lower Ottawa River areas of present-day Quebec, Canada. Early French fur traders and settlers gave the name “Algonquin” to a number of independent bands of hunting peoples whom they encountered in that region. The Algonquian allied themselves with the French. They warred against the Iroquois, who finally forced the Algonquian farther north and west. Too far north for agriculture, most Algonquian were loosely organized into small, semi-nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers. Although a few southern bands were just beginning to grow corn in 1608, the Algonquian relied heavily on hunting for their food, which made them excellent hunters and trappers; these skills quickly attracted the attention of French fur traders after 1603. The Algonquian used their birch-bark canoes to travel great distances for trade, and their strategic location on the Ottawa River became the preferred route between the French on the St. Lawrence River and the tribes of the western Great Lakes. Groups of Algonquian would gather during the summer for fishing and socializing, but at the approach of winter, they separated into small hunting camps of extended families, with men, women, and children joining in on the expedition. The climate was harsh, and starvation was common. These small foraging bands spoke closely related languages of the Algonquian (Algonkian) family and were similar in culture and social or-



ganization. The Algonquian language was spoken by over 30 different Native American groups, including the Cheyenne, Miami, Shawnee, and Ojibwa. This conglomeration of tribes and cultures practiced various religions and arranged their families according to diverse social codes. The Algonquian were patrilineal, with the right to use specific hunting territories being passed from father to son, but some Algonquian tribes used matrilineal descent (traced through the mother) in determining kinship. Algonquian dwellings, or wigwams, were rounded structures covered by saplings and were ususally constructed by Algonquian females. One or two families lived in each wigwam. The frames of these wigwams could also be extended into longhouses, such as those used by the Iroquois. See also: Iroquois Household Economy.


(1783–1813) Beloved daughter of Vice-President Aaron Burr, and one of the best educated women of her generation. Theodosia Burr was the only child of Aaron Burr, the third vice-president of the United States. Burr adored Theodosia and was keenly interested in her education. Unlike many men of his era, Burr believed that women should be as well educated as men. He personally supervised his daughter’s education, which included reading the classics and learning mathematics, the natural sciences, and French. Burr also saw to it that Theodosia learned music and dancing, and on her mother’s death, she became her father’s official hostess. She and her father wrote letters to each other throughout their lives. In 1801, the year her father became vicepresident, Theodosia married Joseph Alston of South Carolina. The couple had one son, named after Burr. In 1804, when Burr was accused of murder as a result of a duel with Alexander Hamilton, his daughter was his staunchest supporter. And in 1807, when Burr was arrested for treason as a result of his attempt to found a new republic in the western part of the United States, Theodosia remained by her father’s side throughout his trial. Though acquitted of both crimes, Burr left the United States in disgrace and remained abroad for several years. During this time, Theodosia became the target of those who disliked Burr, and even her

Theodosia Burr Alston was one of the best-educated women of her generation.

husband and his family were disturbed by her fierce loyalty to her father. But Theodosia never wavered. “You appear to me so superior, so elevated above all other men,” she wrote to her father while he lived in Europe. “I had rather not live than not be the daughter of such a man.” Tragedy struck the Alstons in June 1812, when their son died of a tropical fever. Later that year, Burr returned to the United States, and Theodosia planned to travel to New York to see him. Because the United States was at war with Britain, passage by ship was dangerous, but Theodosia was determined. Unable to keep her from traveling, her husband wrote to the British Navy, requesting safe passage for his wife. On December 30, 1813, Theodosia boarded the schooner the Patriot—and was never heard from again. It is not known what happened to the ship and its passengers. In 1848, a former pirate confessed on his deathbed that he and others had captured the ship and forced Theodosia Alston to walk the plank.


(1775–1783) The War of Independence from Great Britain by the United States. It was a turning point in the



history of American women, but its most important implications were not manifested for a long time. Women’s direct participation in the event gave them political consciousness, but it did not immediately lead them to organize and demand political rights. American republican men did not even consider giving women the vote or the right to hold office, although most states legalized divorce for the first time, and permitted other minor changes that worked in favor of women. Men and women together created a new ideology of republican motherhood that in many ways looked backward, confining women to their own sphere. A new sense of being the mothers of the revolutionary republicans nonetheless contained the seeds of later feminism. The responsibility would convince them that they deserved and required equal rights to be effective republican mothers. In the period of protests against British taxation and other imperial measures, beginning in the mid-1760s, women were frequently the informal agents who enforced resolutions not to consume British manufactures, who found or made substitutes for the many household British consumer goods that Americans boycotted. Others opposed British policies more directly, like newspaper publisher Sarah Updike Goddard, in the pages of her Providence Gazette and Pennsylvania Chronicle. Some women organized, as in 1774, when 51 women of North Carolina publicly signed a stern resolution, the Edenton Resolution, not to drink tea or wear the manufacture of England until the British repealed the Intolerable Acts. Public spinning bees were staged by the Daughters of Liberty to support boycotting in prerevolutionary New England; they stressed a form of political resistance based on austere self-sacrifice and religious piety. According to legend, Betsy Ross made the first United States flag. One of the most remarkable of politically active women was Mercy Otis Warren, whose plays in the 1770s satirized local Tories for their loyalty to an oppressive royal government. The lively history of the Revolution she subsequently published helped vindicate the value of the female intellect. About twenty thousand women served as auxiliaries in the Continental Army during the War for Independence, nursing, cooking, and washing for the troops, carrying heavy loads when on the move. Quaker mystic Jemima Wilkinson served in a different capacity, ministering to the spiritual needs of soldiers, by preaching and faith healing.

Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War. An artist imagined her presenting a letter to General Washington.

Most famous of the camp followers is Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley of Pennsylvania, known as Molly Pitcher, who accompanied her husband and, when he was disabled under fire, took his place in a gun crew during the Battle of Monmouth. At least one woman served the army as a regular soldier disguised as a man. Another fearless woman, Nancy Hart of Georgia, frequently fought Tories at close range in the bitter “War of Extermination” in that state. Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler bravely forged her way into enemy territory to reach her Hudson Valley estate, where she destroyed her crops so the British could not harvest them. One unnamed woman was arrested for setting New York ablaze in 1776 when the British took the city, proclaiming, as Edmund Burke quoted her on the floor of the Parliament, that she was “determined to omit no opportunity of doing what her country called for.” Teenager Elizabeth Zane smuggled gunpowder under enemy fire to relieve Fort Henry, on the Far Western frontier of Virginia. Many other women played a less dramatic but essential role on the home front. Some had full responsibility for family and farm while their husbands were absent on duty, like future First Lady Abigail Smith Adams. The supply of imported finished goods was interrupted by the war, and women played a major role in coping imaginatively with the shortage. Many women who had abandoned spinning yarn and thread began to spin



again, and to make cloth and garWOMEN’S FIRSTS ments for their families and the soldiers. The Continental Army was chronically short of supplies, and a Deborah Sampson Gannett was the first North American few rich businesswomen supported it woman to serve as a soldier. She twice enlisted in the Contiwith cash donations, like Elizabeth nental Army; the first time she was caught and discharged, Peck Perkins of Boston. Esther Reed but the second time she managed to fool everyone around and Deborah Franklin Bache of her. Because many of the recruits were teenage boys with no Philadelphia organized to go door-tobeards and because Deborah was tall for a woman at the time door for funds to support the Army, (5⬘8⬙), she was able to pass for a young man. She enlisted in promoting their campaign with a pub1782, using the name Robert Shurtleff, and served in the lished broadside appealing to women army for 18 months. She fought in several battles until she in other states to join them. They conwas wounded in Tarrytown, New York. It was in the hospital demned the prejudice “opinions and that her true identity was revealed, and she was dismissed manners” that forbade them “to march from the army in 1783. to glory by the same paths as the Men.” Sampson married Benjamin Gannett in 1785 and had three For even white women were cut off children. In 1792, the Massachusetts legislature awarded her a from full citizenship despite their work pension and wrote that she “exhibited an extraordinary inin the cause. stance of female heroism, by discharging the duties of a faithA few women played important ful, gallant soldier.” roles as opponents of the War of Independence, like Elizabeth SandIn 1797, Herman Mann published a biography of Deborah wich Drinker. A committed pacifist, Gannett entitled The Female Review; he also wrote the text she organized a group of like-minded of a lecture that she delivered in many towns in New York women to pressure General George and New England. The story told in the biography and in the Washington and other authorities to lecture considerably exaggerated Deborah’s exploits, but her release imprisoned pacifist men. A diftour was nevertheless successful. In 1804, Paul Revere wrote ferent example is Mary Jemison, a to Congress on her behalf, helping her secure a pension from white captive raised as a Seneca Inthe federal government. dian, whose tribe opposed American Deborah Sampson Gannett died in 1827 at the age of 66. rebels. She had to establish a new home for her family when hers was deSee also: Brewer, Lucy; Darragh, Lydia Barrington. stroyed in the fighting. The significance of changes in the revolutionary era is subject to much debate by historians. Some, led by Linda K. Ker- Others enjoyed wartime opportunities to make a ber, argue that republican men recoiled from ex- little money in their spare time, like Amelia Green, panding the liberty of women, so the Revolution of Craven County, North Carolina, who purchased was very conservative. By contrast, Mary Beth Nor- her freedom, and that of her children, after the ton and others argue that what changed was im- war. The Revolution had few positive results for portant and even radical, laying the groundwork most slave women, however. Although slavery was for the women’s future political struggles. These abolished during and after the Revolution in the historians emphasize the emergence of an ideol- northern states, most African-American women ogy of republican motherhood, which exalted the (10 percent of the whole population) remained in role of the mothers in raising republican citizens, slavery. In the short term, the limited benefits the and the related movement to admit girls to public American Revolution brought about for women and some private schools. were, in some ways, confined to white women. The experience of African-American women in Thomas N. Ingersoll the Revolution was quite different. Women slaves wanted primarily to take advantage of wartime conditions to enlarge the scope of their personal liberty. Thomas Pinckney’s mother reported from South Carolina in 1779, that she had lost control of his women slaves, who did as they pleased.


Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989.



Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980.


Members of the Anglican Communion, an international fellowship including the Episcopal Church of the United States of America and other churches tracing their origins to the Church of England. The Anglican Church was formed in 1533 when Henry VIII, denied papal permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon, rejected the authority of the Pope and declared himself “supreme governor” of the Church of England. Until 1558, Anglicans and Roman Catholics shared similar beliefs and practices. By Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Anglicans considered their Church of England the via media, or middle way, between the Catholic tradition and the Puritan zeal for reform. Anglicanism was brought to British America by the company that established the Virginia colony, which was obliged by its charter to spread the Christian religion. Anglicanism became the established religion of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and some New York counties. In most royal colonies, which were governed directly by the king, only members of the Church of England could vote. While the Puritans relaxed the standards for divorce, in Anglican colonies marriages could be ended only on grounds of adultery. As in England, church members were organized into geographical units called parishes. However, not all colonists belonged to a church. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was established to provide Anglican ministers to colonists without them. During the Revolution, most Anglicans maintained their allegiance to the king. After independence, the Anglican church was disestablished in every colony. No further taxes were collected for its support. Some of the nation’s approximately 400 Anglican churches maintained their ties to the English church, while others became independent. The consecration of the first American Anglican bishop, Samuel Seabury, in 1784 was an important turning point for Anglicans. Candidates for the ministry no longer had to travel to England to be ordained. One reason for the delay in establishing an American episcopate was the resistance of the laity, who wished to retain a strong voice in their church. In 1789, American Anglicans united as the Protestant Episcopal Church.

While Anglican women could not assume offical leadership roles in colonial and Republican times, they instructed children in the faith and served as teachers and musicians. Significant Anglican women include Deborah Read Franklin; Margaret Brant (mother of Mary Brant), a Mohawk who converted to Christianity; and Mary Taney, who requested that the Archbishop of Canterbury send a permanent minister to his “stray flock” in Virginia in 1685.

ANTI-MISCEGENATION  LAWS Laws prohibiting marriage and extramarital relations between persons of different races. In the early days of settlement in America, white and black indentured servants worked side by side and sometimes intermarried. Although it was not common, intermarriage was permitted. But as the plantation economy in the southern colonies grew increasingly dependent on slaves, owners feared mixing the races because the institution of slavery depended on clear distinctions between blacks and whites. According to David Grimsted, laws against intermarriage served slave owners’ need “to keep visible that distinction that was essential to one group’s perpetual exploitation of another.” Slave owners also wanted to protect their property rights by stipulating that the child of a slave and a person of another race would be considered a slave. Thus laws against miscegenation in the American colonies were enacted largely in order to protect the property rights of slaveholders. The first such law was passed in Maryland in 1664. A similar statute, enacted in Virginia in 1691, forbade “negroes, mulattos and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women [and] their unlawfull accompanying with one another.” By 1725, five other colonies had passed laws against miscegenation. Most states not only legislated against fornication between members of different races, they also declared marriages between whites and people of color to be void. White women whose sexual relations with African American men were revealed when a mixedrace child was born were often assumed by courts to have been raped. As Cornelia Hughes Dayton notes in Women Before the Bar, “the fornication caseload [in New Haven, Connecticut] contains clues that magistrates could conceive of interracial sexual relations only as coercive.” As an example, Day-


ton describes the case of Mary Potter of New Haven, who bore “a male Child of a Negro Complexion.” She says that “in an era when women who bore outof-wedlock children were invariably prosecuted, the fact that authorities never moved to charge or punish Mary implies that they perceived this as a case of coercion.” African American men who had sexual relations with white women were subjected to much harsher punishments than white men convicted of fornication: while most white men were fined, African American men were often whipped. Relations between white men and African American women were seldom punished, even though in many cases these women were in fact raped. Anti-miscegenation laws stayed on the books through the Civil War. Only two states repealed their statues before then, Pennsylvania in 1780 and Massachusetts in 1843. Alabama did not repeal its law until 1999. FURTHER READING

Grimsted, David. “Anglo-American Racism and Phillis Wheatley’s ‘Sable Veil,’ ‘Length’ned Chain,’ and ‘Knitted Heart.’” In Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1989. Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639–1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.


One of the three forms of bound labor; the other two were slavery and indentured servitude. Apprenticeship was a contractual relationship exchanging a defined period of service for instruction in a trade. The enslaved were considered property and could therefore be bought and sold. The contracts of indentured servants were also regarded as property, but neither apprentices nor their contracts could be sold to a new master. Apprenticeship was generally the only way to learn a trade or profession such as law or medicine. Until work for wages became common in the mideighteenth century, apprenticeship was also an important source of colonial labor. Young men usually became apprentices between the ages of 14 and 16. In exchange for room and board, clothing, and instruction in the trade, apprentices worked in their masters’ shops until they reached the age of 21. During their four- to sevenyear term of service, apprentices were paid no wages; at its end, contracts often specified that they


would receive a set of tools and a suit of clothes. Those who continued to work for their masters became journeymen. Contracts between apprentices and masters were based on medieval indenture agreements. Typically, apprentices could not marry, gamble, or waste a master’s property, while masters were required to provide for their basic needs and instruct them in the “mystery” of their trade. The British colonies did not adopt the guild system, which required an apprentice to produce a proof piece to become a “journeyman” and create a masterpiece to become a “master” craftsman. The New England colonies laid new obligations on masters, requiring them to teach apprentices to read (and sometimes write) and to instruct them in religion. In general, masters had the same authority as fathers. Masters who abused this authority could be charged with cruelty; however, beatings and long hours were common and the courts intervened only in extreme cases. Women in prosperous families were rarely formally apprenticed. However, they were often “shadow apprentices,” learning skills such as printing and blacksmithing by working in a family business. Some, like Lydia R. Bailey, became “masters” who ran businesses after the death of their husbands, but they retained the title only as long as they remained unmarried. Poor girls, who were often “bound out” to trades such as needlework, spinning, and baking, were frequently treated as drudges.


(1760–1804) Co-conspirator and wife of Revolutionary War general and traitor Benedict Arnold. Margaret “Peggy” Shippen Arnold was involved in the plot to turn over the West Point garrison and its 3,000 troops to the British in exchange for 20,000 pounds during the American Revolution. Many historians believed that Peggy Shippen actually planned the transfer through correspondence with British aide John Andre´ beginning in 1779. According to Shippen’s close friend Theodosia Prevost Burr, wife of Aaron Burr, Shippen admitted that she had made the arrangements to surrender West Point to the British. Peggy Shippen was the youngest daughter of Judge Edward Shippen of Philadelphia. The prominent Shippens supported the British cause and had disdain for American revolutionaries.



In 1779, Shippen married Benedict Arnold, who was appointed commander of West Point. Arnold became dissatisfied with his pay and lack of promotions. To support the couple’s lavish lifestyle, Arnold made a deal with the British. Arnold agreed to hand over West Point to John Andre´, aide to British leader Sir Henry Clinton. Peggy Shippen Arnold wrote the coded messages from Arnold to the British commander. The plot was soon uncovered, and Andre´ was hanged as a spy. Benedict Arnold fled to the British ship Vulture and his wife tried to remain in Philadelphia. After she was banished from her hometown, the couple moved to New York, Canada, and finally London. Peggy Shippen Arnold became ill in 1803 and was diagnosed with cancer. She died a year later.


TRAILBLAZERS Sarah and Anna Peale were painters who achieved a remarkable degree of fame, considering their gender and the period in which they lived. They were two of the six children of James Peale, one of the best known portrait painters of his day; their father’s brother, Charles Peale, was also a noted artist. Both Sarah and Anna showed early talent for art themselves, and they were soon pressed into what had become a family business. As James Peale’s eyesight grew worse, Anna took over the task of painting his miniatures, and both sisters worked on the backgrounds of their father’s portraits. Anna Peale remained primarily a miniaturist throughout her career. She traveled to several cities to paint portraits; presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson were among her customers. She was elected to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1824, and was best known for a sense of warmth in her paintings. Her fees were high, and she was much in demand as an artist. If anything, though, her sister Sarah was even better known within the art world. Her interest lay in oil portraits, although she did produce still lifes and other types of work as well. Like her sister, Sarah was a member of the Pennsylvania Academy, and she too painted portraits of famous Americans. Sarah lived in Baltimore and later in St. Louis, where she was the best-known painter of the region. During the nineteenth century, the Peale sisters were among the bestknown American women in the arts.

In early America, women were not encouraged to excel in creative pursuits. Young ladies were expected to have a passing acquaintance with music and perhaps writing, drawing, or painting, but few women of the time made much of a name for themselves in these areas. However, some wealthy women of the colonial and early national periods did become quite well known as patrons of the arts. The lives and interests of these women varied considerably, so it is difficult to draw any consistent conclusions about them. For the most part, however, they came from cultured backgrounds and grew up in families that valued artistic expression. Many, including the Peale sisters of Philadelphia, were talented artists in their own right. Some used their money primarily to underwrite the expenses of promising young artists,

while others focused more on bringing the arts into the forefront of American culture. Similarly, some put their energies into music, others into the visual arts. Regardless of their individual interests and backgrounds, however, all of these women helped to improve the quality and the variety of arts in America.


See magic and astrology




(1743–1808) Established the first relief organization to raise money and make clothing for the Continental Army. Sarah Franklin was the youngest of the three children born to Benjamin and Deborah Read Franklin. She was born and raised in Philadelphia. Her father saw to her education, and many people thought that she was the best-educated woman in the colonies. In 1767, Sarah married Philadelphia merchant Richard Bache. While her mother approved of the match, her father, who was in England at the time, was concerned because Bache was in debt. But once Franklin met his new son-in-law, he changed his mind and even loaned the couple £200 to open a dry goods store. Sarah and Richard had eight children, seven of whom survived. During the Revolution, Sarah and her friend Esther De Berdt Reed organized the women of Philadelphia, raising $7,500 in gold to purchase supplies for the army. At Washington’s suggestion, much of the money was used to buy fabric from which the women made shirts. On December 26, 1780, Sarah was able to tell Washington that 2,005 shirts were available for the soldiers. This was among the earliest organized efforts of women to take part in civic life. From the time of her mother’s death in 1774 until Franklin’s death in 1790, Sarah served as her father’s hostess and later cared for him in his old age. She died of cancer in 1808.


(1746–1815) An ordinary, pious New Hampshire farm woman, mother of 17 children between 1768 and 1791, she demonstrated bravery and made history by taking her abusive husband to court and writing a detailed description of their relationship. Printed in Boston immediately after her death, Memoirs of Mrs. Abigail Bailey was a publishing landmark in America. The book described her husband Asa’s persistent verbal and physical abuse, his adulterous affairs, and his incest with one of their daughters beginning when the girl was 16 years old. Although New England’s divorce laws were liberal com-

Sarah Franklin Bache organized the women of Philadelphia to make thousands of shirts for the Revolutionary soldiers.

pared to both British legal tradition and that of other states, in practice courts seldom granted complete legal separations to women on the grounds of adultery and cruelty alone. Bailey hoped to shield her daughter from public humiliation, so she did not charge him with incest in court. She recorded how he tried to spirit away their property and children, and how she made a dramatic escape from an isolated house to which he had confined her. She fought to gain freedom by persuading local authorities to grant her a divorce in 1793 because of her husband’s adultery. Bailey’s Memoirs helped provide moral justification for divorce and increased public awareness of spousal and child abuse.


(1779–1869) One of the first women printers in Philadelphia. After her husband’s death, Bailey successfully ran his printing business for nearly 60 years.



Little is known of Bailey’s early life. She was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to William and Elizabeth Steele. Her father was a captain in the American Revolution. He and his brothers then began a papermaking business. Elizabeth Steele was from a printing family, and as a girl had helped her brothers in their print shop. However, Elizabeth’s involvement ended with her marriage. Like her mother, Lydia Steele became involved in the family printing business. At 19, she married her cousin Robert Bailey, the manager of her uncle Francis’s Philadelphia office. They worked together to keep the struggling business going. In 1808, Robert Bailey died, leaving his wife with four children and numerous debts. The young widow first paid off her husband’s financial obligations. She then developed the business by looking for jobs that would bring in a steady income, such as almanacs, bookseller catalogs, and broadsides. In 1808, Philip Freneau, known as “the poet of the Revolution” hired her to print the third edition of his Poems. Bailey also served as the printer for the Third Presbyterian Church, of which she was a devout member. Eventually, she became the City Printer for Philadelphia. More than 40 employees worked in Bailey’s busy shop. She organized them efficiently and encouraged them to lead good Christian lives. Several went on to become well-known printers with their own businesses. Bailey was widely respected for her printing expertise and business ability. When she died shortly after her ninetieth birthday, one newspaper commented that Bailey had “enjoyed women’s rights to the full” in a time when few women achieved independent careers. See also: Printing and Publishing.


(1735–1812) Midwife and diarist. Martha Ballard began keeping a diary when she was 50 years old. Had she not done so, historians would probably know little more about her than a few spare facts: her birth in 1735, her marriage in 1754, the births of her nine children, and the brief summary of her life in her obituary: “Died in Augusta, Mrs. Martha, consort of Mr. Ephraim Ballard, aged 77 years.” Fortunately, Martha Ballard did leave her diary,

a very detailed account of her 27 years as a midwife. In the years between 1785 and 1812, Martha delivered 816 babies in the area around Hallowell, Maine, and ran a cloth-weaving business out of her home. When historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich read the diaries, she saw that they provided important insights into the lives of women in colonial America. She turned Martha’s diary into a book, A Midwife’s Tale, which showed the importance of the work that women like Martha did. Martha not only worked as a midwife, she also grew and prescribed herbal remedies, nursed the sick, and laid out the dead. Perhaps Martha Ballard’s life influenced the career choice of one of her nieces, Clarissa Barton. She is known today as Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross (see Volume 2). See also: Diaries and Journals; Midwifery.


A Protestant denomination that rejected infant baptism. Many of the beliefs held by Baptists originated during the Reformation in England as part of a general protest against the Church of England. Baptists believe that a church can be made up only of people who have converted to the faith, individuals who have had a personal religious experience. Thus, people must voluntarily join the church, as opposed to acquiring membership because their parents were members. Baptists reject the idea of infant baptism and require that adults who are capable of making their own decisions be baptized by immersion. Baptists do not consider baptism a sacrament—a holy ceremony in which a person receives grace from God—but rather a public statement of a conversion that has already taken place. Although women made up more than 50 percent of the membership of early Baptist congregations, they were expected to submit to male leadership. Baptists held that women could not be ordained and could not have a vote in church affairs. While women were occasionally allowed to speak in church, such occasions were rare. Exceptions to these general principles were made in some congregations. For example, in Baptist churches in Virginia and Rhode Island, women were allowed to vote on such questions as the admission of new members and the election of deacons. Some churches even elected female deacons. Baptists were among the earliest advocates of


the separation of church and state. When Roger Williams founded the first Baptist church in America in 1639, he also helped to establish the colony of Rhode Island, which was the first civil government based on the concept of the separation of church and state. Rhode Island became a refuge for people driven from their homes by religious intolerance. While Baptists themselves were originally subject to persecution outside of Rhode Island, their enthusiastic backing of the American Revolution led to greater acceptance. Their numbers increased dramatically during the period of the great awakenings, in the mid-eighteenth century, and today Baptists are among the largest of the Protestant denominations.


(1754?–1825) Quaker preacher who was disowned by church elders because of her beliefs. Hannah Jenkins was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, to Baptist parents. She became a Quaker, or Friend, in 1772. Sometime in the late 1770s she married Peter Barnard. The couple moved to the Quaker colony of Hudson, New York, in the 1780s. Barnard became active in the Society of Friends, where she was known as an effective speaker. In 1798, she received permission from church elders for a religious visit to Friends in Scotland, England, and Ireland. While in Ireland, Barnard was influenced by a group of Quakers known as the “New Lights.” These Quakers opposed a literal reading of the Bible. Barnard agreed. She maintained that individuals had to decide for themselves what portions of the Bible to accept. When she applied for permission from British elders to visit Friends in Germany, her request was rejected and she was ordered to stop preaching and return to New York. The elders charged her with heresy—preaching beliefs that were counter to Quaker teachings. Barnard defended herself by arguing that her beliefs were closer to the original ideas of the Quaker faith than those of the elders. Her arguments were rejected, and she returned home in 1801. The elders in Britain sent copies of their proceedings against Barnard to New York, and she was accused of heresy there as well. In 1802, she was disowned for showing a “contentious disposition of mind.” Many elders were especially outraged at being lectured to by a woman.


Barnard continued to preach and organized a peace society, but little is known about her life after 1802. She died in 1825.

BENEVOLENT  ASSOCIATIONS, WOMEN’S Charitable organizations. In 1797 Joanna Graham Bethune, Isabella Marshall Graham, Elizabeth Seton, and Sarah Hoffman founded one of the first charitable organizations in the United States— the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children. This organization was remarkable in that it was among the first established by women working without the assistance or involvement of men. Like many of the other benevolent associations that were founded in the early years of the republic, the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows was incorporated, granting its female directors legal status unavailable to most women of the period and allowing them to make contracts, buy and sell property, and file lawsuits. Many women’s associations secured state charters, which also allowed women members these kinds of legal rights. The end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth saw the establishment of thousands of women’s benevolent associations. This rapid growth can be attributed in part to a change in how women and their roles were perceived. While the early Puritan settlers tended to regard women as both intellectually and spiritually weak, by the end of the eighteenth century a sea change had taken place in how society perceived women. Women came to be seen as spiritually strong, and as the guardians of morality and virtue. Benevolence itself was seen as a feminine trait. Just as women nurtured and cared for their families, the argument ran, they were the ideal caretakers of the poor and downtrodden in society. Women’s benevolent associations in big cities and small towns founded orphanages, kindergartens, and colleges. They built libraries, museums, and parks. Many tended to focus their attention on the needs of women and children. For example, members of the Boston Fragment Society, founded in 1812, became famous for sewing yellow flannel layettes for poor pregnant women. Other associations founded schools in the hope that poor children could escape the cycle of poverty through education. Not only did these associations give their women directors a legal identity they had not had before,



they also allowed women members to acquire and use new skills. According to Anne Firor Scott, membership in benevolent associations taught women “how to conduct business, speak in public, manage money [and] . . . prepared [them] for politics, broadly defined.” Women began to think of themselves differently, and this new self-concept was one factor that led eventually to the woman suffrage movement. There were some significant differences between the benevolent associations established by white and African-American women. While white women who joined associations saw themselves as being quite different from the poor people they helped, African-American women’s associations were originally established to provide assistance to members, rather than to outsiders, and to help members educate themselves. Eventually, however, both African-American and white women began to make clear class distinctions. Some historians, in fact, see the associations as a significant factor in the growth of the middle class and of class consciousness in general. Although associations often reminded members that any one of them could fall on hard times—and that women were particularly vulnerable to economic downturns–their elite members did not usually expect to need help themselves. African-American women’s associations were also different from those run by white women in that they could not count on the help of very wealthy members and donors or expect aid from state governments. While white women worried about how to distinguish between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor, African-American women tended not to concern themselves with such distinctions. Since their beginnings in the 1790s, women’s benevolent associations have been a powerful social force, providing many needed services to communities and individuals. They also changed forever the role and status of women in American society. See also: Coverture; Gratz, Rebecca; Philanthropy; Property Rights. FURTHER READING

Ginzberg, Lori D. Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Scott, Anne Firor. Natural Allies: Women’s Associations in American History. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993.


(1634–1695?) Wife of three governors and leader of the “Green Spring Faction” in colonial politics. Frances Culpeper was born to an aristocratic English family that emigrated to Virginia in 1650. Two years later, Frances married Samuel Stephens, governor of a settlement in North Carolina. Six months after Stephens’s death in 1669, Frances married the governor of Virginia, Sir William Berkeley, who was many years older than she. In 1676, Lady Frances’s cousin Nathaniel Bacon accused Berkeley of failing to protect the colony from attacks by Native Americans. Bacon raised his own army, which eventually turned on the colonial government and burned the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. These actions came to be known as Bacon’s Rebellion. Berkeley sent Lady Frances to England to secure help. She returned in 1677 with a thousand soldiers. By then, however, Bacon had died, and Berkeley had hanged 23 rebels and confiscated their property. Berkeley was ordered to return to England to account to the king for the way he managed his actions in handling the rebellion. He died while there. Lady Frances continued to defend her husband’s reputation in the colonies and even organized opposition to the newly appointed governor. The party was called the “Green Spring Party,” after the Berkeley mansion. Lady Frances remained active in politics for many years, often working behind the scenes. In 1680, Lady Frances married Philip Ludwell, who became governor of North and South Carolina. It is not known when she died.


(1770–1860) One of the first women in the United States to organize a charity. Joanna Graham was born in Fort Niagara, Canada, in February 1770. She was the daughter of a surgeon, John Graham, and Isabella Marshall Graham. The couple was originally from Scotland. After her husband’s death in 1773, Isabella Graham moved back to Scotland with her children. There she founded a school for small children and, later, one for young ladies. Joanna was educated in her mother’s schools before studying for two years at a French school in Rotterdam, Holland.


In 1789, the family moved to New York City, where Joanna taught at yet another school founded by her mother. She married Divie Bethune, a wealthy merchant, in 1795. After Joanna’s marriage, Isabella lived with her daughter and son-in-law. Divie Bethune’s wealth allowed Joanna and her mother to pursue their charitable and religious interests. Together they founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children in 1797 and, in 1806, the Orphan Asylum Society, which, with financial help from the Bethunes, built one of the first residences to house orphans in the United States. Joanna taught in the asylum’s school and served on the Society’s board of directors for 50 years. The societies founded by Joanna and her mother were incorporated and had female directors. These directors were granted legal powers not generally available to women of the era, such as the right to own property, file lawsuits, and manage organizations without the intervention of men. Joanna herself founded the Society for the Promotion of Industry among the Poor, which provided work for women during the difficult economic times following the War of 1812. Isabella Graham died in 1814. On her deathbed she asked her daughter to devote her time to working with children, rather than adults, because she felt that there was a greater opportunity of reaching and reforming the young. Heeding her mother’s advice, in 1816, Joanna Bethune established the Female Union Society for the Promotion of Sabbath-Schools, an organization that provided Sunday-school classes for over 8,000 children in New York City. In 1827, Bethune founded an Infant School Society, which eventually opened nine schools in New York City that taught basic skills to very young children. Bethune served as superintendent of all nine schools and taught at one. She also wrote several books, including a biography of her mother, The Life of Mrs. Isabella Graham (1839). Joanna Graham Bethune died in New York City in 1860 at the age of 90.

THE BIBLE AND THE  SUBORDINATION OF WOMEN From the beginnings of Christianity, certain Biblical texts have been used to justify the subordination of women to men. The texts most often cited are Genesis 1–3, the story of the creation and the


fall, and two of Paul’s epistles: 1 Corinthians 14:34– 35, and 1 Timothy 2:11–14. The story of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis has been interpreted by many Christians as evidence that God created woman to be subordinate to man. Those who hold this position point to the version of the creation story that says Eve was created after Adam and drawn from his rib. These details are cited as evidence that woman is secondary to and should be dependent on man. The story of the temptation and fall has been cited as proof that woman is morally inferior to man, and womankind in general has been blamed for humanity’s banishment from Eden. 1 Timothy 2:11–14 has also been frequently used as a justification for woman’s second-class status. The text reads, in part, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” This passage has been used to deny women a say in all aspects of public life. Similarly, 1 Corinthians, 14:34–35 reads, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in church.” This passage, too, has been used to prohibit women from preaching. The Puritans who colonized Massachusetts were among those who used the Bible to justify the subordination of women to men. Although Puritan men felt justified in defying the king of England’s authority over their religious observance, they firmly believed in the authority of fathers over daughters and husbands over wives. On the other hand, several of the religious sects that flourished in British North America during the colonial period, abandoned this hierarchical view of the relationship between the sexes. Quakers were influenced by the writings of Margaret Askew Fell Fox, wife of the Quaker founder, George Fox. Her reinterpretation of Paul’s words supported the idea of women preachers. She analyzed the passage from Corinthians to demonstrate that the command to keep silent was intended for women who were “in Transgression” and speaking from “malice, strife, and confusion,” not those who “have the everlasting Gospel to preach, and upon whom the Promise of the Lord



To support their male-dominated system, Puritans quoted St. Paul’s words, “Let the women learn in silence.”

is fulfilled, and his Spirit poured upon them according to his Word.” Thanks to Margaret’s interpretation, the Society of Friends from its earliest days allowed women to preach and serve as missionaries. Like the Quakers, Anne Hutchinson preached that people could be saved by the intuition of God’s grace within themselves. Because her ideas threatened the authority of the Puritan male clergy, she was tried for heresy and banished. The Shakers believed that God was both male and female and thought that since God’s first earthly incarnation as Jesus had been in male form, his second coming would be as a female. Shaker communities gave equal authority to male and female leaders.


The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The states ratified them in 1791 to counter objections that the new federal compact might endanger the liberty of individuals. The rights of women are implied in the amendments, even though the pronouns in the Sixth Amendment are masculine. Other amendments guarantee the rights of the “people,” or basic freedoms of which individuals may not be deprived by governmental power. Women benefited as much as men from First Amendment guarantees of the

freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and the press. Both female and male housekeepers valued the Third Amendment limits on military quartering in private homes and the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches, in that both women and men had suffered from forced quartering and warrantless searches by the British. Judicial safeguards in the Fifth through Eighth Amendments benefited the accused of any sex. The essential exclusion of women from the full political rights of citizenship appear in the main body of the United States Constitution, in which masculine pronouns implicitly limit the highest offices to men, and in the state constitutions, all but one of which restricted to men the right to vote. Nevertheless, in the future, women would insist on exercising the rights guaranteed in the First Amendment to campaigning for the right to vote, which they won in 1920 by the Nineteenth Amendment.


(1764–1801) Socialite and model for Lady Liberty. Anne Willing was born in Philadelphia, the daughter of wealthy and socially prominent parents. She was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of her time and had many suitors. In 1780, at the age of 16, she was married to William Bingham, one of




(1752–1783) Author of poetry, letters, and prose narratives. Ann Eliza Bleecker was the youngest child of Brandt Schuyler, a wealthy New York merchant, and his wife Margaret. She was well educated, and began to write poetry as a child. She married John James Bleecker in 1769, and the couple moved to Tomhanick, a rural area north of Albany, New York. In 1777, as the British army neared their home, John Bleecker traveled to Albany to find a place for his family to stay. While he was gone, Ann heard rumors that General Burgoyne’s army was only two miles away and fled on foot to Albany with her two daughters, Margaretta, who was four, and an infant, Arbella. After a harrowing journey, she met her husband on the road and the couple finished the journey together. Unfortunately, Arbella died shortly after the family’s arrival in Albany. Ann wrote a poem about her grief:

Anne Willing Bingham was a famous beauty and a sophisticated hostess. This engraving is based on Gilbert Stuart’s portrait.

the wealthiest men in the country. The couple had three children. Over a period of three years in the 1780s, the Binghams traveled in Europe. Anne’s beauty and charm captured the attention of royalty in both the English and the French courts. During this period, she was introduced to the French salons where gatherings of notable individuals gathered to discuss the arts and the issues of the day. Anne was particularly impressed with the fact that women played an important role in these gatherings, not only hosting them but taking part in the discussions on an equal level with men. She wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “The women of France interfere in the politics of the Country, and often give a decided Turn to the Fate of Empires.” On her return to the United States, Anne Bingham hosted French-style salons, in which she became known for her style and wit. Many of the most important Americans and distinguished foreign visitors attended Anne’s gatherings. Anne Bingham was also the model for Lady Liberty on one of the first coins to be issued by the U.S. Mint, in 1795. Gilbert Stuart, known for his portraits of George Washington, painted Anne Bingham.

In bitter anguish o’er her limbs I hung, At length her languid eyes closed from the day, The idol of my soul was torn away; Her spirit fled and left me ghastly clay!

In 1781, John Bleecker was captured by Loyalists. He was to be taken to prison in Canada but was rescued at the last moment. Ann had a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. She died in 1783 at the age of 31. Ann’s daughter Margaretta began publishing her mother’s writing when she was 18. Thirteen poems, a prose narrative entitled The History of Maria Kittle, and a short tale, “The Story of Henry and Ann,” were published between 1790 and 1793. Also in 1793, Margaretta published The Posthumous Works of Ann Eliza Bleecker, in Prose and Verse. While Ann’s poetry is sentimental and conventional, 24 letters included in the volume provide a realistic look at life before and during the American Revolution. These letters include village gossip as well as descriptions of the hardships of life on what was then the frontier.


(?–1755) One of the first women to publish a newspaper on her own. Cornelia Smith was born in New York City, but the date of her birth is unknown. She married Andrew Bradford, a printer from Philadelphia, probably in 1740. She reportedly was a



strong-willed woman who prevailed upon her husband to revoke a will in favor of his nephew, William, and leave everything to her. Thus, when Andrew died in 1742, Cornelia was left in comfortable circumstances. Although she had no need to continue in the printing business, she took over the publication of Andrew’s paper, the American Weekly Mercury. Just a week after Andrew’s death, the paper reappeared with this notice prominently displayed: “All Persons who have any Printing Work to do, or have Occasion for Stationary Ware, shall be thankfully served at the lowest prices.” In addition to publishing the paper, Bradford managed a printing office and a shop in which she sold such things as clothing, medicine, furniture and farm equipment. The last issue of the American Mercury appeared in 1746. From 1746 until 1751 Bradford did bookbinding and some printing. Bradford is one of only 32 women who published papers before 1820. She died in 1755. See also: Printing and Publishing.


First published North American poet. Anne Dudley was probably born in Northampton, England. She grew up in Lincolnshire, where her father, Thomas Dudley, was steward to the Earl of Lincoln. Thanks to her father’s wealth and position, Anne was educated by private tutors; she also had access to the Earl’s vast library. Anne, like the rest of her family, was a devout Puritan. In 1628, at the age of 16, Anne married Simon Bradstreet. In 1630, Anne, her husband, and her parents sailed for New England. Anne’s first glimpse of the New World was shocking to her; she said her “heart rose” in fear. But she later came to believe that God had chosen her to live in this “new world.” The Bradstreets originally settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The couple then moved to Ipswich and finally to North Andover, where they lived for the rest of their lives. They had eight children and Simon was twice selected governor of the colony. Bradstreet’s poetry was written for herself and her family; she did not write for publication. Her brother-in-law, without Anne’s knowledge or permission, published a volume of her poems in England in 1650 under the title, The Tenth Muse Lately sprung up in America. Or Severall Poems, compiled with great variety of Wit and Learning, full of delight . . . by

a Gentlewoman in those parts. (See Documents.) These poems are conventional and give no hint that their author lived in the wilds of America. Bradstreet is known today primarily for her later poetry, which was published after her death and deals not only with life in America but also with the feelings and emotions of a woman confronting life’s hardships. One of her best-known poems, “Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 8th, 1666,” gives a vivid portrayal of her sorrow as she looks upon the ruins of her home: Here stood that Trunk, and there that chest, There lay that store I counted best, My pleasant things in ashes lie And them behold no more shall I. Under the roof no guest shall sit, Nor at thy Table eat a bit. No pleasant talk shall e’er be told Nor things recounted done of old.

When she contemplates having a child, she expresses to her husband the fear that she may not survive: How soon, my dear, death may my steps attend. How soon’t may be thy lot to lose thy friend.

And she expresses her love for her husband: If ever two were one, then surely we If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.

In addition Bradstreet wrote about her own religious struggles and her relationship with nature. She also wrote angrily about the popular idea that a woman could not be a poet: I am obnoxious to each carping tongue Who says my hand a needle better fits. A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong, For such despite they cast on female wits. If what I do prove well, it won’t advance; They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.

As poet Adrienne Rich has said, Anne Bradstreet’s accomplishment as a poet is enhanced by the fact that she also had eight children, struggled with hardship and disease, and “kept house at the edge of the wilderness.” She died in North Andover in 1672.


(1736–1796) A Native American woman who helped persuade the Iroquois and others to support the British dur-


ing the American Revolution. Mary Brant, called Molly, was born in the Mohawk Valley in New York. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a member of the Iroquois Nation. Molly’s brother, Joseph, was the most famous Native American warrior of the American Revolution, fighting for the British. In 1759, Brant met Sir William Johnson, a wealthy man who was the superintendent for Indian affairs for the British. According to one story, she caught Johnson’s attention when she vaulted onto the back of a galloping horse. In any case, the two lived together until his death in 1774. Brant bore Johnson nine children and helped him in all his dealings with Native Americans. Perhaps because of the dominant role played by Iroquois women, Molly was able to exert her influence in diplomatic relationships between the British and Native Americans. After Sir William’s death, Brant and her children moved to a farm near Canajoharie, New York. During the Revolutionary War, Brant helped the British with information, food, and ammunition. In particular, she informed the British about the whereabouts of the American army before the Battle of Oriskany. Her son Peter may have instrumental in capturing American patriot Ethan Allen during a battle near Montreal. When the war ended, Brant and her family, along with other Loyalists, moved to Canada and settled near what is now Kingston, Ontario. Several of her daughters married officers of the Canadian military. Brant herself was granted a lifetime pension by the British government. Molly Brant died in Kingston in 1796. See also: Iroquois Household Economy.


(c. 1600–c. 1670) The first woman in the American colonies to request the right to vote. In 1638, Margaret Brent, her sister, and two brothers emigrated to America from England. As Catholics, they chose to settle in Maryland, the colony owned by the Catholic Lord Baltimore. Margaret was granted 701⁄2 acres of land and later received an additional thousand acres from her brother. Eventually, she became one of the major landowners in the colony. She appeared in court as her own attorney and on behalf of others more than 100 times.


On his deathbed in 1647, Maryland’s governor, Leonard Calvert, brother of Lord Baltimore, made Brent his executor, telling her to “Take all, pay all.” He was referring to the fact that he had formed a small army to put down a rebellion but failed to pay the soldiers, who were threatening mutiny that could have led to the destruction of the colony. Brent was able to pay only part of the debt by selling Calvert’s property, so she persuaded the assembly to allow her to sell some of Lord Baltimore’s cattle to pay the balance. Baltimore was furious when he heard what she had done, but the assembly defended her. They assured him that “it was better for the Collonys safety at that time in her hands then in any mans else in the whole Province . . . for the Soldiers would never have treated any others with that Civility and respect.”

“I’ve come to seek a voice in this assembly. And yet because I am a woman, forsooth I must stand idly by and not even have a voice in the framing of your laws.” —Margaret Brent, request to the Maryland General Assembly

It was during this period that Brent went before the assembly to request two votes for herself, one as a landowner (to which she would have been entitled if she were a man) and one as Lord Baltimore’s attorney. The assembly turned her down. She replied that she would never again accept the assembly’s proceedings unless she was granted a vote. In 1651, Brent left Maryland for Virginia, where she lived until her death. Many people today regard Brent as the first woman lawyer and voting rights advocate in North America. This characterization is not entirely accurate. It was not unusual for landowners, men or women, to serve as their own lawyers, and Brent was hardly a suffragist. Although she wanted a vote for herself, she did not advocate the vote for all women.

BREWER, LUCY (late 1700s–early 1800s) Claimed to be the first woman marine. Lucy Brewer was working as a prostitute in Boston, Mas-



sachusetts, when she heard the story of a woman who pretended to be a man so that she could fight in the Revolutionary War. Under the name Louisa Baker, Brewer published an account of her own supposed enlistment in the Marines. She claimed to be an expert shot who participated in several battles at sea during the War of 1812. The Marine Corps does not accept Brewer’s story. They say that the lack of privacy aboard ship would have made it impossible for a woman to disguise her identity. Opha Mae Johnson is officially considered to be the first woman Marine. She enlisted in 1918, during the First World War.


(1794–1845) Poet. Abigail Gowen was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1794. She had her name legally changed to Mary Abigail when she was married. Later in life, when she lived in Cuba, she called herself Maria. Abigail Gowen’s prosperous parents saw to it that she was well educated, and by the time she was 12 she could speak several languages. But in 1809, her life changed completely. Her father died bankrupt, and she was placed under the guardianship of John Brooks, her older sister’s widowed husband. In 1810, she and John were married. The bride was just 16, and the groom, the 50-year-old father of two boys. In 1812, John lost his fortune, and he and Maria were forced to move to Portland, Maine, where Maria was miserable, lonely, and bored. By 1813, she was the mother of two sons, Horace and Edgar. As she matured, she realized that she had married her husband out of gratitude rather than love, and she fell desperately in love with a Canadian army officer whose name she never revealed. Since she could not act on her feelings, Brooks turned to writing. In 1820, she published a book of poetry entitled Judith, Esther, and Other Poems. When her husband died in 1823, Maria traveled to Matanzas, Cuba, to live on the coffee plantation of an uncle. After turning down a proposal of marriage from a neighboring planter, she traveled to Canada, where she became engaged to the army officer with whom she had earlier fallen in love. Eventually, however, the engagement was broken; Brooks was so distraught that she twice tried to commit suicide. When she returned to Cuba, her uncle had died, leaving her the plan-

tation, which was a source of income for the rest of her life. Maria again began to write and soon had composed the first canto of a poem called Zo´phie¨l. It tells the story of a fallen angel who falls in love with a mortal. The poem is romantic and scholarly at the same time, with many learned references that made it difficult for many people to understand. One canto of the poem was published in 1825. In 1826, Maria began to correspond with the British poet Robert Southey, who eventually invited her to visit him at his home in Keswick. Southey admired Maria’s work and helped her to publish Zo´phie¨l under the pseudonym Maria del Occidente (Maria of the West). When Brooks’s son Horace was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, Maria went to live near him. There she began work on a fictionalized autobiography entitled Idomen: or, the Vale of Yumuri. When she was told that her writing was “of too elevated a nature to sell,” she eventually published the work herself. In 1843, the death of Brooks’s son Edgar and one of her stepsons brought Maria back to Cuba. She continued to write but died before she could complete the romantic epic, “Beatrix, the Beloved of Columbus.” Maria Brooks was praised by contemporary critics, one of whom said that she was the “only American poet of her sex whose mind was thoroughly educated.” Southey described her as “the most impassioned and most imaginative of all poetesses.” Her work is little read today.


(1783–1861) Hymnist. Phoebe Hinsdale Brown was poor and had little formal education. In 1818, she was living with her husband—a house painter—her invalid sister, and four children in a small house in Ellington, Connecticut. Since there were no private spaces in the house, Brown frequently walked in the garden of a nearby estate. During these walks, Brown said in her autobiography, she “felt quite retired and alone with God.” While visiting a friend one day, Brown met the woman who owned the garden and who asked Brown why she spent so much time there. As Brown said, “There was something in her manner more than in her words, that grieved me. . . [later] I sat down in the kitchen, with my child in my arms,


when the grief of my heart burst forth in a flood of tears. I took pen and paper, and gave vent to my oppressed heart in what I called ‘My Apology for my Twilight Rambles, addressed to a Lady.’” The poem Brown wrote that evening was published in 1824 in the popular collection, Village Hymns for Social Worship by the Reverend Asahel Nettleton under the title “Twilight Hymn.” The original verse began: Yes, when the toilsome day is gone . . . I love to steal awhile away From little ones and care And spend the hours of setting day In gratitude and prayer.

Susan VanZanten Gallagher, in “At Home in the Hymn: Early Nineteenth-Century Women Hymnists,” says that when the hymn was published later, Brown’s references to her domestic cares were edited out by the Reverend Nettleton, reducing the contrast Brown intended between her earthly home and her heavenly one. The revised first stanza reads: I love to steal awhile away From every cumbering care, And spend the hours of setting day In humble, grateful prayer.

Gallagher notes that Brown’s mild complaints about the hardships of her life may have been eliminated because they contradicted the idea, popular at the time, that women were completely contented in the domestic sphere. The altered poem was also published under the title “Private Devo-


tions” in Thomas Lounsbury’s Yale Book of American Verse (1912). FURTHER READING

Brown, Phoebe Hinsdale. The Tree and Its Fruits; or, Narratives from Real Life. New York: Ezra Collier, 1836.


A courtship practice involving sleeping together while fully clothed. The practice of bundling is most often associated with New Englanders, though it originated in Europe and may have occurred in ancient times. The reason for bundling can be found in the austere life lived by the early settlers in America. The work days were long and the living conditions uncomfortable. There were few parties or dances, and people usually went to bed soon after dark to conserve fuel. So young people who were interested in marriage had neither the place nor the time to court, especially during the cold winter months. With their parents’ approval, then, young lovers would “bundle.” Usually this involved going to bed fully clothed, with a long board, called a “bundling board,” separating the couple. Sometimes the girl’s legs would be tied together or encased in a sack. The couple could talk, get to know one another, and even kiss. The practice declined in the nineteenth century, when churches began to preach against bundling.


In the early years of European settlement in North America, Native Americans occasionally took captives in raids and wars. Some captives died of natural causes or were killed; others were ransomed by friends and relatives; and a few elected to live out their lives among their captors. Several of those who returned safely wrote about their experiences, works that came to be known as “captivity narratives.” These narratives often had a strong religious message, suggesting that the ordeal the writers experienced was God’s way of testing the faithfulness of his chosen people. Throughout the stories, which are full of action and adventure, the authors

constantly praise God and try to interpret events to show his wisdom and mercy. Many of the writers also make it clear that they do not regard their captors as fully human; in fact, Native Americans are often portrayed as devils or witches. Humiliations Follow’d with Deliverances (1697), written by Cotton Mather, a Puritan clergyman, and delivered as a sermon, describes the captivity of Hannah Duston. Duston, her week-old daughter, and a nurse, Mary Neff, were captured on March 15,1697, by a band of Abenaki Indians who murdered the baby and forced Duston and Neff to march 100 miles to the north. On the evening of March 30, Duston, Neff, and a young boy named



Perhaps the most famous of the narratives is that of Mary Rowlandson. Rowlandson is the only woman captive to have written her own story. The Sovereignty & Goodness of God, Together, with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed; Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682) went through four editions during Rowlandson’s life and 39 total editions. The captivity narrative is a distinctly American genre. It reflects Americans’ complex relationship with wilderness—the deep, dark forest that is home to both fears and dreams.

 CATHOLICS Mary Rowlandson’s captivity.

Samuel Lennardson managed to steal hatchets. As Mather notes, “the good God who hath all Hearts in his own Hands, heard the sighs of these Prisoners, and gave them to find unexpected favor from the Master.” They used the hatchets to kill their captors. As they were about to escape in some stolen canoes, Duston, who had killed nine of the ten captors herself, went back and took scalps as proof of what she had done. During an attack on the settlement at Deerfield, Massachusetts, John Williams, a clergyman, and his family were captured. Two of his children were killed and his wife died on the journey to Canada. One of his sons remained with the Native Americans when Williams and his surviving children were released in 1707. His narrative, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, tells the story of his captivity and of his staunch resistance to attempts by French Jesuits to convert him to Catholicism. Williams’s narrative and others like it probably inspired James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, which describes the journey of a group taken captive by Huron warriors during the French and Indian War.

The Catholic Church began its influence in North America around 1521, when Juan Ponce de Leo´n arrived in St. Augustine, Florida. Spanish Franciscan monks built missions throughout the southern part of what is now the United States. British Catholics

WOMEN’S FIRSTS In 1675, a leader of the Wampanoag people, Metacomet, began a series of attacks on colonial villages and towns. Because the English name for Metacomet was Philip, these raids came to be called “King Philip’s War.” In February 1676, a war party attacked Lancaster, Massachusetts, and took 24 people captive. Among the captives was the wife of a minister, Mary Rowlandson, and her three children. Mary and her six-year-old daughter, Sarah, were wounded, and Sarah died of blood loss and starvation a week after the group was captured. For the next three months, Rowlandson lived as a slave among her captors. Although life for Rowlandson was hard, her skill at sewing and knitting was admired by her captors, and she was allowed privileges not granted to others. For example, she was occasionally allowed to see her children. She also met and talked to Metacomet himself. Throughout her captivity, Rowlandson was able to take comfort from a Bible given to her by one of the Native Americans; she never despaired and trusted in her faith to sustain her. In May 1676, Rowlandson was ransomed by her husband for 20 pounds. Her surviving children were also returned some months later. Rowlandson originally wrote the story of her captivity for her children. The small volume was published in 1682 and has since then been considered an especially fine example of a colonial captivity narrative. It is not known when or where Rowlandson died.



arrived in North America after the WOMEN’S FIRSTS Church of England was formed in 1532. However, they escaped religious persecution in England only to be perElizabeth Seton founded the first charitable organization in secuted in the colonies as well. Catholthe United States: the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows icism was practiced quietly in the home with Small Children. Seton was the first person born in the with mothers performing the religious United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church duties. They led family prayer and edu(1975). cated the children in religious matters. Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York in 1774 to The only colony in which Catholics Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton Bayley. Her could freely practice their faith was mother died when Elizabeth was only three years old. ElizaMaryland, founded specifically for beth was baptized in the Anglican Church. Catholic immigrants by George CalElizabeth Ann Bayley married wealthy merchant William vert, Lord Baltimore, a Roman CathSeton in 1794 at the age of 19. The Setons had two sons and olic nobleman from Ireland. The three daughters. During the years of her marriage Seton bename of the colony was in itself repcame more involved in charitable work, founding the Society resentative of the Catholic faith, in for the Relief of Poor Widows at age 23. She became known which devotion to Mary, the virgin as the Protestant Sister of Charity because of her work with mother of Jesus and model of obedithe poor. A year after her husband died in 1803, Seton conence and Godly womanhood, is central. The empowerment of Catholic verted to Catholicism. She was 31. women in Maryland was reflected in Seton opened a boarding school for young girls in Balti Baltimore’s land grant provisions. Unmore, Maryland, in like in other British Colonies, women 1808. She also estabcould claim land just as men could. lished a women’s reliOne such landowner was Margaret gious community that Brent, executor of Governor Leonbecame known as the ard Calvert’s estate. Well known for Sisters of Charity of St. her courtroom expertise, Brent arJoseph. Under Seton’s gued 134 cases between 1642 and direction, the sisters 1650. Upon Calvert’s death in 1647, opened the first North Brent acted as governor of Maryland. American Catholic orHowever, in 1689, the Church of phanage in Philadelphia England became the official church in 1814. Seton also of Maryland and Catholic women opened schools in New were disbarred as lawyers and excluded from offices. Catholic widows York and Philadelphia, were required to give up their chilwhich are considered the dren if the father had been Protesfoundation of the U.S. tant, thus preventing the children parochial school system. from being raised Catholic. Catholics Seton contracted tuwere not free to openly practice their berculosis and died in religion again until after the Ameri1821. Pope John XXII can Revolution. proclaimed Seton venThe appointment of John Carroll erable in 1959, and she as the first American bishop in 1789 was beatified in 1963. marked the beginning of Catholic convents in the United States. Carroll believed that Protestants would accept the Catholic Church more if it seemed to be “contributing to the common good.” He suggested that Catholic nuns, young girls. A group of French Ursuline nuns, the women who emulated the Virgin Mary by taking a first order of religious women to arrive in North vow of celibacy and devoting their lives to God’s America, had been in New Orleans since 1727. service, be sent to the United States to educate However, New Orleans was not part of the United



States until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Therefore, in 1790, a group of Carmelite nuns founded the first U.S. convent in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Nuns established the first parochial schools in North America, took care of orphans, rehabilitated women of “ill repute,” and converted African Americans and Native Americans to the Catholic faith.

sylvania, and Rhode Island) were royal colonies. The king appointed their governors and approved all legislation. George III continued the effort to reclaim royal rights, which increased tensions between England and the colonies.

The Cherokee originally inhabited the region of the Carolinas, northern Georgia, and eastern Tennessee before their defeat by the Iroquois and Delaware. In the 1600s and 1700s, the Cherokee migrated to the Southeast, becoming the largest Native American group in the region. The Cherokee culture included agriculture, settled villages, and ceremony. After the American Revolution, the Cherokee became influenced by white culture, adopting plow agriculture, animal husbandry, and cotton and wool industries, as well as slavery. The Cherokee were a patrilineal society; leadership roles within the community came through the father. Cherokee boys were highly valued, and instruction and discipline came from fathers and mother’s brothers. Even though the Cherokee society at large was patrilineal, families were matrilineal. Women held respected positions in Cherokee families. Kinship was based on mothers. Women owned housing and property, which were passed upon their death to their blood relatives.


See philanthropy


The written grant of rights to establish an English colony. A charter, or royal patent, gave individuals, corporations, or trustees an area of land and the power to govern it. After failed settlements, like Roanoke, proved that North American colonies required more resources than one individual could provide, the king allowed trading companies to found colonies as for-profit ventures. The first such colony was established by the Virginia Company in 1607. Trading companies encouraged immigration by promising to establish a representative assembly. This right to representation became a common feature in colonies established by two other types of charter: proprietary and corporate. In proprietary colonies, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, a lord proprietor had the right to make all laws and receive all revenues. In corporate colonies, such as Connecticut and Rhode Island, charters of incorporation were granted after people began living there, encouraging the idea that government was based on the sovereignty of the people. (In keeping with the assumptions of the time, no mention was made in any of the charters of the position of women. Women were not expected to have any role or interest in government.) All of the charter colonies had a governor and two legislative bodies. Most also had the exclusive right to tax themselves, a right for which the colonists later fought. Charles II attempted to consolidate all of the colonies into the Dominion of New England (1686–1689). Though the effort failed, by 1763 all but four colonies (Connecticut, Maryland, Penn-


See also: ‘‘Nancy Ward to the Cherokee Council,’’ Documents, Volume 2.



Women’s lives in colonial America were dominated by childbearing and rearing. Fully two-thirds of a woman’s adult life might be spent pregnant or nursing. According to Judith Walzer Leavitt in Brought to Bed, women “had to face the physical and psychological effects of recurring pregnancies, confinements, and postpartum recoveries, which all took their toll on their time, their energy, their



women. As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich notes in Goodwives, “In no other experience in the premodern world were women so completely in control or so firmly bonded.” In addition to the comfort of community, women also endured the pain of loss. Most women lost more than one child; some lost as many as five or six. Women also worried that they themselves would not survive the pregnancy. A woman who learned she was pregnant would prepare for her own demise at the same time she prepared clothes for the new baby. Some women wrote in their diaries of their fear of death; others confided in their friends or husbands; a few made wills stating that their jewelry and personal possessions should be given to their children. These fears were well grounded; a woman’s risk of death compounded TRAILBLAZERS over five pregnancies was one in 30. Women could do little but accept the “Nanye-hi,” whose anglicized named became Nancy Ward, risk of death as their lot; many relibecame a Cherokee leader in 1775 after the death of her husgions taught that the suffering of band, Kingfisher of the Deer. Ward took her fallen husband’s childbirth was women’s punishplace at the battle of Taliwa, a skirmish between the Cheroment for Eve’s sin. kees and the Creeks. After her act of valor, Ward’s people If a woman did not die in childcalled her Beloved Woman and she became their leader. birth, complications could affect the Ward sat on the Women’s Council and Council of Chiefs, quality of the rest of her life. Because where she had an equal voice with the men. She later negotiof difficult deliveries or damage inated several peace treaties with white settlers, and expressed flicted by forceps, women could get surprise that no white women appeared as negotiators. tears in their bladders or rectums, reWard’s second husband was Bryant Ward, a white sulting in a lifetime of incontinence. Tears in the vaginal wall or cervix trader, with whom she had a daughter, Elizabeth. Although might result in painful intercourse or Bryant Ward left Nancy, she continued her friendship with problems with future pregnancies and him and other white settlers in the region of present-day deliveries. The most common comNorth Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. For explaint as a result of childbirth was a ample, Ward personally intervened when Mrs. William Bean prolapsed uterus, a condition in which was captured by Cherokee warriors who intended to burn the uterus drops, sometime so far that her at the stake. it protrudes from the vaginal opening. In 1817, the Cherokee adopted a new constitution to please While childbearing had many risks, the U.S. government. Power was taken away from women and it also brought women great honor. they were eliminated from making any decisions. Ward was For example, Puritans idealized mothforced to resign as Cherokee leader. She and other Cherokee erhood and especially valued women women pleaded with the Cherokee council not to sell more who had many children. According to land to white settlers. However, with the Hiwassee Purchase Ulrich, “To bear children and, above of 1819—an agreement made between the U.S. government all, to see those children bear chiland the Cherokee—the Cherokee gave up all land north of the dren were accounted rich blessHiwassee River. Ward died in 1822, and 13 years after her ings. . . . Aside from any abstract death, the Cherokee surrendered all their lands and were quality of character or spirit, fruitfulmoved to reservations in present-day Oklahoma. ness in itself conferred status.” Judith Coffin, a woman who died in NewSee also: ‘‘Nancy Ward to the Cherokee Council,’’ Documents, Volume 2. bury, Massachusetts in 1705 at the age of 80, lived to see 177 descendreams, and on their bodies.” Many women had their first child within ten months of marriage and were continuously pregnant or nursing for the next 20 years. Childbearing created a community of women who helped and cared for one another. In the first stage of labor, women neighbors gathered to provide the mother-to-be with emotional support. As the child was delivered, the laboring woman was held by or leaned against another woman. After the birth, women would wash and dress the infant and make the mother comfortable. In general, men were excluded from the birth process, and any information they received about what was happening was communicated and controlled by



Children dominated women’s lives.

dants. That accomplishment is memorialized on her tombstone. She is described as a “grave, sober, faithful, fruitfull vine.” See also: Ballard, Martha; Childbirth; Midwifery; Pregnancy.


Women in colonial British America had, on average, one child every two to two-and-a-half years throughout their reproductive lives. Women became pregnant frequently not only because there was no reliable form of birth control but also because many families needed the labor of their children. Farmers, especially, relied on sons and daughters to help with the work. The average family in Hallowell, Maine, in the late eighteenth century, for example, had seven children. Some women had as many as 16 pregnancies. Although, then as now, a pregnancy was an event to celebrate, many women had mixed emotions because of the risks associated with childbirth. According to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

in A Midwife’s Tale, midwife Martha Ballard lost one mother for every 198 live births. In contrast, the rate in the United States today is approximately one death in every 10,000 births. Even if the woman herself survived the pregnancy, her child might not; in one birth out of every 24, the child died. Forty percent of these babies were stillborn; the rest died in the first day of life. The vast majority of women gave birth at home, attended by female relatives and neighbors and the local midwife. Husbands were generally home but not allowed in the room where the birthing process took place. Doctors were seldom involved unless there were complications that the midwife could not handle. In the eighteenth century, only the very poorest women in urban areas had their children in hospitals, and these women had a much greater rate of infection and death than did those who had their babies at home, primarily because the importance of sterile procedures was not understood at the time. The midwife was the first to be called to monitor the early stages of labor. As contractions be-

WOMEN’S FIRSTS Virginia Dare was the first child born in America of English parents. Her parents were among 120 colonists who sailed to the continent of North America in 1587. Sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh to found a colony to be named Virginia, after Elizabeth I, England’s “Virgin Queen,” they landed at Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. The governor of the new colony, John White, was accompanied by his daughter Eleanor and her husband, Ananias Dare. Their daughter was born on August 18, 1587, and was christened on August 24. The name “Virginia” signified, as her grandfather wrote, that “this childe was the first Christian born in Virginia.” Nine days later, John White left for England in order to resupply the colony. When he arrived there in England, White found the country at war with Spain. He was unable to return with the needed supplies until 1590. When he did, he found the colony in ruins, and the word Croatoan carved on a doorpost. None of the colonists was ever found. There are many theories and legends about what happened to the colonists. The most plausible explanation seems to be that the word Croatoan referred to an island off the coast that was the home of Native Americans. The colonists may have been rescued by, and later lived with, the Croatan tribe.


came more frequent, mothers might be given herbal remedies, wine, or rum mixed with sugar and water to help ease the pain. When it was near the time for the child to be born, relatives or neighbor women were called in to help. Medical practice in the colonial period required that mother be wrapped with soft, dry cloths after the birth. It was believed that as the placenta was expelled, air would enter the uterus and cause pain and inflammation. Thus, the cloths were applied to the abdomen and thighs of the newly delivered woman. An afternurse might be called in to help the mother through the first few days after the birth. Often the midwife and her helpers stayed to dinner and an evening of celebration; many stayed the night if they had come from some distance. Women usually nursed their babies, which not only helped the baby thrive but also tended to prevent the mother from becoming pregnant again until the child was weaned. Women were expected to “lie in” for a period of six to eight weeks after a birth, although in rural areas, many mothers were


lucky if they got three or four days before they had to return to work. Martha Ballard described a woman who was up and around again as being “in her kitchen,” an appropriate image. See also: Midwifery.


Because of the concept of coverture, a married woman in colonial America was not considered to have a legal identity apart from her husband. Although divorce was extremely rare, those women who did divorce were never granted custody of their children. Essentially, children were considered to be property, and all property, even that which the woman brought into the marriage as a dowry or through inheritance, belonged to the husband. The emotional welfare of children was not considered relevant to the question of who should be granted custody until the end of the nineteenth century. See also: Divorce Laws.

This is how a nineteenth-century artist imagined the baptism of Virginia Dare, the first English child born in North America.





Although colonial families in British North America had many children, Louisa Caroline Huggins Tuthill was one of the first women those children did not always live very in the United States to write for and about children. Some of long. In the year 1789, a five-year-old her many books, such as I Will Be a Lady: A Book for Girls could expect to live to only 40 years of (1845) and I Will Be a Gentleman: A Book for Boys (1846) age. Due to poor health care and the harsh lifestyle of colonial times, child provided advice on conduct and manners for young girls and mortality was high and many died of boys. Tuthill also wrote the first history of architecture pubdiseases like tuberculosis, smallpox, lished in the United States, History of Architecture from the and yellow fever. Earliest Times (1848). In the colonies, children over the Louisa Huggins was born in New Haven, Connecticut in age of six were considered little adults 1799. The youngest of seven children born to Mary Dickerand were expected to work. Because man and Ebenezer Huggins, she was educated at seminaries colonial society was primarily agrarian for girls in New Haven and Litchfield, Connecticut. She beand many hands made the work gan writing as a child, but burned her compositions, resolvlighter, families had many children— ing never to become one of the literary women she disdained. sometimes as many as 25 in one famHuggins’s literary career began with her marriage to Corily. In addition, the Puritan notion nelius Tuthill, an ordained minister who published a literary that idle hands did the devil’s work afmagazine called the Microscope for six months in 1820 and fected the age at which children were edited the Christian Spectator from 1822 to 1823. Louisa expected to complete chores. ChilCaroline hosted literary meetings at their house, which dren were taught that laziness was the brought her into contact with the likes of Henry E. Dwight worst type of sin. and poet James Gates Percival. Tuthill’s husband encourThe work of children was modeled aged her to write and once published one of her works anonon the traditional gender structure; ymously without her knowledge. girls learned house chores, and boys Tuthill’s husband died in 1825, leaving her with four learned to work the farm. A girl of young children and $131.62. She turned to writing to support four to eight years old might be expected to harvest vegetables in the her family. garden or pluck geese. Older girls would spin thread, sew, clean, cook, and make candles or soap. At age nine or ten, a girl from a low-income family could be cording to a 1642 New England law, parents were sent to work as a maid or cook in the home of a obligated to teach their children to read and write. wealthy family, while a girl from an advantaged Unfortunately, books were scarce because the first family would stay home learning domestic duties printing press in colonial North America was not available until 1646. When schools were started, until she was married. When children had time for play after their girls were less likely than boys to attend, as girls daily chores, they usually played with their siblings. were expected to complete household duties. Common games included hopscotch, marbles, and Only boys of high social status went to school. leapfrog. Toys of the time were few, and were usu- Boys from poor families usually entered apprenally handmade from available resources. Girls ticeships around the age of eight. Families were also expected to teach the chilmade dolls from cornhusks, straw, and rags. Another popular toy was the barrel hoop, which dren to live according to God’s law and to become could be rolled with a stick. If the family had well-behaved citizens. According to the dominant enough money, toys such as dollhouses could be religious belief of the seventeenth century, chilimported from England, but such elaborate play- dren were born with original sin, the legacy of the biblical fall of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genthings were rare. Although children learned domestic and agri- esis. Their natural tendency to evil must be batcultural skills, in early colonial times most were not tled by the strict teaching of obedience, formally educated because there were no schools self-control, and responsibility. Puritan families until the latter part of the seventeenth century. Ac- believed that a child’s will must be broken—in


other words, the child’s natural pride must be eliminated in order for the child to behave appropriately. Therefore, beatings were not an uncommon punishment. Some laws of discipline were profoundly harsh, such as the 1648 Massachusetts law that required that children in their teen years who insulted or struck their parents would be put to death. Although there is no official record of this law ever being carried out, its mere existence illustrates the gravity of discipline at the time. By the time young people reached 16 years of age, they were considered full adults. Girls were expected to marry after this age; boys became taxpayers and eligible to serve in the militia. Overall, a colonial childhood was a short one, full of chores and adult expectations. See also: Family Life, Colonial; Infancy; Schools. FURTHER READING

Gordon, Michael, comp. The American Family in Socialhistorical Perspective. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973.

CHOCTAW HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Choctaw of present-day Mississippi were divided into three regions, with each group being headed by its own chief. Each village chief met with a council of male elders and other experienced males to govern the village. The Choctaw were farmers whose villages were composed of log houses and cornfields. Women planted and tended the fields and men were hunters and warriors. Women also prepared deerskins, which men traded with white settlers. Families were divided in two major divisions, or iksas. Children belonged to their mother’s iksa and were required to marry into a different iksa. Males had political power, but chiefs were chosen through the women’s lines. For examples, a chief’s nephew, his sister’s son, generally inherited power.


Women’s roles in Christian religions of the era were shaped by Christian interpretations of the Bible, especially in reference to Eve. According to


the Book of Genesis, Eve, the first woman, was created from Adam’s rib as his “helpmate.” This notion that they were created to serve men put women in a subordinate position. Colonial women lacked power in most churches even though they composed a majority of the congregation populations. In general, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries women could not be ordained ministers, could not conduct formal meetings, and could not hold a congregational office (with the exception of the Quaker sect). Because religious belief influenced all colonial society, similar restrictions were placed on secular life as well. Occasionally women were allowed to perform certain functions in the church. There was a conviction that women were naturally pious, and therefore well suited to promote strict adherence to Christian morality. Women of the Baptist faith often served as public speakers on sexual misconduct, pridefulness, and theft. Also, Baptist women could occasionally vote on congregational matters, and in 1764 when the Philadelphia Baptist Congregation tried to prevent the women’s vote, the women of the congregation defended their right. Led by Joanna Anthony, the women won. But it was a short-lived victory; following the American Revolution, their voting rights were officially rescinded. Women were put in charge of funerals, baptisms, and weddings, which were often performed in the home and managed by women who worked under the guidance of male ministers. Women were expected to teach their children religious subjects, a task completed in the home because there were no formal schools in the colonies until the latter part of the seventeenth century. Quakers were allowed more direct roles in the church than women of other denominations, because Quaker theology stated that women and men were partners, as were Adam and Eve before their fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. They were allowed to head women’s meetings and served philanthropic roles such as caring for the sick, widowed, and orphaned. They also disciplined men and women who violated religious law, especially within the vows of marriage, and were qualified to renounce “wayward” Quakers. Although the Quakers promoted a certain amount of equality among the sexes, the Puritans thought much differently. Puritan women who attempted to take leadership in religious issues were often, like Anne Hutchinson, expelled from the church. In Hutchinson’s case, she was banished



not only from the church but also from the entire Massachusetts Bay Colony for preaching against the Puritan belief that a person’s outward actions indicated whether he or she was born “saved” or “damned.” Many of her preachings threatened the authority of certain clergymen as well as the basic tenets of the Puritan faith. Women of various religious sects also had to pay the price of Eve’s succumbing to temptation in Eden. Christians believed that every person was born with original sin, a result of Eve eating the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore, women were thought more liable than men to give in to temptation and to become agents of the devil. Hence, most of those persecuted for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were women. FURTHER READING

Braude, Ann. Women and American Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Butler, Jon. Religion in Colonial America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


The status of being an official member of a church. During the colonial era, there were strict tests for becoming a church member. In New England, membership rates hovered around 33 percent, while in some Southern colonies only 5 percent were members. Low percentages do not indicate that colonial churches were unimportant. Church attendance and participation rates were extremely high. Between 50 and 75 percent of colonists participated in their churches, often spending all Sunday at church. Furthermore, churches stood at the heart of colonial society. Situated in the center of Northern colonial towns and villages, churches were the tallest edifices in each settlement. Religion was also intimately tied to the government. Before 1780, many colonists paid taxes to support their congregations and ministers; church buildings served as meeting halls and schools. Although only men could be ordained ministers, in most denominations women made up the

A church service in seventeenth-century Plymouth, Massachusetts


majority of church attendants and members. One reason that women outnumbered men resides in the differing ways men and women became church members. In the New England Congregational churches, when a man wanted to become a member of a church, he had to speak before the entire congregation and answer any questions that other members may have. If another church member sought to humiliate that man, they could publicly challenge or expose him in front of the entire church. Unlike the men, women did not have to defend themselves to the entire congregation because they were not allowed to speak in church. Women only had to tell their conversion to the local minister. Thus, they did not have to endure public scrutiny. Women also played a more significant role than men in religious and church education as teachers of Sunday schools and the Bible. As Anne Grant, a New York woman commented in her 1808 autobiography, “it was on the females that the task of religious instruction generally devolved.” Colonial religion showed significant pluralism. While Congregationalist churches dominated New England, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Anglicans were evenly matched in the middle and Southern colonies. In addition, some denominations thrived in specific locales. While Quakers dominated Pennsylvania religion and politics, Catholics and Jews congregated in Maryland. Other colonial denominations included Lutherans, Moravians, and Methodists. Pluralism, however, had its limits. Colonists who challenged church doctrine experienced censure and sometimes expulsion from the community. Losing one’s church connections meant the severing of social and political links as well. In 1635, for example, Roger Williams was expelled from the Massachusetts colony for teaching against state taxation for local churches. Two years later, Massachusetts cast out Anne Hutchinson for leading prayer meetings. Women, Congregationalist leaders maintained, were not allowed to lead in church affairs.


woman to discuss or show any interest in politics. However, in the years just before the American Revolution, male political leaders realized that they needed the support of women if boycotts of tea and British manufactured goods were to be successful. The first public role women played in American political life involved boycotting tea. Women enthusiastically supported the movement, drinking coffee and herbal teas with gusto in order to bolster the colonial cause. In Edenton, South Carolina, a group of 51 women signed a pact stating that it was their “duty” to do whatever they could to support the “publick good.” According to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “Never before had female Americans formally shouldered the responsibility of a public role. . . . Accordingly, the Edenton statement marked an important turning point in American women’s political perceptions.” Women also helped the colonial cause by refusing to purchase British cloth. Instead, they made and wore their own homespun material. In the South, enslaved women were put to the task of

 CITIES AND TOWNS See urban life


Before the 1760s, women played only a minor role in civic life. It was considered unfeminine for a

Hannah Adams, the first American woman who was able to support herself by writing. Women’s perceptions about their roles in civic life began to change in the late 1700s.



spinning and weaving, which eventuTRAILBLAZERS ally raised their status slightly because their skills were valuable. In the North, women were pleased to disHannah Adams was the first American woman who was able cover that an ordinary domestic task to support herself by writing. Although Adams had no formal could become an act of patriotism. education, she learned a great deal from her father, who was Newspapers began to publish infora great lover of books, and from divinity students who mation about women’s activities, inboarded at her parents’ home. cluding how much cloth was One of these students gave Adams Thomas Broughton’s produced by various households or Historical Dictionary of All Religions. This gift sparked her towns. In 1769, the Boston Evening Post interest in studying religion, and she began to read and take wrote that “the industry and frugality notes about different denominations and sects. When her faof American ladies must exalt their ther’s poor business decisions left the family in impoverished character in the Eyes of the World and circumstances, Hannah published her notes under the title serve to show how greatly they are An Alphabetical Compendium of the Various Sects (1784). contributing to bring about the politiThe book was unique in two ways: Hannah had used a wide cal salvation of a whole Continent.” variety of sources for her information, and she had remained Heady words indeed for women who objective in her discussion of the various religions. Although had never before seen their domestic her book was not at first profitable, later editions bought in work similarly praised. enough money for Hannah to pay off all the family’s debts Women who called themselves and support herself. “Daughters of Liberty” met regularly In later years, Hannah became the center of a controversy in many locales to spin thread and involving Reverend Jedidiah Morse. While she was working weave cloth. In some areas the whole on an abridged edition of a history of New England, Morse community came out to watch the published one of his own, even though he had assured her women spin. The women themselves that he would not compete with her. Her many friends were occasionally challenged one another to see who could produce the most in outraged at Morse’s “ungentlemanly” action, and they proa specified time period. All this activity vided an annuity to help support her. In her later years, she led to a revolution in women’s perceppublished several more books about religion. tions of their role in civic life, and As she grew older, Hannah was regarded as an eccentric many women began to read newspawho talked to herself and claimed she had seen a ghost. She pers and pamphlets and to discuss died in 1831 and was buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts. politics with their husbands and friends. The first organized civic effort by women in America life began in 1780 as a result of place that which Congress should provide. But the publication of The Sentiments of an American General Washington vetoed her ideas and asked Woman, by Esther De Berdt Reed, a broadside in that the money be used to buy fabric to make which Reed said that women wished to be “really shirts. Reed died before the controversy was enuseful” to the war effort, “like those heroines of tirely worked out. In her place Sarah Franklin antiquity, who have rendered their sex illustrious.” Bache supervised the shirt-making process. She suggested that women give up “vain orna- Women volunteers produced more than 2,000 ments” so that could donate money to the Conti- shirts, each embroidered with the name of the nental troops as “the offering of the Ladies.” woman who made it. In a sense, the first effort to Within a month, women in Philadelphia had col- engage women in organized political action was lected 300,000 continental dollars, the equivalent diminished by turning their effort into “General of $7,500 in gold and silver. Women in New Jersey, Washington’s Sewing Circle.” But once American Maryland, and Virginia were so inspired by the suc- women had gotten a taste of politics, they never cess of the Philadelphia women that they began looked back. As Abigail Smith Adams wrote, “If a woman does not hold the reigns [sic] of Governtheir own collections. Reed wanted the money to be used to give sol- ment, I see no reason for her not judging how they diers something special from the ladies, not to re- are conducted.”


After the war, men began to accept women who expressed their political opinions in private, but few accepted the idea of a public political role for women. In only one state were women granted a public role. The New Jersey state constitution of 1776 gave “all free inhabitants” who held a specified amount of property the right to vote. Thus, women and African Americans voted in New Jersey until 1807, when a law disenfranchising both groups was passed.


(co ca kes kee) (?–1686) Reigning queen of the Pamunkey Indians. The widow of a descendant of the Powhatan, in 1656, her tribe selected her to lead them instead of following their tradition of bestowing kingship on the son of the deceased chief’s eldest sister. After Powhatan’s death in 1618, the coalition of tribes he had forged to dominate eastern Virginia broke down as a result of the periodic wars, especially with the colonists, and the population of the tribe declined. Into this crisis, Cockacoeske brought political shrewdness, a fine sense of style, the formation of a family with an influential white man named West, and the determination to keep her warriors out of white man’s wars. She and her son, “Captain” John West, signed the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677, establishing a permanent peace with the English. She made a brief and unsuccessful attempt to restore the traditional tributary obligations of small neighboring tribes, but continued to rule until her death despite the failure of that policy. She appears to have been succeeded by at least two queens, Betty and Ann; the latter still held the title in the 1720s. Cockacoeske successful rule illustrates the great flexibility of Native American social institutions.

 COLDEN, JANE See science


Before the Revolution, few Americans paid attention to the education of women. After the Revolution, however, ideas and attitudes changed markedly. Both men and women began to believe


that the education of women was crucial to further the ideals of the new republic. Women, after all, would be the first teachers of boys, who would later grow up to be the nation’s future citizens and leaders. And educated men, it was thought, needed educated wives. Despite the concerns of dissenters, who felt that higher education would make women unfeminine and unsuited to be wives and mothers, in the 1780s and 1790s many private academies were founded to educate young women. Before the Revolution, “higher” education for young women consisted of “adventure schools,” which taught such subjects as music, drawing, needlework, and dance. Toward the end of the century, however, several academies were founded to educate young women in such subjects as mathematics, history, geography, Greek and Latin, and rhetoric and logic. These included John Poor’s Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia, a school for young ladies in New York City established by Isabella Marshall Graham and Joanna Graham Bethune, Caleb Bingham’s school in Boston, Jedidiah Morse’s in Boston, Sarah Pierce’s in Litchfield, Massachusetts, and Susanna Rowson’s in Medford, Massachusetts. Many considered the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to be the best of the “female academies.” This school, which was originally limited to students of the Moravian sect, was opened to young women of other religions in 1785. The South tended to lag behind the North in the establishment of schools for young women; the first such school in the South was founded in 1809 by Jacob Mordecai, in Warrenton, North Carolina. The primary reason for the delay was that the South had been more thoroughly devastated by the Revolution than the North and took longer to rebuild. According to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “the republican academies and the reform climate of which they were the chief manifestation had a significant effect on the lives of American women.” Among those who graduated from the early academies were many of the women who led social and reform movements in the nineteenth century.

COLONIAL HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The English household in prerevolutionary North America varied depending on economic status and



not relinquish English legal tradition. Families continued to live by—and most states reenacted— laws based on large portions of the common law. See also: Family Life, Colonial.


Colonial women often deferred to men, but their work was crucial to the household economy.

region. The first families to settle in North America faced extreme hardships. The majority died within the first few years. Between 1607 and 1624, only 1,275 of the 6,000 settlers who came to Jamestown, Virginia, were still alive. Before 1640, colonists had a 50 percent chance of dying during their first year in Virginia. Family life, therefore, was transient. In Jamestown, families living in close proximity could help one another. Social ties were established and a sense of community was essential to family survival. Men led the community and established laws by which families had to abide. In the Chesapeake region, family farms were spread out and families became more self-sufficient. Men remained the heads of households and made major family decisions. Wives took an active role in the family farm in the fields in addition to tending to domestic duties and raising children. The structure of most colonial homes was based on biblical standards, in which the husband and father was the head of the household. A man’s wife was to be submissive to him and to his decisions about what was best for the family. English families in America continued to follow common law, in which husbands had control over their wives who had no political power. Husbands continued to exercise their rights of coverture, in which a married woman’s property was completely controlled by her husband during the life of the marriage. After the Revolutionary War, many colonial families loyal to the British crown remade their lives in England. Those remaining in America did

The term common law refers to the body of law that arises out of precedent, or decisions that judges and juries have made in the past. During the colonial period, judges relied on guides to English case law that were written and printed in England. The three most influential guides, written by Edward Coke (1620s), Matthew Hale (1670s), and William Blackstone (1760s), had the greatest influence. The words of all three men were repeated in many different guides throughout the colonial and early national periods. Indeed, one study found that in the United States in the 1790s, newspapers cited Blackstone’s name more often than the name of any political thinker. Many lawyers (and, following their example, historians) describe the common law as unchanging, but it is not. The common law has constantly been changing, and the three men mentioned above left their stamp upon it. Hale, for example, wrote the guidelines about rape that were discussed in the essay on Women and the Law (see pages 6–10). Before that, a jury had more discretion to decide what might constitute a rape. Blackstone extended the meaning of coverture to include many different facets of women’s legal identity, not simple monetary or property questions: he suggested, for example, that women should perhaps not be able to testify against their husbands. If husband and wife were one in the eyes of the law, he reasoned, then a wife testifying against her husband was tantamount to a husband incriminating himself. The implications of his legal strictures on wives reached far into the nineteenth century. The thinkers who expounded the common law did not always offer definitive opinions: They debated throughout the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries about whether a husband was allowed to beat his wife, and if so, how harshly. If a wife died while a husband was punishing her for disobedience, was he guilty of murder? Such questions exemplified the ongoing refinement of legal principles and the evolution of American common law. Holly Brewer



Members of Protestant denominations that are governed by local congregations, including the United Church of Christ and several smaller fellowships. Congregationalism, the modern form of New England Puritanism, became the dominant religious denomination in New England in the 1800s. Both Pilgrims and Puritans believed that all believers share the priesthood of Jesus Christ and should have a voice in church decisions. Both rejected the idea of a national church in favor of autonomous congregations formed by covenants among believers. The two traditions merged in 1648 with the acceptance of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the adoption of the Cambridge Platform, which defined their government. To promote knowledge of the Bible, Congregationalists established elementary schools and universities. Most ministers were college-educated, which was unusual for the time. When disputes about requirements for full church membership threatened to become divisive, the Saybrook Platform (1708) created a central council to resolve disputes between congregations and approve candidates for ordination. However, many congregations preferred to maintain their independence. Women were first attracted to the Congregational church by preachers like John Cotton (1585– 1682), who stressed a personal experience of grace. The biblical story of Eve, who gave her husband the apple of forbidden knowledge, had been traditionally used to teach that women were weak and sinful by nature. However, as women became the majority in most congregations, preachers began describing them as heirs to salvation instead of the inheritors of Eve’s sin. While women sat separately from the men and generally did not speak in church, widows occasionally served as deacons and women conducted Bible study groups in their homes. The Great Awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries both strengthened and weakened Congregationalism. The denomination organized the first American Protestant missions in 1810. Women formed groups to support the spread of the Christian faith and also served as missionaries. However, Baptists and Unitarians broke away to form their own denominations. At the end of the American Revolution, forms of Congregationalism were the established religion in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New


Hampshire. Members of the rapidly growing new sects were working to end tax support for Congregational churches. Significant female Congregationalists include poet Anne Dudley Bradstreet; Sarah Pierpont Edwards, whose faith inspired her husband, Jonathan, a noted preacher; and Ann Eliot, who came to New England with her husband, John, to spread the Christian message to Native Americans. FURTHER READING

Hudson, Winthrop S. Religion in America: An Historical Account of the Development of American Religious Life. 3rd ed. New York: Scribner’s, 1981.

CONSTITUTION, UNITED  STATES The “federal” Constitution, which replaced the Articles of Confederation and established a much stronger frame of national government. Drafted in 1787 by a convention of men, its immediate effect on women was virtually nil, except to reaffirm in yet another way their exclusion from formal political life. All pronouns in the language of the document are masculine, as when it is assumed that either a member of congress (Article I) or the president (Article II) would be a “he,” although women are not specifically excluded from those offices or any others. The document reserves the determination of basic political rights, like the right to vote, to the states, in which women at that time had few political rights. (New Jersey was an exception, with a state constitution bestowing the right to vote on adults who met property and residency requirements. Some women voted under this rule until 1807, when the state legislature closed the loophole.) Debate about the Constitution’s implications for women is lively. Linda K. Kerber and others believe that it reinforced the doctrine of coverture, according to which a woman had no legal personality apart from her husband’s. Jan Lewis argues that the Constitution’s framers made free women the touchstone of the modern liberal state by enumeration all free “person,” including women, to determine representation in Congress (Article I, Section 2). It thereby made white women indubitably citizens with the right to representation. By the three-fifths compromise, however, Congress would include only three out of five slaves in the count for apportioning representation to free people, so all historians agree the Consti-



tution did nothing for slave women, defining them implicitly as non-citizens.


(1786?–?) Nothing is known of Harriet Cooke beyond what appears in her autobiography, which was published in 1858 under the title Memories of My Life Work. The book gives a glimpse of the challenges faced and met by ordinary women in the early years of the Republic. It tells the story of considerable hardship; “I never was a child,” she tells the reader on the first page. The eldest of four children, Cooke became a schoolteacher at the age of 16. She taught for five years before marrying and starting a family. During the War of 1812, Cooke’s husband and brother went into business together but were unsuccessful, so much so that her husband was sent to debtors’ prison. When he was freed, her husband spent the next several years looking for work, until his death from yellow fever. During this period, Harriet supported the family by teaching. After her husband’s death, Harriet borrowed money to establish a boarding house. She later founded a school with her son.


(1796–1876) Granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson. Ellen Randolph was born in 1796 to Martha Jefferson Randolph, one of Thomas and Martha Jefferson’s three children. Ellen was the third child of 11 and Jefferson’s favorite granddaughter. The family lived at Edgehill, a plantation near Monticello. Ellen was almost as serious a student as her notoriously studious grandfather, whom she called her “earliest and best friend.” Jefferson once remarked that “Ellen and Cornelia [Ellen’s sister] are the severest of the students I ever met with. They never leave their room but to come to meals.” In 1825, Ellen married Joseph Coolidge, a native of Boston and a merchant who traded with China. One of the young couple’s wedding presents was from Jefferson, a beautiful handmade desk made by John Hemings. The desk was lost at sea on its way from Virginia to Boston, and John was too old to make another. As a substitute, Jefferson gave the couple the desk on which he signed the Declaration of Independence. According to Jefferson, the desk

was made from a drawing of my own by Benjamin Randolph, a cabinetmaker in whose house I took my first lodgings on my arrival in Philadelphia in May, 1776. And I have used it ever since. It claims no merit of particular beauty. It is plain neat, convenient, and taking no more room on the writing table than a moderate quarto volume, it yet displays itself sufficiently for any writing.

Ellen kept the desk for her entire life. Ellen and Joseph had six children. Their youngest child, Sydney, was killed in the Civil War, fighting on the Union side. Ironically, Ellen’s brother George fought for the Confederacy. Ellen corresponded with her grandfather from her earliest youth until his death in 1826. She and Joseph were married for 52 years; she died in 1876.


(1751–1800?) The first woman in the United States to receive a military pension. Margaret Cochran was orphaned in 1756, when she was five years old. Her father was killed in a raid by Native Americans and her mother was taken captive and never heard from again. Margaret married John Corbin in 1772. When John enlisted in the Pennsylvania Artillery during the Revolutionary War, Margaret went with him. This was not unusual. Many wives accompanied their husbands, cooking, doing laundry, and nursing the troops. What was unusual was Margaret’s bravery during the Battle of Harlem Heights, New York in 1776. Her husband manned a cannon. When he was killed, Margaret took over his post and continued to fire until she was herself shot with three rounds of grapeshot. She was wounded in the shoulder, chest, and jaws. When the fort was captured by the British, Margaret escaped being taken prisoner. She was taken to Philadelphia to recover from her wounds, but Margaret was never again to have the use of her left arm. In 1779, the Continental Congress granted Margaret a pension, the first ever granted to a woman. Their resolution reads in part: “Margaret Corbin . . . was wounded and utterly disabled at Fort Washington while she heroically filled the post of her husband, who was killed by her side serving a piece of artillery.” In 1783, Margaret Corbin was formally discharged from the Continental Army. She died near West Point, New York, sometime near the turn of



the century. In 1926, the Daughters of the American Revolution moved her remains to a cemetery behind the Old Cadet Chapel at West Point and erected a monument to her.

COREY, MARTHA (?–1692) One of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials. Before she became 70-year-old Giles Corey’s third wife, nothing is known of Martha Corey’s life. She is remembered today primarily as a victim of the hysteria that gripped the village of Salem in 1692 and led to the execution of 19 people convicted of witchcraft. A group of teenage girls began the madness by accusing the Reverend Samuel Parris’s West Indian slave Tituba and two beggar women of being in league with the devil. Martha Corey was the first respectable member of the community to be accused. “Why I am a Gospel woman & do you think I can have to do with witchcraft too?” —Martha Corey, spoken at her trial for witchcraft

Martha’s initial reaction may have worked against her; she reportedly laughed at the idea of witchcraft and maintained that the girls were not possessed. During her trial, every move she made was exploited by the girls to condemn her. When she bit her lip, the girls screamed and showed bite marks, when she clenched her hands, the girls accused her of pinching them. When she cried out that she was a “gospel woman,” the girls responded that she was a “gospel witch.” On September 22, 1692, Martha Corey and seven others were hanged for witchcraft and buried in an unmarked grave.


The Puritan settlers of Massachusetts hoped to establish a society based on religious principles, and, in keeping with this goal, based their legal system on the Bible as opposed to English common law. Virginia and other southern colonies based their legal systems on English law from the beginning.

Later colonial courts served women less well than those of the seventeenth century.

Because of the religious basis for law in Puritan society, women in New England had unusual opportunities for their voices to be heard in court, even though Puritan law was harsh with respect to women. Puritan judges punished women who refused to submit to male authority and accused many more women than men of witchcraft. At the same time, because courts in colonial New England at first did not allow lawyers and had clear and simple rules that most people could understand, access to the legal system for women was relatively easy. Women came before the courts to request the payment of debts, to defend themselves against accusations of slander, and to petition for divorce. When women accused men of sexual assault, the Puritan justices were initially much more willing to listen to women’s testimony than would be the case in the eighteenth century. They held men to strict standards of moral behavior and, according to Dayton, “came close to establishing a single standard for men and women in the areas of sexual and moral conduct.” In the eighteenth century, as the authority of the church declined in New England, the legal system shifted to resemble the English system, which included professional attorneys and strict rules of procedure and evidence. These changes led to fewer women coming in contact with the courts. According to Dayton, “after 1700, women’s cases were filtered through several layers of men dis-



pensing legal advice and decrees.” In addition, stricter rules of evidence led to fewer men receiving punishments for sexual crimes. In colonial courts, for example, a woman’s testimony about who had fathered an out-of-wedlock child was accepted if she identified the father to the midwife during labor and swore an oath in court. In the eighteenth century, however, a man accused of fathering a child would hire a lawyer and request a jury trial. Thus, the burden of proof was shifted to the woman. Stricter rules of evidence required that she bring in a witness to the sexual act itself, a nearly impossible task. These cases most often resulted in a ruined reputation for the woman and a not- guilty verdict for the man. This was the beginning of a long legal tradition of putting a woman on trial for sexual crimes perpetrated against her. FURTHER READING

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639–1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.


Courtship in the 1600s and early 1700s in Britain’s American colonies was quite different from courtship in Europe in the same era. Chaperones, an important element in European courtship rituals, were not necessary because most colonists lived in small villages where everyone knew everyone else. Young people could not wander far from home to be alone, because they would soon find themselves in a dangerous wilderness. Young women in New England had some more say in determining who they married than their European counterparts. The same was true in the South. In fact, in 1632, Virginia passed a law that allowed young people to choose a mate without parental consent. Wealthier parents generally had more say in who their daughters married and did not hesitate to break off love matches if they thought that they could improve their daughter’s prospects by marrying her to another. For example, the father of Nancy Shippen refused to let her marry Louis Otto because of his lack of prospects; instead, he pressured her to marry the wealthy Henry Livingston. Unfortunately, the marriage was an unhappy one. Livingston eventually left her husband but was not free to remarry. When Otto married her best friend, all Nancy could do was wish the couple well. Even though women had some say in whom they wished to marry, formal courtship could not

begin until the couple’s parents were consulted. Once the parents had granted permission for a couple to court, they could not arbitrarily withdraw consent. While the young people got to know each other, often systematically revealing their faults so there would be no surprises after marriage, the parents discussed the business side of the arrangement. Parents who were able provided dowries or bride’s portions for their daughters, and both families contributed to buying or building a home for the young couple. Eventually dowries became much less important in British America than in Europe, where poor peasant girls were sometimes forced to seek dowries from charitable organizations in order to marry. Near the end of the eighteenth century, it became fashionable for socially prominent young women to turn courtship into a teasing game. They would flirt with many young men while pretending to give them no encouragement. When a young man did propose, the woman was required to toy with his feelings a bit and turn him down at least once. Linda Grant DePauw notes that “Courting practices in which so much dishonesty was involved did not encourage frankness and mutual understanding in marriage.” After the Revolution, courtship in America became even more open, especially when compared with customs on the continent. In fact, European visitors were often surprised by the public nature of American courtship. When the Marquis de Chastellux saw a couple holding hands, he commented on “the extreme liberty that prevails in this country between the two sexes, as long as they are not married. It is no crime for a girl to kiss a young man” (Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782). Many writers after the Revolution urged parents to allow their daughters to choose their husbands for themselves, and many daughters did just that. According to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “when Anna Rawle wanted to marry John Clifford in 1783, she simply informed her mother of her plans, asking her opinion only about the timing of the wedding, and then she rejected even that limited advice.”


The common-law concept governing the rights of married women. When the British North American colonies were settled, British common law governed many aspects of life. Under the common


law, a single woman or feme sole became a feme covert, or covered woman, upon marriage, or coverture. She lost many of her basic rights, including the right to control property. Her legal identity was submerged into that of her husband. If she owned any property before her marriage or acquired any afterward, her husband became the legal owner of these assets. He also, by law, controlled any money that she earned. A wife could not enter into contracts, or even initiate a lawsuit. In 1839, Mississippi became the first state to change these laws. Over the years, women were granted increased legal rights.


Although court records are incomplete and testimonies often lacking, colonial criminal justice statistics indicate that men committed approximately 5 percent of violent crimes and 25 percent of thefts. Crimes committed against colonial women include physical assaults such as murder and burglary, which violated legal codes enacted by governing authorities. Because women could not vote, they had minimal input into writing legal codes to define crimes and appropriate punishments for violators.

Bodily Crimes Home was often the most dangerous place for women. In 1664, a Maryland petit jury found Pope Alvey guilty of beating his servant Alice Sandford to death. He was punished by a sheriff who branded his right hand with a hot iron. Some girls were victims of incest. English law defined rape as intercourse with a child less than ten years old both with or against their consent and any physical penetration with unwilling women over the age of ten. When three of John Humfry’s servants raped his nine-year-old daughter in 1640s Massachusetts, they were punished with fines and whippings. One man had his nostrils slit and seared and was forced to wear a noose. The severity of this case resulted in the General Court declaring rape a capital offense. The question of victims’ credibility and consent were crucial to trial outcomes. Juries and judges also considered the social status of the accused rapists. Victims had to convince juries that they had been raped and that they had resisted the attack. When Rebeccah Tripp accused her neighbor Simon Tripp, a Native American laborer, of rape in 1723, several witnesses supported him and said


that she had told different versions of the incident. Her social status and the belief by some jurors that she would not have lied about such a serious crime resulted in Tripp being declared guilty, lashed, and fined to pay court costs. In 1687 New Jersey, Charles Sheepey was convicted of raping Elizabeth Hutcheson because the jury did not believe his claims that she had been a willing participant. He was whipped publicly while being transported naked in a cart through town. In other cases, such as Mary Hawthorne versus Moses Hudson and Abigail Kindall versus Thomas Procter, jurors doubted that the women had been forced to have sexual intercourse or that penetration had happened.

Criminal Activity Married women were not allowed to own property; however, women wore clothing, used cooking tools, and formed bonds with livestock that were identified as belonging to them. When these items or animals were stolen, though, the woman’s husband, not the woman, was designated the crime victim. Court records did not record the woman’s name, nor did she receive any compensation for her loss. Although most colonial criminals who victimized women were males, women also committed crimes against females. Elizabeth Browne was a servant who ran away in 1664 Charles County, Maryland, depriving her mistress of labor. Women killed female babies. In 1701, Esther Rogers was hung for infanticide. That crime, however, was difficult to prove, and only one woman was found guilty of infanticide in Massachusetts from 1730 to 1780. Because most women were economically dependent on men, trusting them with monetary decisions, criminals often cheated women who became impoverished. Women who had been victimized and were unable to pay their creditors often were incorrectly labeled as criminals by courts while their robber remained unpunished. Some women were unfairly jailed and held in stocks to achieve public humiliation and physical discomfort. Older women and widows were the most vulnerable to theft, and their impoverished status sometimes resulted in males, including their perpetrator, making false accusations of witchcraft against them. Between 1620 and 1725, 36 people were killed based on accusations made during witch hunts in New England. Women comprised four out of five



of these victims. Margaret Jones was the first woman found guilty and executed as a witch in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1648, the same year witchcraft was designated a capital offense by The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts. Fourteen women were hung during the 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials. Native Americans abducted and killed white women, but some captivity narratives were dramatized as anti-Indian propaganda. Survivors, such as Mary Rowlandson and Hannah Duston, verified that women were forced to march long distances and occasionally were stripped naked to run a gauntlet. In 1697, Duston and her nurse, Mary Neff, murdered Indian women in self-defense to escape her captors, and her actions were considered justified and heroic at that time. Some historians, though, say that she unnecessarily murdered those females because they posed no threat to her. See also: Fornication; Property Rights. FURTHER READING

Bellesiles, Michael A., ed. Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History. New York: New York University Press, 1999. Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975. Crane, Elaine Forman. Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630–1800. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998. Hoff, Joan. Law, Gender, and Injustice: A Legal History of U.S. Women. New York: New York University Press, 1991. Koehler, Lyle. A Search for Power: The “Weaker” Sex in Seventeenth-Century New England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980. Lindemann, Barbara S. “ ‘To Ravish and Carnally Know’: Rape in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts.” In Charles O. Jackson, ed., The Other Americans: Sexual Variance in the National Past. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996, Chapter 4. Samuels, Shirley. Romances of the Republic: Women, the Family, and Violence in the Literature of the Early American Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.


(1752–1829) An early advocate of the equality of the sexes. Hannah Mather was the daughter of the Reverend Samuel Mather and granddaughter of Cotton Mather, the great Puritan clergyman. Her mother, Hannah Hutchinson, was the sister of Thomas Hutchinson (who became governor of the Massa-

chusetts Bay Colony), and a descendant of Anne Hutchinson. Despite her distinguished family connections, Hannah had little education. As she later wrote, it was considered enough at the time “if women could even read and badly write their name.” She married Joseph Crocker in 1779 and bore him ten children. Crocker began her career as a writer in her sixties. She is best remembered for her 1818 publication, Observations on the Real Rights of Women, in which she said that God had “endowed the female mind with equal powers and faculties, and given them the same right of judging and acting for themselves, as he gave to the maile sex.” Crocker agreed with the basic ideas of British writer Mary Wollstonecraft, but did not agree with Wollstonecraft’s call for “the total independence of the female sex.” Crocker favored better education for girls so that they could earn their own livings. She also said that women should be equal partners in marriage and share in financial decisions. Crocker kept writing well into her seventies and took a lively interest in public affairs. She died in 1829.


(1758–1811) Daughter-in-law of George Washington. Eleanor Calvert was born in 1758, the second daughter of Benedict Calvert, son of the fifth Lord Baltimore. When she was just 14 years old, Eleanor first met George Washington’s stepson, John ( Jacky) Parke Custis. Jacky paid a number of visits to the Calvert home on trips between Mount Vernon and King’s College in New York, and, in 1774, proposed to Eleanor. When Washington learned of the romance, he wrote to Benedict Calvert that Jacky’s “youth, inexperience, and unripened education are, and will be, insuperable obstacles in my opinion to the completion of the marriage.” Washington emphasized that he did not want to break off the match, only to postpone it for a couple of years. He did not prevail, however, and on February 3, 1774, the couple were married. Eleanor was just 16, Jacky 21. Eleanor and Jacky settled at Abingdon, near Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. They had four children: Elizabeth, born in 1776, Martha, born in 1777, Eleanor, born in 1779, and George,


born in 1781. When Washington left Mount Vernon to command the Continental Army, he left his wife, Martha, in Jacky’s charge. Near the end of the war, Jacky joined Washington in Yorktown as an aide and almost immediately contracted dysentery. He died in October 1781, leaving Eleanor with four young children. Two years after Jacky’s death, Eleanor married Dr. David Stuart. Her two youngest children, Nelly and “Wash,” were adopted and raised by George and Martha Washington. Some historians say that on his deathbed Jacky asked Washington to raise the children; others say the adoption took place


later, perhaps because Stuart did not want to marry a woman with four children. After the marriage, the Stuarts moved to Hope Park, near Alexandria, Virginia. Historian Charles Moore says that Eleanor “is credited generally with seven children by her second husband,” but he quotes a letter, written in 1802 by Eleanor’s daughter, Nelly, in which she says, “My Dear Mother has just recovered from her confinement with her twentieth child.” Thus, Eleanor may have had 16 children with Stuart. Eleanor Calvert Custis died in 1811. See also: Law, Elizabeth Custis.


Schools that provided basic education for young children. Dame schools existed in North America from the early 1600s to the mid-1800s. They were modeled on similar schools in England. “Dame” refers to the fact that women were in charge of the instruction. In most cases dame schools were located in the home of the schoolmistress, who could take care of her own children and do her household chores while she taught. Often these schools were an important source of income, but the women who ran them varied widely in their qualifications. In 1827, a dame school proprietor, Mary Jacobs, advertised that she would teach “reading, writing, cyphering, spelling, needlework and fancy Knitting at her house by Sewall’s Bridge.” The six-cent weekly tuition “could be paid in sugar, tea or coffee.” While Jacobs offered quite a bit of instruction, many dame schools were little more than babysitting services, and not very good ones at that. English novelist Charles Dickens describes a dame school of this sort in Great Expectations (1860). He says that “Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt kept [a] . . . school in the village; that is to say, she was a ridiculous old woman of limited means and unlimited infirmity, who used to go to sleep . . . in the society of youth who paid twopence per week each, for the improving opportunity of seeing her do it.” Both boys and girls attended, boys usually from age six to ten, girls sometimes longer. The curriculum was the “three Rs,” reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. The first and most important subject taught in a dame school was reading. It was be-

lieved that students had to master reading before writing, and writing before arithmetic. Often, in the case of girls, instruction was limited to reading, since it was not considered necessary for a girl to know how to write or use numbers. Girls who continued their educations might go on to “adventure schools” where they learned drawing, painting, music, dancing, and needlework. After the American Revolution Thomas Jefferson proposed that the new nation create a system of free public schools supported by taxes, but it was not until the 1830s that his vision was put into action. Dame schools were gradually replaced by free public schools.

 DARE, VIRGINIA See childbirth


(1729–1789) Revolutionary War hero. Lydia Darragh and her husband, William, emigrated to Philadelphia from Ireland in 1753. For 40 years, Lydia supplemented the family income by working as a nurse, midwife, and undertaker. During the American Revolution, General William Howe lived across the street from the Darraghs while British forces occupied Philadelphia. He used a room in their home for a secret meeting of his staff in December 1777. He asked the family



simple affairs. Members of the family and friends prepared the body for burial, and male family members dug the grave on the family land. A minister might say a few words at the grave side, then everyone would gather in the home to share a meal. People did not romanticize death; in fact, their attitude seems almost casual. In the early national period funerals became much more elaborate. More people were buried in cemeteries, and the family would present gifts, such as gold rings, to those who attended the funeral. Tombstones were carved with angels, willow trees, and tearful family members. The simple meal of earlier years became an elaborate feast. In general, funerals became an opportunity to display wealth, as well as grief.

to go to bed early and not get up until morning. Instead Lydia listened at the keyhole and heard his plans to attack the Continental forces, which were stationed at Whitemarsh. In the morning, Darragh got a pass to travel beyond Philadelphia on the pretext of buying flour. On her way to Washington’s camp, she met Colonel Thomas Craig, whom she warned of the attack. Craig passed the information on to Washington. Darragh’s story was first told by her daughter Ann in 1827. Earlier, Elias Boudinot, Commissary of Prisoners, had claimed to be the person who warned Washington. He said a “poor, little old lady” had given him the information in a needle case while he was dining at the Rising Sun Tavern. Because there were two contradictory versions of events, some historians discounted the story completely. Today many historians believe that it was, in fact, Lydia Darragh who performed the heroic deed. Lydia Darragh died in 1789.



The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 to justify the separation of the American colonies from British rule. Fundamental to the document’s message is the idea of equality:

Death in colonial North America was a public event; friends and neighbors joined the family to wait at the deathbed. The person who was dying hoped to die with dignity and to speak last words that would be remembered by family members. The high death rate in seventeenth-century Virginia and Maryland made remarriage quite common. Sometimes there were children from two or three marriages living in the same house. Children often referred to their fathers’ new wives as “now wives,” and parents referred to their stepchildren as sons and daughters “in law.” Orphans became a tremendous social problem because, as Carol Berkin notes in First Generations, “There were not enough uncles, aunts, or older siblings to provide a sufficient safety net—economic or emotional— for orphaned boys and girls.” Special courts had to be established to oversee the care of orphaned children. Because of healthier climates, the average life span became longer as one traveled north. In New England, for example, the average life span was many years longer than in the South. In fact, it has been said that New England “invented” grandparents, because many hardy individuals there lived into their sixties and seventies, longer even than in Europe. In the seventeenth century, funerals were very

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

In writing that “all men” were “created equal,” Jefferson presumably meant men, not all of humanity. The ideas concerning equality expressed in the Declaration of Independence did not generally include women. Nor did the Declaration directly alter the status of women in the American colonies. Ironically, after the American Revolution, laws limiting the freedom of women were enforced more strictly than in the period before the Revolution. For example, although colonial women were not legally allowed to bring lawsuits, many did anyway. After the Revolution, few women saw the Declaration as a document that applied to their situation, and even fewer suggested that women should be equal to men in marriage or politics. Those women who did demand rights tended to focus on the subject of an equal education. Some women felt that the superficial education given to women in 1700s—instruction in drawing, cooking, music, sewing, and dancing—was inap-


TRAILBLAZERS Mary Katherine Goddard and her mother, SARAH UPDIKE GODDARD, were among the first women to publish newspapers and run printing businesses in the United States. Mary Katherine, who was born in 1738 in Connecticut, and her older brother William were brought up in the business. One of Goddard’s most important contributions occurred in January 1777, when Congress authorized her to print the first copy of the Declaration of Independence that included the names of those who had signed it. In 1768, William Goddard began publishing the Pennsylvania Chronicle; at the end of that year Mary Katherine arrived in Philadelphia to help him with the business. From 1773 to 1774, Goddard ran the Chronicle on her own while William established a new paper, the Maryland Journal, in Baltimore. Goddard then closed the Chronicle and joined William in Baltimore to assist him with this new venture. By 1775, “M. K. Goddard” was listed as the publisher of the Maryland Journal. Though William still owned the paper, he had been asked to establish a colonial postal service in Annapolis and had left the day-to-day work of the paper and print shop to his sister. During the AMERICAN REVOLUTION, Goddard was one of the largest and most important printers in Baltimore. She was also appointed postmaster at Baltimore in this period, making her perhaps the first woman to serve in this capacity in the colonies and certainly the first to do so after the Declaration of Independence. In 1784, a bitter quarrel with her brother resulted in Goddard’s turning the paper back over to him. Neither Goddard nor her brother ever revealed what they argued about, but Goddard never worked as a printer again. She continued as postmaster until she was asked to step down in 1789, on the grounds that a woman could not adequately perform the duties, which involved extensive travel. She also operated a bookstore until 1809 or 1810. She died in Baltimore in 1816 at the age of 78.

propriate for republican women. For example, Judith Sargent Murray asked, in a magazine article, “Is it reasonable that . . . an intelligent being . . . should at present be so degraded as to be allowed no other ideas, than those that are suggested by the mechanism of a pudding, or sewing the seams of a garment?” Abigail Smith Adams expressed similar sentiments when she wrote to her husband, John, “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen, and philosophers, we should have


learned women.” Almost no one called for political freedom or overall sexual equality. It was not until 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention, that women issued a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men and women are created equal.” FURTHER READING

DePauw, Linda Grant, and Conover Hunt. Remember the Ladies: Women in America 1750–1815. New York: Viking, 1976. Mankiller, Wilma, et al., eds. The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587– 1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.


The tendency to divide into religious denominations or sects. Many colonists in British North America came to America in order to practice religions that were not tolerated in European countries. Although members of several denominations such as the Puritans, did not tolerate other religions in their settlements, members of others, such as the Quakers, did. Over time, however, the sheer number of different denominations led to greater tolerance. Overall, women were more involved in religion than men, especially if one looks at church membership as a measure. By the middle of the eighteenth century, for example, women made up almost 75 percent of all of the congregations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Some preachers at the time speculated that women were more pious because of the threat to life that childbirth posed. Whatever the reason, women began to be valued as the backbone of religion. Different faiths had different attitudes toward women, and women themselves began to establish denominations that stressed equality between



the sexes. Although Puritans believed that women should be ruled by men in their daily lives, Puritan preachers, such as Cotton Mather, stressed that women were spiritually equal to men—in God’s eyes, according to Mather, men and women were “joynt Heirs of salvation.” But when Anne Hutchinson wanted to put this concept of equality into practice in the 1630s by preaching about her own beliefs, she was banished from the colony. The Quakers of Pennsylvania and Maryland were much more egalitarian than the Puritans of Massachusetts. Women were allowed and encouraged to preach, and they even held their own meetings, separate from men. William Penn said of the women’s meetings, “Women whose bashfulness will not permit them to say or do much, as to church affairs, before men, when by themselves, may exercise their gift of wisdom and understanding, in a direct care of their own sex.” Southerners in the early days of settlement were primarily members of the Church of England, and women were expected to follow the words of St. Paul and “keep silent” in matters of religion. However, Mary Taney, from Calvert County, Maryland, wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking for help to build a church because of the “sad condition” of the “stray flock” in the colony. The king himself granted her request. In later years, Southern women were active in establishing and promoting the Methodist and Baptist faiths. At least three women were influential in founding religious denominations in America. From 1740 to 1744, Anna Nitschman, a Moravian leader, unified the congregations of the United Brethren. Jemima Wilkinson, preaching doctrines similar to those of the Quakers, founded a religious settlement called Jerusalem in western New York state. Ann Lee founded the American branch of the United Society of Believers, known as Shakers, and taught that God was both male and female. Many African Americans, when given a choice, converted from the West African religions of their forebears—animist or Muslim—to the Methodist and Baptist faiths, incorporating some distinctive African beliefs into the Christian systems. Catholic women in the new world could practice their religion actively as either laywomen or nuns. Jeanne Mance, a lay Catholic, ran Montre´al’s first hospital. A nun, Marie Guyart, was the first female missionary in New France.


A number of women in Britain’s North American colonies kept diaries. Some diaries were written by prominent women, such as Abigail Smith Adams, while others were written by ordinary women struggling with ordinary life. If these latter works are known today, it is because they were published by the women themselves, or by relatives and friends. A few were discovered by scholars many years after the writers had died. The earliest American diaries are unadorned records of daily life, often repetitious, with daily tasks and the deaths of children recorded in the same spare prose. Many women diarists began writing as a result of a life change, often when they were married. Others wrote to keep in touch with family and friends left behind as they traveled westward. One clear purpose was simply to keep a record of what happened in the family, of births, deaths, marriages, and visits to family and friends. For example, Mary Vial Holyoke, who lived from 1737 to 1802, writes:

In her teens, Caroline Howard Gilman kept a poetry journal and was upset when a poem of hers appeared in a local newspaper.


Sept 5. I was brought to bed about 2 o’Clock A.M. of a daughter. [Sept.] 6. The Child Baptized Mary. [Sept.] 7. The baby very well till ten o’Clock in the evening and then taken with fits. [Sept.] 8. The baby remained very ill all day. [Sept.] 9. It died about 8 o’Clock in the morning. [Sept.] 10. Was buried.

TRAILBLAZERS Caroline Howard was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. When she married Samuel Gilman in 1819, at 25, she moved with him to Charleston, South Carolina. Although she missed her native New England, Caroline Gilman came to love her adopted home in the South. In the 1830s and 1840s, when tensions between the North and South were growing, Gilman became convinced that the differences between the two regions were actually slight compared to their similarities. What held the nation together, she felt, were the domestic values—families, and especially women and children. Beginning in about 1832, Gilman began to write about and for the American family. She published one of the earliest magazines for children, Rose-Bud, or Youth’s Gazette, and she wrote romances, humorous sketches, short stories, poetry, articles, and almanacs. Among her publications were The Poetry of Travelling in the United States (1838), Tales and Ballads (1839), Love’s Progress (1840), and A Gift Book of Stories and Poems for Children (1850). Her focus was often on the underlying similarities of families, no matter where they lived. Gilman’s career as a writer had begun when she was only ten years old. Her father, Samuel Howard, had died when she was three, and her mother died seven years later. After her mother’s death, Gilman began to write poems to help herself cope. When one of her poems appeared in a local newspaper without her knowledge, she was horrified. She said she was “as alarmed as if I had been detected in man’s apparel.” Another poem was published, this time with Gilman’s consent, in the North American Review in 1817. During the Civil War, Gilman was loyal to the Southern cause. After the war, her popularity with readers dwindled, and she no longer published. She died in 1888 at the age of 94.

Martha Ballard’s diary, begun in 1785, when she was 50, and covering a period of 27 years, is similarly spare in its presentation of details. In the same simple language, she records how many yards of cloth she wove, the death of a baby she delivered, and the insanity of a neighbor who murdered his entire family before taking his own life. These early diaries give little insight into the inner lives of their authors, in contrast to diaries written in later years. Women during the colonial period did not have a lot of leisure time to spend writing; more importantly, according to Margo Culley in A Day at a Time, they did not consider the inner, emotional state to be as important as the social fabric of their lives. The diaries of Abigail Abbot Bailey (1746–1815) and Nancy Shippen (1763–1841) are much more personal than Mary Holyoke’s or Martha Ballard’s. Both women write with great feeling about their unhappiness in marriage and the helplessness they feel in trying to cope with their husbands’ tyrannical behavior. Other diarists of the period are Elizabeth Sandwich Drinker (1735–1807), Elizabeth Fuller (1776–1856), and Margaret Van Horn Dwight (Bell) (1790–1834).



The most devastating disease in North America in the colonial and early national periods was smallpox. If this deadly virus attacked a community, almost everyone was sure to get it. Among Europeans,

one in every seven or eight people who contracted the disease died from it. The death rate was higher among Native Americans, with some populations entirely wiped out. African Americans had some immunity to the disease, so fewer died. In his journal (1630–1649) Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts described in vivid detail the suffering of the Native American population near Plymouth who were afflicted with smallpox: They lie on their hard mats, the pox breaking and mattering and running into one another, their skin cleaving by reason thereof to the mats they lie on. When they turn . . . a whole



side will flay off at once . . . and they will be all of a gore blood, most fearful to behold.

Those people who did not die of smallpox were often scarred for life, their faces and bodies deeply pitted. Smallpox continued to devastate the population until vaccines began to be used, in the 1720s. Unfortunately, the method of inoculation used through most of the eighteenth century was itself quite dangerous, and many people would not allow themselves to be vaccinated. With Edward Jenner’s discovery of the safer cowpox vaccine in 1796, more people were inoculated, and the incidence of the disease began to decline. Malaria, while not usually deadly, was common, especially in the South. People who contracted this disease often found that their immunity to other illnesses was lowered. In addition to smallpox and malaria, colonists also contracted infectious diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis, diphtheria, pneumonia, cholera, measles, scarlet fever, and yellow fever. Often, people died not from disease but from the treatment they received. It was believed that bleeding restored the body’s balance and that vomiting expelled toxins from the body. Some prescriptions for bleeding patients called for removing 40 ounces of blood; others actually called for removing more blood than doctors now know exists in the entire body. Both lances and leeches were used to take the blood. It is easy to see why an English physician who visited America wrote, “More die of the practitioner than of the natural course of the disease.” Herbal remedies were also used. As male doctors gradually replaced mostly female folk healers, homemade remedies came under fire. But the truth about these homemade concoctions is that some of them helped, many were harmless, and few caused any real damage—which could not be said for some of the methods used by early doctors. Remedies prescribed by folk healers included everything from sassafras and alcoholic spirits to turkey buzzard eggs, wolf fangs, and rattlesnake oil. When colonial women of European descent spoke of recipes or “receipts,” they were usually referring to instructions for concocting homemade medications. For example, a recipe book belonging to Martha Washington contains instructions for making “capon ale,” which she thought might cure tuberculosis. “Take an old Capon with yellow Leggs pull him and crush ye bones . . . and put him into two gallons of strong ale.”

During the American Revolution, women who traveled with the army nursed many wounded men back to health, and where women were not present, disease often was. One observer of the siege of Boston noted that the men often contracted dysentery because their wives were not around to tell them to wash their hands and faces and keep themselves clean.


Prerevolutionary divorce laws in British America followed the English model. While annulment was allowed in some strictly limited circumstances, divorce was not. Sometimes a spouse could be awarded a divorce from “bed and board,” meaning that the couple could live apart even though they were not legally divorced. This meant that neither spouse could remarry. Before the American Revolution a divorce was virtually impossible to obtain in the colonies, although a divorce was granted by a Puritan court in Massachusetts in 1639. Marriages were considered permanent, and the only thing other than death that could end a marriage would be a condition predating the marriage that rendered the ceremony itself invalid, such as a prior marriage. After the Revolution, divorces could be granted under a “fault” system. The liberalization of divorce laws after the Revolution may have been related to the ideas of liberty and freedom articulated in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, Thomas Jefferson wrote a brief in a divorce case in 1772, in which he said it was cruel “to chain a man to misery until death” and that “the liberty of divorce prevents and cures domestic quarrels.” But even so, a divorce was not easy to obtain. The “fault” system required that one party to the suit be guilty and the other innocent, a very high standard to meet. Many states allowed only adultery and desertion as grounds for divorce, while others had somewhat broader grounds. Vermont allowed divorce on the grounds of “intolerable severity” while Rhode Island included “gross behavior and wickedness.” In practice, it was generally acceptable for a man to have an affair. His wife was expected to tolerate his behavior. Women who engaged in extramarital sex, however, were condemned for their “loose” behavior. Because of the concept of coverture, divorced women had no legal status as persons and no legal rights to either children or property, including their


own personal property, inheritances, or dowry. Only in the nineteenth century did courts begin to weigh the interests of the children over a father’s rights; this led to mothers being granted custody more often, especially of young children, and to the idea of child support. Because divorces were difficult to obtain, some unhappy couples separated by mutual consent. Such agreements, however, were not legal, and the parties could not remarry. In other cases, the husband or wife would simply run off. If a man deserted his wife, she was left in particularly difficult circumstances, since she could not legally conduct business. Any money or property she did manage to acquire could later be claimed by the husband. Her marital status was also at issue: How could she remarry if she did not know where her husband was or even if he was still alive? Men in Southern states would often advertise for runaway wives in the same manner as they did for runaway slaves. In a response that was by no means typical, Sarah Cantwell of South Carolina answered her husband’s advertisement with one of her own: John Cantwell has the impudence to advertise me in the Papers, cautioning all Persons against crediting me; he never had any Credit till he married me; As for his Bed and Board mentioned, he had neither Bed nor Board when he married me; I never eloped, I went away before his face when he beat me.

Most women chose to stay in unhappy marriages rather than risk the consequences of divorce. Even a woman who was severely abused had little recourse other than to accept her situation. Beatings that came just short of rendering the woman crippled for life were considered moderate punishment and allowed under the law. With westward expansion, the legalities surrounding marriage and divorce were frequently ignored. The absence of judges or clergy to conduct ceremonies on the frontier often resulted in couples’ simply declaring themselves husband and wife. Such a married couple might simply declare themselves divorced and then remarry, creating a serious problem with bigamy. See also: Franklin, Deborah Read. FURTHER READING

Basch, Norma. Framing American Divorce: From the Revolutionary Generation to the Victorians. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.


Riley, Glenda. Divorce: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Sochen, June. Herstory: A Record of the American Woman’s Past. 2nd ed. Sherman Oaks, CA: Alfred, 1981.

 DIX, DOROTHEA See volume 2


Colonial women had five basic areas of responsibility: to feed their family; make the clothing and other household essentials; clean; nurse the sick; and rear the children. Each of these tasks brought with it a series of specific duties. Since little food in the colonies was eaten raw, a primary task for the women of a household was maintaining the fire, winter and summer. Fireplaces were large enough to walk around in, and the work involved in adding and banking wood was considerable. Fires could not be allowed to go out, since it was difficult to restart them. If a fire did go out, someone usually had to be sent to fetch glowing embers from a neighbor’s fire, which could then be used to start a new one. While men hunted to provide meat for the table, women were in charge of growing herbs and vegetables, keeping bees for honey, and taking care of barnyard animals such as pigs and chickens. They also preserved fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables, using recipes handed down from mother to daughter. Food was generally preserved in large quantities. A recipe from the period, for example, calls for salting a hundred pounds of beef tongue. Cooking itself was a strenuous physical activity, since a typical pot filled with soup could weigh as much as 80 pounds. The cook was always at risk of being burned over the hot flames. For most women, making clothing was their most important domestic task. Though spinning, weaving, and sewing took a lot of time, women’s letters and diaries reveal that they enjoyed these duties much more than cooking because the results were more lasting and they could socialize while they worked. Because women had to spin the flax and wool into thread and then dye the thread before they wove it into cloth, making a man’s cloth suit could take as long as a year. In addition to producing clothing, women also made all of the family’s bedding, candles, soap, beer, and medicines.



Charles Weisberger’s painting helped disseminate the legend of Betsy Ross’s creating the first American flag.

By modern standards, houses, clothes, and even people in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were not very clean. Still, the effort involved in housekeeping was substantial, starting with the manufacture of the soap itself, which women made from ashes and animal fat. Then they had to fetch water from a nearby stream or well. Women who could read studied medical texts so they could treat the various diseases their families contracted. More often, however, women shared remedies with one another and passed them down from mother to daughter. Some women served as midwives; that is, they specialized in helping with the childbirth process. Although male doctors existed, most of the actual treatment of the sick was done by women who learned from one another. Because of the high rate of death in infancy, many women in the colonial and early national period adopted a somewhat detached attitude toward their offspring at first, often referring to a baby as

“it,” or simply “the baby” until the child had reached the age of two or three. Children were frequently named after a sibling who died, almost as if they were replacements rather than individuals in their own right. Children were put to work around the house as soon as possible and later sent away from home to serve as helpers in someone else’s house or as apprentices. Many people believed that children ought to become adults as soon as possible, and punishments for childish behavior were often very severe. Mary Beth Norton, in Liberty’s Daughters, notes that women seldom complained about how hard they worked. They expected to work hard. Instead they complained about how boring and repetitive their work was and how little time they had for themselves. Wealthy women had more leisure time than poor or middle-class women, but those with servants or large households often faced daunting management tasks. Native American women spent


TRAILBLAZERS Betsy Ross was an American patriot and flag-maker during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Her major contribution to the war effort was sewing flags for the Pennsylvania State Navy Board. The traditional story that Betsy Ross made the first American flag did not begin until about 1870, 34 years after her death. Ross’s grandson William Canby introduced the story. In a paper presented to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Canby asserted that George Washington, Robert Morris, and George Ross, her late husband’s uncle, approached Betsy Ross in June 1776 to make the nation’s first flag. According to the legend, Ross was asked to make this flag for the new nation that would gain its independence the following month. Canby stated that his grandmother then made the flag in her upholstery shop. The story is that Ross decided to use a simpler five-point star rather than the six-point star suggested by Washington. Evidence suggests that Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, one of the signers of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, actually designed the nation’s first flag. In May 1780, Hopkinson sent a bill to the Board of Admiralty and was paid for “designing the flag of the United States.” Betsy Ross was born Elizabeth Griscom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was brought up a QUAKER. The Society of Friends nullified her CHURCH MEMBERSHIP when she married John Ross, an Episcopalian, in 1773. John Ross was killed in 1776 while serving in the Revolutionary War. After her husband’s death, Ross continued to operate their profitable upholstery shop in Philadelphia. Records show that she was paid in May 1777 for making “ship’s colours.” However, there is no firm evidence to support the belief that Ross either designed or sewed the first national flag. The Betsy Ross memorial site in Philadelphia is also a point of controversy. It is not known for certain whether Ross ever actually lived in the building. A nineteenth-century owner of the house, possibly in an attempt to increase the property’s value, advanced the claim that Ross had lived there. When the building was scheduled for demolition in 1892, the Betsy Ross Memorial Foundation collected donations from nearly two million schoolchildren and citizens. Donors received a copy of the painting “Birth of Our Nation’s Flag” by Charles Weisberger, which showed Betsy Ross displaying her five-pointed star flag to Washington, Morris, and Ross. This painting and an article in Harper’s Monthly, based on the assertions of her grandson, helped to advance the legends about Ross and her alleged home site.


more time in agricultural pursuits than European women, and no time at all in spinning and weaving, since clothing was made primarily from animal skins. Enslaved women had the worst lot of all, sometimes working all day in the fields and then taking on many of the other tasks performed by European women. See also: Diaries and Journals; Midwifery.

DOMESTIC  LIFE Throughout early British North America, over 90 percent of families lived on farms. To a large extent, the “home” (the “domicile”) was the farm itself, a space shared by both men and women. Nevertheless, within a household women were more likely to work in or near the house, while men were out in the fields. Although domestic life was not the segregated women’s sphere it would become later, a separate women’s culture did exist. It centered on women’s duties around the house and the relationships women formed with female relatives and neighbors. Farm women were responsible for preparing food; making, repairing, and laundering clothing; caring for young children and the sick; manufacturing soap from lye and ashes; fetching firewood and water; and keeping the home clean. Many women also kept a vegetable garden, domestic fowl such as geese or chickens, and at least one milk cow for making butter and cheese. It was nearly impossible to do these tasks alone. A few households purchased indentured servants or slaves. Most families relied on their own children, relatives, and friends to fill in whenever additional labor was needed. Therefore, one of the most important functions a woman performed was to make and maintain ties to neighbors, religious community, and a network of brothers and sisters, in-laws, and cousins.



Couples generally married when a woman was 21 to 23, and a man 23 to 25. Ideally, the groom received land and tools and the bride livestock and household goods. Together, they had the means for a productive household but not the labor. A wife with young children could be quickly overwhelmed with household duties. With a strong family network, however, a younger sibling, niece, or cousin could be dispatched to help. As a woman’s children grew, both boys and girls took over small household tasks, lessening the need for outside help. Once the oldest daughter could function capably on her own, the household would finally “break even” between work requirements and available labor. Still, when a family member became ill, the female head of the household might once again have to call on the larger network of family and neighbors for help—particularly if she herself fell ill. Then, an older female relative or neighbor would arrive to take charge. By the time the children were young adults, the household was an immensely productive unit. This period provided the family with an opportunity to accumulate enough land and wealth to establish each grown child in an independent household. Except for the Chesapeake area in the 1600s, European American households averaged at least five children. Independence for all would have been an unthinkable goal in Europe. Ten years of labor from five or more healthy young people made that goal realistic in British North America. As a son from one family married a daughter from another, the cycle recommenced—with in-laws now part of the horizontal family network. The success of a family in reaching this mature, highly productive stage had ramifications for all of their relatives and friends. These were the households that could lend a hand to young couples, who could spare a competent, older woman to care for the sick. With support, young households could maintain a fully functioning farm from the beginning, and illness did not have to cause impoverishment. Indeed, a competently organized household lessened the risk of serious illness and death. Vertical links were also critical: girls had to learn to perform the tasks of running a farm household, including caring for the sick. Women not only passed along family recipes for herbal remedies but also taught younger women how to recognize symptoms and treat injuries. The eldest daughter learned how to care for children by helping with younger siblings; the youngest would learn by helping her older sister.

The Ideology of Domesticity The ideology of domesticity assumed that women were responsible for creating a calm, nurturing world inside the home to provide a refuge from the harsh, competitive, commercial world of men. The ideal came from Europe as early as the mid1700s, but the type of lifestyle it required was neither economically nor socially realistic at the time. With the exception of the very wealthy, most women had too many responsibilities to spare time for genteel activities. However, the women’s networks that were created and nurtured during this period would prove a component of domesticity in later years.

Urban Domestic Life As late as 1820, only 7 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas. Yet women in mercantile families participated in an urban culture that stretched from Newport, Rhode Island, to Charleston, South Carolina, including the West Indies. Merchants maintained close contact with their clients in other ports, and one way to ensure open communication lines was to marry a daughter into a merchant family in another city. A young woman growing up in a merchant household in Philadelphia might thus find herself living in Charleston; cousins ensuing from such marriages later were eligible marriage partners to keep the families together. Written correspondence among women in these families was emotionally important, but it was also as critical as country networks in keeping the family business going. Along with large plantation owners and the independently wealthy, these were the women who first began to adopt the trappings of domesticity as the culture spread from England. The vast majority of urban women lived in the outside world as much as the inside. In 1790, fewer than 10 percent of Philadelphia householders claimed the title of “gentleman” or “gentlewoman” or were classified as merchants. More than half of all male householders in Philadelphia in 1790 were artisans, shopkeepers, or innkeepers. Their wives had the same duties as their country counterparts, except that they substituted a daily trip to market for the care of a garden and animals. In many artisan households, the wife also kept the books, as Deborah Read Franklin did for Ben Franklin. One-eighth of Philadelphia households in 1790 were headed by women; one-sixth of these were


“gentlewomen” with wealth; the rest were “widows” living in the shopkeeping district. After a ship captain’s wife cheated several prominent merchants by using her feme covert status to avoid paying debts, mariners’ wives were granted the same status as widows. Many of these women ran shops while their husbands were at sea. So many women became shopkeepers that a writer to the Pennsylvania Gazette in the 1780s urged men to start new communities in the back country, “leaving shopkeeping to the women.” By the end of the eighteenth century an uncounted number of women in the cities were simply poor. That left the genteel lifestyle to a very few, very rich women. Men and women shared much of the same space in early British North America; at no time after 1820 would their lives be so intertwined. Nevertheless, domestic life was dominated by a female culture, reinforced by a network of women connected by family, religion, and community. Both farming and artisan households depended upon an efficiently-run women’s sector; networks maintained by women were essential to the functioning of the economy and society as a whole. The rapid population growth, good health, and longevity that characterized early America owed much to the organizational innovations of women in domestic life. Mary M. Schweitzer FURTHER READING

Amott, Teresa, and Julie Matthaei. Race, Gender, and Work. Boston: South End Press, 1991. Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill and Wang, 1996. Carson, Cary, Ron Hoffman, and Peter Albert, ed. Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth Century. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1994. Hoffer, Peter Charles, ed. Colonial Women and Domesticity. New York: Garland, 1988. Marsh, Lori. Sentimental Materialism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000. Schweitzer, Mary. Custom and Contract: Households, Government, and the Economy in Colonial Pennsylvania. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.


(1780–1820) Autobiographer. Peggy Dow was born in Granville, Massachusetts, in 1780. When her mother died and her father remarried, Peggy was sent to live


with an elder sister in New York. In her late teens, Peggy experienced a religious conversion and, along with her sister and brother-in-law, joined the Methodist church. In 1802, Peggy and her family were visited by the itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow. Lorenzo discussed the possibility of marrying Peggy with her sister before he had even met Peggy herself. He asked her sister if Peggy was religious and if she kept wicked company. To demonstrate how religious Peggy was, the sister reported to Lorenzo something Peggy had said: “I had rather marry a Preacher than any other man, provided I was worthy; and . . . I would wish them to travel and be useful to souls.” At this point Peggy entered the room and confirmed that such was her disposition. Right then and there Lorenzo asked her to marry him. “I made him no reply,” Peggy wrote in her autobiography, Vicissitudes: or the Journey of Life (published posthumously in 1848), “but went directly out of the room—as it was the first time he had spoken to me, I was very much surprised.” Peggy accepted Lorenzo’s proposal the next evening, but since Lorenzo had two years of preaching appointments already set, the couple was not married until 1804. Peggy accompanied Lorenzo on many of his journeys, but at other times lived with friends for long periods while he traveled to various camp meetings and faraway frontier towns. On one of their earliest trips together, the couple spent 18 months in England and Ireland, where their first and only child was born. The baby girl died before she was a year old. Peggy accompanied Lorenzo through the wilderness to preach in parts of Georgia and Alabama, where “no Protestant Preacher had ever raised his voice to remind the Tombigvee and Tensaw settlers of their duty to the Most High.” The couple never had a house of their own, and Lorenzo never had a regular income. They depended on friends and fellow religionists to house and feed them for much of their married lives. Lorenzo, it is said, was a powerful orator with a memorable and eccentric appearance. He wore his hair and beard very long and his clothing was frequently described as being rather odd. He deeply influenced many of his listeners, as evidenced by the fact that thousands of young southern boys were named after him. Peggy Dow died in Hebron, Connecticut, in 1820. Lorenzo remarried within six months and had one son by his second wife.




Dow, Peggy. Vicissitudes; or the Journey of Life. Washington, OH: Joshua Martin, 1848.


The right of a widow to a share of the marital property. Although married women of European descent had few rights in colonial America, they did have the right to a dower, or portion of their husband’s estate after his death. Most colonies had laws that required that a husband to leave his wife at least a life interest in one-third of his real estate plus a portion of his personal property if there were children, and half of the real estate if there were no children. If a man died without a will, courts would usually grant the wife her “thirds,” and wives could challenge wills that did not leave the expected portion. Colonies supported dower rights primarily because it ensured that the widow’s community would not have the obligation of supporting her. To protect dower rights, many colonies ensured that wives were consulted before the sale of real estate, in case the sale would affect their dower rights. Women had to be “separately examined”; that is, they had to be examined in private, presumably so their husbands could not influence their response.


(1735–1807) Diarist. Elizabeth Sandwich Drinker is remembered especially for her diary, which she kept from 1758 until her death in 1807. She records many interesting details about the Revolutionary War and the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, as well as invaluable information about everyday life in colonial America. Drinker is also remembered for her pacifism and a historic meeting with George Washington. As Quakers, Elizabeth and her husband were looked on with suspicion by their neighbors because of their refusal to join the war effort. In September 1777, Elizabeth’s husband Henry was banished from their home in Philadelphia and imprisoned in Virginia, accused of “aiding and abetting the cause of the enemy” because of his refusal to fight. In 1778, Elizabeth and four other women made the dangerous journey to Lancaster, Penn-

sylvania—the provisional capital of the state at the time—to plead for their husbands’ freedom. They met and had dinner with George and Martha Washington. Washington gave the women a pass so they could continue their journey, but said he could do nothing further for them. When the women reached Lancaster, they were unable to schedule an official hearing. Soon thereafter, however, the husbands were released and allowed to return home. Elizabeth’s diary also records the experience of having her house taken over by a British major general and his staff during the war. This was a very trying period for the family, since the general brought with him horses, turkeys and sheep, and insisted on staying out late nearly every night. Drinker’s diary indicates that she read and sympathized with Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women. “In many of her sentiments she [Wollstonecraft], as some of our friends say, speaks my mind.”


(1769–1852) Catholic missionary and founder of the first American Convent of the Sacred Heart. Born into a wealthy and influential family in Grenoble, France, Rose Phillippine Duchesne joined the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1804. This new Catholic order was dedicated to aiding the poor and educating young women. In 1818, Duchesne headed a group of nuns sent to assist Bishop William Louis Dubourg in Louisiana. Within a decade, Duchesne had founded six convents, with adjoining schools and orphanages, in the Mississippi River valley. Amid complaints about her leadership, she was removed from her post in 1839. Two years later, the church sent Duchesne to serve the Potawatomi Indians at the mission at Sugar Creek, Kansas. Impressed by her piety, the Potawatomi called her Quah-kah-ka-num-ad (“woman who prays always”). Ill health forced Duchesne to leave the mission in 1842. She spent the rest of her life at the convent she established in St. Charles, Missouri. In 1940, Duchesne was beatified by Pope Pius XII.

 DUSTON, HANNAH See family life, colonial


DUTCH HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY In the seventeenth century, the Dutch East India Company sponsored a Dutch colony at New Netherland (what is now New York City and the surrounding area) and numbers of Dutch settlers arrived. Dutch ships cruised up and down the eastern coast of North America, bringing slaves to Virginia and livestock and provisions to New England. Dutch colonists followed their customs from the old country where domestic arrangements were concerned. If a couple in New Netherland wished to marry, parents would negotiate dowries, or money and properties gained through marriage, before their betrothal (engagement) would be announced. The man became the head of the household and made major family decisions. Dutch families attended church on Sundays and then went to the taverns to enjoy the remainder of the day.


New Netherland was conquered by the English in the 1660s and became New York. Rather than adapt to the English common law that was prevalent in the colonies, the Dutch followed a more Roman set of standards regarding women. The Dutch woman or housewife, huysvrouw, had many privileges that other women in Europe and North America rarely enjoyed. She could own a business, sue on her own behalf, inherit equally with her brothers, and decide how she would leave property in her will. Dutch law assumed that women, although subordinate to their husbands, had equal rights with their husbands. The Dutch also imported bees to America, which were raised for honey and could be found in almost every Dutch household. Besides beekeeping, the Dutch also introduced the cookie (koekje in Dutch) and the cruller (krulle).

 DYER, MARY See Quakers


See colleges; dame schools; schools; textbook writing


(1710–1758) Puritan mystic and pioneer. Few people could claim the distinguished lineage of Sarah Pierpont. Her father was a graduate of Harvard and a founder of Yale. On her mother’s side, she was related to Thomas Hooker, who established Hartford, Connecticut. Sarah grew up in a home that was both cultured and religious. Even as a young woman, she was renowned for her piety and religious fervor, qualities that attracted Yale graduate and minister Jonathan Edwards. They were married in 1727. Sarah became a successful frontier wife and mother. She raised 11 children and maintained a home well known for its hospitality to visitors. Both Edwardses played a crucial role in the Great Awakening, a religious revival movement of the 1730s and 1740s. In writings such as Some

Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival (1742), Jonathan Edwards defended the movement, largely on the basis of Sarah’s religious experiences. He wrote of how in moments of religious ecstasy, she often fainted and fell into trances. Those involved in the Great Awakening believed such physical manifestations of spiritual joy were caused by the Holy Ghost. More conservative leaders, however, claimed that they were nothing but outpourings of emotion. Sarah died six months after her husband, at the age of 48.


(1784–1845?) Businesswoman. Elleanore Eldridge was born in Warwick, Rhode Island. Her father, Robin Eldridge, was an African who had been brought to America as a slave. Her mother, Hannah Prophet, was a Native American. Elleanore was born free because of legislation enacted in the year of her birth that gradually freed enslaved people living in Rhode Island.



After her mother died in 1794, Eldridge went to live with the family of Joseph Baker. She worked for Baker’s family for six years, earning 25 cents a week. Elleanore became an expert at spinning and weaving and could make complicated items, such as carpets and bedspreads. At the age of 16, Eldridge left the Bakers and went to work for Captain Benjamin Green. There she not only continued to spin but also worked in the dairy, becoming an expert at making cheese. After Green’s death in 1812, Eldridge went into business with her sister, weaving and making soap. Later, she became a house painter. She also began to invest in rental property. In 1833, it was erroneously reported that she had died of typhoid, and her property was confiscated to pay off her loans. In order to recover her property, Eldridge pled her own case before the Court of Common Pleas. Although she lost the case, friends and neighbors were impressed with how well she handled herself in court. She eventually got her property back but had to pay $2,700 in order to do so. Her autobiography, The Memoirs of Elleanore Eldridge, were published in 1838, and it is thought that she died in 1845.

 ELLET, MARY ISRAEL See volume 2


(1774–1863) Intellectual, transcendentalist. By all accounts Mary Moody Emerson was eccentric. She was barely 4’3” tall, wore her blonde hair cut short, and, as she grew older, insisted on wearing a shroud and sleeping in a coffin-shaped bed. Her famous nephew, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, once said that Mary “spins faster than all other tops,” referring to her endless energy, both physical and intellectual. Mary had a difficult life. Her father died when she was two years old, and her mother left her with an aunt so that she could remarry. Eventually Mary was adopted by her aunt Ruth and her husband. Leading a lonely life with no formal education, Mary turned to books and read voraciously. When Mary’s brother William died, she helped his widow rear her six young children. In particular she tutored Ralph Waldo, Edward, and Charles.

When Ralph went off to college, he corresponded with his aunt. She urged him to find God in nature, be self-reliant, and overcome his fears. In fact, significant elements of Ralph’s transcendentalist philosophy were shaped by his aunt’s teaching, and Ralph often copied whole passages from his aunt’s letters into his own essays. The two remained close throughout Mary’s life, although they disagreed on some theological issues. Mary Emerson died in New York at the age of 88.


Life in colonial America was hard, and there was little time for entertainment. Still, the colonists found ways to amuse themselves and enjoy the company of neighbors and friends. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, many Americans began to adapt European customs to the new American society and engage in more lavish forms of entertainments. Visiting one’s neighbors was an important form of entertainment in America. After the American Revolution, as American society became more “genteel,” well-to-do women would “pay calls” to one another, often leaving printed cards to record their visits if the women they were visiting were out paying calls themselves, much as wealthy European women did. Some people set aside a day each week to call on friends. In the South, where plantation life resulted in the nearest neighbors being miles away, plantation owners and their family members would visit one another for weeks at a time. In towns, middle-class women held tea parties to allow them to catch up on the latest news and spend time with neighbors. During the Revolution, women of all classes held spinning parties as part of an effort to show that Americans were not dependent on imported cloth. Various kinds of fairs and “frolics” provided diversions for people in all stations of life. People would gather from miles around and spend as long as a week conducting business, selling wares, and socializing. Fairs might include puppet shows, jugglers, exotic animals, and contests to see who was the best whistler, singer, wrestler, or even spitter. Taverns and stores provided convenient and friendly places for people to gather. The mail was often delivered to the local tavern, so people would gather to hear both the local news and what was



happening far away. In towns, men esWOMEN’S FIRSTS tablished social clubs and fraternal orders, which often met in taverns. Members would drink, talk, and play Very little is known of Sybilla Righton’s early life, other than billiards. Women held a variety of that she grew up in New Jersey. Sometime in the 1690s, she “bees,” working together to make married a Quaker businessman named Thomas Masters and quilts, spin thread, and weave cloth. moved to Philadelphia. The couple had several children, of Childbirth was an important social whom four survived infancy. event for women. When a neighbor’s Sybilla Masters had a talent for mechanical engineering. time came to deliver, the midwife Sometime before 1715, she developed and built a machine to would usually ask neighbor women to process corn. The machine included a series of mortars and help, and when the baby was safely depestles for pulverizing the corn, along with several bins for livered, all the helpers would enjoy a drying the resulting cornmeal. The device could run by water celebratory meal together. or horse power. Although the British government issued a In the evenings, particularly in winpatent on the machine in Thomas Masters’s name, the patent ter, families would gather around the specified that the idea was Sybilla’s; as a result, she has often fire to read, play games, and tell stobeen called the first American woman inventor. ries. In the summer, families would Masters went on to market the corn produced by her inwork together in gardens. While garvention, though her efforts did not meet with much success. dens were initially practical necessiIn 1716, she patented another invention, again under her ties, over time people began to garden husband’s name; this one involved a method of using straw for amusement, planting flowers and palmetto leaves to cover hats and bonnets. Masters proalong with vegetables and herbs. duced hats and also baskets using this technique, and marThen as now, people would gather keted them herself; it is not clear how commercially successfor parties and dancing. Dances ful this invention was. She died in Philadelphia in 1720, ranged from simple country parties, probably not much older than 40. where people would often dance all night, to elegant balls. Square dancing was popular, as were minuets, jigs, reels, and hornpipes. The Virginia Reel became a standard at almost every dance in women’s economic activity were loosely enforced. the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centu- Although wives’ income remained under the conries. The most frequent musical accompaniment trol of their husbands, women found new business to a dance would be a fiddle, but colonists also opportunities in the colonies. For both women and men, the most common played harpsichords, spinets, banjos, and fifes. In the country, instruments might be as simple as business was running a plantation or farm. A woman would typically become an agricultural combs, spoons, or pots and pans. Colonists also gathered to celebrate baptisms, manager in her husband’s or father’s absence or birthdays and weddings. Even funerals were im- as a means of supporting herself after being widportant social events in the colonies. They hap- owed. Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who pioneered pened all too frequently, and people were quick to indigo production in South Carolina, began offer one another support and companionship at managing her father’s plantations when she was such times. Wealthy families would present gifts to 17. In the middle and Northern colonies, wealth those who came, and the formal ceremony would often be followed by a feast, as elaborate as the fam- was usually built through industry or trade. Wives often worked with their husbands in a family busiily could afford. ness. Deborah Read Franklin kept the accounts for her husband’s printing business and expanded the business from a print shop into a general store. ENTREPRENEURS Like many craftsmen’s widows, Lydia R. Bailey People who organize, operate, and assume the risk took over her husband’s business after his death, for a business venture. Because of the shortage of becoming a master printer in her own right. Howlabor in British colonial America, laws restricting ever, widows generally retained their master status



only as long as they did not remarry or bring a male family member into the business. When Sarah Kemble Knight was widowed, she supported herself in ways typical of entrepreneurial colonial women: running her family’s shop, taking in boarders, and opening a tavern. One-third of the shops in prerevolutionary Philadelphia were run by women, as were about one-fifth of colonial taverns. Although women did not serve formal apprenticeships, they often learned crafts in family businesses. Widows with specialized skills supported themselves as independent blacksmiths, shipwrights, foundry owners, and printers. One woman even commanded her husband’s whaling ship. Rebecca Pennock Lukens, who assumed management of the Brandywine Rolling Mill, became the first female executive in the iron industry. Teaching, like running a boarding house, was seen as a natural extension of women’s domestic role. By the 1730s, women began to establish schools throughout the colonies. After the Revolution, women were expected to train their children to be good citizens of the new republic. Interest in women’s education increased. See also: Feme Sole Trader Acts; Patriarchy.


EQUALITY OF  FEMALE INTELLECT In early British America the ideal woman was white, frail, innocent, and did not use her education or intellect to become equal to or to subjugate men. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was rare for a girl to receive any formal intellectual stimulation in the way of structured schooling outside of learning to read her Bible and write simple letters. Intellectual endeavor was a male domain into which women either did not enter or entered only privately. Intellectual studies and abstract thought were commonly considered to be out of reach for most females, unbecoming, and outside God’s purpose for women. Women of the 1600s and 1700s saw themselves as inferior to men in intelligence. Girls were taught to be delicate, simple, indecisive or “silly,” and ignorant. A woman of strong intellect who sought formal studies, especially in the sci-

ences, was viewed as being too masculine and rebellious. John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, stated that a young woman had lost “her understanding and reason” because she had given “herself wholly to reading and writing, and written many books.” Winthrop continued, “If she had attended to household affairs, and such things as belong to women, and not gone out of her way and calling to meddle in such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, etc., she had kept her wits, and might have improved them usefully and honorably in the place God had set her.” After the American Revolution, the nation began to embrace the ideals of self-reliance and independence. Women’s involvement with the Revolutionary War brought out obvious strengths and abilities in various forms. Judith Sargent Murray stated in 1798, “I expect to see our young women forming a new era in female history,” referring to their newfound intellectual strengths and capabilities. Through their war efforts, women had proved themselves in a way never before seen. Although still unequal to those of men, educational opportunites for women increased after the Revolution, especially in the areas of science and mathematics. For example, in 1812 chemist John Griscom held a series of lectures on natural philosophy exclusively for women. The lectures were attended by hundreds of women. Women themselves began organizing groups for intellectual development. Twenty young women organized the Boston Gleaning Circle in 1805. They defined their group as a “self-improvement society.” The met weekly to discuss “any book favourable to the improvement of the mind—Divinity, History, Geography, Astronomy, Travels, Poetry, etc., but Novels and Romances are absolutely excluded.” As the nineteenth century was beginning, women were starting to see themselves as intellectually capable and equal to men. FURTHER READING

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.


(1680–1762) Founder of Haddonfield, New Jersey, and a character in Longfellow’s Tales of a Wayside Inn. Elizabeth Haddon was born in London, England, and


came to America by herself when she was only 21 to settle on land owned by her father. Before she left England, she met a young Quaker, John Estaugh, who was preparing to begin a ministry in America, and she too felt a religious calling to help Native Americans and to establish a place for traveling ministers to stay. According to Longfellow’s poem, when John Estaugh stopped at Elizabeth Haddon’s home in New Jersey, she said, “I will no longer conceal what is laid upon me to tell thee;/I have received from the Lord a charge to love thee, John Estaugh.” John accepted Elizabeth’s pious proposal, and the couple was married in 1702.


Elizabeth founded the village of Haddonfield in 1713. In 1723, on behalf of her father, she donated the land for the first Friends Meeting House in Haddonfield. In 1742, John went as a missionary to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and he died there in 1743. With the help of her nephew, Ebenezer Hopkins, whom she later adopted, Elizabeth continued to manage her considerable property. She also sent a book John had written, A Call to the Unfaithful Professors of Truth, to Benjamin Franklin to be published. Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh died in Haddonfield at the age of 82.


Buildings in which goods are manufactured. Before the American Revolution, the colonies were dependent on Britain for most manufactured goods. After the Revolution, Americans were reluctant to encourage manufacturing. Land was plentiful, and most Americans could grow most of what they needed on their land. In addition, Americans were not eager to import into their new nation the evils of the Industrial Revolution as it existed in England. Before the Industrial Revolution, women carried out the various tasks associated with the domestic manufacture of fabric. They spun cotton, flax, and wool into thread and then wove the thread into fabric. Women often earned extra income for their families, either by selling cloth for money or by bartering it for food or other household goods. When machines were invented that performed some of the tasks of making fabric, factories were built to produce cloth in large quantities. The women who used to make cloth at home now had to work long hours, in dangerous conditions, for little pay. They operated machines such as spinning jennies—devices that allowed one woman to spin eight threads at once—and steam-powered looms. Children also worked in the textile mills as scavengers, picking up loose cotton from under running machinery, or as piecers, catching broken threads as the machines wove. The more highly paid supervisory and skilled jobs went to men. In England, factory towns arose, where whole families were crowded into inadequate housing and where disease was rampant because of unsanitary condi-

tions. Workers were paid in company-issued scrip that could only be used to buy goods from the company store, a system which often kept workers in debt to the mill owner and unable to quit their jobs to look for better situations. The first factory in the United States was Samuel Slater’s cotton mill built in 1790 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Slater’s mill used the British system of labor, employing whole families to run the machines that carded, or untangled, and spun the fibers. Slater’s mill was equipped to do only a part of the textile manufacturing process, however, and thread was still sent to women to weave into cloth in their homes. In 1812, when Francis Cabot Lowell decided to manufacture textiles, he realized that few Americans were likely to accept the British system of labor. While a dissatisfied factory worker in England had few other options, Americans could always turn pioneer and move west. So when he opened a mill in Waltham, Massachusetts, he also developed a new system of labor that came to be known as the “Waltham System.” Lowell’s machines were too complex to be run by children, so he targeted young women as his labor force. Knowing that farmers would not send their daughters to work in a place where they might be tempted into illicit romances and other unacceptable behavior, Lowell established boardinghouses where the young women would live under the supervision of a matron who represented the company and enforced its strict rules. The young women who worked in Waltham had to reside in the boarding house, be in bed each night by ten o’clock, and attend



church services. They were paid in money rather than scrip, because most of the girls worked in order to be able to send money home to their families back on the farms. In 1820, Lowell’s original investors, known as the Boston Associates, began to build mills at the junction of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers in the town of east Chelmsford, Massachusetts. The town was renamed Lowell, after Francis Lowell, who had died in 1817. By 1839, there were nine mills in Lowell. In Waltham and Lowell, women ran the roving machines that stretched and twisted the wool, as well as the spinning machines. Men worked as supervisors, mechanics, and teamsters. Women were paid a set wage, while men’s wages were negotiated individually. Women workers earned about $1.75 a week, with $1.45 deducted for board. The women worked 12- to 13-hour days, six days a week, with a half an hour off for breakfast and lunch. They had only four holidays a year. Eventually, Lowell became known worldwide for its enlightened labor practices, and especially for the educational opportunities offered to the

young women in the evenings. To the modern sensibility, of course, the working conditions do not seem particularly enlightened, but they were much improved over conditions in England. In the next few decades, however, conditions in the American mills declined (as conditions improved in Britain), leading to strikes in the 1830s and giving an impetus to the growth of labor organizations in the 1830s and 1840s. FURTHER READING

Dublin, Thomas. Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826– 1860. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979. Foner, Philip S. The Factory Girls. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977. Prude, Jonathan. The Coming of Industrial Order: Town and Factory Life in Rural Massachusetts, 1810–1860. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999.


Although the first settlers to North America were single men and not families, families that came

An artist’s impression of Hannah Duston’s escape from captivity.


later to colonial North America varied based on ethnic and religious background. The majority of new families settling in early British North America were of English heritage. The first English families that settled in America faced extreme hardship and uncertainty. In 1607 the London Company—a group of men—made its first trip to Jamestown, Virginia. By 1622 only 2,000 of 10,000 immigrants were still living. Families were unprepared for the harsh Virginia winters and difficult farming conditions. The Virginians first lived in palisaded (heavily fenced) communities. Later they built plantations stretching along the rivers that flowed into Chesapeake Bay. Families had to become self-sufficient. Most colonial families lived in a typical nuclear unit. The average family had between seven and ten children. Infant mortality rates were high. In New England, families remained intact for the most part; divorce was almost unheard of, but it was completely acceptable for a widow or widower to remarry one or several times. Family members from the age of three had a role to play in supporting the family. Children helped tend cows and sheep, plant and harvest crops, and spin cloth by the fireside. Children who could read and write were usually taught by another family member. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, however, it became more common for children to attend schools. Women in British colonial America were not only responsible for the household, the children, and dairying, but they also helped their husbands in the fields. Wealthier families hired indentured servants and domestic servants to help with such tasks. As family skills diversified and rural areas grew into small towns, some women helped their husbands in various businesses, such as general stores, taverns, or newspaper publishing. See also: Domestic Arts; Domestic Servants; Indentured Servitude; Widowhood.


Free blacks in the colonial era and the early decades of the republic lived primarily in cities of the North and those of the upper South, such as Baltimore and Richmond. Although they had more power over their own lives than did enslaved blacks, free blacks still experienced prejudice and limitations in early America. European settlers viewed Africans as intellectually and culturally inferior. These racial prejudices affected family structures and oppor-


Free blacks had more power over their own lives than slaves.

tunities for most free black families and especially black children in early North America. In the North, black men could seek work, own land, and be heads of households. In several states they could vote, but they were rarely allowed to serve in the militia. They were often able to voice their opinions more than white women could. Often a black man’s social status depended on whether or not he could read and write. Those who were literate fared much better than those who could not read or write. Free African households were based on the Christian model, in which women were subservient to their husbands, and on the African tribal model in which control was usually passed down through male lines. Children in free black families worked alongside their mothers and fathers and rarely were afforded the opportunity to attend school. If they did learn to read and write, they were most often instructed by family members in Bible reading.

FAMILY LIFE, NATIVE  AMERICAN East Coast Native American nations in colonial America had distinct cultures, but their family structures had common characteristics. In general, women had more power in the more agricultural societies. Families were organized into clans, and kinship networks became the basis of alliances among different tribes. Members of the same clan did not marry. Since the European family system was based on patriarchy, settlers were scandalized by the Native Americans’ division of labor. The newcomers



portant clan members. Since most Algonquian clans were matrilineal, newlyweds often lived with or near an older member of the bride’s family. During her lifetime, the dramatic story of Hannah Duston Grandparents, aunts, and uncles were was told throughout New England, making her one of the often involved in raising their young first legendary figures in American history. Hannah’s story relatives. An uncle rather than a parbegan on March 15, 1697, when just after she had given birth ent might discipline a child who reto her twelfth child the Dustons’ home was attacked by Inquired punishment. If a spouse died, dians. Hannah Duston, her infant, and Mary Neff, a settler the in-laws would handle the burial, who was helping Duston care for the child, were taken capdistribute any property, and care tive. After killing the baby, the Indians marched Duston and for the surviving partner until reNeff toward Canada, where they were joined by Samuel Lenmarriage. nardson, a white boy who had been captured eight months These family relationships earlier. strengthened the ties between a couOn March 30, the three captives carried out a plan of esple’s clans. However, marriage was a cape, in the course of which Duston and Lennardson killed mutual agreement that had no legal and scalped ten of their Indian captors. After making her or religious basis. Divorce was permitway safely back to Haverhill, Duston traveled to Boston ted on grounds ranging from disconwhere she told her tale before the General Court. At Thomas tent to infidelity. Duston’s insistence, the Court paid him the 25 pounds that a Encounters with European settlers Massachusetts law offered as a bounty for Indian scalps. began reshaping Native American Even after her death in 1736, her legend continued to be families. Colonists often consciously told. She was cast sometimes as a hero and sometimes as a attempted to “civilize” the country’s villain, depending on the interpreter’s view of female viooriginal inhabitants, while Native lence. Among those who wrote about Duston were Cotton Americans both adapted and resisted. Mather, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Christianized Indians in Puritan “praying villages” adopted European customs. However, when Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins told a Creek considered farming men’s work and hunting a widow in 1797 that white males govsport, so they condemned “lazy” and “effeminate” erned their families, she broke off marriage neNative American men for hunting while their wives gotiations with him. bore the burden of farming. Europeans also had difficulty understanding that Native American F U R T H E R R E A D I N G women owned property, and that land and lead- Shoemaker, Nancy, ed. Negotiations of Change: Historical ership positions were often inherited through the Perspectives on Native American Women. New York: Routledge, 1995. female line. Some Indian cultures have been described as Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670–1870. Norman: University of Oklahoma matriarchies. Among the Iroquois, clan matrons Press, 1983. chose the chiefs and faith-keepers, spared or condemned prisoners of war, and impeached chiefs who failed to perform their office. In many Eastern Woodland nations, women stopped conflicts by reFAMILY LIFE, REPUBLICAN fusing to provide food for the war parties. Families that were a part of the new republic, sepaAlong the East Coast, parents raised children to rate from British control. Following the victory for be independent, stoic, and physically resilient. In- independence from Britain in the American Revfants were swaddled and breast-fed until they were olution, the new republic had a fresh, indepenthree to six years old. Children who misbehaved dent identity. Families could now view themselves were shamed rather than spanked. At puberty, ad- as part of a separate, strong nation, no longer olescent girls and boys participated in coming-of- bound to the British crown and its laws. Families age ceremonies. now felt comfortable venturing into new busiCourtship customs varied, but young people nesses to support their new nation and becoming generally chose their spouses with the advice of im- more politically involved.



Although men remained the civic and political leaders both within and outside their families, women took on greater roles in civic affairs. They began educating themselves in political matters, holding meetings and “societies” not only to increase their knowledge of politics and specifically republican ideology, but also to hone their conversational skills. Women also took on the responsibility of educating their children in civic matters. The new nation would need self-sufficient, responsible citizens who could carry on the cause of independence. Although women themselves were not considered important political citizens within a community and they could not vote, they functioned as the primary instructors on civic matters for their children. Women educating daughters about republican thought had a special problem. They attempted to combine their ideas about their domestic domain with the postwar ideology of individual responsibility and civic virtue, but there were inherent contradictions in this task. The good republican was expected to embrace the new ideology of independence, but women were still being ridiculed for trying to increase their intellectual grasp or trying to become politically significant. These contradictions would continue into the mid-1800s, when, as women began attending schools and colleges in greater numbers, they became more politically active, and began speaking out against inequality.

 FARMS AND FARMING See rural life


(1791–1870) Author. Born to American parents living in Dunkirk, France, Elizabeth Ware Rotch was the daughter of a prosperous whaling merchant. Her family later moved to Wales. At their estate, named Castle Hall, they entertained many of the luminaries of their day. The Rotches were acquainted with painter Benjamin West, war hero Horatio Nelson, and Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria’s cousin. After her family lost everything in 1819 due to bad investments, Eliza Rotch went to live with her grandparents in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


There she met John Farrar, a professor of mathematics at Harvard University. They married in 1828 and quickly established themselves in Boston’s social and literary circles. Eliza Farrar was friends with several prominent female reformers, including Margaret Fuller and Catherine Sedgwick. (See Volume 2.) Although an advocate for abolition, women’s rights, and prison reform, Farrar had little time for activism because she had to attend to her chronically ill husband. Often confined to her home, Farrar expressed her views through her writing. She wrote many books for children that were meant to instruct as well as entertain. In The Children’s Robinson Crusoe (1830), she recast Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel to make the story appropriate for children. Farrar also wrote juvenile biographies of the Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette and of the English prison reformer John Howard. Her most popular book was The Young Lady’s Friend (1836). The work offered advice, but unlike other etiquette books of the day, it went beyond instructing readers in good manners. Farrar emphasized the importance of “find[ing] pleasure in intellectual effort.” The book remained in print in the United States and in England for most of the nineteenth century. After her husband’s death, Farrar wrote her final work, Recollections of Seventy Years (1865). Ostensibly an autobiography of her early life, the book also counseled readers about women’s rights issues. Using the language of a proper lady, Farrar discussed the need for women to become educated and to resist social rules that inhibited their freedom. Before her death in 1870, Farrar had become a role model for many readers by questioning the dictates of society while successfully functioning within it.


The styles of clothing, hair, and accessories that are popular in a given place and time. In the early seventeenth century, most colonial women had little time for fashion. Most wore linen blouses tucked into wool skirts. They kept their legs warm with woolen stockings, and usually wore aprons around the house. They wore white neckcloths crossed over fitted sleeveless vests called doublets. Small, close-fitting bonnets covered the head. As the country became more populous and prosperous, wealthy American women began to imitate European styles. Before and during the




Laws that enabled women to do business independently of their husbands. Under both British and American common law the phrase feme sole referred to a woman who had never been married or who was widowed, or divorced. It could also refer to a married woman whose legal subordination to her husband, or coverture, had been set aside by law. A feme sole trader, then, was a married woman who was legally granted the right to act on her own in a business situation. An instance of a feme sole trader act, for example, is one passed in Pennsylvania in 1718 for the relief of wives of sailors. Under the provisions of the act, sailors’ wives who had their own businesses would not be liable for the debts of their husbands. The act also said that creditors could “with certainty and safety, transact business with a married woman” and that feme sole traders could “sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded at law during their husbands’ natural lives, without naming their husbands.” Fashion involves the style of hair, clothing, and accessories that are popular at a given time and place.

Revolution, fashionable women wore their hair in huge pompadours. To achieve the desired look, the hair was frizzed and stretched over cushions that were stuffed with cows’ tails, rags, and other such materials. After the Revolution, many women wore their hair curled and close to the head. Before the Revolution, well-to-do women wore gowns that had tight, pointed bodices over full skirts, often with matching or contrasting petticoats that were slightly exposed. Dressy outfits for special occasions were made of silk, and everyday dresses of chintz, a shiny cotton fabric. Whalebone corsets cinched waists tightly, so tightly, in fact, that many women were subject to fainting because their breathing was restricted. After the Revolution, a style of dress that attempted to imitate Greek statuary became common. The dresses were gauzy, high-waisted, and low-cut at the neckline. To achieve the look that was popular, women wore a great deal less underwear than they had in the past, and young ladies even went without corsets. Fashionable women’s shoes were high-heeled before the Revolution, and made of silk or brocade. After the Revolution, women wore flat slippers or sandals. Since ladies’ shoes were too delicate to be worn outside, women wore pattens—overshoes on raised metal frames—over their shoes.


(1737–1801) Socialite and writer. Elizabeth Graeme was the daughter of Thomas Graeme. As a young woman, Elizabeth published a translation of Franc¸ois Fe´nelon’s Te´lemaque and a journal she had kept during a trip to Europe. As a result of these publications she was accepted into Philadelphia’s literary circles, and every Saturday evening held gatherings at her father’s estate at Graeme Park that were similar to the literary salons of Europe. In 1772, Elizabeth inherited Graeme Park from her father and married Henry Ferguson, a Scot. During the Revolutionary War, Henry was loyal to the British Crown, and in 1778 was charged with treason. While trying to have her husband freed, Elizabeth met George Johnstone, a member of the British peace commission, who asked her to carry a letter to Joseph Reed, a member of the Continental Congress, offering him a large sum of money to switch sides. Reed’s reply was famous. “He was not worth purchasing, but such as he was, the King of Great Britain was not rich enough to do it.” After the war, Henry returned to Britain and the couple was permanently estranged. As a result of her husband’s activities and her own behavior, Elizabeth Ferguson lost Graeme Park. The estate was eventually returned to her, but financial difficulties forced her to sell it in 1791. She died in 1801.



(1623–1698?) Quaker preacher and missionary. Mary Fisher was born in England and converted to the Quaker faith in about 1652. Rebuking those who did not follow the true path was characteristic of early Quakers. In the course of the next two years, Fisher was imprisoned at least three times for publicly criticizing ministers and civil officials. At Cambridge University in 1653, Mary and a companion were stripped to the waist and publicly flogged for preaching to students. In 1655, Mary traveled to the island of Barbados and from there to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where Quakers were considered heretics. On their arrival in Massachusetts, Mary and a companion were taken prisoner, searched for marks that they were witches, imprisoned for five weeks, then sent back to Barbados. Three years later another Quaker, Mary Dyer, was executed in Massachusetts for her religious beliefs. In 1658, Mary traveled alone from southern Greece to Turkey to meet with Sultan Mahomet IV. She succeeded in arranging an interview with him and was allowed to talk freely about her faith. The story of this visit made a huge impression on the British, since the “Great Turk,” as the Sultan was known, was a figure who inspired dread. Mary was married twice, once to a sea captain named William Bayly and a second time to John Cross, with whom she emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina. It is believed that she died in Charleston sometime in 1698.


Sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons. In 1636, the Puritan settlers of Plymouth Colony established a legal code, one section of which forbade “fornication and other unclean carriages [ways of behaving].” Different punishments were imposed depending on whether or not the couple was engaged to be married. Those who were not engaged could be sent to prison for up to three days and either whipped or fined ten pounds. For engaged couples, the fine was reduced to five pounds. In fact, whippings and fines were imposed frequently, while imprisonment was rarely used. Fornication was one of the most common crimes in Plymouth; there were 69 cases of fornication presented to the court between 1633 and 1691. Men were often punished more severely for fornication than women. Adultery, which was defined as sexual miscon-


duct between married persons, was punishable by death. It was also one of the few grounds on which Puritan colonists allowed divorce, but it is significant that men and women were treated unequally when it came to adultery. Sexual contact between a married man and an unmarried woman was classified as fornication, but sexual contact between a married woman and any man—married or not– was considered adultery. Although the death sentence was never actually imposed for adultery, it was considered a very serious offence. Adulterers could be fined, sentenced to the stocks, whipped, and branded, either by an actual branding iron, or by being forced to wear letters proclaiming their crime on their outer clothing, as Hester Prynne does in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. Women were often more severely punished than men for adultery. Puritans frequently named their children for virtues, such as faith, hope, or charity, that they wanted their children to possess; some, however, named their children for vices they wanted them to avoid. There is actually a birth registry for a Puritan child named Flie Fornication Andrewes. Many of the original Puritan laws are still on the books in some New England states. As recently as 1996, Massachusetts state law provided for a threemonth jail sentence for fornication.


(1758–1840) Author of the first novel written by a native-born American woman. Hannah Webster was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, to Hannah and Grant Webster. When her mother died in 1762, Hannah was probably sent to boarding school. In 1785, she married John Foster, a Unitarian minister. The couple had six children. A year after the birth of Hannah’s first child, her novel The Coquette (1797) was published anonymously. The novel was only modestly successful at first, but went through 13 editions during Hannah’s lifetime and was in print for many years after her death. Only in 1866 did the author’s name finally appear on the title page of the novel. The Coquette’s plot is modeled on the true story of Elizabeth Whitman, a woman who was seduced, abandoned, and left to die in childbirth. It is said that her seducer was Pierpont Edwards, son of Jonathan and Sarah Pierpont Edwards. In Foster’s version of the tale, the central character, Eliza Wharton, is punished for her transgressions—as



are similar characters in English novels of the time—but she is also a rebel who refuses to accept the limitations imposed on women. Foster also wrote The Boarding School, a didactic novel about the education of women. Two of her daughters, Eliza Lanesford Cushing and Harriet Foster Cheney, also wrote novels. Foster died in Montreal, Canada, at the age of 81.


(1696–1763) Printer. Ann Smith was born in Boston on October 2, 1696. She married printer and newspaper publisher James Franklin in 1723, making her the sister-in-law of Benjamin Franklin. Soon after marriage, Ann and James Franklin moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where James opened another printing business. When James died in 1735, she took over his position, and she trained her son and two daughters to help out in the shop as well. Franklin’s business benefited by being the only print shop in Newport. Among her publications were the 1737 Rhode-Island Almanack, the 1745 edition of the colony’s Acts and Laws, and a variety of other government and private publications. In all she produced at least 50 known printed documents, along with dozens of blank forms for business use. She was among the first colonial women to write an almanac of her own. In 1748, Franklin’s son James became the titular head of the business, but Franklin herself continued to work. When her son died in 1762, Franklin once more took over the shop, this time adding newspaper publishing to her list of duties. Her health was not good, however; she took on a business partner later that same year and died in Newport on April 19, 1763.

Read and his future father-in-law, who were standing in the doorway of their Market Street home. Later, Franklin became a lodger in the Read home. He proposed to Deborah, but her mother opposed the marriage, because Franklin was on the verge of leaving for an extended visit to England. While he was gone, Deborah’s mother convinced her to marry John Rogers; the marriage failed, and Rogers left Philadelphia for the West Indies, where he was reported to have died. When Franklin returned to Philadelphia in 1730, he again asked Deborah to marry him, but she could not divorce Rogers and was not sure he was actually dead. So Deborah and Franklin decided to enter into a common-law marriage, with the approval of her relatives. Deborah Franklin was not a well-educated woman, and so never shared in her husband’s political and scientific interests. She took care of their children—Francis, who died at the age of four, and


(1707–1774) Wife of Benjamin Franklin and mother of Sarah Franklin Bache. Deborah Read was born either in Birmingham or in Philadelphia, the daughter of John Read, a carpenter, and his wife Sarah. The story of her first meeting with Franklin is well known from his autobiography. Franklin was walking along with “three great puffy rolls,” two stuck under his arms while he munched on the third. He looked “ridiculous” as he passed by Deborah

Deborah Read entered into a common-law marriage with Benjamin Franklin. She was the manager of his stationery shop.


Sarah, who outlived both her parents. Franklin’s son William, who later became governor of New Jersey, was likely Deborah’s son, but the relationship cannot be proved. William was born before Benjamin and Deborah were married, and Benjamin refused to reveal who the mother was, to protect her reputation. Deborah was also a good businesswoman who managed the stationery shop that was attached to Franklin’s printing shop. Deborah Franklin died in 1774, just before the beginning of the American Revolution.


Of the approximately one million black people counted by the U.S. census of 1800, 108,000 were free. Most of these men, women, and children were former slaves freed either when the Northern states abolished slavery or by individual manumissions from Southern slaveholders. Hundreds of slaves won their freedom by fighting in the Revolutionary War, and many churches adopted an antislavery postition that encouraged individual manumissions. The free life that was sought so eagerly was far from easy. In the South, every free African American was open not only to suspicion of being a runaway slave but also to the danger of being kidnapped and sold back into slavery. There was daily harassment. Slaveholders feared that the very presence of free blacks in the vicinity could unsettle enslaved blacks, and local governments placed restrictions on the movements of free blacks to encourage them to leave. Free blacks were drawn to Northern cities, where they were safer than in the South and where the communities they formed provided support. Still, life was difficult. White working people feared competition from black laborers and pressured politicians to enact laws restricting what occupations were open to blacks. It was often an insurmountable challenge for an African-American man to find skilled or steady employment. Women, on the other hand, could count on steady, if unrewarding, work as domestic servants. Women’s economic contributions therefore acquired more importance in free black families than in white families. The vigorous African-American community organizations that came into being in Northern cities to provide social services such as education and


welfare for widows were run by men. It appears that free black women consciously left the leadership roles to men, whose lives outside the black community provided daily humiliations. They also may have been too busy to take on added responsibilities. African-American periodicals of the early nineteenth century were full of exhortations to black wives to educate themselves and their children, keep perfect households, and be the moral lodestars for their families and the community.

 FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR (1754–1763) Conflict between England and France for control of North America in which English forces were successful. The war began in 1754 with a skirmish between a small force of colonial militia led by George Washington and French troops on the Virginia frontier. In 1755, England sent regular troops commanded by General Edward Braddock west to remove the French forces at Fort Duquesne on the

Women bore the brunt of many attacks in the French and Indian War.



Ohio River. Braddock’s army was destroyed by the French, and the frontier lay open to raiding parties composed of Indians allied to France. In 1756, French forces destroyed the English Fort Oswego on Lake Ontario. Advancing south the following year, they attacked Fort William Henry at the base of Lake George in New York. The fighting throughout was marked by atrocities on both sides, often against women and children. Fighting continued along the frontier throughout 1758 and into 1759. In the fall of 1759, the French capital at Quebec fell to English forces. With the defeat of the French, atrocities along the frontier began to decline. During the 1760s, more English settlers began to travel westward and establish new towns. The war ended officially with the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

FRENCH HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The French were one of the least represented groups in British North America. They settled north of the colonies in “New France” (present-day Canada) and, with French explorer Samuel de Champlain, settled Quebec in 1608. There were few French households with families when Quebec was founded. The vast, rough area was inhabited mostly by fur traders seeking their fortunes and Catholic priests and nuns on missionary expeditions. As French families began to settle in New France, they formed alliances with Native American groups, including the Huron. Many French women, along with their husbands, became successful in the fur trade. They traded with and supported Native Americans, who became allies with the French against the British. Beginning in 1689, armed conflicts between English colonists and the French led to the French and Indian War. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1763, gave the British all of North America east of the Mississippi River including Canada and Florida, which was controlled by Spain. This victory for the British meant French families had to relocate or swear loyalty to the British crown.


Colonial women valued companionship. Girls enjoyed friendships with their siblings and children

of both genders. As they matured, women tended to trust other females more than males with personal information. Such relationships were viewed as more publicly appropriate and moral than social ties between unmarried adult women and men. Women’s first intense emotional friendships usually were formed with their female relatives. Sisters Mary and Margaret Brent immigrated, purchased land, and managed servants together in seventeenth-century Maryland and Virginia. Grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and aunts such as the Adams women participated together in domestic and community activities such as cooking, quilting, and worshiping. Girls enjoyed friendships with the siblings and children of both genders, playing games. Although many colonial marriages were based on socioeconomic factors, wives such as Anne Dudley and Anne Bradstreet often felt affectionate toward their husbands and respected their friendship. Friendships bonded women with similar social expectations. In the early 1700s, Sophia Wigington Hume of Charleston, South Carolina, attended theatrical and musical entertainment with her friends. Parties and masquerade balls provided female friends the opportunity to plan and participate in social activities which reinforced their relationships. Hume later experienced a religious epiphany and converted to Quakerism in 1741, distressing her friends when she asked them to forsake their material possessions, as she had done, to seek religious salvation. Friendships were sometimes formed across lines of race and social class. Margaret Brent developed a close friendship with Mary Piscataway, a Native American princess whom Brent raised and educated. The Cherokee leader Nancy Ward warned white settlers about impending raids and saved Mrs. Bean, a captive, from execution. Ward and Bean became friends while Ward nursed Bean’s wounds. Bean taught Ward how to weave cloth and tend cattle, introducing textile production and dairy husbandry to the Cherokees. Friendship provided women in both urban and rural areas comforting connections that eased loneliness and hardships, especially on the frontier and during military actions. Friends sometimes were the only people who validated a woman’s feelings and fears and provided moral support and advice during childbirth and domestic crises. Friendships also emboldened women to defend their opinions, decisions, and actions.


Education provided another forum for female friendships, and teachers served as mentors to girls. Milcah Martha Moore’s Commonplace Book represented the verses and prose created by her network of friends. Female friends corresponded, expressing their fondness for each other and common interests. They also valued their friendships for improving their creativity in literary and artistic endeavors. Literate women frequently composed eulogies and poems while grieving for deceased friends. Not all colonial friendships resulted in positive outcomes. A group of friends instigated the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. In Rehobeth, Massachusetts, during the early 1700s, Mary Peck Butterworth convinced many of her friends to participate in her counterfeiting ring. She taught them how to iron currency and muslin to transfer the bills’ imprints without using copper plates that could be used as evidence in court. See also: Death; Old Age; Widowhood. FURTHER READING

Adams, Abigail. Adams Family Correspondence. Vol. I. Ed. L. H. Butterfield. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1963. Blecki, Catherine L., and Karin A. Wulf, eds. Milcah Martha Moore’s Commonplace Book from Revolutionary America. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997. Woloch, Nancy. Early American Women: A Documentary History, 1600–1900. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.


North American colonists considered the frontier to be the remote areas on the periphery of populated coastal communities. As more settlers migrated into the interior, the frontier expanded westward from several to hundreds of miles from the Atlantic. Frontier women discovered varying situations according to their social class, whether they lived in the northeastern, Middle Atlantic, or southern colonies, and when they lived there. Some common frontier elements included climatic extremes, treacherous terrain, and wild predators. Alice of Dunk’s Ferry, a seventeenthcentury African-American bridge toll collector, recalled when Philadelphia was a wilderness where panthers and wolves roamed.


Native American women lived throughout the North American frontier and knew how to use indigenous plants for food and medicines. White women settling the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Jamestown, and St. Augustine were among the first European colonists to experience frontier conditions. While Native American women viewed the Massachusetts frontier as familiar and non-threatening, the Puritan Margaret Winthrop, wife of the colony’s governor, described it as unfriendly and dangerous when she arrived in 1631. Margaret Brent appreciated the religious toleration offered by the Maryland frontier in 1638. A member of the gentry, she possessed social connections that, combined with her single status, enabled her to buy thousands of acres, initiate legal action to collect debts, and represent the colonial governor to resolve territorial disputes. Most colonial women lacked such influence and equated the frontier with work. They had to be self-sufficient and had few legal rights. White indentured servants, often orphans and widows, and black slaves experienced hardships because of labor demands. Other women were recruited as brides for men settling the frontier. By the early 1700s, the Casket Girls arrived in the Mississippi Valley frontier to marry French settlers and Spanish and Mexican women had migrated into the California frontier. Because many frontier women were illiterate, little is known about them except for information listed on ships’ manifests. Others, such as Judith Giton, a French Huguenot who sought refuge in South Carolina in 1685, documented their hardships in letters or journals, referring to hunger,

Families living on the frontier had to be self-sufficient.



illness, and poverty. By the mid-1700s, many female servants had acquired sufficient funds to purchase frontier land and gain some autonomy. Threatened by white settlers, some Native Americans captured or killed frontier women, including Hannah Duston, Penelope Van Princes, and Eunice Williams. In contrast, Nancy Ward, a powerful Cherokee leader, attempted to secure diplomatic agreements with whites in the late 1700s. Gradually, frontier women focused less on daily survival and more on improving the quality of their lives by adapting indigenous materials. In 1715 frontier Pennsylvania, Sybilla Masters invented a machine to crush and dry Indian corn. In the south, Eliza Lucas Pinckney utilized the frontier to experiment with cultivating indigo. See also: Captivity Narratives; Indentured Servitude; Property Rights; Slavery.


Derounian-Stodola, Kathryn Z., ed. Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives. New York: Penguin, 1998. Ekberg, Carl J. French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Merrill, James H. Into the American Woods: Negotiators on the Pennsylvania Frontier. New York: Norton, 1999. Nobles, Gregory H. American Frontiers: Cultural Encounters and Continental Conquest. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997. Vaughan, Alden T., ed. New England Encounters: Indians and Euroamericans ca. 1600–1850: Essays Drawn from The New England Quarterly. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999. Woloch, Nancy. Early American Women: A Documentary History, 1600–1900. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

 FULLER, MARGARET See volume 2


(1734–1824) Revolutionary War “mole,” and wife of General Thomas Gage. On April 18, 1775, the night of Paul Revere’s famous ride, an informer passed information about the movement of British troops to Continental partisans. The information allowed American troops to gather in Lexington, where they met the British troops and fired the first shots of the American Revolution. Historians now believe the “mole” was Margaret Kemble Gage, the American-born wife of the British general Thomas Gage. Margaret Kemble was born in New York in 1734. Her father was one of the richest men in the colonies, and her mother was of Dutch descent. Margaret married Thomas in 1758, and the couple had ten children. They were prominent figures in New York society, where Margaret was referred to as “the Duchess.” In 1774 Thomas returned to England, but almost immediately dispatched back to the colonies to serve as governor of Massachusetts. As tensions grew between Britain and the colonists, Margaret reportedly had divided loyalties and hoped to be able to avoid a war. She is thought to have been the “mole” based on just a few scraps of information. William Gordon, a Massachusetts

clergyman, described the informant as a woman who was “a daughter of liberty unequally yoked in the point of politics.” When Thomas learned that the colonists knew about his troops’ movements, he was said to have cried out, as if in pain, saying that “his confidence had been betrayed, for he had communicated his design to one person only.” Margaret spent the last years of her life in England, and died in 1824 at the age of 90. She is the subject of a famous portrait by American painter John Singleton Copley. FURTHER READING

Diamant, Lincoln, ed. Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.


(c. 1733–1782) Diarist during the American Revolution. Grace Growdon’s father, Lawrence Growdon, owned large tracts of land in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. When he died in 1770, his will gave Grace and her sister Elizabeth title to the land. When Grace married Joseph Galloway in 1753, he became the legal owner of her property under


the law of coverture. Joseph Galloway supported the British during the Revolution. When war broke out in 1776, he joined the forces of the British General William Howe as an adviser. Shortly thereafter, the Continental Congress placed his name on a list of persons suspected of treason, which meant that the government could confiscate all his property. When Continental troops recaptured Philadelphia from the British in 1778, Joseph fled the city with the couple’s 20-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, leaving Grace to protect both her land holdings and the couple’s home in Philadelphia. The diary Grace kept from 1778 to 1781 records her attempts to protect her property and describes her growing realization that her husband had not protected her interests during their marriage. When she finds that the deed for her property at Durham, Pennsylvania, is in her husband’s name, for example, she writes I am now truly set against him. . . . Was it not for my dearest child I would embrace poverty much sooner than live with a man who would grasp all I have, and treat me much worse than a slave.

Grace’s diary also details how American soldiers forcibly removed her from her home, and the difficult circumstances of her life in rented lodgings. Despite her best efforts, Grace never regained her property. When she died in 1782, never having seen her husband or daughter again, Grace willed the property, no longer legally hers, to her daughter. Elizabeth made several attempts to regain her inheritance, with little success. Only after Joseph died in 1803 did the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that the Galloway’s treason should not have been resulted in the confiscation of his wife’s property. The family holdings were returned to Elizabeth. FURTHER READING

Diamant, Lincoln, ed. Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. Evans, Elizabeth. Weathering the Storm: Women of the American Revolution. New York: Scribner’s, 1975. Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.


around the house or on the farm. Still, as children carded wool or carried wood, many turned these chores into games to see who could do the most or finish the job first. When they did have some free time, young children in colonial America played many of the same games children play today—tag, hide-and-seek, and Blindman’s Buff. Boys spun tops, shot marbles, flew kites, and went swimming, skating, or sledding. Girls tended to play indoors with dolls that they or their parents made from cornhusks or rags. They also sewed samplers, which allowed them to practice a variety of stitches. As children grew older, they might play checkers, backgammon, cards, or dominoes. Older boys might engage in team sports such as rounders (an early version of baseball) or cricket. Men enjoyed a version of bowling called ninepins. This game became so popular that Connecticut banned it, believing that people were placing bets on the outcome of matches. The colonists circumvented the ban by making a very simple change: they added a tenth pin—turning ninepins into something very similar to modern bowling. Men also played quoits, which is a version of horseshoes. Several cruel sports, such as bullbaiting and cockfighting, were popular among the colonists. Just as girls were not encouraged to play outdoors, adult women were considered too frail to bowl or play quoits, so they confined themselves to organizing dances, dinner parties, or home theatricals. Native Americans enjoyed all sorts of competition and especially liked gambling games. Those in the Northeast played lacrosse and a game called shinny, which is similar to hockey. Women and children played several outdoor games, such as double ball and snow snakes. In double ball, a curved stick is used to throw and catch a ball. Snow snakes involved oiling a stick and throwing it down a track made in the snow to see which stick would travel the farthest. Enslaved people had little time for games but did enjoy dancing, telling stories, and playing musical instruments. FURTHER READING


Colonial children did not have much time for playing, since many of them were needed to help

Costa, D. Margaret, and Sharon R. Gutherie, eds. Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1994. Warner, John F. Colonial American Home Life. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.



GANNETT, DEBORAH  SAMPSON See American Revolution

GENDER AND ENGLISH  IDENTITY IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY Gender is sexual identity in relation to social or cultural roles. The settlers who came from England to America in the seventeenth century left a society in which the roles of men and women were both clearly defined and sometimes debated. While Elizabethan writers published pamphlets and poems about the true natures of men and women, most people believed that a well-ordered society and a well-ordered home depended on clearly defined, divinely sanctioned sexual roles. Men were superior to women and should rule over women just as kings ruled over nations and God ruled over all creation. A good wife was submissive to her husband, modest in appearance, and a skillful manager of the husband’s property. Women who did not submit to husbands and fathers undermined the social order and were considered dangerous. Women who defied gender expectations were regarded as “wenches” or “witches” and were assumed to threaten the carefully constructed hierarchy of English society. In Elizabethan society, women were often associated with nature and natural phenomena. Just as men were expected to tame nature by plowing the land and growing crops or fencing the land to pasture livestock, there were also expected to “tame” women, to keep them in line and prevent them from going astray. Women were thought to be weak, both physically and morally. Because this patriarchal society depended on the inheritance of land, men were particularly interested in controlling women’s sexuality to be sure that the children born during the marriage were in fact the issue of the fathers. They were equally interested in controlling women’s property rights—including their rights to control their own children—in order to avoid breaking up large land holdings. These ideas came to define what it meant to be English and male in the seventeenth century. Just as men had to keep their wives and children in line, so too English men had not only a right but a duty to conquer and civilize “subordinate” races, which were actually referred to in gendered lan-

guage. America was the “virgin land”—a wild country waiting to be subdued and tamed by English men. English men of the seventeenth century regarded domination of one nation by another, more “civilized” nation as their patriarchal duty and destiny. This same gendered language was applied to the Native American populations that the English settlers encountered in America. To the extent that Native American society and gender roles differed from English social structure, colonists perceived Native Americans as deficient. If Native Americans were organized in matrilineal clans, that merely demonstrated how uncivilized they were. If their women could bear children with little pain, that only showed how much more delicate and “normal” English women were. The fact that Native American men did not wear beards merely demonstrated that they were not “real” men. Such attitudes allowed settlers to justify everything from cutting down trees to slaughtering indigenous peoples. FURTHER READING

Brown, Kathleen M. “The Anglo-Algonquian Gender Frontier.” In Nancy Shoemaker, ed., Negotiators of Change: Historical Perspectives on Native American Women. New York: Routledge, 1995. . Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

GENDER AND RACIAL  DIFFERENCES Gender roles have often been used as part of the conceptual structure set up to justify racism. Contrary to popular opinion, slavery was not a result of racism. Racism was actually constructed to justify slavery. As Southern planters became more and more dependent on slave labor to grow tobacco and rice, they established a legal and social system that emphasized differences between the races and thus justified domination by one race over the other. Initially in colonial America, people saw little difference between white and African-American indentured servants. Intermarriage, while not common, did occur in the early years of the seventeenth century without much comment. But as the need for slave labor increased, colonists developed a conceptual framework to justify the practice of slavery, which included the idea that African people were inferior. The same set of ideas that


justified patriarchal authority over women was used to justify the authority of master over slave. Just as men believed that they were inherently superior to women and destined to dominate them, they also came to believe that people with white skins were inherently superior to people with black skins. In general, English men in Virginia did not consider field work to be appropriate for women. Nevertheless, they set African women, both slaves and indentured servants, to work in the fields. The women themselves did not mind because field work was considered appropriate for women in West Africa, but their attitude may have made it easier for their masters to exploit them. In 1643, the idea that African women were completely different from English women found its way into the law, becoming the first obviously discriminatory law in Virginia. Typically, Virginia planters paid taxes on their male field laborers, white or black. Beginning in 1643, they were required to pay taxes on women who worked in the field. But the tax was never levied on white women, even if they did help their husbands with the agricultural work. Ironically, even free African women had to pay tax on their own work. From this small beginning, other laws were enacted that codified the idea that African Americans were different from, and inferior to, Anglo Americans. These included laws against marriage between people of different races and laws that allowed slaveholders to “own” the children of enslaved women, even if the father was free. See also: Anti-miscegenation Laws; Gender and English Identity in the Seventeenth Century; Gender Frontiers. FURTHER READING

Brown, Kathleen M. “The Anglo-Algonquian Gender Frontier.” In Nancy Shoemaker, ed., Negotiators of Change: Historical Perspectives on Native American Women. New York: Routledge, 1995. . Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.


The meeting of two cultures that have different ideas about gender and nature. When English settlers encountered Native Americans, each society perceived the other through the lens of its own social organization. Neither society could appreciate the strengths of the other because their ideas


As settlers began conquering the frontier, gender roles began to change.

about social structure, including gender roles, were so different. For example, English colonists came from a society in which “women’s work” took place “within” the house, while men’s work took place “without.” Women’s work was domestic, and included spinning, dairy production, and child rearing. Men, on the other hand, worked the land and were responsible for agricultural production. They also took on public and political roles. The private ownership, development, and protection of the land were male prerogatives. These ideas were, of course, ideals. There were many individual women who helped on the land and even some who took public, political roles. But the role of woman was strongly felt to be domestic; the role of men strongly felt to be public. When English settlers encountered the Algonquian peoples in Virginia, they noticed sharp differences in women’s work and the roles of men. For example, in Algonquian society, women were primarily responsible for agriculture and land was not owned by individuals or fenced to keep others



because he felt “the character of a good housewife was far preferable to that of being only a pretty gentlewoman.” Not everyone agreed with “Molly Pitcher” was the nickname given to Mary Ludwig Franklin, though, and from the beginHays McCauley because she carried pitchers of water to the ning of the eighteenth century on, American soldiers during the Battle of Monmouth on June many Americans strove to become 28, 1778, during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. She accompagentlemen and gentlewomen as they nied her husband to the battle. According to some accounts, acquired improved educations and McCauley fought in her husband’s place when he was luxury items for the home. wounded and unable to fight. To be genteel, one needs both In 1822, the Pennsylvania legislature passed an act “for money and leisure time, commodities the relief of Molly McKolly, for her services during the revothat were rare in the early days of collutionary war.” She was awarded $40, and was to be paid onization. But as some families accu$40 annually until her death. mulated wealth and moved intocities and towns, they began to aspire toward a more refined existence. For women, gentility began with the off. Because each society felt its ways were divinely proper education in dancing, drawordained, they perceived the other as inferior. In ing, and fancy needlework. Genteel housewives beparticular English men regarded Native Americans gan to acquire “teapots, cutlery, and other as childlike, not manly. This perception is what jus- consumer goods not considered essential for surtified conquest. And the language of conquest was vival,” according to Carol Berkin in First Generagendered. English settlers regarded it as their duty tions. A table that 50 years earlier might have held to take the land and mold it to their uses. a common cup and trencher (a wooden platter), Tragically, Native Americans were so certain of and no utensils to speak of, now might be set with the inferiority of the settlers that they were slow to fine china and silver forks. People had more leidefend themselves or their ways of life. Interest- sure time to read, and they became more cosmoingly, Algonquian culture became more patriar- politan in their attitudes and tastes. Young ladies chal as a result of its contact with English society. might gather at each other’s homes to sew, as one of their number read aloud. Sons of well-to-do famSee also: Algonquian Domestic Economy; Gender and ilies might be sent to study in Europe. English Identity in the Seventeenth Century; Gender Houses changed. People no longer slept on and Racial Differences. benches in the kitchen but began to demand the privacy of separate bed chambers. Parlors were FURTHER READING added and comfortably furnished so families might Brown, Kathleen M. “The Anglo-Algonquian Gender entertain guests. People began to acquire books and Frontier.” In Nancy Shoemaker, ed., Negotiators of build home libraries. Family portraits adorned the Change: Historical Perspectives on Native American Women, walls. Clothing changed. Homespun and leather New York: Routledge, 1995. . Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: were replaced by silver buckles, lace, and silks. Social Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia, Chapel conventions changed. People began to “mind their Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. manners” and to give fancy balls and tea parties. Shoemaker, Nancy, ed. Negotiators of Change: Historical The impact of the rise of gentility was to make Perspectives on Native American Women. New York: life in some ways easier and in some ways more Routledge, 1995. narrow for many women. While colonial women might help their husbands on the farm or with the family business, genteel ladies were more and GENTILITY more confined to the domestic sphere. While fine An attempt to convey and maintain the appear- china and silver might be regarded as preferable ance of refinement and elegance. When Benjamin to crude trenchers, women were increasingly tied Franklin thought about a wedding present to send to their possessions—polishing the silver and his sister Jane, he was torn between a tea table and pressing the linen tablecloths. While the colonial a spinning wheel. He settled on the spinning wheel housewife might throw together a stew from what-



ever she had around the house, the genteel lady had to collect recipes, shop for increasingly exotic ingredients, and ensure an elegant presentation. While upper-class women were increasingly freed from the demands of manual labor, the perception that they were too refined and delicate to work limited opportunities for many who wanted to live lives in the larger world. On the other hand, leisure time may have allowed women to define themselves as individuals in a way they never had before; they were better educated and more cosmopolitan. While marriages in the seventeenth century were usually economic arrangements, genteel young women began to have more romantic expectations of their suitors. If they did not marry just for love, they certainly had new ideas of what a good marriage was and expected their husbands to be good friends and pleasant companions. See also: Marriages, Companionate; Novels and Romantic Love. FURTHER READING

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650–1750. New York: Knopf, 1980.

GERMAN HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY At the end of the seventeenth century, large numbers of German immigrants came to British North America. They tended to come as families, borrowing money for the passage. On arrival, one or more of the family would enter into an indentured servitude agreement with the family’s creditors, and work under that arrangement until the debt was paid. The goal of most German families, once they could be reunited, was to establish farms. They settled for the most part in Pennsylvania and on the western frontier, raising crops and keeping livestock. The Germans were also known as being skilled craftsmen: some German craftsmen were brought to the James River area to build a sawmill in the late 1600s. German families followed the traditional European patriarchal pattern of social arrangement. Males were the heads of households and held positions of leadership in the community. Property was passed down through the father’s bloodline after death.


Women had very few rights or liberties in German households in early British North America. Viewed as the property of their husbands, wives could do little without the permission or approval of their husbands. It was viewed as a weakness for husbands to be challenged or controlled by their wives. Children were raised for the most part by mothers, but the fathers had the last word.

 GILMAN, CAROLINE See diaries and journals

GODDARD, MARY  KATHERINE See Declaration of Independence



(c. 1700–1770) Printer and publisher. Sarah Updike was born in Rhode Island to Lodowick and Abigail Updike. Sarah received a better education than many girls of the era; her father even engaged a tutor to teach her Latin and French. In 1735, Sarah married Dr. Giles Goddard; they had four children, only two of whom, Mary Katherine and William, survived to adulthood. Giles died in 1757, and in 1762 William started a newspaper, The Providence Gazette, in Providence, Rhode Island. Sarah and Mary Katherine both worked in the printing shop. William stopped publishing The Gazette in 1765, but it appeared the next year with Sarah as its publisher. Sarah printed the paper and managed a bookstore until 1768. She is remembered for printing the first American edition of the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, an English feminist and poet who also introduced smallpox vaccine in Britain in 1718. When William established the Pennsylvania Chronicle in 1768, Sarah helped him financially and occasionally even worked in the shop. She died in 1770.


Informal exchange of information about other people. While sometimes considered “small talk,”



gossip can be a potent means of social control or a vicious political weapon. Before daily newspapers were available, meeting notices and newly passed laws would be posted in colonial taverns, where travelers exchanged gossip with locals. In 1739, the Pennsylvania Gazette published the first gossip column in the British colonies, written by Benjamin Franklin. Although gossip was a common pastime, men and women who indulged too freely could be fined or given a shaming punishment. “Babbling women” who “scandalized” their neighbors might be dipped in a pond with the dunking stool. Personal and political gossip enforced commonly accepted standards of behavior. After the American Revolution, when some people feared that the new government could become too strong, George Washington was criticized for any behavior that seemed too “court-like.” Small talk also provided early American women with one of their few sources of power: shaping a person’s reputation. Although they had no formal vote in church decisions, women often influenced the selection of a minister by spreading favorable or unfavorable gossip about the candidate. In the early nineteenth century, as more men became eligible to vote, gossip became a political weapon. Andrew Jackson believed that slurs spread by his political enemies hastened the death of his wife, Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson.

ture poems, and poems for children. Although her poems were not distinguished by originality in thought or language, her work was often witty and always sincere and charming. Initially Gould published primarily in magazines, but in 1832, friends collected a number of her efforts in a volume entitled Poems. The work was an immediate success and was republished in 1833, 1835, and 1836. Dozens of other volumes followed, including A Gift for the Young (1843), The Mother’s Dream, and Other Poems (1853), and Poems for Little Ones (1863). Gould died in 1865, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where she had lived since 1808.


(1742–1814) Educator and philanthropist. Isabella Marshall was born in Scotland, the daughter of John and Janet Marshall. The Marshalls were devout Presbyterians, and Isabella was deeply interested in religion from her earliest days. She was formally educated, having attended boarding school for seven years. In 1765, Isabella married John Graham; two years later, the couple emigrated to Canada, where

See also: Slander. FURTHER READING

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. Collins, Gail. Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics. New York: Morrow, 1998. Rosnow, Ralph L., and Gary Alan Fine. Rumor and Gossip: The Social Psychology of Hearsay. New York: Elsevier, 1976.


(1789–1865) Poet. Hannah Flagg Gould was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, the daughter of Benjamin and Griselda Gould. Benjamin Gould was a Revolutionary War hero who fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. Gould never married. She lived with and cared for her father until his death and did not begin to write poetry until she was in her thirties. She wrote religious and patriotic poems, including some that memorialized her father. She also wrote hymns, na-

Isabella Marshall Graham founded one of the first charitable organizations in the United States.


John was a physician assigned to the Royal Americans, a British Army regiment. Isabella had five children, an infant son, whom she left in Scotland and who died within a year of her departure, and four other children born after the couple settled in North America. After her husband’s death in 1773, Isabella returned with her children to Scotland, where she founded a successful boarding school. She was also active in many charities. In 1789, Isabella left Scotland for New York City, where she opened another school. This enterprise, too, was a success. After all three of her daughters were married, Isabella retired from teaching and spent the rest of her life organizing and directing various charities. In 1797, with her daughter Joanna (see Joanna Graham Bethune) and friends Sarah Hoffman and Elizabeth Seton, Isabella founded the Society for the Relief of Poor Widows with Small Children, one of the first charitable organizations in the United States and one of the first examples in America of women founding an organization on their own. Isabella was chosen to head the society. In all of the charities founded by Isabella and her daughter, women managed the organizations and were granted legal powers unusual for the time period. From 1797 to 1798, the Society helped nearly one hundred widows and more than two hundred children. In 1802, the Society received a charter from the State of New York leading to legislative grants that allowed the society to purchase food for even more needy women. The society also helped women find work and opened Sabbath schools for adults. Graham taught in one of those schools. Isabella’s charitable work also included visits to the sick and to women confined to prisons and lunatic asylums. When Joanna Bethune founded the Orphan Asylum Society in 1806, Isabella was appointed as a trustee and taught at the Asylum’s school. She also helped to found the Society for the Promotion of Industry Among the Poor and was appointed president of the Ladies Board of the Magdalen Society, a position she held from 1811 until her death in 1814. In 1816, Joanna published a biography of her mother: The Power of Faith: Exemplified in the Life and Writings of the late Mrs. Isabella Graham of New-York. FURTHER READING

McHenry, Robert, ed. Liberty’s Women. Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1980.


 GRATZ, REBECCA See Jews and Judaism


Series of religious revivals that swept the colonies during the 1740s and the young republic from the 1790s to the 1830s. Ministers called people to a personal experience of salvation by preaching powerful sermons evoking the terrors of divine punishment and the joys of obeying God’s will. Some historians consider that the first Great Awakening began in 1726 with the impassioned preaching of Dutch Reformed minister Theodorus J. Frelinghuysen, who believed that strong emotion was a sign of a true relationship with God. Others date its beginning from 1739, when George Whitefield’s theatrical sermons inspired numerous conversions. Whitefield’s career began in Britain, but he made seven tours of America, preaching in fields when he was banned from New England pulpits. Other prominent preachers included William and George Tennent and Jonathan Edwards. Their evangelistic sermons often moved people to cry out, faint, or move about. This emotionalism and emphasis on personal experience provoked opposition from conservative clergy known as the Old Lights, who believed that churches should be led by ministers well trained in theology. In contrast, the New Lights considered a believer’s personal experience of grace to be the most important source of spiritual authority. The minsters’ heated debates about whether the revivals were the work of God or the work of the devil eroded public trust in the clergy. Even as increasing numbers of people joined established churches, Americans began to take increasing personal responsibility for their faith. Some historians believe that this democratization and distrust of authority prepared the way for the American Revolution. The first wave of revivals was ended by the fight for independence. During the Second Great Awakening, traveling preachers conducted camp meetings along the frontier. At these meetings, women often prayed aloud and gave testimonials to their conversions. They also worked to overcome sin and spread the Christian message by forming associations that organized revivals, studied the Bible, and supported mission work. As revivals spread throughout the country, Americans developed a sense of national identity



based on shared beliefs and a sense of common destiny decreed by God. The emphasis on preaching led to the foundation of several colleges and intensified missionary activity, particularly among Native Americans. The idea that Christians should work toward a just and equal society attracted many African-American converts. And the expanding role of women within the churches laid the foundation for their emergence into public roles. See also: Benevolent Associations, Women’s; Edwards, Sarah Pierpont. FURTHER READING

Benowitz, June Melby. “Great Awakening” and “Second Great Awakening.” In Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1998. Berkin, Carol, and Leslie Horowitz, eds. “Religion.” In Women’s Voices, Women’s Lives: Documents in Early American History. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998. Hudson, Winthrop S. Religion in America: An Historical Account of the Development of American Religious Life. 3rd ed. New York: Scribner’s, 1981.


(c. 1720–1775) Printer and publisher. Little is known of Anne Green’s personal life. She was probably born in the Netherlands and came to the United States as a child. In 1738, she married Jonas Green, a printer who had once worked for Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia. The couple had 14 children. Jonas and Anne moved to Annapolis, Maryland, in 1739, and Jonas served as printer for the Province of Maryland. He also published the weekly Maryland Gazette, one of the earliest newspapers. Anne Green must have been involved in the printing business before 1767, because even though her husband died that year, the paper never missed an issue and subsequent publications came out on time. With her son William, Anne continued to print the Gazette. After William’s death in 1770, Anne continued Jonas’s work as the official printer for the province but was not officially appointed to his position or paid for the work for years. The Gazette was a significant force in keeping Marylanders aware of the political events leading up to the American Revolution. Anne also published John Dickinson’s Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer in 1774. Anne Green died in 1775.


(1753–c. 1814) Catharine Littlefield was born in Rhode Island in 1753 to John and Phoebe Littlefield. Catharine, like most of her contemporaries, had little formal education, but had a lively wit and was considered a great beauty. In 1774 she married Nathanael Greene, son of the governor of Rhode Island, who served in the American Revolution as brigadier general of the Rhode Island forces. Catharine traveled with her husband whenever she could, even spending the dismal winter of 1777 at Valley Forge. Eventually, Nathanael Greene was appointed commander of the Southern army and was instrumental in defeating the British forces there. After the war, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia rewarded Nathanael for his courage by granting him title to several estates, including Mulberry Grove on the Savannah River in Georgia, where he retired. After Nathanael’s death in 1788, Greene continued to live at Mulberry Grove, and this is where she made her most notable contribution to American history. Greene invited a young law student from Massachusetts to stay with her on the plantation. It is said that when a group of other visitors complained that there was no efficient way to separate cotton from the seed of the plant, Greene praised the mechanical genius of her young friend and suggested that he might be able to find a solution. The young friend was Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin. Greene gave Whitney and a neighbor, Phineas Miller, a room in her basement in which to work on their machine, which was completed in the spring of 1793. Catherine later married Phineas Miller. She died just before the close of the War of 1812.


(1767–1845) Printer. Anna Quackenbos, also known as Ritsana Quackenbos, was born in 1767, probably in New York City. In 1791, she married a printer and journalist named Thomas Greenleaf, who was the owner of a newspaper called the New-York Journal. The couple had one son and three daughters. In 1795, Thomas Greenleaf began another newspaper, the Argus. For three years he ran both the Argus and the Journal. However, in 1798 he died of yellow fever. After his death, Anna Greenleaf took over both newspapers; according to standard practice of the time in the printing trade, widows kept


up their husbands’ businesses. Anna Greenleaf ran both newspapers until March of 1800, when she folded the Argus and sold the New-York Journal. That year marked the end of her journalism career.


The medical speciality involving health care for women. Most women in colonial America relied on midwives to help them deliver their babies. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, physicians were scarce and often knew less about childbirth than midwives did. If doctors were called in to help with a delivery, it was usually because of obstructed labor, which included breech births and a variety of other problems. While midwives used herbal and other mild remedies, doctors of the era practiced “heroic medicine,” which included bleeding, purging, and vomiting, as well as such addictive medications as digitalis and opium. Throughout the eighteenth century, the treatments doctors offered often did more harm than good. When a woman’s labor was unproductive, doctors or barbers (who were the colonial equivalent of surgeons) sometimes cut the child’s limbs off while it was still in the womb. Cesarean sections were rare, though there is the record of a doctor living in the backwoods of Virginia who performed a successful one on his own wife. This operation, like all performed in those days, was done without anesthetic. When doctors began using chloroform in the middle of the nineteenth century to help women through painful childbirths and surgeries, some clergy objected, saying that God had decreed that women should bring forth children in sorrow and suffering. Forceps were first used to help with obstructed labor in 1650, and came into wider use in the middle years of the eighteenth century. The earliest forceps were made of wood or steel and padded with leather. Puerperal fever, a bacterial infection that appeared a few days after a birth, was a complication of pregnancy that was caused in large measure by doctors. Doctors knew nothing about the importance of a sterile environment and would deliver one woman after another without changing clothes or washing their hands or instruments. Although puerperal fever could occur with any delivery, women who delivered in hospitals were particularly susceptible because of the unsanitary habits of doctors. Oliver Wendell Holmes, professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Harvard, wrote in 1842:


If one case of puerperal fever arises in a physician’s practice there is an increased risk of a second, two cases suggest that the physician should do no obstetrics for at least a month and three prima facie evidence that he is the source of the contagion. The time has come when the existence of a private pestilence in the sphere of a single physician should be looked upon not as a misfortune, but as a crime.

Because of difficult deliveries or damage inflicted by forceps, women could get tears in their bladders or rectums, resulting in a lifetime of incontinence. Tears in the vaginal wall or cervix might result in painful intercourse or problems with future pregnancies and deliveries. The most common complaint as a result of childbirth was a prolapsed uterus, a condition in which the uterus drops, sometimes so far that it protrudes from the vaginal opening. To counteract this problem, women used pessaries, devices designed to support the uterus—which often caused more problems than they cured. Infection, inflammation, and ulceration often resulted from the use of the pessary, leaving women permanently ill and in pain. Menstruation was regarded by seventeenthand eighteenth-century doctors as a disability. According to Richard and Dorothy Wertz in Lying-In, “Doctors quite commonly believed that during menstruation women’s limited bodily energy was diverted from the brain, rendering them, as doctors phrased it, idiotic.” From the beginning of the nineteenth century doctors began to replace midwives in caring for women’s reproductive health. Male members of the medical profession began to suggest that women were incapable of the level of professionalism that male doctors could attain (partly because of the “draining” effects of menstruation). At first, it was difficult for male doctors to learn about childbirth and other purely female health issues because women were trained to be extremely modest and did not want to allow men to examine them. As these attitudes gradually changed, the gynecological profession became dominated by male doctors rather than female midwives. See also: Midwifery. FURTHER READING

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812. New York: Knopf, 1990. Wertz, Richard W., and Dorothy C. Wertz. Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.



H  HALE, SARAH See volume 2


(c. 1605– ?) Early colonist to Virginia who faced discrimination for being transgendered. Born in Newcastle-uponTyne, England, Hall had lived at different times as a woman and as a man. In 1627, Hall relocated to the colony of Virginia as a man. The colonists soon became suspicious of Hall’s true gender identity after noting Hall’s great skill at traditionally female tasks such as cooking and sewing. Both men and women consequently began forcibly undressing and examining Hall’s genitalia to determine whether Hall was male or female. Though satisfied that Hall was physically male, the colonists remained troubled by Hall’s gender-shifting activities. Eventually, the colonists brought Hall before the Great Court of Virginia. After hearing the evidence, the court determined that Hall was both male and female, and ruled that Hall would henceforth have to abandon gender switching in favor of a dual-sex status marked by wearing both male and female clothing. Unable to fit Hall into the existing gender dichotomy, in sum, the court created a new gender—complete with socially constructed rules and behavioral codes.


(?–1773?) First professional actress in America. “The Queen Mother of the American Stage” played leading roles in a traveling acting company that pioneered performances of serious drama in North America. Hallam’s birth date and maiden name are unknown, as is the date of her marriage to Lewis Hallam, an actor in his brother William’s London theater. After William went bankrupt, he formed a 12-member acting company to tour North America under Lewis’s direction. Lewis and his wife were to play the principal roles, while their children Lewis Jr., Adam, and Helen learned the business. Another daughter, Isabella, remained in England and became a famous singer and comic.

Three months after sailing to Virginia in 1752, the Hallams presented Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in Williamsburg. On tour, they had to find or build a theater in each new city. They also countered opposition from those who considered plays immoral by including epilogues and highlighting their respectable leading lady’s personal example. In 1754, Lewis Hallam took the troupe to Jamaica. There he died of yellow fever. His widow married David Douglass, who became the company’s manager. Renamed the American Company, the troupe returned to the colonies in 1758. By 1763, Lewis Hallam Jr. and his cousin Nancy Hallam were playing leading roles. Mrs. Hallam continued to play character parts until shortly before her death. Her personal popularity and famous roles such as Juliet, Jane Shore, and Desdemona built an audience for American theater.


(1757–1854) The wife of Alexander Hamilton. Elizabeth Schuyler was born on August 9, 1757, in Albany, New York, the daughter of a wealthy landowner and politician. In 1780 she married Hamilton, whom she had met the previous winter. Though Hamilton was poor and did not come from an upper-class family, Elizabeth’s father admired his intelligence and enthusiasm and approved of the marriage. In 1789, Hamilton was appointed secretary of the treasury of the United States, and his wife became an important member of a social group consisting of government officials and their wives. In 1804, Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, leaving his wife and children nearly penniless. Mrs. Hamilton used funds from friends and family to keep her home and to educate her sons. She spent most of her time, however, gathering and publishing her husband’s papers and working to improve his reputation. In particular, she helped establish his contributions to George Washington’s Farewell Address. She also served on the board of the New York Orphan Asylum Society. She died in Washington on November 9, 1854, and was buried next to her husband in New York City.




(1775–1864) The wife of William Henry Harrison. Anna Symmes was born on July 25, 1775, in Flatbrook, New Jersey. Her mother died young and her father was in the military, so Symmes was raised primarily by her grandparents. In 1794, she traveled with her father to Ohio, where he planned to make a new home. On the way she met William Henry Harrison, then an army officer, and fell in love with him. Although her father did not want his daughter to marry a military man, Symmes and Harrison decided to marry nonetheless; they were married in her father’s home, but without his presence or blessing on the marriage. Anna Harrison kept a low profile through much of her husband’s military and political career. William Harrison served as governor of the Indiana Territory as well as commander of the Army of the Northwest during the War of 1812, and Anna Harrison accompanied him to these and other postings. She was known as an outstanding household manager, often under trying frontier circumstances in Ohio and Indiana. She was also known as a gracious hostess, though she disliked high society. The couple had ten children, of whom nine survived infancy. In 1840, William Henry Harrison was elected president of the United States. Anna Harrison, however, was too ill to attend the inauguration. A month later, while she was preparing to travel to Washington, her husband died. She remained at her home in North Bend, Ohio, and died there on February 25, 1864, at the age of 88.


(c. 1735–1830) Revolutionary War heroine. Nancy Morgan was born about 1735, probably in either Pennsylvania or North Carolina. Little is known about her early life. By 1771, she had married Benjamin Hart and the couple had moved to Wilkes County, Georgia. Nancy Hart came to fame through her exploits during the Revolutionary War, although there is no clear evidence that she actually did any of the things she is said to have done. According to legend, however, Hart was a dedicated spy in the cause of the rebels, and she was known for her shooting ability. Her most celebrated adventure involved a group of five British soldiers who came to Hart’s home and ordered her to cook them a meal. Hart turned the tables on them, however; when the


meal was ready, she unexpectedly seized a rifle, killed one soldier, wounded another, and kept the others prisoner until other rebels arrived to help. Hart has been the subject of a number of literary works, and many people have drawn inspiration from her story. During the Civil War, for example, a group of women in LaGrange, Georgia, formed an all-female militia designed to guard their town from Federal troops; they called their group the “Nancy Harts” in honor of her. Hart died in 1830 near Henderson, Kentucky.


Half of all the original colonists who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 died in the first few months. Although Native American populations were quite healthy before Europeans arrived, many groups were devastated by diseases the newcomers brought, such as smallpox. African Americans, although they had some immunity to smallpox and malaria, died in large numbers of respiratory infections and other illnesses. In general, health during the colonial period was not good, especially for children. One in three children died before the age of two, and half of all children died before their tenth birthdays. By 1789, according to Susan Terkel in Colonial American Medicine, in the South, those who survived to their twentieth birthday could expect to live another twenty to twenty-five years. In the North, where the climate was healthier and there was less disease, twenty year olds could expect to live another thirty or so years.

As grim as these statistics seem, however, even the earliest settlers lived longer than their European counterparts because food was more plentiful in the colonies and because there were fewer overpopulated urban areas where disease could spread. Still, colonists succumbed to diseases such as typhus, dysentery, and tuberculosis. Many were seriously weakened by bouts of malaria and influenza. Epidemics of measles, smallpox, whooping cough, and yellow fever carried off entire populations. And as many as one in 200 young women died in childbirth. Little was known about the cause of many diseases, so little could be done to prevent their occurrence. A woman dying of diphtheria might kiss her children goodbye, not realizing that she had,



the disease. Lead pipes used for distilling rum and cider were eliminated. All these developments led to an increased life expectancy. See also: Infancy; Gynecology; Medicine; Midwifery; Old Age. FURTHER READING

Terkel, Susan Neiburg. Colonial American Medicine. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Poor hygiene contributed to high mortality rates among the colonists.

in her last moments, probably infected them. Colonists seldom bathed or washed their clothing, and they often dumped human waste near wells and other water supplies. It was believed, in fact, that the oils that accumulated on skin as a result of not bathing protected people from disease. What the colonists ate—and did not eat—also threatened their health. Because they could store only a limited variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, their diets often lacked essential nutrients, and since salt was used to preserve meat, their diets were very high in sodium. The same foods were eaten day in and day out, so their diet lacked the variety necessary for good health. Water was considered unhealthy, so the colonists—including young children—drank with large quantities of alcohol, some of which was distilled in lead pipes and which may have contributed to lead poisoning. An inadequate diet also led to serious dental problems; in fact, European visitors often commented on the sorry state of American teeth. “The first thing that struck every visitor to early America,” remarked John Josslyn, “was the bad teeth of the people. The women are pitifully tooth-shaken.” By the eighteenth century, the health of Americans was gradually improving. People began to understand the beneficial effects of fresh fruits and vegetables. Swamps and marshes that bred mosquitoes were drained, reducing incidences of malaria. People began to move outdoor toilets farther from houses and wells and to keep city streets cleaner. In the 1720s, Cotton Mather, a Congregationalist minister, introduced the practice of inoculating people against smallpox. This innovation alone saved many lives, even though it took time to convince many people that they could protect themselves from smallpox by deliberately injecting themselves with


(1734–1804) One of the founders of American Methodism. A second-generation Protestant German refugee, Barbara Ruckle was born in County Limerick, Ireland, in 1734. At the age of 18, she experienced a conversion and joined a new evangelical group the Methodists. In 1760, high rents and scarce land led a group including Heck, her husband, and her cousin, the Methodist preacher Philip Embury, to leave Ireland for New York City. The move tried the group’s faith. Over the next few years, several members began to stray from their strict Methodist beliefs. One evening in 1766, Heck discovered some of them violating the tenets of Methodism by playing cards. Incensed, she flung the cards into a nearby fire and persuaded Embury to begin preaching again. Embury started a Methodist revival and, with Heck’s assistance, established in New York City the Wesley Chapel, the first Methodist congregation in the colonies. Though the chapel endures to this day, Heck would not long remain in the colonies. Heeding the teachings of Methodism’s founder, John Wesley, she was loyal to England during the Revolution and was forced to flee with her family to Canada during the war. Nonetheless, by helping to found the first Methodist congregation in the United States, Heck had a lasting impact on the nation’s religious development and made clear the important role that women had in the evangelical movements of the era.


(1773–1835) Enslaved woman intimately connected to Thomas Jefferson. Hemings was born on the Virginia plantation of Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles, who, it is generally acknowledged, was her father. After Wayles’s death and the division of his estate


in 1774, she became Jefferson’s property and was brought to Monticello along with her mother, Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings, and her siblings. She became the nursemaid of Jefferson’s daughter Mary, whom she accompanied to France at the age of 13 or 14 in 1787. Jefferson’s wife had died in 1782. For two years Sally Hemings lived in Paris, probably in Jefferson’s household; she may have stayed with his daughters, Martha and Mary, in their convent school. By 1789, when Martha Jefferson was entering Parisian society and the city was shaken by the first turbulent events of the French Revolution, Hemings was acting as lady’s maid to both daughters. After her return to Monticello at the end of 1789, she worked as a household servant, taking jobs such as personal attendant, chambermaid, and seamstress. The anonymity of Sally Hemings’s life on a Virginia plantation came to a sudden end in September 1802, a year after Jefferson became president. Richmond newspaper editor James T. Callender published the assertion that Jefferson “keeps, and for many years past has kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves. Her name is Sally.” This allegation, which included the report that Jefferson and Hemings had several children, was immediately taken up by journalists allied with the antiJefferson Federalist party. Printing presses from Virginia to Massachusetts produced satirical verses, stories, and prints on the topic for months afterward. An illicit relationship with a slave was only one of the misdeeds for which Jefferson was denounced by his political opponents. This charge was, however, the most enduring. It was carried through the nineteenth century by Northern abolitionists and British critics of American society. As a slaveholding president whose Declaration of Independence proclaimed that “all men are created equal,” Jefferson was a vivid personification of the contradictions of a republic founded on principles of liberty yet inhabited by nearly 1 million people in bondage. Callender’s revelations only heightened a paradox memorably expressed by the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who in 1806 described a president who “dreams of freedom in his slave’s embrace.” Jefferson maintained his customary public silence in the face of attacks on his character. There is no record that he discussed the issue with friends or family. His daughter Martha and her children made their denials privately. While no comment by Sally Hemings survives, her son Madison stated in 1873 that he was the son of Thomas Jefferson and


his descendants continue to pass on this account of their ancestry. Most historians of Jefferson were unwilling to accept the truth of such a relationship until 1998, when a genetic test gave scientific support to strong circumstantial evidence and the testimony of Madison Hemings and his descendants. In 2000, the organization that operates Monticello as a national historic site issued a report stating that there was a “high probability” that Jefferson was the father of Sally Hemings’s youngest son, Eston, born in 1808, and “most likely” of her other children as well. Sally Hemings had six known children, two of whom died in infancy, born between 1795 and 1808. Jefferson allowed the two oldest, son Beverly and daughter Harriet, to leave Monticello after they reached the age of 21. According to their brother Madison, they went to Washington, where they lived as members of the white community. After Jefferson’s death in 1826, the youngest sons, Madison and Eston Hemings, also became free according to the terms of Jefferson’s will. While Sally Hemings was not officially freed, Jefferson’s daughter Martha Randolph allowed her to leave Monticello with Madison and Eston, to live in the neighboring town of Charlottesville. In the censuses of 1830 and 1833, she and her sons are listed as free. There is no known portrait of Sally Hemings, who, by all accounts, was beautiful and “mighty near white,” as one former Monticello slave, Isaac Jefferson, recalled. Her individuality was ignored over two centuries, however, as she became a convenient symbol in an ongoing debate about American institutions and society. The crude verses of Federalists used vicious racial stereotypes to portray her in 1802. Antebellum enemies of slavery made her the mute victim of slaveholder exploitation. For many African Americans, Hemings stood for the countless enslaved women whose sexual integrity was violated by white men. The longstanding denial of her connection to Jefferson echoed white America’s denial not only of the mixing of races under slavery but also of AfricanAmerican contributions to the formation of the nation. The general acceptance of the existence of a long-term relationship between Hemings and Jefferson has fostered a more open discussion of master-slave relations and race mixing as well as an expanded understanding of a social world that included Sally Hemings as well as Thomas Jefferson. Madison Hemings’s recollections, which included



Jefferson’s promise to free Sally Hemings’s children by the age of 21, suggest that his mother was at least to some degree the agent of her own fortunes, motivated by concern for the welfare of her family. She achieved what no other enslaved woman at Monticello did—the freedom of all her children in the prime of life. Four of her grandsons served in the Union Army in the Civil War, one dying in a Confederate prison. Her descendants speak of her as a woman of strength and intelligence. Her name forever linked to Jefferson’s, Hemings will continue to be at the center of discussion of the potent historical issues of sex, race, and slavery. Lucia Stanton FURTHER READING

Gordon-Reed, Annette. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997. Stanton, Lucia. Free Some Day: The African American Families of Monticello. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2000. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. Report on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 2000.


(?–1656) Convicted of witchcraft. Ann Hibbins’s date and place of birth, the names of her parents, and her own maiden name are unknown. She arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630s with her husband, William Hibbins, during the Great Puritan Migration, along with others who were escaping religious persecution in Britain. The Hibbinses settled in Boston. Ann Hibbins was excommunicated from the Church of Boston in 1640 because of a dispute with a local carpenter. She accused him of overcharging her for work done to her house. A fellow church member, called in to settle the dispute, claimed that the carpenter had charged a fair price. Although Hibbins’s husband tried to get her to admit her error, she refused. She was therefore accused of acting in “ways unbecoming of a woman.” Because of the dispute with the carpenter and its subsequent events, Hibbins was accused of witchcraft in 1654, a year after her husband died (until then, his political power had protected her from such an indictment). The Upper House of the General Court of Massachusetts, on which her

husband had sat, refused to convict her. However, the Lower House outvoted them and she was hanged on June 19, 1656. FURTHER READING

Garraty, John Arthur. ‘‘Hibbins, Ann.’’ American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

 HOMOSEXUAL See lesbians


(1702–1774) Minister and writer who worked to revive Quakerism in Charleston, South Carolina. Raised as an Anglican lady of fashion, Hume campaigned against vanity after she became a Quaker. Hume was born to Henry and Susanna (Bayley) Wigington in Charleston. As the daughter of a wealthy colonial official, she enjoyed books, balls, plays, and fine clothes. In 1731, she married lawyer Robert Hume, with whom she had a son and a daughter. After two serious illnesses and her husband’s death in 1737, Hume became convinced that luxury was a danger to her soul. In 1740, she sold many of her possessions and began to live simply. A year later, she joined her daugher in London and became a member of the Society of Friends. In 1747, despite her belief that women should concern themselves with home and family, Hume felt called to preach repentance in Charleston. Reluctant to “become a fool” among her former friends, she nevertheless obeyed the call. Her message, printed in An Exhortation to the Inhabitants of the Province of South Carolina, went through five editions. After her return to England in 1748, Hume continued to preach and write. To help Friends resist worldliness, she collected several writings from early Quaker leaders. Despite her growing frailty, Hume tried to raise money to rebuild the Charleston meetinghouse in 1767. A year later, she retired. Among the bestknown preachers of her time, Hume is remembered for her devotion to simplicity and the inner light. See also: Preaching; Quakers.




(1591–1643) Religious dissenter expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for challenging Puritan orthodoxy. Now considered a courageous woman ahead of her time, Hutchinson was vilified by the governor who banished her as an “American Jezabel.” When Bridget Marbury gave birth to her daughter Anne, her husband Francis was in prison for criticizing the poor training given his fellow Anglican ministers. (Since Elizabeth I was head of the Church of England, criticism of the church was considered criticism of the queen.) Fourteen years later, the family moved from Alford, England, to London.

“You have power over my body but the Lord Jesus hath power over my body and soul, and assure yourselves thus much, you do as much as in you lies to put the Lord Jesus Christ from you, and if you go on in this course you begin you will bring a curse upon you and your posterity.” —Anne Hutchinson, spoken at her trial for heresy

In 1612, Anne Hutchinson returned to Alford with her husband, William, a prosperous farmer and cloth merchant. Both Hutchinsons became followers of John Cotton, a Puritan preacher who taught that the saved and the damned had been predestined and that those who did good works and felt a personal relationship with God could know they had been saved. When Anglican authorities banished Cotton to Massachusetts, the Hutchinsons and their 14 children followed in 1634. William Hutchinson found new business opportunities in Boston. His wife was soon recognized for her skill as a nurse and midwife. The first signs of conflict came when Anne Hutchinson, who had claimed to receive personal revelations during the voyage, had to confess to error before being allowed to join Cotton’s congregation. Then, at Cotton’s suggestion, she and a few women began to discuss his sermons in the Hutchinsons’ home. Eventually more than 60 men and women gathered regularly to discuss religion, the Bible, and the issue of whether faith was more important than good works. Hutchinson and her followers

Anne Marbury Hutchinson’s preaching led Governor John Winthrop to charge her with heresy.

became increasingly critical of ministers who emphasized a “covenant of works,” based on doing good and following the law, instead of a “covenant of grace,” based on a personal experience of God’s spirit. They even began walking out of church during the sermons. By 1636, Hutchinson’s views were debated throughout Boston. She and her followers became known as Antinomians, from a term meaning “against the law.” The following year, her supporters refused to participate in a war against the Pequot Indians. Infuriated, Governor John Winthrop charged Hutchinson with heresy. The trial was moved to Cambridge because Hutchinson had so many supporters in Boston. The vague charges against her included “troubling the peace of the commonwealth,” “reproaching” most of the ministers, and holding meetings “not fitting to her sex.” Hutchinson went on trial November 7, 1637, and defended herself skillfully



against 49 male ministers and magistrates. However, she was banished after claiming to have received divine revelations that she would be persecuted in New England. The Puritans believed that direct revelations had ended with the Apostles. Hutchinson went on trial again in 1638, but with the same verdict. John Cotton withdrew his support from Hutchinson, claiming she had taken his views too far. However, he could not bring himself to expel her and asked Reverend John Wilson to cast her out. When Hutchinson was expelled from the congregation, she was pregnant with her sixteenth child. With her family and several followers, she moved to Rhode Island and settled in Portsmouth, where her child was stillborn and deformed. Detractors claimed the birth of this “monster” proved the error of Hutchinson’s views. However, she continued to teach, despite attempts by Boston authorities to stop her. Widowed in 1642 and concerned that Rhode Island would come under Puritan control, Hutchinson moved to Long Island with her unmarried children. She and all but her youngest child Susanna were killed during a Native American raid. Susanna was later ransomed. Some historians believe that Hutchinson was expelled from Massachusetts for her religious views. Others argue that she threatened the unity of a colony fighting to maintain its original charter, that

authorities considered her a safer target than the unorthodox but popular John Cotton, or that male ministers feared her ability to organize formerly submissive women. Whether banished for religious or political reasons, outspoken Anne Hutchinson has come to symbolize freedom of conscience and courage in the face of intolerance. See also: Documents. FURTHER READING

Benowitz, June Melby. “Hutchinson, Ann Marbury.” Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1998. Bumsted, J. M. “Hutchinson, Anne Marbury.” Encyclopedia of American Biography. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Hutchinson, Thomas. “The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newtown.” The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. Vol. 2. Ed. Lawrence Shaw Mayo. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1936. IlgenFritz, Elizabeth. Anne Hutchinson. New York: Chelsea House, 1991. “The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newtown.” Quoted in Readings in Her Story: Women in Christian Tradition. Ed. Barabara J. MacHaffie. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1992. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976. . Divine Rebel: The Life of Anne Marbury Hutchinson. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1981.


The condition of children born when the mother is unmarried. In both the colonial and the early national periods, a woman who had a child out of wedlock faced social censure. A young woman with an illegitimate child might ruin more than her own prospects; her behavior might make it harder for her sisters to find husbands. There was also considerable social pressure on the child’s father to marry the mother. Recent research indicates that fully one-third of all brides in New England were pregnant at the time of their marriage. It is not known in how many of these cases the men were pressured to marry. There is some speculation that once engaged, many couples would experiment with sex knowing that they would soon marry. In addition, the practice of bun-

dling may have led to more sexual activity than was intended. Although children born less than nine months after the wedding were considered legitimate, most people disapproved of premarital sex. One Virginia woman whose daughter had a child seven months after her marriage, for example, refused to visit her daughter when the child was born.

IMMIGRATION AND  NATURALIZATION Many women were less inclined than men to leave European settled society, with its goods and services that made family life comfortable. Moreover, young women were usually in some stage of preg-


nancy or nursing, which made the transatlantic passage, often lasting for months, seem very dangerous. As a result, throughout North American demographic inequality existed between the sexes. Even at the end of the colonial period, only one in four immigrants was female, and the imbalance was always greater in the Southern colonies than in the Northern. Many women, like men, left for America only out of economic necessity, as indentured servants, or involuntarily as transported convicts. If New England was settled primarily by whole immigrant families, in the long run many women immigrants in other colonies did not arrive with families, and few were farmers. By the 1770s, most were skilled only in the production of textiles. Many immigrant women faced the trials of the naturalization period—when they were residents awaiting citizenship—without much support from either immediate family or social relief agencies. As for citizenship, they enjoyed an improvement over the colonial situation, in which women became citizens only through husbands or fathers. The first United States Immigration Act, in 1790, specified that “free white persons” became citizens after fulfilling residency requirements. However, women faced (along with men) a lengthening of the U.S. naturalization period—from two years in 1790, to five years in 1795, to 14 years in 1798. Congress reduced the naturalization period to five years once again in 1802. Over the next two decades, the population of women immigrants became somewhat more voluntary in character, as the number of economically distressed servants and political refugees declined. They included a number of British and French women of some special skills or distinctions, including actors and artists, and the skills of ordinary women became more diverse that in the past.


One of the three forms of bound labor, which also included slavery and apprenticeships. Indentured servants were bound by contract to work for a period of time in exchange for passage to America; food, shelter, and clothing; and “freedom dues,” which might include land, at the end of service. Unlike slaves, they served limited terms, usually ranging from four to seven years. Their contracts could be sold to new masters and terms of service could be extended for violations of contract, which included running away or becoming pregnant.


In the seventeenth century, three out of every five immigrants to the British colonies were indentured servants. About 80 percent were young men between the ages of 18 and 25. Female indentured servants often married their masters soon after their arrival. Those who became indentured voluntarily hoped to earn their passage to America and eventually own land. Skilled tradesmen could negotiate for wages as well as maintenance; “redemptioners,” who often brought their families with them, worked only long enough to pay the cost of passage. Not all indentees served voluntarily. Approximately 30,000 ex-convicts, including petty thieves and political prisoners, chose transport to America instead of death by hanging. Although released prisoners could be troublemakers, they served for twice as long at about half the price of redemptioners. Other involuntarily bound laborers were victims of trading company agents who resorted to unscrupulous recruiting practices or outright kidnapping to meet colonial demand for labor. As the pool of available free workers grew, the Northern colonies began to pay wages to servants instead of relying on indentured labor. However, tobacco-growing colonies continued to import indentured servants. In Maryland and Virginia, both male and female indentees often worked long hours in the fields for masters who fed them poorly, beat them, and even gambled them away in card games. Richard Frethorne wrote that a week’s rations from his master were less than what he used to eat in one day in England. Elizabeth Sprigs complained of having to sleep on the ground and begged her family to send clothes. If indentees survived the Southern climate and became free, the shortage of available land often forced them back into servitude. In the late seventeeth century, fewer English people were willing to emigrate, and planters began using enslaved blacks. By the 1800s, indentured servitude was no longer a major source of labor in America. FURTHER READING

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. Smith, Barbara Clark. After the Revolution: The Smithsonian History of Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Pantheon, 1985. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.




See family life, Native American; Native Americans; and names of individuals and tribes


Infancy was perilous in colonial America. As many as 50 percent of children born in the colonies did not survive their first year. Some children died as a result of particularly difficult births, and epidemics of measles and diphtheria carried away many children. An infant who did not succumb to disease might inadvertently succumb to the misguided ministrations of its mother. Some mothers believed that babies should be regularly submerged in icy water and made to wear thin-soled shoes that allowed water to leak in. Those mothers who followed the recommendations of philosopher John Locke withheld meat, fruit, and water from their babies—but allowed them to drink warm beer. The few babies whose mothers could not nurse them might be fed from a lead-based pewter bottle. Given these facts, it is probably fortunate that most mothers nursed their babies for a year to a year and a half. Because of the high probability that a child might die within the first weeks of life, parents tended to remain aloof from newborns until they felt they had a chance of survival. One colonist summed up the prevailing attitude: “To lose a Child when first brought into Life is very hard but it is a Tax we must pay.” Parents suffered quite a bit more at the loss of an older child, one whose character and personality were beginning to emerge. Another parent, upon the loss of an 18-month-old child, wrote, “No event in my Life had ever before taught me the genuine agonies of Grief. My whole Soul seemed to be buried along with my child.”

IROQUOIS HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Iroquois settled in the northeastern section of North America in present-day New York State. The Iroquois lived in matrilineal clans, meaning that property and power was passed down through the mother. They built longhouses that not only served as dwellings, but also functioned as a social symbol of rank and status. They held annual longhouse festivals, and their religion was based on oral tradition in which gifted speakers prayed, gave speeches, and invocations. The Iroquois built their barrel-roofed longhouses out of bark, with the women completing much of the work. The length of these longhouses could be up to 400 feet and was determined by the number of family members living there. Tall fences were built to surround a compound of longhouses. Custom required members of the same matrilineal lines to live together in the same house; therefore several generations lived under the same roof. Longhouses were covered with elm bark saplings that were bent around vertical upright posts. Totems hung above the doorways. These dwellings could be expanded when a new husband married into the longhouse’s matrilineal social unit. Inside, bunklike structures lined the sides of the building, with several communal fires placed through the middle. Cooking pots of food left on the fires tended by women and children throughout the day were available to anyone living in the longhouse. Women planted, gathered, harvested, and cooked food while the men hunted. The Iroquois inhabited these dwellings year-round, and some large villages contained dozens of these structures.


(1767–1828) Frontier woman who married Andrew Jackson. Born in Virginia, Rachel Donelson was one of 11 children born to John and Rachel (Stockley) Donelson. When she was 12, the family moved to Tennessee. Floods and conflict with Native Americans prompted another move to Kentucky.

At age 17, Rachel Donelson married Lewis Robards, a violent and jealous man. In 1790, her mother asked a boarder, Andrew Jackson, to escort her daughter to safety in Tennessee. Robards petitioned the Virginia legislature for divorce. Assuming the marriage was ended, Jackson married Rachel Robards in 1791. Dismayed to learn that the divorce did not become final until 1793, the Jacksons exchanged vows again.


Andrew Jackson became a successful lawyer and plantation owner. In 1819, he built the Hermitage for his wife. As her husband’s reputation grew, Jackson preferred running the mansion and caring for orphaned children and slaves to politics. Though childless, she raised 13 children. Many loved “Aunt Rachel” for her kindness and hospitality. However, her husband’s political enemies called her a “fat dumpling” and an illiterate adulteress. When Jackson became president-elect in 1828, she refused to move to Washington. Shortly afterward, she died of a heart attack. She was buried in the Hermitage garden in her inaugural gown. Jackson, who had fought a duel to defend her honor, mourned a “gentle” and “virtuous” woman whom “slander might wound, but could not dishonor.” See also: Divorce Laws; Gossip.


(1756–1802) Wife of John Jay; political and social leader. Sarah Van Brugh Livingston was the daughter of William Livingston, an important figure in the Revolutionary War who later became the first governor of New Jersey. She came of age before the war and was deeply affected by the political ideas she heard at the time. As a young woman, Sarah Livingston married John Jay, a New York political leader who was strongly supportive of American independence. Sarah Jay took her husband’s part in the conflict, standing by him as he served the nation in various posts throughout the war and beyond. In 1779, she accompanied him to Spain, where he had been sent as foreign minister. She kept a close eye on Spanish society as well as on the other American politicians who had also been sent to Spain. Her letters home were full of witty and insightful remarks. After the war, the Jays returned to the United States, where John became the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. Sarah Jay became a social leader in the New York society, entertaining widely. She created a list of 160 families she considered particularly deserving of social notice. In 1801, the Jays retired to a farmhouse north of New York City. Sarah Jay died the following year. She and her husband had six children, one of whom died during infancy.



(1748–1782) Wife of Thomas Jefferson. She died before he was elected president. Though her husband destroyed most of her correspondence after her death, his writings bear witness to the happiness they shared. Martha Wayles was probably born on a Virginia plantation to John and Martha (Eppes) Wayles. Her mother and two stepmothers all died before she was 13. At 18, she married Bathurst Skelton, a planter who died two years later. Thomas Jefferson began courting the lively, good-natured young widow when she was 22. They shared a love of music, and Jefferson ordered a pianoforte for his future wife. He planned to become her son’s guardian, but John Skelton died before their marriage. In 1772, Jefferson brought his bride to Monticello, where the household now included 83 slaves she inherited from her father. The couple had five children, but only Martha and Mary lived to adulthood. Jefferson refused an appointment as commissioner to France to be near his wife, whose health was weakened by frequent pregnancies and two flights from invading British troops during the American Revolution. She never recovered from the birth of her last child, Lucy. Jefferson nursed her devotedly during her final four-month illness. In his Autobiography, Jefferson remembered his wife as “the cherished companion of my life, in whose affections, unabated on both sides, I had lived the last ten years in unchequered happiness.” See also: Childbirth. FURTHER READING

Jefferson, Thomas. Autobiography. New York: Capricorn, 1959.


(1743–1833) European captive who chose to remain with her Native American family. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison chronicles her life among the Seneca. Mary Jemison was born to Thomas and Jane (Irwin) Jemison during their voyage from Ireland to Pennsylvania. She was about 15 when the French and Shawnees raided the Jemison farm and killed most of the family. Two Seneca women adopted Mary to replace a brother lost in battle.



In 1760, Jemison married Sheninjee, a Delaware. He died in 1762 while taking his family to the Genesee River. Jemison carried her infant son 700 miles to Sheninjee’s homeland. In 1765, Jemison married the Seneca warrior Hiotaktoo, with whom she had six children. Settlers moved into their area, bringing alcohol and increasing tension. All three of Jemison’s sons died violently. Jemison lost her husband in 1811. After the American Revolution, Jemison chose to stay with the Seneca. She liked their way of life and feared that her relatives would not accept her children. The elders gave her a tract of land, which she protected from settlers. Jemison continued to raise crops and tend her cattle well into her eighties. She then moved to the Buffalo Creek Reservation to live with her daughters. In 1823, she told her story to James E. Seaver. His account of her life became one of the most popular captivity narratives, making “The White Woman of the Genesee” a legendary frontier heroine. See also: Captivity Narratives. FURTHER READING

Rebecca Gratz may have been the inspiration for the character Rebecca in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

Seaver, James E. A Narrative of the Life of Mary Jemison, Dehe-wa¨-mis, the White Woman of the Genesee. New York: G. P. Putnams’ Sons, 1910.


The first Jews to settle in America arrived in New York (then known as New Amsterdam) in 1654. By 1663, however, only one Jew remained there. The others left because of conquest by the British, who were not tolerant of Judaism. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, however, the new British government of New York had lifted many of its original restrictions against Jews—which included forbidding Jews to vote or hold public office—and a new influx of immigrants began to arrive in the city. By 1730, the small Jewish community had erected its first synagogue and gained the right to vote, to serve on juries, and to worship openly. Few Jews settled in New England, because they were not welcomed by the Puritan colonists there. However, the Quakers who settled in Pennsylvania were more tolerant, and by the middle of the eighteenth century, more than 300 Jews lived in Philadelphia.

South Carolina’s constitution, written by the liberal political philosopher John Locke, extended considerable religious liberty to everyone but Catholics. From the time the first Jews arrived in 1680, they were free to worship as they chose. Georgia was similarly tolerant.

“Is it not too much to hope—too much to expect from the daughters of a noble race that they will be foremost in the work of charity—provided their young hearts are impressed with its sacred duties.” —Rebecca Gratz, from a report to the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society

By 1776, there were about 2,000 Jews in America. Though they lived under various political restrictions, they were, according to Howard M. Sachar



in A History of Jews in America, “the freTRAILBLAZERS est Jews on earth.” The role of women in Judaism is governed by Jewish law. Because of Rebecca Gratz was born to a wealthy Jewish family in Philatheir roles as wives and mothers, Jewdelphia in 1781. From the time she was in her early twenties, ish women were exempted from many Gratz was involved in charitable work. In 1801, she founded of the 613 commandments, or mitzthe Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children vot, Jewish men had to obey. This exin Reduced Circumstances and was selected as its first emption led some Jews to question secretary. She also helped to found the Philadelphia Orphan whether women were actually inAsylum and served as its secretary for more than 40 years cluded in the covenant, or promise, acted as its secretary. Gratz later established the Female Hethat the Jews believe exists between brew Benevolent Society, the Jewish Foster Home and OrGod and the Jewish people. Because phan Society, the Fuel Society, and the Sewing Society. they were exempt from certain mitzThrough all this, she raised her sister Rachel’s nine children vot, women could not be counted after her death in 1823. among the ten Jews needed to say One of Gratz’s primary interests was the religious educapublic prayers and could not say the tion of Jewish children. As a result of her friendship with kaddish, or prayer for the dead, for some Protestant ministers, Gratz learned about the Christian their own parents. Women were seSunday School movement and decided to develop something cluded in the synagogue, in a place far similar for Jewish children. In 1838, she organized the Hefrom where the men prayed, so as not brew Sunday School Society of Philadelphia, an organization to distract them from their worship. she headed until 1864. The school was free to both boys and Married women were required to girls from the Jewish community of Philadelphia. Because of wear wigs to hide their own hair, in her achievements in charity and education, Gratz has been order to make them less attractive. Although they were excluded from called “the foremost American Jewess of her day.” some traditions, Jewish women had Gratz is also known as the model for the character of Retheir own rituals. “Women’s mitzvot” becca in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe. The American included lighting Sabbath candles, ritwriter Washington Irving knew both Gratz and Scott. He deual bathing, and observing dietary rescribed Gratz, who was a noted beauty as well as a philanstrictions (keeping kosher). thropist, to the novelist. When Ivanhoe was published, Scott Perhaps the greatest difficulty wrote to Irving “How do you like your Rebecca? Does the Refaced by Jews in America was preservbecca I have pictured compare well with the pattern given?” ing their cultural and religious idenGratz never married. It was rumored that she was in love with tity. Because their population was Samuel Ewing, the son of the president of the University of comparatively small, many Jews marPennsylvania, but would not marry outside her religion. ried outside of their religion, particularly on the frontier. When Jewish men married non-Jews, the children were lost to the faith, since to be Jewish, one must It was not until 1838 that Rebecca Gratz opened have a Jewish mother. Jewish children were edu- the first Jewish Sabbath schools in Philadelphia. cated in public schools and received little or no religious education. In the 1790s, Rebecca Samuel JOHNSTON, HENRIETTA of Petersburg, Virginia, wrote to her parents in the See painting and sculpting old country: There are here ten or twelve Jews, and they are not worthy of being called Jews. . . . I crave to see a synagogue to which I can go. The way we live now is not life at all. We do not know what the Sabbath and holidays are. On the Sabbath all the shops are open. . . . My children cannot learn anything here, nothing Jewish, nothing of the general culture.


(1739–1818) The best-known woman minister of her generation. Revered for her straightforward delivery and “sanctified common sense,” Jones infused traditional Quaker ideals with an evangelical sense of a personal savior. Born in Philadelphia, Jones was raised by her



mother, Mary (Porter) Jones, after her father, William, died at sea. Her mother ran a girls’ school in their home. Though raised an Anglican, Jones attended Quaker meetings when she was in her teens. Despite her family’s opposition, she began speaking at meetings when she was 19. In 1760, the elders recognized her gift for preaching and “acknowledged” her as a minister. Besides preaching, Jones taught at her mother’s school. In 1761, she took over the enterprise. With the help of another Quaker minister, Hannah Cathrall, she taught both girls and boys. In 1784, Jones felt called to visit Quakers in England. As a traveling minister, she preached and visited schools throughout Britain and helped win approval for a yearly women’s meeting. After returning to Philadelphia in 1788, Jones opened a fabric shop. She corresponded with English Friends, helped found a Quaker boarding school, and assisted the poor. A widow she had taken in, Bernice Chattin, cared for Jones after typhus fever left her an invalid in 1813. Jones continued to provide religious counsel until her death. Her example promoted social action, revived enthusiasm for Quaker ideals, and maintained the Friends’ tradition of female spiritual leadership.


The couple were married in 1812. They left for India with Samuel Newell and Harriet Atwell Newell two weeks later. As “assistant missionaries,” the wives were to support their husbands’ preaching and educate women and children. According to an early biographer, Judson’s contemporaries considered her decision to go to India “wild and romantic in the extreme.” Women like Anne Eliot had worked with their husbands in missions to Native Americans. However, no American woman had ever served on a foreign mission. During the voyage to Calcutta, the Judsons’ study of the Bible and several books on theology led them to become Baptists. The decision cost them the support of the ABCFM; however, American Baptists organized a society to finance their work. The War of 1812 prompted the British East India Company, which did not welcome missionaries, to order the Judsons’ deportation. The couple got to Mauritius Island, where they hoped to meet the Newells. However, Harriet Newell had died in childbirth and Samuel Newell was en route to Cey-


(1789–1826) First American woman foreign missionary. Her work as a teacher and evangelist in Burma inspired women to undertake roles previously reserved for men. She was the fourth daughter among the seven children born to John and Rebecca (Burton) Hasseltine, evangelical Congregationalists. Her father, a farmer, was also a town official and church deacon in Bradford, Massachusetts. At Bradford Academy, Hasseltine was studious, lively, and devout. At 15, her teacher Abraham Burnham inspired her to think seriously about personal salvation. After a conversion experience in 1806, she joined the Congregational church and prayed that God would use her in His service. At 18, Hasseltine became a teacher. Three years later, her father had a meeting of seminary students who wanted support to become foreign missionaries. One result was the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in 1810. A second was Adoniram Judson’s proposal to his host’s daughter. Hasseltine considered Judson’s proposal for a month before her sense of duty overcame her reluctance to undertake mission work abroad.

Ann Hasseltine Judson was the first American woman to fill the role of foreign missionary.


lon. The Judsons then decided to work in Burma. On the voyage to Rangoon, Judson nearly died delivering a stillborn child. Her second child, born in 1815, lived only eight months. From 1813 to 1823, the Judsons learned Burmese and Siamese, worked on translating the Bible into the native languages, and taught children. Their first convert was baptized in 1819. That year, Ann Judson began holding services for women. She also wrote several catechisms and managed the mission when her husband was away. In 1820, Judson went to Calcutta to recover from a liver ailment. When it recurred a year later, she returned to the United States to recuperate. She raised funds for the mission by making personal appearances throughout New England and writing A Particular Relation of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire. Her celebrity inspired new enthusiasm for missionary work and convinced many of the need for female missionaries. When she sailed back to Burma in 1823, the British and Burmese were on the verge of war. Judson traveled 350 miles to Ava, where her husband and a medical missionary were working. A year later, the local ruler imprisoned Adoniram because he suspected the missionaries were spying for Britain. Despite her fears that her husband would be executed and she would be enslaved, Ann Judson worked for Adoniram’s release, nursed her daughter, Maria, through smallpox, and later cared for her husband, whose health was poor. After 21 months in prison, Adoniram Judson was released in 1825 to serve as a translator for the Burmese emperor during peace negotiations. The family settled in the new capital of Amherst, where Ann died of a fever. Her two-year-old daughter died a few months later. Adoniram Judson continued his mission work until his death in 1850. By


that time, Burma had 163 Christian missionaries, many of whom had been inspired by Ann Hasseltine Judson’s pioneering example.


(1803–1845) Missionary to Burma. After her first husband’s death, Boardman maintained the schools they had established and preached to the Karen, a people living in the Burmese jungle. Later she became the second wife of the pioneer American missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Born at Alstead, New Hampshire, Sarah Hall was the oldest of Ralph and Abiah Hall’s 13 children. After poverty forced her to leave her studies at a local female seminary, Hall studied at home. In 1820, she became a member of Salem’s First Baptist Church. Her interest in mission work was encouraged by her pastor and by meeting Ann Hasseltine Judson in 1823. Two years later, she married George Dana Boardman and went to India. The newlyweds planned to join the Judsons in Burma. However, the Anglo-Burmese war kept them in Calcutta for more than a year. Boardman gave birth to a daughter there and learned Burmese. The Boardmans began their service in Burma in 1827. A revolt in 1829 forced them to flee. A lung disease claimed George Boardman in 1831. Sarah Boardman continued to work among the Karen, supported by Adoniram Judson, whom she married in 1834. An expert in Burmese, she translated the New Testament and Pilgrim’s Progess into native languages. In 1845, she died en route to the United States to regain her health. Among her six surviving children, George Dana Boardman, Jr., and Edward Judson became prominent ministers. Her example inspired other women to serve in foreign missions.


(1772?–1832) First coruler of Hawaii. Kaahumanu promoted the spread of Christianity and established Hawaii’s first legal code. Born on Maui to Keeaumoko, a noted warrior, and Namahana, a king’s widow, Kaahumanu became a wife of King Kamehameha in her early teens. As the king’s favorite wife, Kaahumanu advised him during his conquest of the Hawaiian Islands

and served on the council of his united kingdom. Childless herself, she served as guardian to Kamehameha’s heir, Prince Liholiho. The king’s death in 1819 lifted strict religious taboos, or prohibitions, until the new ruler assumed power. The council of chiefs supported Kaahumanu’s claim that her husband wanted her to share in Liholiho’s reign by making her kuhina noi, or coruler. In another break with tradition, Kaa-



humanu and Liholiho’s mother invited him to eat with them. The new king’s acceptance of the invitation abolished the old taboos against men and women eating together. By the time American Protestant missionaries arrived in 1820, the two rulers had destroyed the old religion. Kaahumanu eventually embraced Christianity and encouraged its spread by building churches and schools. In 1823, Kaahumanu became sole regent for the young Kamehameha III, whom she protected by marrying his two chief rivals. The following year, she promulgated Hawaii’s first code of laws, ordered that all her people should learn to read and write, and suppressed a rebellion on Kauai. In 1825, she presided over Hawaii’s first trial by jury. The Queen Regent negotiated the first trade agreement between Hawaii and the United States in 1826.


In this devastating war between Native Americans and British colonists, women played no direct role but they were often victims of the brutality of soldiers on both sides. Metacomet, known as King Philip by the Puritans, became chief of the Wampanoags of Massachusetts in 1662. In 1671, Metacomet was interrogated by Puritan officials who suspected him of planning attacks against English settlements. The chief was forced to surrender some guns and to promise to obey English laws. Although he agreed, Metacomet was angry with the Puritan leaders. In 1675, three Wampanoags were accused of murder by the Puritans and hanged. In retaliation, the Wampanoags, led by Metacomet, began attacking English settlements. They were joined by other tribes, including the Nipmucks of Massachusetts and the Narragansetts of Rhode Island. The colonists formed an army and attacked the Narragansetts’s fortified village near Kingston, Rhode Island. About 1,000 Native Americans were killed, including many women and children. In 1676, Metacomet and his allies continued raiding English settlements, including Medfield, Massachusetts, which was attacked on February 21. Men and women in the town were killed and 32 homes were destroyed. Gradually, the power of the Native American alliance began to decline as disease and famine struck their villages. Their supplies of weapons were also running short. Metacomet was

unsuccessful in gaining more allies among other tribes. In 1676, the Narragansetts were defeated, Metacomet was killed, and the war ended. The war was devastating for both sides. More than one half the Puritan settlements had been attacked. Among the colonists, approximately 600 men and 2,000 women and children were killed. The Native Americans lost over 3,000 men, and many more women and children. Most of their settlements were destroyed by the colonists.


(1666–1727) Author and businesswoman. The Journal of Madam Knight, a diary of an unchaperoned journey from Boston to New York in 1704, provides a vivid account of travel in eighteenth-century North America. Knight was also a respected shopkeeper, innkeeper, owner of a boarding house, and landlord. She amassed a sizable estate. Born in Boston, Sarah Kemble Knight was the eldest girl among Thomas and Elizabeth Kemble’s five or six children. Shortly before her father’s death in 1689, she married Richard Knight, who may have been a ship’s captain or a publican. They had one daughter, Elizabeth. By 1707, Knight was a widow. She supported herself by running her father’s shop, taking in boarders, and copying legal documents. She is also said to have taught such well-known pupils as Benjamin Franklin and preachers Cotton and Increase Mather. However, no solid evidence supports this claim. In 1713, Knight’s daughter, Elizabeth, married and moved to Connecticut. Knight also moved to New London, where she opened not only a shop but also a tavern and inn on the Norwich road. In addition, she purchased land that had once belonged to her son-in-law’s family and leased it to tenants. Five years later, she was one of several businesspeople fined for selling liquor to local Native Americans. She said her maid was responsible, and the incident did not affect her good reputation. In fact, she was so well respected that people called her “Madam” Knight. While she was known as an influential businesswoman during her life, Sarah Kemble Knight is best known today for her diary. Discovered after her death, the 40-page journal is a witty account of her difficult—and sometimes dangerous—trip to New York in 1704. Knight seems to have undertaken


the journey to help settle an estate. She made the trip alone, on horseback, along roads that were little better than unmarked trails. During the five-month ordeal, she encountered “tippy canoes,” rude innkeepers, inedible meals, and forests so dense that she often lost sight of her guide. Published in 1825, Knight’s account was thought to be either fictitious or the work of a man until 1858. Critics view Knight as a writer in the picaresque style. She writes in the first person, describes her journey vividly, comments on morals and manners, and combines humor and seriousness.


See also: Diaries and Journals. FURTHER READING

Knight, Sarah Kemble. The Journal of Madam Knight, with an introductory note by George Parkes Winship, and a new preface by Kenneth Silverman. New York: Garrett Press, 1970. Stanford, Ann. “Three Puritan Women: Anne Bradstreet, Mary Rowlandson, and Sarah Kemble Knight.” In American Women Writers: Bibliographical Essays, eds. Maurice Duke, Jackson R. Bryer, and M. Thomas Inge. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1983.


(Mother Theresa) (c. 1766–1846) Roman Catholic nun, educator. Alice Lalor was born in Ireland. The exact year of her birth is unknown, but it is usually assumed that she was born around 1766. As a child, she was deeply religious and would have joined a Catholic convent in Kilkenny if her parents had not suggested that she accompany her older sister to America. On the voyage to America, Lalor met Maria Sharpe and Maria McDermott, widows who shared her devotion to religion. Upon their arrival in Philadelphia in 1795, the women established a small school and religious community. There they met Father Leonard Neale, who became their spiritual adviser. In 1798, when Father Neale was named president of Georgetown College (now University) in Washington, D.C., he asked the women, who were known as “the Pious Ladies,” to come to Washington to found a school for girls. They accepted his invitation. In 1799 Lalor and her companions founded the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, the first Catholic school for young women in America. They also founded a free school for students who could not pay tuition as well as a school for African Americans. In 1816 Lalor and her community became part of the Visitation order, recognized by Pope Pius VII as the first American Sisters of the Visitation. As the Mother Superior of the order, Lalor was called Mother Theresa. Lalor retired in 1819, but continued to live in the Georgetown convent until her death in 1846.


See marriage laws; poor laws


(1776–1832) Step-granddaughter of George Washington. Elizabeth was born in 1776 to Martha Washington’s son John Custis and his wife Elizabeth Calvert Curtis, granddaughter of Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore. When John died at Yorktown of camp fever, two of the children, Nelly (Eleanor Parke Custis) and George, went to live with their grandparents and were eventually adopted by them. Elizabeth, or Eliza as she was called, and her sister Martha continued to live with their mother, who, in 1778, married Dr. David Stuart. When she was 19, Eliza married Thomas Law. Law was a wealthy Englishman, 20 years older than Eliza, and the father of three boys. Washington gave his blessing to the marriage, although privately he was concerned about the difference in age. Eliza and Thomas lived in Washington, D.C., and Thomas invested much of his fortune in construction projects in the city. They had one daughter, Eliza, born in 1797. In 1803, Law went to England for a year and left Eliza behind. When he returned in 1804, the couple separated, perhaps because Eliza felt neglected, or perhaps the differences in age and temperament had begun to put a strain on the marriage. As was the usual practice, the daughter



remained in the custody of her father. Eliza was awarded an annuity of fifteen hundred dollars a year, but Law was never prompt and regular in his payments. The couple divorced in 1810. Eliza began to call herself “Mrs. Custis,” and lived primarily in Washington. A biographer of her grandfather, Charles Moore, described Eliza as “a restless, wandering spirit . . .[who was] noted for her wit, vivacity, charm, and devotion to the memory of George Washington.” She was devoted to her daughter as well and saw her as often as she was able. She once wrote to a friend, “You saw the misery I endured when she was taken from me. I fear’d then it was separation forever.” When her daughter died in 1822, Eliza then devoted herself to her grandchildren. She died in Richmond, Virginia, on January 1, 1832. See also: Child Custody.

Lee had better luck with her next venture, a nonfiction book called Three Experiments in Living. Appearing in 1838, the book included information about financial matters and lifestyles. It was an instant success. The book went through at least 30 editions in the United States and proved popular in Europe as well. From 1838 on, Lee’s literary career is easier to trace. She now wrote full-time to general critical and popular acclaim. Over the next 20 years she produced a number of books on historical, biographical, and religious topics, including an account of the life of Martin Luther and several group biographies of artists. Lee remained a successful and respected writer for the rest of her life. Several of her later works were apparently commissioned by publishers, so Lee knew she would have a ready-made market for her work. She was noted by critics for the strong sense of morality that pervaded her writings. She died in Boston on December 27, 1865.


Moore, Charles. The Family Life of George Washington. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1926.

 LEE, JARENA See preaching

 LEE, ANN See religious sects



(1780–1865) Author. Hannah Farnham Sawyer was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1780. In 1807, she married a Bostonian named George Lee. He died nine years later, leaving her with three daughters to rear. At some point in the next two decades, Hannah Lee began to write. Just when is unclear, partly because her name rarely appeared on her works early in her career. Her first known work, a short contribution to a book edited by another author, appeared in 1832, but it is entirely possible that she had already been published. In 1835, Lee completed her first novel, which she called Grace Seymour. The book was published, but virtually the entire print run was burned in a fire, and Lee seems not to have tried to bring it out again.


Female homosexuals. The existence of lesbianism was never acknowledged in early America. Although male homosexuality was punishable by severe penalties, even execution, statutes did not even mention female homosexuality. That reflected the attitude of men that women’s sexuality was of little importance, except in heterosexual fornication and adultery. Eighteenth-century advice books published in English, such as The Ladies’ Dispensatory (1740), categorized lesbian sex with masturbation and warned that its consequences could be fatal. John Cleland’s notorious novel, Fanny Hill (1749), featured lesbian sexual acts merely as a way some women were trained for heterosexual intercourse. In short, descriptions of lesbian sex were designed only to titillate male readers or to caution female readers. Positive imagery of self-identified lesbians or documentary evidence of their romantic relationships simply did not exist, although male homosexuality is abundantly documented for the period. Cases of female transvestism were reported, however, and had overtones of lesbianism. Deborah Sampson, the famous soldier of the American


Revolution, was a transvestite before she became a soldier. Although transvestism might be punished by authorities, lesbianism offended patriarchy less than male homosexuality because homosexual women were assumed to aspire to be like men, which was honorable, whereas homosexual men were subject to reprisal because they were assumed to be like women, which brought all men into contempt. Lesbian behavior was probably more common than the documentary record suggests, for it attracted little notice from men, who wrote the great majority of the documents. The American novelist Charles Brockden Brown describes a powerful romantic relationship between two women in his novel, Ormond, or The Secret Witness (1789). Surprisingly, although he does not suggest that their relationship was sexual, he presents it as passionate, and the heroine remains unmarried, highly unusual for a fictional account in that era. The story foreshadows a remarkable acceptance of deeply involved female friendship in nineteenth-century America.


(1779–1852) Step-granddaughter of George Washington. Eleanor Parke Custis, or “Nelly,” as she was known, was the daughter of Martha Washington’s son John Parke Custis, nicknamed Jacky. During the American Revolution, Jacky served as an aide to Washington but died of camp fever only a few days after his enlistment. His widow, Eleanor Calvert Custis, was left with six children, including a set of twins who died in infancy. Two of the surviving children, George Washington Parke Custis, known as “Wash,” and Nelly, were sent to live with their grandparents. Nelly Custis was a lively and beautiful child, a great favorite of Washington’s. She married Washington’s nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and lived at Woodlawn Plantation, in view of Mount Vernon. George Washington gave her the land for the house as a wedding gift because he did not want to live far from his adopted granddaughter. Nelly had eight children, seven of whom died before their mother. Lawrence also preceded Nelly in death, dying in 1839 at the age of 72. In her later years, Nelly was the devoted grandmother to 12 children. She died in 1852. For most of her life, Nelly corresponded with her friend Elizabeth Bordley Gibson. These letters


offer a detailed portrait of the early years of the United States, as well as a glimpse into a lifelong friendship. In 1839, Nelly wrote to Elizabeth, “In more than 40 years, my truest, kindest friend, you have rejoiced in my joy, & mourned with me in grief, & never have I found the slightest change in your heart since we first loved each other.”


The ability to read and write. Many of the original settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were literate, and their ministers were graduates of Cambridge University in England. The Puritans were committed to literacy because they believed that everyone needed to be able to read the Bible. Puritan ministers preached that it was the sacred duty of parents to teach their children to read. It soon became clear that parents did not all have equal ability, time, or talent when it came to reading instruction. Several New England colonies responded to a decline in literacy by passing laws requiring parents to teach their children to read and by establishing schools to ensure that parents could comply with this requirement. Laws were also passed to ensure that poor and orphaned children who were apprenticed to masters learned the basic skills of reading, writing, and “ciphering.” Evening schools were established to meet the needs of this population. Rates of literacy rose and fell throughout the colonial and Revolutionary War periods depending on the percentage of the population that lived in cities. Not surprisingly, the rate of literacy was much higher in urban areas—where there were schools—than in more sparsely populated areas— where the entire burden of teaching was left to the parents. Each move westward and each new wave of immigrants tended to lower the overall literacy rate. Since records of who could read were not kept, literacy in the colonial period is measured today by determining the percentage of people who signed wills and petitions with an “X” versus those who were able to sign their names. This method appears to be valid, because children were almost always taught to read before they learned to write. As women seldom signed wills or petitions there is little data about female literacy. What data there are tend to suggest that levels of literacy for women remained unchanged until after the American Revolution, while the rates for men rose in the





same period. Male literacy in both the North and South increased throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with women’s literacy rising but lagging behind men’s. In general, literacy rates in the North were higher than in the South. After the Revolution there was much public concern about literacy. Many writers and educational reformers stressed that a republican form of government depended on a literate population. A writer who signed himself “Academicus” wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1797, that it was “a matter of the highest importance to republican government to disseminate knowledge and to keep the evenness of access to it open to all and especially to the middle or even the lower classes of people.” Thus, religious reasons for encouraging literacy were supplemented by political motives. During this period, many writers, some of them women, pointed out that literate mothers were necessary to preserve the Republic, since they were the first teachers of the children. The number of primary schools, academies, and colleges grew in response to these concerns. See also: Dame Schools; Republican Motherhood. FURTHER READING

Soltow, Lee, and Edward Stevens. The Rise of Literacy and the Common School in the United States: A Socioeconomic Analysis to 1870. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.



American literature in the seventeenth century primarily featured histories and religious writings, as the first settlers tried to map out both their place in the world and their spiritual identity. The earliest American writings were, in essence, works of discovery—discovery of place and discovery of self. Notable historians include Captain John Smith, who in 1616 published A Description of New England, Governor William Bradford, who wrote History of Plymouth Plantation, and John Winthrop, who wrote History of New England from 1630 to 1649. Sermons by John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Roger Williams, and Increase and Cotton Mather were widely read in the colonies, but a woman, Anne Bradstreet, became America’s first poet. Her volume of poetry, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung

Up in America, published in England in 1650, does not have a distinctly American voice. The forms and styles of the poems are reminiscent of English works of the period. The content, however, reflects the hardships of life in the colonies, and especially the hardships experienced by women. Bradstreet writes about her fears for her children, the love she feels for her husband, and the sorrow of losing her home to fire. Cotton Mather not only wrote sermons, he also wrote on witchcraft in Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions, and the Salem trials in The Wonders of the Invisible World. Overwhelmingly, the stories Mather tells of witches feature women as both the accused and the victims. While there were neither histories nor sermons written by women in the period, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, Together with the Faithfulness of His Promises Displayed: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson combines a little of both genres. Published in 1682, the story of a Puritan woman captured by the Native American forces of Metacomet serves as a history of Mary Rowlandson’s capture and survival and of King Philip’s War. It is also, to some degree, a sermon. Like all good Puritans, Rowlandson was anxious to interpret what happened to her in terms of God’s plan and to use the experience to grow in knowledge and faith. Thus, her narrative is peppered with biblical references and prayers. FURTHER READING

Hensley, Jeannie, ed. The Works of Anne Bradstreet. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990. Salisbury, Neal, ed. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: with Related Documents. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.



American literature in the eighteenth century can be divided into three periods: late colonial (1700– 1760), revolutionary (1760–1787), and early national (1788–1820). Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin are the best-known writers of the late colonial period. Edwards is known for his spiritual autobiography, for his theological works, and for his sermons, especially “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741). Franklin is best remembered for his autobiography and for Poor Richard’s Almanac. Women writers of the period also wrote primarily autobio-


graphical works. Sarah Kemble Knight, a businesswoman from Boston, is remembered today for a travel diary. The Journal of Mme Knight tells the story of a trip Knight took by herself from Boston to New York in 1704. It is a lively and often humorous account of colonial life. Elizabeth Ashbridge’s spiritual autobiography, Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge. . . , chronicles the life and religious conversions of a young woman who was born in England in 1713 and emigrated to America at the age of 19. Ashbridge left the Church of England and, against her husband’s will, joined the Quakers. She tells the story of her attempts to practice her religion despite her husband’s objections, which were less theological than purely personal. When Elizabeth turned Quaker, she gave up singing and dancing, which were among the talents that attracted her husband to her in the first place. American literature in the Revolutionary period included journals, histories, travel narratives, letters, and various kinds of political writing, including poems and ballads. The best-known political writers of the period include Thomas Paine, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. Hector St. Jean Cre`vecoeur’s Letters of an American Farmer portrayed rural life in America as an idyllic return to nature. Philip Freneau wrote patriotic poems, such as “On the Rising Glory of America,” and later wrote more lyrical verse. Foremost among women writers of the period is Abigail Adams, whose diaries and letters reveal a woman of uncommon intelligence and political astuteness. In one of her most famous letters to her husband, John, Abigail urged him to “Remember the Ladies”—to enact new laws in the new republic that did not allow husbands to tyrannize their wives. Phillis Wheatley was America’s first AfricanAmerican poet. In 1770 she published a volume of 39 poems that demonstrated not only her poetic talent but her considerable education. At the age of 12, Wheatley was able to read both Greek and Latin. Although she seldom wrote about themes of race or inequality, at least one of her poems addresses the question of social justice. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “Their color is a diabolic dye.” Remember Christians; Negroes, black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’angelic train.

The early national period saw the beginnings of the American novel. The Power of Sympathy (1789) by William Hill Brown is regarded by many


as the first American novel. Charles Brockden Brown was America’s first professional novelist, and his novel Wieland anticipates the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Women writing in the same era include Susanna Rowson, whose novel Charlotte Temple (1791), was the first best-seller in America. This story of the seduction of a young woman was aimed primarily at a female audience and designed as a warning to girls about the dangers of dalliance and disobedience. Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette (1797), told the story of the seduction and abandonment of an older woman. Foster’s novel focused on the social issues that made life so difficult for women who strayed from the “path of virtue.” Judith Sargent Murray wrote essays, poetry, and drama. She was the author of a very popular column entitled “The Gleaner,” which appeared in the Massachusetts Magazine from 1792 to 1794. Murray advocated women’s rights and was a staunch supporter of education for women. The most important woman poet of the period was Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton. Her poems, written about distinctively American topics, appeared in dozens of magazines. Her first long poem, Ouabi: or the Virtues of Nature (1790), was a Native American tale in four parts. Few of these writers’ works appeared in anthologies of American literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and they were almost lost to history until feminist critics in the 1970s began to rediscover them and publish their works. FURTHER READING

DePauw, Linda Grant, and Conover Hunt. Remember the Ladies: Women in America 1750–1815. New York: Viking, 1976.


The act of bringing legal proceedings. Because of the legal status of women under English common law, it was difficult for a married woman in the colonial or early national period to file a lawsuit on her own behalf. If a married woman was owed a debt, the case would be brought before the court by her husband. Such lawsuits were not uncommon. Even though women did not work outside the home in the modern sense, many women supplemented the family income by doing laundry, caring for sick neighbors, or working as a midwife or wet nurse; others did domestic service or helped with farm work. If their employers failed to pay,



these women, if they were married, had to rely on their husbands to recover their earnings. Unfortunately, husbands did not always have their wives’ best interests at heart. Some husbands would not make the effort to sue on behalf of their wives, and others failed to return the money won in the lawsuit to the wife who had earned it. While husbands had an interest in pursuing money owed their wives, some may not have been as ready to defend their wives’ names in court. In “Women’s Legal Inequality,” Mary Beth Norton cites the case of Joan Mitchell, a Maryland widow, who filed four lawsuits against neighbors who had called her a witch. While her husband was alive, he had given some depositions in similar situations but chose not to take the cases to court. The record seems to indicate that Joan harbored some resentment against her husband for not having been more active in pursuing her case. While married women seldom brought cases to court, many women expected to come before a judge at least once in their lives—as widows in the probate of their husbands’ estates. Husbands were required to leave their wives at least one-third of their property in their wills; many widows went to court to claim their “thirds” if their husbands failed to leave them their portion. Even though unmarried women had the right to appear in court on their own behalf, few did except as victims of crimes.

family in Philadelphia on October 19, 1761. Welleducated by the standards of the time, she was especially interested in history and government. At the age of 14, she attended the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. In 1781, she married George Logan, a doctor and farmer who later became involved in politics. The couple had three children. Deborah Logan did not always agree with her husband politically; he was a Republican, while she had grown up a Federalist. His political leanings, however, caused her to lose some of her Federalist friends. Perhaps in response, she turned to the study of earlier political debates. She came across a number of letters written by colonial Pennsylvania leaders William Penn and James Logan, transcribed them, and presented them to the American Philosophical Society. Later, she transcribed the recollections of Charles Thomson, who had served as secretary of the Continental Congress. Logan also wrote a biography of her husband, a work that included letters and reminiscences of many of the great figures of the colonial era and the early national period. Her diary, too, became a valuable historical source. In appreciation of her efforts, Deborah Logan was made the first woman member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. She died at her Philadelphia house on February 2, 1839.

See also: Coverture; Dower Rights. FURTHER READING

Dayton, Cornelia Hughes. Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639–1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995. Pestana, Carla Gardina, and Sharon V. Salinger, eds. Inequality in Early America. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999.




(1761–1839) An early historian and preserver of colonial records. Deborah Norris was born into a Quaker


(1704–1779) A teacher and gardener. Martha Daniell was born in St. Thomas Parish, South Carolina, on December 29, 1704. At the age of 14 she married George Logan. The couple lived first on a South Carolina plantation and then in Charleston. They had eight children. In 1742, when her youngest child was six, Logan opened a small boarding school. Although during the time most women who opened schools were poor or widowed, neither of these conditions applied to Logan; she and her husband owned land, and he did not die until 1764. Her reasons for opening the school are unknown. As was typical for the time, Logan taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and drawing, as well as embroidery and needlework. However, Logan is most clearly remembered today for her work with plants. She was an enthu-


siastic and knowledgeable gardener. She corresponded with the botanist John Bartram, wrote an unsigned gardener’s column for almanacs of the time, and ran a nursery business selling seeds, roots, and plants. After her death in 1779, her writings were expanded and published in several other almanacs, this time giving Logan credit as author.


 LOVE, ROMANTIC See novels and romantic love

 LYON, MARY See volume 2


See Gender Frontiers

MCCREA, JANE (c. 1750–1777) A martyr of the American Revolution. Jane McCrea was born about 1752 in Somerset County, New Jersey. Her mother died within a year of her birth, and her father in 1769. McCrea then lived with her eldest brother near Fort Edward, New York, north of Albany. In the summer of 1777, Fort Edward was a potential battleground between the British and the colonists. McCrea’s brother and others evacuated the area, but McCrea stayed behind, perhaps because a suitor in the British army had promised to meet her there. On July 27, she was captured by Native Americans in the pay of the advancing British army. The next day, her body was found near Fort Edward. The evidence of a supposed eyewitness suggests that the Native Americans were responsible, although some historians believe that she may have been killed accidentally by rebel soldiers. There is a good deal of uncertainty surrounding Jane McCrea’s death. Whatever the details, however, the event became a rallying cry for patriots. It fueled anger against the British for their use of Native Americans as allies. In northern New York, many who were previously neutral now began to side with the revolutionaries. New soldiers joined the American army, and the British in the area surrendered three months after McCrea’s death. McCrea’s story became the subject of novels, poems, and at least one play. She is buried near Fort Edward.


(1768–1849) Dolley Payne was born on May 20, 1768, and raised in the Quaker faith. One of eight children, she grew up in comfort in Hanover County, in rural eastern Virginia. In 1783, her father, John Payne, emancipated his slaves, moved his family to Phila-

First Lady Dolley Madison was celebrated for her charm and courage.



delphia, and went into business as a starch merchant. He soon failed, and died a broken man in 1792. In 1790 Dolley married a young Quaker lawyer named John Todd. The couple produced two boys in rapid succession, John Payne Todd in 1790 and William Temple Todd in 1792, but in the fall of 1793 yellow fever struck Philadelphia, claiming among its many victims John Todd and their younger son, William Temple. In May 1794, James Madison met Dolley Todd. Seventeen years her senior, and a confirmed bachelor, he was a member of a Virginia planter family who in 1787 had created the Virginia Plan, a draft framework for the federal constitution. His plans and intellectual energy had defined the agenda for the Constitutional Convention, and his influence as a delegate had been great. Subsequently he became the leader of the emerging Democratic-Republican Party, which was later led by Thomas Jefferson. The Madisons were a good match. He was charming and witty among friends, but shy and remote in public; she was outgoing, warm, and a charming hostess. He was brilliant and successful, she brought a family to his childless life. They were married on September 15, 1794, and lived in Philadelphia for the next three years, after which the couple returned to Montpelier, the 5,000-acre Madison family estate in Orange County, Virginia, with her son and her younger sister Anna. They remained there until 1800, when Thomas Jefferson was elected the third president of the United States, and asked James Madison if he would serve as secretary of state. In June 1801 the Madison family moved to Washington, D.C., a raw town of halffinished buildings set amid forests and swamps. As wife of the secretary of state, Dolley Madison had no official duties, but she did assume a special position. Jefferson was a widower whose daughters lived with their families in central Virginia. Determined to create a new kind of republican society that reflected his principles of equality, Jefferson often entertained congressmen without their wives. For these small, informal, all-male events he needed no hostess; but on the occasions when he did, he most often turned to Dolley Madison. She became the most prominent woman in Washington society. In 1809 she became more important when her husband succeeded Jefferson as president and she became first lady. Mrs. Madison’s historical reputation rests upon three of her accomplishments during those years: decorating the White House,

her role as hostess, and her courage during the War of 1812. Jefferson had furnished the executive mansion with his own possessions. Dolley Madison worked with the architect Benjamin Latrobe to decorate the White House. They made the mansion appropriate for a republic: elegant enough to entertain foreign ministers; simple enough to please republican congressmen who feared that excessive refinement would display monarchical principles. Dolley Madison also invented the role of first lady as republican hostess, establishing new ceremonies as she had created public spaces. She managed to be elegant in a simple and unaffected way. The administration’s enemies personally attacked her, but her public response was to reach out to people and work to make them all feel comfortable. Finally, she faced the British invasion of Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1814 with bravery and dignity. By the third week of August, invasion was imminent and the city in a state of chaos. On August 22 James Madison left town to review the troops, while Dolley Madison remained in the city. As the British troops moved forward the next day Mrs. Madison packed government papers into trunks. The next day, with the president off with the army, Dolley Madison found herself guarding the gates of the executive mansion. After filling a wagon with silver and other valuables and sending them off for safekeeping, she set herself one last task: saving the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, lest the British burn it, or worse yet capture and bring it back to England. She had the canvas cut from the frame as the enemy closed in, and she fled at once. The British burned the White House.

“The profusion of my table is the result of the prosperity of my country. . . . I shall continue to prefer Virginian liberality to European elegance.” —Dolley Madison, spoken to the wife of a foreign minister

In 1817, with the war over and her husband’s second term of office finished, with her son grown and her sister Anna long married, Dolley and


James Madison retired to Montpelier. There the world came to them. They had streams of visitors, including not only their families but also leaders of American politics and European dignitaries. By the early 1830s, however, James Madison became seriously ill. Dolley Madison spent the next several years busily nursing him, until he died in 1836. A year later Dolley Madison returned to Washington. Distinguished visitors would first call on the president of the United States, and then pay their respects to her. The driving force of her last years was to keep her husband’s work and memory alive. Meanwhile, she grew poorer and poorer. Her son was an alcholic and gambler who drained her of resources. In 1844 she sold her home. “No one I think can appreciate my feelings of grief and dismay at the necessity of transferring to another a beloved home,” she wrote the buyer. She fell ill in July 1849, and after lingering for five days, died on July 12. She was 81 years old and had known every president from George Washington to Zachary Taylor. Her funeral was a state occasion. As one Washington newspaper noted: “All of our country and thousands in other lands will need no language of Eulogy to inspire a deep and sincere regret when they learn the demise of one who touched all hearts by her goodness and won the admiration of all by the charms of dignity and grace.” Holly C. Shulman FURTHER READING

Allgor, Catherine. Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000. Anthony, Katherine. Dolly Madison: Her Life and Times. Garden City: Doubleday, 1949. Clark, Allen C. The Life and Letters of Dolly Madison. Washington, D.C.: Press of W. F. Roberts Co., 1914. Shulman, Holly C. “Dolley Madison.” In American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy. Lewis L. Gould, ed. New York: Garland, 1996.


Magic is the use of divination to make predictions and attempt to control future events. Often it involves the use of astrology, a pseudoscience that utilizes the placement of the stars and planets to harness cosmic energy for human use. In British colonial America, the use of divination was frowned upon by religious groups such as the


Quakers and Puritans, who believed that anyone who could perform magic was in league with the devil. Despite Christian condemnation, belief in magic and astrology persisted. New England occult organizations like the Astrologer’s Society of Pennsylvania offered lessons in the magical arts in the late seventeenth century. Proponents of occult spirituality claimed the ability to harness supernatural powers through casting horoscope charts and other forms of fortune-telling, some of which were extremely peculiar. For example, in 1690 a woman from Rhode Island made urine cakes and asserted that they aided her prophetic abilities. Magic was often present in folk medicine, especially among Africans. Many consulted magicians and used traditional African magic and medicine to cure diseases and to harm their enemies. For example, in the early 1700s two blacks were recognized for being able to cure diseases and snake bites. In another case a “sorcerer” used magic to shield the Africans from European weapons during a 1712 revolt in New York. The Africans were not alone in trusting the power of medicinal plants. Because early professional medical practices were often dangerous, many European colonists felt safer using occult remedies. Astrology was used to diagnose diseases of certain parts of the body, because the placement of the heavenly bodies at the time of a person’s birth was believed to control certain physiological matters. For example, a woman born with the sun in Pisces would be expected to have foot problems, since the constellation of Pisces was believed to “rule” the feet. In addition, British colonists used herbal remedies and spells to ward off or cure illness. Such practices were so common that the prominent minister Cotton Mather called the number of cases “disturbing.” The use of magic and astrology in the midAtlantic colonies was in high demand despite condemnation by the Quakers. In 1726, the Virginia courts investigated the magical acts of Goodwife Wright, who used magic to help her neighbors overturn hexes, to predict deaths, and to make people sick. Although the claims were unprovable, people were frightened. In cases where the colonists suspected that evil magic was being used, they nailed horseshoes over their doors to protect themselves from witches and sorcerers. Ironically, the use of such good luck charms was a form of invocation in itself. Colonists also enjoyed collect-



ing “fortune books,” collections of magical and astrological lore, which supposedly brought the owner good luck. See also: Witch Trials, Salem. FURTHER READING

Butler, John. “The Dark Ages of American Occultism, 1760–1848,” in The Occult in America: New Historical Perspectives, ed. Howard Kerr and Charles L. Crow. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986.


Marriage ceremonies differed from colony to colony in the early years of settlement. A Quaker couple in Pennsylvania might gather with friends in a meetinghouse and marry with no clergy present, using vows they wrote themselves. In the Chesapeake region, because people lived so far apart, the English custom of publishing the banns— announcing the intention of a couple to marry to fellow church members—was not a useful way to of notifying friends and relatives. Instead, the county clerk issued a marriage license that could be examined by interested parties. Anglican couples in the South followed the practice of the Anglican Church of England, using the ceremony as outlined in the Book of Common Prayer. The minister asked the groom, Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honor her, and keep her in sickness and health, and, forsaking all other keep thee only to her, so long as ye both shall live?

The bride’s vow was different: Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health, and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

The wedding was often held in the home, rather than in a church, with a minister officiating. Dancing and dinner followed. The Puritans of New England did not believe that a marriage was a religious matter, so they enacted laws making marriage a civil ceremony, conducted by a magistrate. In rejecting Roman Catholicism, Puritans rejected the idea of marriage as a sacrament. They also wanted to avoid difficulties with bigamous and clandestine marriages, which sometimes occurred as a result of the laws

governing marriage in the Church of England. Also, as Governor William Bradford of Plymouth wrote shortly after arriving in 1621, marriage “is a civil thing, upon which many questions about inheritance do depend . . . and nowhere in the Gospel to be laid on the ministers as a part of their office.” Since the ceremony was more in the nature of a contract than a sacred ritual, the event was usually not followed by a celebration. Historians do not know the nature of the vows couples exchanged, but in a letter to his daughter around 1700, Judge Sewell asks her to be sure she can pledge “to love and honor and obey” her fiance´. Because of the movement toward more egalitarian relationships after the American Revolution some women began to omit the word “obey” from the vows. Enslaved peoples were not generally married in a religious or civil ceremony at all. Many followed the tradition of “jumping the broomstick” to signify their entrance into a new kind of life and the “sweeping away” of their old lives. Holding hands, the couple leapt over a broom or stick on the ground. This tradition, which may be either Celtic or African in origin, often thought to have originated among slaves as a way to declare a marriage, was also practiced among Southern whites. FURTHER READING

Hawke, David Freeman. Everyday Life in Early America. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.

MARRIAGE,  COMPANIONATE A shift within marriage relationships between 1780 and 1830, in which women achieved more equality. The old patriarchal type of marriage in which all authority rested with the husband began to be replaced by a relationship in which wives held a higher status. Historians believe that the shift to companionate marriage occurred as men and women sought more than economic security in marriage. Gradually, they began to also expect romantic love and self-fulfillment from a marital relationship. As a result, men became more concerned about making the women they loved happy in marriage. Men wanted women to be genuinely pleased with a mar-


ital relationship rather than meekly submit to the power imposed on them by their husbands. Since males still controlled most of the economic resources, it would have been easy for them to insist on dominance over women. However, many men realized that they could not make a woman love them, and this robbed the relationship of much satisfaction. Historians are not sure why the shift in marital relationships occurred. One reason may have been that women began to receive more education. In addition, the American Revolution had been fought for the ideas of liberty and equality. Many people believed that these same values should be applied in marital relationships. Finally, the role of children and motherhood began to increase in importance. For centuries, children had been viewed simply as small adults who were expected to go to work before they reached adolescence. No formal upbringing seemed necessary for them. However, the work of the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau emphasized that children needed love, education, and special training. These were primarily the responsibilities of women who filled an essential role as mothers, nurturing and teaching their children while they grew. Nevertheless, the change in marital relationships was only gradual. Men still retained much of their dominance because of their earning power. It would not be until later in the nineteenth century that women would begin attending college, filling more jobs, such as teachers, and taking over the control of households as more and more men left the farms and went to work in offices and factories.


Marriage laws in colonial America were drawn largely from English common law. The impact of marriage on a woman’s life was tremendous; with marriage, she virtually ceased to exist as an independent entity. “Marriage,” observed one English writer, “draws a broad line of discrimination, separating the female sex into two classes.” Although marriage laws were not significantly changed after the Revolution, the egalitarian philosophy of the new nation led to more equality in marriage. Under English and colonial common law, a married woman was known as a feme covert, or covered woman. The concept of coverture held that a woman’s legal identity ceased with marriage;


she was “covered” by her husband. Thus, married women could not sue, be sued, make wills or contracts, or buy and sell property. Any property owned by a woman before marriage belonged to her husband after marriage. Even children were considered property belonging to the husband. Married women had few protections under the law. Two notable exceptions were dower rights and the right to be “separately examined” before real estate could be sold. Dower rights ensured that a wife inherited at least a third of her deceased husband’s estate if there were children, half if there were no children. The right to be separately examined was related to a woman’s dower rights. A husband needed his wife’s explicit consent to sell real estate. If a woman was separately examined— asked for her opinion without her husband’s presence—she would presumably be free to give or withhold her consent without risk of intimidation. In reality, few women were actually consulted before the sale of real estate. Women could also protect some of the property they brought to marriage through the drafting of prenuptial agreements, but most women either did not know about such protections or did not invoke them. Marriages were considered permanent and divorces were very difficult to obtain. Divorce a vinculo (absolute divorce), which allowed remarriage, was permitted only if the marriage itself was invalid because of impotence or a prior marriage. Divorce a mensa et thoro (limited divorce) was more common. This kind of divorce was essentially a legal separation, often granted in cases involving abuse or adultery. In the rare case in which a divorce was secured, the woman was usually at a disadvantage, because she had no right to either property or children. Occasionally a woman whose husband had acted particularly badly might be granted support. After the Revolution, according to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “If one word could be said to epitomize the republican conception of matrimony, that word would be ‘mutual.’” Although many magazines of the day published essays advocating female subordination in marriage, other writers advocated greater equality. In July 1792, the Lady’s Magazine published an essay by a woman who identified herself as “Matrimonial Republican.” “I object to the word ‘obey’ in the marriage service,” she said: it made the wife a “slave” to the husband. She described marriage as a “partnership” and urged that all decisions be made by collaboration. Just as marriage was more egalitar-



ian, so divorce became more common and easier to obtain. See also: Divorce Laws; Feme Sole Trader Acts; Marriage, Companionate.


Slave marriages were not considered lawful in the United States, although they were legal in Brazil. Though not “legally” married, African-American enslaved couples did form family units. Despite the brutal terrors of bondage, African Americans found cultural strength and resistance in wedding ceremonies and cherished their family relations. During slave weddings, African Americans celebrated their African cultural heritage. Following African tribal rituals, brides and grooms would pledge themselves in a ceremony called “jumping over the broomstick.” One slave described it in this way: “de woman put her broom front de man and he put his broom front de woman. Dey face one another and step ‘cross de brooms at de same time . . . and takes hold of hands and dat marry dem.” Jumping the broomstick symbolized the transition from unmarried to married. During the 1800s, more formal and solemn exercises displaced the older traditions. Although illegal in some states, slaves desired African-American or white ministers to perform wedding ceremonies in which the groom and bride would exchange vows. One young slave girl boasted of her parents “formal” marriage, where, “They had a . . . preacher to read out of a book to them. They didn’t jump over no broom.” Since slaves had no legal protection, their marriages were constantly threatened. Some couples were allowed to share the same homes; most were not. Even worse, masters could ruthlessly tear apart slave families at any moment. As one North Carolina judge commented, slave marriages “may be dissolved . . . by the sale of one or both, depending on the [whim] or necessity of the owner.” Some slaves defied this cruel system. Louisiana’s Stephen Jordon became so enraged when his master forbade him to visit his wife that he escaped. When he was eventually captured, Jordon was callously sold away from his wife. Later, Jordon lamented, they both remarried “during the long years of our enforced and hopeless situation.” Bethany Veney, a female slave in Virginia, believed in the sanctity of marriage but did not want to wed, because “I

knew that at any time our masters could compel us to break” our wedding vows. After the Civil War, many freed people strove to legalize their marriages. Previously separated wives and husbands traveled hundreds of miles to reunite. In Louisiana, for instance, the Freedmen’s Bureau conducted over 2,888 marriages for former slaves in less than one year. As Union officers all over the South noted, African-American freed people made “superhuman efforts” to find their loved ones and become, by law, wife and husband. FURTHER READING

Elkins, Stanley M. Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969. Litwack, Leon F. Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery. New York: Vantage Books, 1980. Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

 MASTERS, SYBILLA See entrepreneurs


(1732–1800) Cofounder of the first convent in the United States. Ann Teresa Mathews was born a Catholic in Charles County, Maryland. Although the colony had been established years earlier as a haven for Catholics, most settlers were Protestants by the time of Mathews’s birth. When Mathews chose a religious vocation, she had to travel to Belgium for training. There she joined a Carmelite order; in 1774, she became prioress of her convent. She was known as Mother Bernardina. The American Revolution removed some of the laws restricting Catholicism, such as those preventing Catholics from holding a public mass. Mathews decided to establish a religious order in America. In 1790, with the encouragement of several prominent American Catholics, she traveled to Maryland with two of her nieces, both nuns, and another American nun named Frances Dickinson. Together, they set up a convent near Mathews’s childhood home and devoted themselves to prayer and contemplation. By the time of Mother Bernardina’s death in 1800, the original group had grown to include 14 nuns. Many of the Carmelite orders in other parts of the United States can trace


their origins to nuns who trained at Mathews’s convent.


An agreement to create a government in what is now Massachusetts, signed by the male heads of household on the Mayflower in 1620. When the Pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock, they faced a dilemma. Since they had not landed, as planned, in Virginia, their charter was not valid. They needed to find some way to ensure the rule of law. So they made a compact, or agreement, in which they created a government and pledged loyalty to the king. The document they produced has come to be known as the Mayflower Compact. Signed on November 11, 1620, by 41 male heads of households, the Mayflower Compact bound the group as a “civill Body Politick” and allowed them to “enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equall Laws, ordinances, Acts, Constititions, and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the Generall Good of the Colonie.” The compact was signed only by the males aboard the Mayflower because women were not considered part of the government and had no say in developing the laws by which they were to live. The Mayflower Compact is an excellent example of the British philosopher John Locke’s idea of a social contract in which individuals willingly give up some of their personal freedoms in exchange for the benefits of social order. The Mayflower Compact foreshadows the democratic ideas embodied in the United States Constitution.


(1712–1794) Sister of Benjamin Franklin, with whom she maintained a lifelong correspondence. Near the end of a life in which she lost 11 children and fled Boston during the Revolution, she wrote: “I am still cheerful for that is my natural temper.” The last-born of Josiah and Abiah (Folger) Franklin’s ten children, Jane Franklin was six years younger than Benjamin. Their father was a Boston tallow chandler. After marrying saddler Edward Mecom at 15, Jane cared for her aging parents and took in boarders. Only three of her 12 children lived into middle age, and two of those died insane. Widowed in 1765, Mecom started a business making artificial flowers that failed when a boycott


of imported goods cut off her supplies. Franklin, by now a successful printer, provided some financial assistance. He also offered a place to stay when Mecom fled Boston during the 1775 siege. In 1784 she returned to Boston, where she lived until her death. Mecom and her favorite brother remained close, despite what he called her “miffy temper” and their differences over religion. Franklin became a deist, while Mecom was a devout Christian. “Sorrows roll upon me like the waves of the sea,” she wrote after the death of her favorite child, “but . . . God is sovereign, and I submit.” Correspondence with her brother was one of the great joys of Mecom’s difficult life. Their letters are now part of Franklin’s papers.


For most of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the medicine practiced by American doctors was based on a theory of medicine developed by the Greek physician Galen, who believed that the body was made up of four basic elements, called humors. According to Galen, illness was caused by an imbalance in the humors. To restore balance, he recommended bleeding, purging, and inducing vomiting. Bleeding was done with a small knife, called a lancet, or by the application of leeches, parasites found in rivers and streams that attach themselves to skin and suck blood. Enemas, called clysters, were used to purge the bowels, and vomiting was induced by the use of medications that were themselves often poisonous. Another theory of illness popular in the early years of settlement was that the body could only contain one disease at a time. This belief led to blistering as a treatment; doctors thought that if they caused the patient’s skin to blister by the application of heat or ground beetles, the original illness would leave the body. The causes of most diseases were unknown, and early doctors tended to diagnose based primarily on the most obvious symptoms. Fevers, whatever the cause, were diagnosed as “distempers,” and diarrhea was always “the flux” or “the bloody flux.” Fevers were treated by encouraging patients to sweat, and flux was treated with enemas. Neither doctors nor the colonists themselves understood how disease was transmitted, nor were they aware of the need for basic sanitation. People did not bathe often, clothes were cleaned infre-



quently, and human waste was dumped near wells and houses. While women were not called “doctors,” they took care of most of the illness and administered most of the medicine during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Midwives did not merely deliver babies; they also cared for the sick, often using herbal remedies from plants grown in their own gardens. Midwives and mothers prepared and administered infusions, swabbed infected tonsils, applied various kinds of plasters, and sat with feverish patients. Women shared recipes for remedies with one another and handed them down to their daughters. Those women who could read studied many of the medical books available at the time so that they could care for their families, friends, and neighbors. While many herbal remedies used by colonists did work and are still used today, patients were dosed with some unappetizing concoctions. Dr. Ball of Northboro, Massachusetts, for example, recommended drinking a mixture of fish worms, hog’s lard, turpentine, and brandy to cure itching. In general, herbs were classified as either benefits or simples. Benefits were supposed to prevent disease, while simples were supposed to effect cures. Sometimes doctors and midwives prescribed a plant or herb because it looked like the body part it was supposed to cure. Because a walnut looks like a brain, for example, people thought it could cure brain diseases. In addition to folk medicines and doctors’ concoctions, colonists could buy patent medicines with names like Daffy’s Elixir, Dutch Drops, and Seignettes Salts. These “secret recipes” usually contained large quantities of alcohol and opium and so did make patients feel better. Unfortunately, people also became addicted. Surgery, performed without anesthetic, was used to treat ulcers and broken bones. Because colonial doctors did not know how to set compound fractures, badly broken limbs were amputated. Many surgical patients died of shock, blood loss, or infections. Doctors in early America were not trained or licensed as they are today. In fact, because of cultural prohibitions against dissection, most doctors learned medicine not from studying the body but from reading medical texts and working as apprentices to practicing physicians. It was only in 1768 that America’s first medical school graduated its first class. By the time of the Revolution only 400 of the 3,500 doctors practicing in the colonies had university educations. Eventually,

university-educated doctors displaced midwives as healers, and women relied less on traditional remedies and more on the advice of physicians. See also: Midwifery; Health. FURTHER READING

Terkel, Susan Neiburg. Colonial American Medicine. New York: Franklin Watts, 1993.


(1769–1808) Leading actress and manager who brought professionalism to the developing American theater. Acclaimed for her performances in tragic roles, Merry won respect for herself and for her profession. Born in London, Ann Brunton was the daughter of actor and manager John Brunton. Her mother, whose maiden name was Friend, educated her, but her father encouraged her to memorize Shakespeare. At 15, she made her stage debut and was quickly offered a contract to play at London’s Covent Garden. In 1791, she married poet Robert Merry. His liberal political views made it difficult for her to find acting jobs until she joined Thomas Wignell’s Chestnut Street Theatre and moved to Philadelphia. Merry made her American debut in 1796 as the female lead in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. By the time her husband died two years later, she had achieved stardom. She remained at Chestnut Street, eventually marrying Wignall in 1803. Seven weeks later, he died, and Merry took over management of the company. After taking a short break for the birth of her daughter Elizabeth, she continued to perform leading roles. In 1806, the widow married actor William Warren, with whom she toured and managed the company. She died two years later, after delivering a stillborn child. Reviewers praised Merry’s natural portrayal of emotions, her expressive features, and her “sweetness of voice [that] struck every ear like a charm.” Considered the finest tragic actress in America, she was respected for her artistic gifts, professional discipline, and personal integrity.


Followers of a religious movement originating in the late 1730s in England under John Wesley, an


Anglican minister, and his younger brother Charles. Both men were strongly influenced by their mother, Susanna Wesley, who believed she had a calling to preach to her neighbors and children. In contrast to the Anglicans, the Wesley brothers taught the primacy of religious experience, which they called the “heart-work,” over book learning and sacraments. Among John Wesley’s most important innovations was the formation of a fraternity of unordained traveling missionaries, called itinerant preachers, who popularized his evangelical teachings at large public revival meetings throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

American Methodist Women Among the first American Methodists was Barbara Ruckle Heck, often called the “Mother of American Methodism,” who emigrated with her family from Ireland to New York City in the early 1760s. Around the same time, the Irish Methodist preacher Robert Strawbridge and his wife Elizabeth Piper Strawbridge settled in Maryland and recruited members in and around Baltimore City. The first Methodist congregations were often no more than “class meetings” (the Methodist term for prayer groups) or religious societies that gathered in local households. Despite this informality and the disruptions of the American Revolution, the movement soon expanded into every part of the new nation. Women and girls played key roles in this early period. As central figures in their families, or working as servants or slaves, they extended hospitality to and cared for the preachers who traveled into their communities. A number of affluent women supported the movement without joining it. Others, like Rebecca Dorsey Ridgely and her sister Priscilla Dorsey Ridgely, born into a wealthy Maryland family, became lifelong members. Francis Asbury, bishop of the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church, maintained strong friendships with female followers, including Rebecca Ridgely, whom he affectionately referred to as “my Benefactoress.” Another of Asbury’s supporters, Margaret Beekman Livingston of the prominent New York family, never joined the church, but her daughter, Catherine Livingston Garrettson, became a leading Methodist figure in the Hudson River Valley. Women formed the majority in the American Methodist congregations for which information has survived. In various years between 1786 and


1801, for example, approximately two-thirds of the Methodists in New York City and Baltimore were female. Many were teenagers and young women, probably between the ages of 16 and 24, a time of critical transition as girls prepared to marry. They joined alone or with their sisters and mothers. At the same time, a young person’s decision to become a Methodist could lead to deep family divisions: the itinerants, one disconsolate mother exclaimed, “have bereaved me of my Children.” African American girls and women, still bound to slavery or part of new free black communities, were also drawn to the Methodists by the itinerants’ powerful evangelical preaching. Like women in general, black women formed significant proportions of Methodist church membership at the end of the eighteenth century: between approximately one-fifth of the women members in New York City, for example, and one-third of the women members in Baltimore. Methodism’s appeal to slave girls and women, in part, accounts for its spectacular success in the South. The Methodists’ efforts to reach out to diverse communities of Americans served them well, and their numbers continued to climb after 1800. Methodist women lived in every part of the United States, and their denomination became a significant player in frontier life.

Preaching and Domesticity The Methodist Episcopal Church recognized women’s contributions to the movement by awarding preachers’ wives the same salaries as their husbands; but the church also adhered to biblical injunctions against public speaking by women. Unlike the Quakers, Methodist women rarely traveled or preached in public. Their main official outlet was as leaders of all-female class meetings. At one small working-class society in Baltimore, women made up more than half of the class leaders in 1800. As Methodist congregations grew in size, and American men began to be ordained as ministers in the new church, women were less often appointed as leaders or asked to speak. Instead, Methodist women directed their energies toward their domestic households, as missionaries in the home. Nineteenth-century Methodist women subscribed to the popular belief that mothers should serve as pious role models for their children. The deathbed scenes of devout Methodist women, young and old, were printed in The Methodist Magazine for church members’ emulation. In




The first Methodist Conference in America was held in Philadelphia in 1773.

time, Methodism would become associated with middle-class values and the private sanctity of the home. Methodist and Methodist-inspired women could not entirely resist speaking out or otherwise publicly espousing their faith. These included Peggy Dow, wife of the itinerant Lorenzo Dow, as well as “primitive” preacher Nancy Towle and African Methodist preachers Jarena Lee and Zilpha Elaw. And while Methodism produced fewer prominent women than other denominations in the United States, Wesley’s “heart religion,” through its tremendous popularity, would come to shape the lives and world view of more girls and women than any other American church in the years before and after the Civil War. Dee E. Andrews See also: Adolescence; The Bible and the Subordination of Women; Church Membership; Denominationalism; Frontier Life; Great Awakenings. FURTHER READING

Andrews, Dee E. The Methodists and Revolutionary America, 1769–1800: The Shaping of an Evangelical Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. Appleby, Joyce O. Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Lyerly, Cynthia Lynn. Methodism and the Southern Mind, 1779–1810. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Schneider, A. Gregory. The Way of the Cross Leads Home: The Domestication of American Methodism. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1993.

The techniques and practices of midwives, people trained to help women in childbirth. Midwifery is one of the oldest professions, and for most of its history it was an exclusively female one. From biblical times onward, most women gave birth at home attended by a midwife, usually an older woman who had devoted many years to learning herbal remedies and simple manual techniques for relieving some of the difficulties of labor. Midwives, like modern doctors, were on call 24 hours a day. Women would send for assistance when the pangs of labor began, and the midwife would make the sometimes arduous journey to await the birth of the child. Midwives tended to be “noninterventionist.” They offered herbal remedies and concoctions of rum or fortified wine when contractions became frequent. As the time neared for the child to be born, the midwife would usually call for other women to help her. If necessary, the midwife knew how to turn an unborn child in the womb in order to make delivery easier. When the child was born, the midwife and her helpers cleaned up the mother and baby. The father, who would not have been allowed in the birthing room, was then permitted to see his wife and child. The midwife and her helpers would often join the family for a celebratory dinner and, if the hour was late, spend the night. If the mother or child died, the midwife and her helpers would wash the infant and prepare the body for burial. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, it was rare to find a doctor in a birthing room. Doctors were without exception male, and women considered it immodest to allow a man to see them unclothed. This idea changed gradually over the years as male doctors became more common. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, doctors were generally called only in situations of “obstructed labor,” when the baby became stuck in the mother’s pelvis. Their job in such cases was usually to dismember the fetus and remove it from the womb. Doctors might also use forceps, a tool generally not used by midwives. The training of doctors and midwives differed considerably. Midwives were self-selected and selftaught. They were usually mothers themselves and had often attended births of relatives and friends. They learned their craft by participation and observation. Doctors often had little practical training and learned what they knew about childbirth


from books. The first formal training for midwives in America was a series of lectures delivered in Philadelphia in 1762 by Dr. William Shippen. Although Shippen initially trained both men and women, before long he limited his instruction to men. Believing that doctors could ease pain more effectively and ensure safety better than midwives, wealthy women were among the first to turn to doctors in addition to, and later instead of, midwives. Although doctors eventually did learn enough about sterile procedures and female anatomy to begin to improve childbirth practices, initially death rates at doctor-assisted deliveries were no better than, and in many cases were worse than, those of midwives. According to Laurel Thatcher Ulrich in A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785–1812, midwife Martha Ballard actually had fewer maternal deaths and complications than contemporary doctors. “In fact,” says Ulrich, ”many historians believe that the routine employment of physicians in the nineteenth century probably increased rather than decreased mortality.” Most advances in obstetrical safety have come since the 1920s. As medical doctors attempted to take over the field of obstetrics, they began a public campaign to discredit midwives by suggesting that they were incompetent and dangerous. By 1820, the profession of midwifery was on the wane, and the era of “social childbirth” gave way to the era of “medical childbirth.” FURTHER READING

Leavitt, Judith Walzer. Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750–1950. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.


Believers who participate in an organized effort to spread their faith. Missionary activity may include preaching, teaching, and providing medical care. In North America, European immigrants felt a duty to bring Christianity and civilization to the native peoples they considered “ignorant savages.” The early nineteenth-century religious revivals inspired widespread enthusiasm for missionary work abroad and on the frontier. The pioneering work of female missionaries broadened the traditional female role and prepared the way for women to enter other professions.


English Colonial Missionaries Christian missionary activity in the Americas began with the first explorers, who included missionaries on their expeditions. The first colonial charters obliged English settlers to convert Native Americans and so save them from “ignorance” and “the devil.” Conversion to the established Puritan or Anglican religions had the additional advantage of saving them from the French Catholics who were competing with the British for furs and indigenous allies. In the 1670s, John Eliot translated the Bible into Algonquian and established 14 “praying villages” intended to become self-sufficient Puritan towns. Eliot was known as the “Apostle to the Indians,” and his wife Ann shared his missionary zeal. George Wheelock, a Congregationalist minister, took a different approach, establishing a school to train Native American missionaries. One graduate, Samson Occum, became a famous preacher, but Wheelock’s other students were not effective because their people considered them “too European.”

French Colonial Missions In 1727, Mother Marie Tranchepain, an Ursuline nun, fulfilled her dream of becoming a missionary by establishing a hospital and school in New Orleans. She and other members of her Catholic religious order taught orphan girls how to earn their living. Sister of the Sacred Heart Rose Philippine Duchesne, known by Potawatomi children as “woman-who-prays-always,” opened the first free school west of the Mississippi River in 1818. Her religious community was one of several that established frontier schools to educate Catholics, nonCatholics, and Native Americans.

American Foreign Missions From 1720 to 1835, revival preachers encouraged Americans to deepen their personal experience of faith and express their faith in action. One consequence was a growing interest in missionary work in foreign countries and on the American frontier. Beginning in 1800, women formed foreign missionary societies to support the work of ministers. They raised funds, studied foreign cultures, and provided moral support through correspondence with ministers in the field. By 1915, the movement had grown to include more than 3 million women across 40 denominations.



The first American women appointed as Protestant foreign missionaries were Ann Hasseltine Judson and Harriet Atwell Newell. Both were named “assistant missionaries” to their husbands in 1812. Believing that male ministers would not be allowed to teach women in Asia, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) took the unprecedented step of sending female missionaries abroad. Although Newell died of consumption before she could begin her work, her pioneering zeal made her a Christian heroine. Judson’s dedicated work in Burma convinced Americans that female missionaries had a unique and irreplaceable role. Schools founded by Frances Mulligan Hill and Sarah Hall Boardman shaped the education systems of Greece and Burma. Until 1827, Protestant women who wanted to do mission work had to marry a missionary. Educator Cynthia Farrar, sent by the ABCFM to India, was the first single woman to serve. Missionary work, though at first seen as an extension of women’s traditional roles, created new opportunities for women. Volunteers learned organizational and public-speaking skills. Missionaries in the field expanded their roles from starting schools in the home to establishing school systems, from running households to running missions, and from teaching to preaching and conducting services. Several did pioneering work translating the Bible into native languages. Their example created a new profession for women who wanted to serve the church and eventually made it possible for women to become professionals in other fields once reserved for men. FURTHER READING

Appleby, Joyce O. Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000. Conway, Jill K. The Female Experience in Eighteenth- and Ninteenth-Century America: A Guide to the History of American Women. New York: Garland, 1982. Hill, Patricia R. The World Their Household: The American Woman’s Foreign Mission Movement and Cultural Transformation, 1879–1920. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985.


(1763?–1830) The wife of President James Monroe. Elizabeth Kortright was born about 1763, probably in New

York City. Although her family lost much of its wealth during the American Revolution, Kortright nevertheless was an important member of New York society. In 1785, she met Virginia politician James Monroe, who was visiting New York as a delegate to the Confederation Congress; they were married the following year. The couple had three children. By all accounts she and her husband were well suited to each other. Despite the demands of James Monroe’s political career, the two were seldom separated for long. Elizabeth Monroe was not universally admired as a political wife. She succeeded Dolley Payne Madison as first lady, and suffered much by comparison to her predecessor. Monroe was formal and reserved; some called her haughty. She announced that she would neither make nor receive social visits, and she often did not attend White House dinners. During her husband’s second term, Monroe’s health declined. She died in Loudoun County, Virginia, on September 23, 1830, about five years after her husband left the presidency.


(1684?–1752?) An interpreter whose fluency in French and five Native American languages helped maintain peace between the English and the Iroquois. Montour was probably born in Canada to Louis Couc Montour, a French immigrant trapper, and his Algonquian wife Mitewamegwakwe. Her given name and date of birth are unknown. When Montour was about ten, she is said to have been captured by the Iroquois and taken to New York. In 1711 she married Carandowana, who later became the leader of the Shawnee. They had at least four children. Montour’s family lived near the Great Lakes, a region where France and Britain competed for allies. In 1711, Montour helped Governor Hunter and the Iroquois plan a military campaign against Canada. A year later, she persuaded the northern Iroquois to remain neutral when the Tuscarora fought English settlers in North Carolina. When the French tried to recruit her, Governor Thomas Hunter offered her the same pay as a male interpreter. Montour’s loyalty to the British was shared by her son Andrew, who commanded Native American troops during the French and Indian War.


In 1727, Montour moved to a less densely settled region of Pennsylvania. Two years later, her husband was killed in the Catawba War. After surviving a smallpox epidemic, Montour became blind in her old age. She died near Pittsburgh not long before the British won the battle for North America in 1763. A town, a county, and a mountain bear her name. FURTHER READING

“Montour, Madame.” The Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America. New York: Facts on File, 1990. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.


(?–c. 1659) The founder of a religious colony. Deborah Dunch grew up in England where in 1606 she married Henry Moody, a political leader and member of the nobility. After her husband’s death in 1629, Lady Moody was given a permit by the government to travel to London. Before long, however, the government ordered her to return to her husband’s estate; she had overstayed the length of time allowed according to her permit. As a matter of conscience, she refused and sailed instead for Massachusetts. Once in America, Moody became disenchanted with the religious options available to her. She was attracted to the doctrine of Anabaptism, a radical movement that held that only adult baptisms were valid. Massachusetts Bay Colony, however, was dominated by Puritans who disapproved of this notion. Moody was widely condemned for her views. In 1643 she moved again, this time to Long Island, New York, then under the control of the Dutch. There Moody established an Anabaptist colony, the first English settlement in the area and the first American settlement to be founded by a woman. Moody’s leadership of the new community was strong and lasting. Her town, called Gravesend, guaranteed freedom of religion and set up rules of self-government. Over time, Moody became interested in Quakerism. Some historians believed that she eventually converted. Certainly the area became a haven for Quakers as well as for disaffected Protestants. Moody died in Gravesend around 1659, remembered for having worked to establish religious freedom in the colonies.



(1753?–1826) Actress. Elizabeth Morris was probably born in England, but little is known of her early life. She married Owen Morris, a comedic actor, about 1768; the following year she appeared on the stage in Philadelphia. By the time of the American Revolution, Morris had developed a reputation as a fine and capable actress, appearing in leading roles in popular plays of the time. In 1792, the Morrises decided to present plays in Boston. Local laws, however, forbade theatrical events. After several productions, the authorities intervened and arrested both husband and wife in the middle of a performance. Morris returned to Philadelphia, which she used as a base of operations; she also performed frequently in nearby cities, such as Baltimore and New York, in the early years of the nineteenth century. Besides attracting attention as a perfomer, Morris was well known in her early years for her personality. She dressed eccentrically and was considered reserved, even a woman of mystery. Before 1800, she was regarded as one of the best actresses in North America. Her early success, however, did not continue throughout her career. Over time, her classical style of acting fell out of favor in preference for a more romantic ideal. Nevertheless, she continued to perform successfully until at least 1818, and some sources suggest she was still appearing on the stage as late as 1825. Certainly she was one of the first well-known actresses in American history.

MORTON, SARAH  WENTWORTH APTHORP (1759–1846) Poet. Sarah Apthorp was born in Boston in August 1759, and grew up in nearby Braintree. In 1781, she married a lawyer named Perez Morton and moved easily into Boston upper-class society. She and her husband entertained frequently; they also had five children. Morton was best known, however, for her contributions to American poetry. She began writing verse as a child. By 1789, she was a contributor to Massachusetts Magazine, most often using the pseudonym Philenia. Over the next three decades she wrote and published many poems, using both long narratives as well as shorter verse forms. Many of her topics were quintessentially American in their



themes and outlooks. Her first long poem, for example, was entitled Ouabi: or the Virtues of Nature ; it romanticized Native Americans. She also wrote two well-known patriotic poems about the American Revolution and its effect on Boston society. The first of these was called Beacon Hill. A Local Poem, Historic and Descriptive. The other was known as The Virtues of Society. A Tale, Founded on Fact. For a time Morton was credited with writing the first American novel, the anonymously published The Power of Sympathy (1789). Later scholarship, however, has determined that she did not write it. She did write and publish one book of essays, called My Mind and Its Thoughts. Morton died in Quincy, Massachusetts, on May 14, 1846.


See republican motherhood

 MOTT, LUCRETIA See volume 2

 MOUNT HOLYOKE See volume 2


(1751–1820) Writer. Judith Sargent was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on May 1, 1751. She was an unusually curious and academically gifted child. Young women of her time were not typically encouraged to pursue academic interests, but when Sargent’s brother began studying college preparatory work, her parents allowed her to study the same lessons as well. Sargent was married in 1769 to John Stevens, a sea captain. After several years of marriage, Judith Stevens began writing. At first, she restricted herself to poetry, but soon became interested in essays instead. She used the ideas expressed in the American Revolution to examine the place of women in society. Her earliest essays, written under the pen name Constantia, urged more equality for women and favored women’s education. Stevens was also very interested in religion, especially the doctrine of Universalism. In 1774, she convinced a young pastor named John Murray to

settle in Gloucester. Two years after her husband died in 1786, she married Murray. The couple had two children. Judith Stevens Murray continued to write. She produced a number of further essays, including a monthly series that appeared in a literary journal, the Massachusetts Magazine. Called “The Gleaner,” this column discussed Murray’s views on a number of important subjects of the time, including politics, manners, and religion as well as women’s rights. Murray wrote from the perspective of a fictional “Mr. Vigillius”; her work was fresh, funny, and topical. The proper education of girls and women was a major theme in these essays. Murray believed wholeheartedly that it was a shame to waste academic talent just because the owner of that talent was female. She also thought that an educated man needed an educated wife. More controversially, she argued that education could help a woman become independent, even find a job for herself—a radical and unpopular idea at the time. Although there was much she did not like about the world’s treatment of girls and women, Murray was optimistic. In the long run, she wrote, the concept of women’s rights would take hold in the United States, and she had hopes for the new generation of girls. Although she was best known for “The Gleaner,” Murray also wrote poetry. Her rhymed verses were published in Massachusetts Magazine and other periodicals. When Murray and her husband moved to Boston in 1793, she took up writing for the stage; Boston had recently legalized theatrical performances. Her plays, however, were not well reviewed, nor were they financial successes. In 1798, Murray published her “Gleaner” essays in three volumes (see Documents). Her husband was ill and the family was suffering financial distress. Today Murray’s literary fame rests primarily on these three volumes, although a few of her poems are still read. In 1815, Murray’s husband died; the following year, she moved to Natchez, Mississippi, to live with her daughter. She died in Natchez on July 6, 1820. FURTHER READING

Kerber, Linda K. Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980.

 MUSGROVE, MARY See trade and retailing




While there was no one pattern of life for women in Native American societies during the colonial era, scholars are certain that members of these societies organized gender relations, sex roles, kinship, and marriage patterns in very different ways from the early modern Europeans who came to the Americas. The hunter-gatherer societies to the north of the present U.S.–Canadian border tended to place prestige on male activities such as hunting big game, an emphasis that only expanded as French and English traders provided a ready market for furs beginning in the sixteenth century. Spanish colonists in the Southwest encountered Pueblo societies that placed great value on women, reckoning family membership through the mother’s, rather than the father’s, line. Woodland peoples along the Atlantic seaboard (Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Siouan speakers) mixed a reliance on maize agriculture with seasonal hunting, fishing, and gathering activities. Women in these societies were usually the main support of the community. As much as 80 percent of the nutrients consumed by individuals came from fields tended by women and children. Early English visitors to the Atlantic coast also frequently praised the modesty of the coastal Algonquian women they met while trading other commodities. The elite classes in these societies often practiced polygamy, with one prestigious man taking several wives over the course of his lifetime. In his 1643 account of life in Rhode Island, Roger Williams explained, “Two causes they generally alledge for their many Wives. First desire of Riches, because the Women bring in all the increase of the Field. . . . Secondly, their long sequestring themselves [sexually] from their wives after conception, untill the child be weaned, which with some is long after a yeare old.” Yet Williams agreed with other eyewitnesses that most men and women lived monogamously, and he claimed “I know many Couples that have lived twenty, thirty, forty yeares together.” It was in the daily lives of woodland peoples that the extent of differences between the lives of Indian and English women became apparent. Such difference has been called the “gender frontier,” to call attention to the centrality of sex roles in early modern understandings of cultural differ-

After Pocahontas married John Rolfe she traveled to London and became a celebrity there.

ence. Native women labored in the fields, carried household possessions and wigwam coverings on their backs during seasonal migrations, and bore relatively fewer children than their English counterparts, mainly due to sophisticated measures to control population density. All these things struck European observers as strange and often downright unwomanly. These unique combinations of sex roles, marital relations, and ideals of femininity and masculinity constituted a gender system substantially different from that of Europeans. While colonists were horrified by the arduous physical labor Native women undertook, there is considerable evidence that life may have been somewhat more satisfying for Native American women than it was for their Euro-American counterparts. Mary Jemison, a teenager captured in raiding along the Pennsylvania frontier in the mideighteenth century, spent the rest of her life living as an adopted member of a Seneca (Iroquoian) community. In her nineteenth-century memoir, Jemison recalled, “Notwithstanding the Indian women have all the fuel and bread to procure, and the cooking to perform, their task is probably not harder than that of white women . . . and their cares certainly are not half as numerous, nor as great.” She explained that in summer, “we planted,



TRAILBLAZERS Pocahontas was a nickname for an Algonquian woman named Matoaka. She was the daughter of Powhatan, a powerful Algonquian werowance (paramount chief). Pocahontas remains known in American history for the part she is assigned in the early days of the English settlement in Virginia and for romanticized stories of her relationship with Captain John Smith. Smith, the leader of the Jamestown Colony, credited Pocahontas with saving his life after Powhatan’s warriors took him captive in 1607. In the ongoing struggle between the English and Algonquians, the English took Pocahontas hostage in 1613 in retaliation for Powhatan’s seizure of several English settlers. In captivity she agreed to marry John Rolfe, an English colonist. Powhatan may have welcomed this marriage as a tactical and political connection with the English. Pocahontas transformed herself into an English woman, taking the name Rebecca and accepting the Christian faith. With Rolfe, she traveled to England, wore English women’s clothing, ate like the English, and met the English king and queen. As Rebecca, she offered proof to many English that Native Americans could be transformed from “barbaric savages” to genteel English. Pocahontas died in 1617 as she and Rolfe with their infant son prepared to return to America.

tended and harvested our corn, and generally had all our children with us; but had no master to oversee or drive us, so that we could work as leisurely as we pleased. . . . As our cooking and eating utensils consisted of a [mortar] and pestle [for grinding corn], a small kettle, a knife or two, and a few vessels of bark or wood, it required but little time to keep them in order for use.” Native women like Pocahontas (Rebecca Rolfe) of Virginia are remembered in popular mythology for their innate deference to supposedly superior Europeans. In fact, most exchanges between Native women and male colonists were somewhat more reciprocal and much more pragmatic. In Canada, European men prized connections with Native women because they provided links to inland kinsmen who might provide furs, because they themselves labored to process furs for shipping, and because they offered companionship, both emotional and physical. Such “country marriages” were typical of colonial border regions where few European women chose to venture. Pocahontas herself was just a girl of 12 or 13 when

she “rescued” a captive John Smith from execution by Powhatan, the paramount “sachem” or ruler of a large confederacy in coastal Virginia. Too young to be swept off her feet by the bearded adventurer (as the gregarious Smith claimed), Pocahontas ought to be remembered as a skilled diplomat. She lived among the first colonists at the English colony of Jamestown for a significant period in her teens, married another prominent Englishman, John Rolfe, in 1614, and traveled with him to England, where she died and was buried in March 1617. Native American women played a number of roles in colonial North America. No single description can capture the variety of gender, sexual, and familial life for American Indians at the time of European contact with the Americas. FURTHER READING

Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996. Gutie´rrez, Ramo´n A. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500–1846. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991. Plane, Ann Marie. Colonial Intimacies: Indian Marriage in Early New England. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000. Seaver, James E. A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison, 1824. Reprint, with an introduction by June Namias. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992. Shoemaker, Nancy, ed. Negotiators of Change: Historical Perspectives on Native American Women. New York: Routledge, 1995. Van Kirk, Sylvia. Many Tender Ties: Women in Fur Trade Society, 1670–1870. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1983.


(1793–1812) Missionary. Harriet Atwood was born October 10, 1793, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Her family was quite devout, and young Harriet was no different. By the age of 14, she had distanced herself from


novels, parties, dancing, and other sign of the secular world and began to explore the possibility of devoting her life to a religious cause. In 1810, Harriet Atwood met a young seminarian named Samuel Newell. With several of his friends, Newell had resolved to travel to India and spread Christian ideas there. Atwood was intrigued by these plans. Before long, she agreed to marry him and accompany him on his travels. Despite concerns for her health, and fears that the job and climate might prove stressful for her, she was eager to join Newell in his missionary work. The couple married in February 1812, and left for Calcutta ten days later. Finding a place to carry out their work proved difficult. The Newells arrived in India in June, but were not permitted to carry out their plans. The British East India Company, which controlled much of the area at the time, did not support efforts to convert Indians to Christianity. After less than two months, Newell, her husband, and the rest of the party were told to leave. The company would have preferred to send them home to the United States, but Newell and her husband chose to travel instead to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. On that island, they believed, they could carry on their missionary work. In early August, they set sail. The journey was long and complicated, and Newell became ill, a condition no doubt made worse by the late stages of pregnancy. Before the ship landed, she had delivered a baby prematurely; the infant, named Harriet, died five days later. Newell arrived in Mauritius at the end of October and died there on November 30, 1812. The memoir of her life, written by a friend and originally read at her memorial service, became a popular piece of inspirational literature.

NOVELS AND ROMANTIC  LOVE In the last half of the eighteenth century, print culture expanded, making publications more affordable for middle-class households. One new form this print culture took was the novel. The novel had vast implications for women as readers and writers. These new novels explored everyday life, relationships, and class differences. The novel also focused on a new concept of marriage based on romantic love instead of economic necessity. However, while many novels presented romantic love as ideal, in most, the ideal lost out to the evils of lust and seduction.


The first novels consumed by an AngloAmerican reading audience were British. In 1740, the British author Samuel Richardson changed the face of fiction with his epistolary novel Pamela. In 1747–48, Richardson published Clarissa. Both of these novels received wide readership in the AngloAmerican colonies. Richardson imitators immediately sprang up throughout Europe. Richardson claimed these novels were instructive. As he wrote in his introduction to Clarissa, he hoped his work would serve as a caution to young women “against preferring a man of pleasure to a man of probity, upon that dangerous but too commonly received notion, that a reformed rake makes the best husband.” As such, both of these early novels focused on the trials of young women determined to maintain their virtue. In Pamela the young woman resists Mr. B’s immodest advances and eventually uses her influence to change his character. Mr. B becomes so virtuous that he proposes marriage to Pamela, ending his campaign of seduction. Pamela does accept this proposal, marrying the “reformed rake” after all. By way of contrast, in Clarissa, Robert Lovelace rapes Clarissa Harlowe. Having lost her virtue, Clarissa dies. Despite the sordid subjects of both novels, Richardson made women central characters and portrayed them positively. American imitators of Richardson arose by the end of the century. The distinction of writing the first American novel goes to William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy, published in 1789. In this novel, the central story was one of romantic love, albeit a love doomed to failure. Harriot Fawcet and Harrington fall in love over the course of the novel. In one of the letters from Harrington to a friend, he exclaims, “She loves!—I say to myself, Harriot loves me, and I reverence myself. . . . I may say I have not lived in vain,—for all my heart holds dear is mine.” For a short period in the novel, Brown examined romantic love through these two characters, and lulled the reader into believing that these two were ideally suited. At first, The Power of Sympathy seemed to reflect the growing belief that romantic love had supplanted economic necessity as the reason for marriage. In public and private writings many women hoped that they would enter companionate marriages based on natural attraction and affection. In The Power of Sympathy, this new ideal of companionate marriage could not be fulfilled. In the end, Harriot and Harrington cannot marry be-



cause they discover they are brother and sister; the elder Mr. Harrington was father to them both. When this information is revealed, the would-be spouses commit suicide. Characters in these eighteenth-century novels acted out their passions in excessively dramatic ways. Perhaps because of these overblown emotions, many people cautioned young women against reading novels. In the ideal of companionate marriage, reading and education would turn women into the perfect spouses—intellectually equal to their husbands, even though contemporaries still debated whether women needed advanced education. Critics of novel reading maintained that American women could read as long as they read works that supported morality and virtue, and they could read as long as reading did not interfere with their motherly household duties. First and foremost women were supposed to be good mothers and wives. Those who worried about reading interfering with women’s work charged that romance novels led to immorality and idleness. Romances could make women yearn for what they could not have. They often focused on transgressive behavior that could arouse passions that were better left dormant. As one church pastor wrote, “The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth.” If women spent precious time and energy reading novels, many swore that they would be lesser mothers and wives. Novels posed other issues as well. Since the writing in novels did not follow strict rules, women did not need classical education in order to write them. Because of this, by the end of the eighteenth century, women had started moving into the field of novel writing. The fact that novel writing opened up a potential profession for some women caused even greater concern. Traditionally, the print world had been limited to men. There were always exceptions made for some, but most women who wrote for publication aroused suspicion. When women placed themselves in public spaces and gave themselves public voices, they crossed the boundary of acceptable female behavior and received criticism simply for being female and for daring to write. Nonetheless, women did write. Among the first female novelists was Susannah Haswell Rowson, an immigrant to the American colonies and later a permanent resident of the United States.

She published Charlotte Temple in 1794, and some claim this as the first American novel written by a woman. This is disputed, however, as Rowson and her family were living in Britain at the time, having left America shortly after the onset of the Revolutionary War. For those who dispute Rowson’s status, the first native-born American female novelist was Hannah Webster Foster, who published The Coquette in 1797. Following these women’s lead, women throughout Anglo-America and Europe picked up their pens and made forays into this medium of expression. Sarah Swedberg See also: Printing and Publishing. FURTHER READING

Armstrong, Nancy. Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. Brown, William Hill, The Power of Sympathy. intro. Carla Mulford. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. Davidson, Cathy N., ed. Reading in America: Literature & Social History. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989. . Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Fliegelman, Jay. Prodigals and Pilgrims: The American Revolution Against Patriarchal Authority, 1750–1800. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Hayes, Kevin J. A Colonial Woman’s Bookshelf. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1996. Richardson, Samuel. Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady. ed. Angus Ross. New York: Penguin Books, 1985. Samuels, Shirley. Romances of the Republic: Women, the Family, and Violence in the Literature of the Early American Nation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Warner, Michael. The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.


(1621–1692) Accused during the Salem Witch Trials. Rebecca Nurse was born in February 1621 in England and emigrated to Massachusetts around the age of 20. She settled in Salem, where she married woodworker Francis Nurse; she and her husband raised eight children. In 1678, the couple moved to Danvers, then called Salem Village. By all accounts, the Nurses led relatively calm and happy lives; certainly they were well-respected members of the community.


Rebecca Nurse’s quiet life came to an abrupt end in 1692. That year a number of young women and teenage girls in the area accused community members of witchcraft. Puritanism, the dominant religious strain in the region, held that witches and devils were quite real; thus, the accusations were not dismissed out of hand. Instead, authorities arrested some of the accused. Nurse was not among this first group of villagers, but she did speak mildly against the hysteria. Some of the accused, she said, were innocent. Perhaps in response to her words, the accusations soon broadened to include Nurse herself. In March 1692, Nurse was arrested. She proclaimed her innocence, but was nevertheless put in jail. Her husband and many friends and family members stood by her during this time. Forty members of the community signed a petition urging that the charges against her be dropped. When she was brought to trial at the end of June, the accusers described in detail how Nurse’s spirit had supposedly tortured them. However, the jury found her not guilty. Unfortunately for Nurse, the verdict provoked an enormous outcry among the accusers in attendance. They screamed, howled, and jerked their bodies painfully, all the while urging the jurors to reconsider. One of the judges echoed this request. The jurors decided to repeat one of the questions


they had asked Nurse. She had lost most of her hearing and did not respond to their question, since she had not heard it. The jurors took this lack of response as a sign that Nurse really was a witch, and they revised their verdict. This time, they found Nurse guilty and sentenced her to death by hanging. Nurse’s family tried twice to set aside the verdict. They appealed to the governor of Massachusetts, who at first granted Nurse a reprieve. Before long, however, he had changed his mind, evidently influenced by the opinions of several men of Salem. Nurse’s family also pointed out Nurse’s deafness to the court, hoping to explain the innocent reasons behind her silence. This request, too, was refused. On July 3, 1692, Nurse was formally excommunicated from her church, and on July 19, she was hanged. Even after her death, Nurse’s family continued to try to clear her name. They won a measure of redemption for her in 1706 when Ann Putnam, one of the accusers, officially recanted her stories. Putnam singled out Nurse as one about whom she had told particular lies. In 1711, the Massachusetts legislature reversed Nurse’s conviction, and the following year her church overturned her excommunication. Twenty years after her death, Nurse had finally been cleared of the charges against her.


People living in the American colonies lived longer than their counterparts in Europe, and New Englanders lived longer than people in the Southern colonies. It has been said, in fact, that New England invented grandparents, since it was there that people began to live long enough to see their children into adulthood and to hold their grandchildren in their arms. Despite the fact that many women died in childbirth, women still outlived men in the colonial period. Americans did not perceive old age as a time of pleasant retirement. In general, growing old was regarded as a time of decline, both physical and mental. Some doctors believed that the ailments of old age were caused by the body’s drying up. Others thought that old age brought about an excess of liquid in the body, a state that they called

“plethora.” Although medical discussions of aging women were rare, one writer, John Scudder, in Inaugural Dissertation on the Diseases of Old Age (1815), suggested that women were particularly apt to suffer from plethora after menopause, since they no longer had monthly periods, which had formerly allowed them to get rid of excess fluids. To avoid some of the physical problems associated with aging, many doctors prescribed better nutrition, exercise, moderate use of alcohol and tobacco, and intellectual stimulation. Bleeding and purging were also recommended. Doctors in the early national period also regarded old age as a time of mental decline. Benjamin Rush, one of the most noted physicians of the era, said that “The memory is the first faculty of the mind which fails in the decline of life.” The religious view of aging was perhaps even



more bleak than the medical view, and ministers regularly preached sermons urging the elderly to wean themselves from life and direct their thoughts toward death. For example, the Reverend Caleb Tenny preached a funeral sermon in 1821 in which he reminded his elderly listeners that “the time of your departure is at hand. Truly, your sun is disappearing; the graves are ready for you.” For many elderly, and especially for women, old age also brought poverty. When a man died, his wealth would usually be divided among his heirs, leaving the widow with much less to live on than she had before her husband’s death. Because women tended to bear children throughout their fertile years, a comparatively “elderly” widow might still have an adolescent child to care for. Since there were few ways that women could earn money,

many elderly widows were forced to depend on charity. Although old age was regarded as quite negative, many contemporary accounts of family life indicate that grandparents were often rewarded with warm and loving relationships with their grandchildren, making old age more a blessing than a curse. FURTHER READING

Scott, Paula A. Growing Old in the Early Republic: Spiritual, Social, and Economic Issues, 1790–1830. New York: Garland, 1997.

 O’NEALE, MARGARET L. See volume 2


The earliest works of art created by women in America were the baskets and ceramics made by Native Americans. Among colonists, the earliest art was created from cloth. Fabric pieces, such as samplers and quilts, not only had practical purposes, they were also works of art that served as creative outlets for women who had little time for other artistic pursuits. It was only in the twentieth century that much of this early work began to be collected and appreciated for its aesthetic worth. Despite the fact that few women had any training in the arts in the colonial period, the first professional painter in America was a woman, Henrietta Deering Johnston (1670–c.1728), who supplemented the family income by doing pastel portraits of her neighbors. Hetty Sage Benbridge, whose dates are unknown but who was a student of painter Charles Willson Peale (1741– 1827), painted miniature portraits in watercolor on ivory. The influence of Peale can be detected in the long oval faces of her subjects. After the American Revolution, the daughters of well-to-do parents received instruction in drawing and painting, accomplishments that were considered necessary for young ladies. Stencil or theorem painting was popular. Young women would

compose paintings using ready-made stencils, often on satin or velvet backgrounds. Women also painted memorials, paintings that showed mourners gathered around the grave of a family member or national hero. Several untrained artists, often referred to as primitive or folk painters, were active in the period after the Revolution. Eunice Griswold Pinney (1770–1849) painted bold watercolors with literary subjects and dramatic composition. Mary Ann Willson, whose paintings appeared between 1810 and 1825, also used bright colors to create her paintings of biblical and historical subjects. Both artists used strong contours and shapes, paying little attention to perspective. Ellen Wallace Sharples (1769–1849), Ann Hall (1792–1863), and Sarah Perkins (1771–1831) were more sophisticated in their styles and subjects; each had the opportunity to study art. Sharples painted formal watercolor portraits of such notable Americans as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Hall, a miniaturist, was the first woman to be accepted as a full member of the National Academy of Design. Historian Elizabeth Ellet wrote that Hall’s “soft colors seemed breathed on ivory, rather than applied with a brush.” She was particularly adept at painting flowers and often included flowers in her por-


WOMEN’S FIRSTS Henrietta Deering Johnston is considered the first woman painter in what is now the United States. She was also one of the first artists in the world to use pastels as a medium. The body of her work includes approximately 40 portraits done on paper in colored chalk. Most of the portraits are 9 by 12 inches with a few measuring 14 by 16 inches. Johnston was probably self-taught and learned to paint by studying the work of other artists. Little is known about Johnston’s early years, but a 1995 article in the magazine Antiques suggests that Johnston was born Henrietta de Beaulieu in Quintin, France. After the death of her first husband, Irishman John Deering (or Daring), she married the Reverend Gideon Johnston in Dublin in 1705. Financial troubles prompted the Johnstons to emigrate to North America in 1707. There Gideon served as the rector of St. Philip’s church in Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina. The couple did not prosper in Charles Town mainly because Gideon was ill for many years before his death in 1716. Throughout their marriage, Henrietta supplemented the family’s income by creating pastel renderings of wealthy neighbors. After her husband’s death, Johnston earned her living entirely by her craft. She probably stayed temporarily with the people she painted. Although most of her work was done in the South, she may have lived for a while in New York City in the late 1720s, since several paintings done there have been attributed to her. Johnston’s work is generally classified as primitive, in that the heads of her subjects are enlarged and the hands are not well drawn. Still, her work is prized as direct, innocent, and charming. Most of her paintings are still owned by the descendants of her original subjects. Johnston died in 1728 or 1729 and is buried in St. Philip’s churchyard in Charleston.

traits. Sarah Perkins painted pastel portraits, primarily of family members. America’s first woman sculptor was Patience Lovell Wright, a bold, brash character who created extraordinarily realistic wax likenesses of famous people. When she moved to England in 1772, Wright did portraits in wax of the king and queen, whom she called by their first names, “George,” and “Charlotte.” One of her few surviving works is a wax model of William Pitt.


Rachel Atkins did wood carvings from 1802–1804, primarily elaborately carved picture and mirror frames. Frances Platt Townsend Lupton sculpted portrait busts of clay and was named “Artist of the Academy” at the National Academy of Design in 1827. After mid-century, more women sculptors began to follow the lead of male sculptors, who learned their craft in Europe. FURTHER READING

Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Artists from Early Indian Times to the Present. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1982. . American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990.


(1760–1800) Philanthropist. Anne Parrish was born in Philadelphia on October 17, 1760, to Isaac Parrish and Sarah (Mitchell) Parrish. She was the oldest in a Quaker family of 11 children. When her parents contracted yellow fever, she promised to devote her life to charity. Parrish founded the Philadelphia House of Industry. Opened in 1795, the House of Industry employed underprivileged women and was the first charitable organization for women in America. In 1796, Parrish founded the Aimwell School for Girls. The students were educated in traditional studies and domestic science. Parrish died in Philadelphia on December 26, 1800, only four years after the school’s founding. It remained open until 1923.


Social organization in which men head a clan or family of dependents, and property is inherited through the male line. Colonial law followed the English tradition of coverture, which recognized a man as the high-



est authority within his family and gave him control of his wife’s property. A married woman became feme covert; legally she was considered the same person as her husband. However, women conducted independent business under the Feme Sole Trader Acts. The Puritans, who founded a commonwealth based on divine law, spoke of the family as a “little commonwealth,” ruled by the husband as the larger commonwealth was ruled by God. Colonial American women had more freedom than women in England. The Puritans made marriage a civil contract, which implied an agreement between two separate individuals. Laws restricting women’s activities were not strictly interpreted until the 1750s, when the need for labor and the shortage of women eased. All colonies gave widows dower rights to onethird of their husbands’ estates during their lifetimes. In the Chesapeake region, planters often tried to keep their land intact by willing an entire plantation to their widows and then to their sons. After the Revolution, women remained subject to the laws of coverture, but the crime of killing a husband became murder instead of petit treason (an act analogous to killing a king). While the ideal of republicanism encouraged women to submit to their husbands and confine their influence to domestic affairs, “Liberty rhetoric” expressed their growing aspirations for equality. FURTHER READING

Andermahr, Sonya, Terry Lovell, and Carol Wolkowitz. “Patriarchy.” A Concise Glossary of Feminist Theory. London: Arnold, 1997. Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. DePauw, Linda Grant. Founding Mothers: Women in America in the Revolutionary Era. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975. Ferguson, Kathy E. “Patriarchy.” In Helen Tierney, ed. Women’s Studies Encyclopedia. Edited by Helen Tierney. Rev. ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999. Kerber, Linda K. No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligation of Citizenship. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998. Williams, Selma R. Demeter’s Daughters: The Women Who Founded America, 1587–1787. New York: Atheneum, 1976.

PAWNEE HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Pawnee of the central plains in North America lived along the 50-mile stretch of the Loup and

Platte rivers in Kansas and Nebraska beginning in the seventeenth century. They lived in earth-lodge villages, gathering wild foods, growing crops, and hunting buffalo. Although men moved into their wife’s household upon marriage, leadership within the Pawnee was usually along male lines in a family. The position of chief was a male hereditary position, as were the positions of subchiefs, leading warriors, and religious leaders. These male leaders determined tribal matters, warfare, important ceremony times, farm-plot assignments, and foreign relations. Women’s roles within the Pawnee included gathering wild roots and berries; raising crops, such as corn, squash, beans, and pumpkins; and food preparation. Women also built the earthen lodges in which families lived. Women’s most important role was motherhood, which was viewed as sacred. Women also prepared for elaborate annual ceremonies that were believed to maintain balance between the tribe and Mother Earth.

 PEALE, ANNA AND SARAH See arts, patrons of the

PELHAM, MARY  SINGLETON COPLEY (c. 1710–1789) Businesswoman and mother of the painter John Singleton Copley. Mary Singleton was born in Ireland about 1710. With her first husband, Richard Copley, she moved to Boston about 1738. Richard Copley opened and ran a tobacco shop in the harbor district. When he died, probably about ten years after emigrating, Mary took over the shop. Before long she remarried, this time to an engraver and painter named Peter Pelham. Although the custom was for a woman to give up a business once she married, Pelham nevertheless continued to run her tobacco shop. Pelham had several children. The most notable was her first child, a son named John. John Singleton Copley became one of the greatest of all colonial painters. How she influenced his artistic development is unclear; his stepfather’s occupation certainly played an important role. In any case, Pelham was extremely proud of her son’s success within the art world. She died in Boston on April 29, 1789.




and wine, and she made a comfortable living from her business efforts. The outbreak of the American Revolution threatened to interfere with the smooth running of her business, but Perkins kept her store open; indeed, the war years were financially successful for her. She added to her income when she inherited real estate holdings from her father. As Perkins’s income rose, so did her gifts to charity and other causes. She contributed to the upkeep of the Continental Army during the war. She also gave extensively to religious organizations in and around Boston, and she helped found the Boston Female Asylum for the mentally ill. She died in Boston on May 24, 1807.

(1671–1726) Second wife of William Penn. Born in England on February 11, 1671, Hannah Callowhill was given a thorough training in business by her Quaker parents. In 1696, she married William Penn, a widower with children close to her own age. Over the next 12 years Penn gave birth to eight children and made one extended trip to her husband’s colony of Pennsylvania. There she managed her husband’s farm, got to know colonial officials, and learned much about life in North America. Pennsylvania was a proprietary colony, given by government consent to one man designated as proprietor. That man was William Penn, who governed the colony and owned much of the land. In 1703, faced with financial problems, Penn offered to sell the governmental rights back to England. PHILANTHROPY At the same time, he mortgaged many of his land The effort to increase the well-being of people holdings. When he died in 1718, he willed his wife through monetary gifts and charitable efforts. most of his remaining land and appointed her ex- Since colonial times, women have been active phiecutrix of his estate. His will, however, was con- lanthropists, in the sense that they helped one antested by his oldest son by his first wife, who other, and founded volunteer organizations, claimed both the land and government as his own, charitable services, and benevolent associabased on his status as oldest surviving son. tions that provided assistance to the needy in Hannah Penn decided to fight back. She wanted American society. But philanthropy is a broader to keep the land for her own children and was re- concept than charity—its purpose, in the words of luctant to pass on governmental authority to her Robert H. Bremner in American Philanthropy, is to stepson or to England. The court case dragged on for several years. In 1726, TRAILBLAZERS a week before her death on December 20, Penn learned that she had won. Esther De Berdt Reed started the largest women’s volunteer Pennsylvania remained governed by organization during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Reed was her heirs until the Revolution.

PERKINS,  ELIZABETH PECK (1735–1807) Business leader and philanthropist. Elizabeth Peck was born in Boston on February 14, 1735. In 1754, she married a merchant named James Perkins. He died in 1773, leaving behind his wife and eight children who survived infancy. Elizabeth Perkins responded to this disaster by opening a store of her own to keep the family financially afloat. She sold many different types of important goods, including china

married to Joseph Reed, governor of Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War. The Continental soldiers were in dire need of supplies, including clothing and food. So Esther Reed started the Ladies Association of Philadelphia in 1780. Reed’s organization spread from Pennsylvania to Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Delaware, and Virginia. Association members went door-to-door, collecting money to send to MARTHA WASHINGTON for General George Washington’s troops. Within a few months, Reed and her members had collected what was equivalent to $7,500 in gold. By contrast, prominent businessmen were able to collect only a few hundred dollars more in their efforts to establish the Bank of the United States. Reed died suddenly the same year she started the Association. Others continued her work, including Benjamin Franklin’s daughter SARAH FRANKLIN BACHE.



“promote the welfare, happiness, and culture of mankind.” Thus philanthropists do not confine themselves to helping the poor. In this larger sense, the term tends to be associated with those who give money rather than time, and with those who found or support institutions that benefit the whole society. In this latter sense, women in the colonial and early national periods were limited in their ability to engage in philanthropy. Although women’s benevolent associations did in fact do more than merely help the poor, their initial focus was on assistance to the needy rather than on building institutions that served the general welfare. The primary reason for this is that women controlled so little of the real wealth of the nation. While a wealthy man might leave his entire fortune to found a college, as John Harvard did in 1638, women seldom had fortunes to leave. Even a wealthy widow was usually left only a lifetime interest in a property, so that its disposition after her death was already determined by her husband’s will.

“I glory in all which my sex has done great and commendable. I call to mind with enthusiasm and with admiration, all those acts of courage, of constancy and patriotism, which history has transmitted to us.” —Esther De Berdt Reed, from the broadside The Sentiments of an American Woman

Even when women did have money to leave, according to Kathleen McCarthy in The Reader’s Companion to U.S. Women’s History, they “tended to reserve their largest monetary donations for institutions that bolstered the professional aspirations of men.” For example, Harvard’s first scholarship was established by a bequest from a woman, Ann Radcliffe Mowlson, in 1643. Though the women’s college, Radcliffe, was named for her, it was not established until 1894, so her bequest actually benefited only men. While women tended to do their philanthropic or charitable work through organizations, men, according to Anne Firor Scott, “were more likely . . . to operate as individuals.” Men were also more likely to give gifts to large institutions or found institutions that would bear their names. Women, on the other hand were “more apt to . . . to direct

their efforts toward other women.” They were also more likely to be directly involved with the recipients of their gifts, visiting the homes of the poor and presenting gifts personally. American philanthropy can be traced as far back as the Puritans, who believed, in Cotton Mather’s words, that people should perpetually “endeavor to do good in the world.” Those who had more than they needed were duty bound to care for those who did not have enough. Benjamin Franklin, also influential in developing the character of American philanthropy, said, “I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good, than on any other kind of reputation.” He hoped the new republic would be a society in which there was no poverty and little need for charity, and in which everyone had the tools to be “industrious and free.” Thus he dedicated himself to civic projects that he hoped would make life better for all citizens, such as founding libraries and organizing volunteer fire departments. The religious revival of the 1740s, the first of the great awakenings, encouraged more people to become involved in charitable works and transformed “do-goodism from a predominantly upper- and middle-class activity . . . into a broadly shared, genuinely popular avocation,” according to Bremner. Even if ordinary Americans did not have large fortunes to bequeath, they could still put a penny in the collection box, enabling congregations to help the needy. Beginning in the 1790s middle-class and elite women formed benevolent associations, such as the Boston Fragment Society, which to some extent took over and expanded the charitable work once done primarily by religious organizations. See also: Benevolent Associations, Women’s; Property Rights. FURTHER READING

Bremner, Robert H. American Philanthropy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. Ginzberg, Lori D. Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. Scott, Anne Firor. Natural Allies: Women’s Associations in American History. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993.


(?–c. 1690) Colonial businesswoman. The circumstances of Margaret Hardenbrook’s early life are unknown.


Born in Europe, she arrived in New Amsterdam, present-day New York, in 1659 or earlier; that year, she married her first husband in New Amsterdam. By 1660 she was established as a merchant, acting as an agent for several Dutch firms doing business in the colonies. A year later, after her husband’s death, Hardenbrook ran his business as well as her own. She bought a merchant ship, exported furs to the Netherlands, and imported Dutch goods to sell in the colonies. In 1662, Hardenbrook married Frederick Philipse, a wealthy trader. Her money and resources helped him to become one of the most influential merchants in New Netherland. As in her previous marriage, she also maintained her own business interests. This was a rarity for a married woman in colonial America, and the fact that she was married was such a curiosity that it was referred to in many of her business dealings. She traveled frequently between Europe and New Netherland, keeping careful track of her business interests. While many people admired her financial skills, other observers complained that she was greedy and overly obsessed with money. Margaret Philipse had several children, most of whom followed her into shipping and other business endeavors. She seems to have retired from business about 1680—why is unknown—and she died in New York City ten years later.


(1767–1852) Teacher. Sarah Pierce was born on June 26, 1767, in Litchfield, Connecticut. Trained from an early age for the teaching profession, Pierce began her own school in 1792. Known variously as Miss Pierce’s and the Litchfield Female Academy, the school’s fame and significance rose quickly. In its early days, Pierce took on only two or three students and taught them in her own house. By the 1820s, in contrast, enrollment had ballooned to well over a hundred pupils, and they met in a large public building. Pierce’s curriculum was not far different from the standard courses offered by girls’ schools of the time. She emphasized reading, arithmetic, needlework, and a mix of other academic and nonacademic subjects; when she found existing history textbooks insufficient, she wrote her own. Pierce had a particular interest in physical fitness, and she wrote short plays for her students to perform with townspeople.


Pierce ran the school more or less on her own until 1814, served as principal until 1825, and taught regularly until her retirement in 1833. The school folded several years afterwards, but Pierce was hailed as an innovator in the field of women’s education. She died in Litchfield on January 18, 1852. See also: Schools; Textbook Writing.


(c. 1722–1793) Plantation manager and agricultural innovator. Elizabeth Lucas, generally nicknamed Eliza, was born around 1722 in the West Indies, the eldest of four children. In 1738, she and her family moved to South Carolina, where her father, an English soldier named George Lucas, had inherited the Wappoo Plantation not far from Charleston. The following year war broke out between Spain and England, and Lucas’s father had to return to the West Indies. Although Eliza Lucas was only about 17, he left her in charge of Wappoo and several other nearby properties. By all accounts, Lucas enjoyed her responsibilities and took them seriously. Well-read and accomplished in the arts, she could have moved easily within Charleston’s high society, but chose instead to devote herself primarily to the upkeep of the plantation. She is not known to have questioned the system of slavery on which the plantation’s wealth depended, but she was concerned enough for the slaves’ welfare to teach two of the plantation’s young enslaved women to read. She also experimented with the planting of different crops and took careful notes on what she learned. Among the crops she tried out were cotton, rice, and other standards of the time and place, but she also experimented with ginger and many other plants as well. Her discoveries would prove helpful to local planters for many years. Lucas’s most successful experiments involved indigo, a valuable source of blue dye. The indigo plant had been cultivated in Charleston early in the community’s history, but growers had found it difficult to raise and unprofitable to sell. Production of indigo had instead fallen to planters on French islands in the West Indies. Lucas determined to try to raise indigo at Wappoo, thereby adding an extra valuable crop to South Carolina’s agricultural output and at the same time giving English and colonial manufacturers a chance to buy indigo domestically.



The fact that Lucas knew little or nothing about indigo cultivation did not deter her. She experimented constantly with growing conditions and methods of turning the plant into dye. She also had help from two West Indian brothers with extensive experience in growing indigo; although one was mostly interested in sabotaging her crop and leaving the French with a monopoly, the other proved useful in helping her adapt West Indian growing methods to South Carolina’s different soil and weather conditions. By 1744, Lucas’s crop was ready for marketing. English manufacturers found her indigo better than that produced by the French, and Lucas quickly distributed seeds to her neighbors. Within three years South Carolina was exporting 100,000 pounds of indigo. Lucas had married a lawyer named Charles Pinckney in 1744, and they had four children, two of whom—Charles and Thomas—would play important roles in the American Revolution. During her marriage and child-rearing, Eliza Pinckney nevertheless found time for further experiments involving indigo, other crops, and silkworms. In 1753, however, her husband was appointed a colonial commissioner, which required him to leave South Carolina for England; they did not return until the spring of 1758. Pinckney’s husband died later that summer, leaving her in charge of the family’s seven plantations. After the Revolutionary War, Pinckney settled into semiretirement at the South Carolina home of her daughter Harriott. There she helped raise a number of grandchildren. Pinckney contracted cancer in 1791. In an attempt to defeat the disease, she traveled to Philadelphia to see a medical specialist. Her treatments were unsuccessful, and she died in Philadelphia on May 26, 1793.

Her figures were typically two-dimensional, and she had difficulty painting faces. Some paintings contain literary references. Pinney’s paintings are especially noted for their use of strong patterns, interesting colors, and dramatic and creative subjects. Pinney died in Connecticut in 1849. About 50 paintings remain that have been definitely identified as her work. These paintings are generally considered to represent some of the best of early– eighteenth-century American folk art.

 PITCHER, MOLLY See gender frontiers

 POCAHONTAS See Native Americans


In seventeenth-century America, the most prominent poet was Anne Bradstreet. While there were many didactic poems and rhymed obituaries and


(1770–1849) Folk artist. Eunice Griswold was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, on February 9, 1770. Her first marriage, to Oliver Holcombe, left her a widow at a young age; she married Butler Pinney in 1797. Although Eunice Pinney is remembered for her watercolor paintings, she had very little artistic instruction as a child or young adult; indeed, she was almost 40 and the mother of five children, three by Butler Pinney, before she began to paint. Pinney was known for painting a variety of scenes and subjects, from landscapes to scenes of daily life.

Phillis Wheatley was the first published African-American poet.


epitaphs, only Bradstreet wrote poems that were comparable in quality to the poetry written in England at the time. (See Documents.) The first book of poetry printed in America was The Whole Booke of Psalmes (1640), better known as the Bay Psalm Book. Written by three Puritan ministers, the Bay Psalm Book placed a much greater value on accurately paraphrasing the psalms than on the beauty of the verse. This led to some rather bad poetry, such as this from Psalm 78: Give listening ear unto my law, ye people that are mine, Unto the sayings of my mouth do ye your ear incline.


WOMEN’S FIRSTS Phillis Wheatley was the first American of African descent to have her poetry published. At a time when it was generally believed that Africans lacked the capacity to attain higher learning, Wheatley proved that they, like Europeans, could benefit from a formal education. The exact date of Wheatley’s birth is unknown but is thought to be around 1753. She was brought to North America on the slave ship Phillis when she was about seven years old. Once in Boston, a wealthy merchant named John Wheatley and his wife Susannah bought the young girl and renamed her Phillis after the ship on which she came. Wheatley’s genteel demeanor and precocity impressed her new owners. She was permitted many freedoms not granted to others in SLAVERY, such as eating with the family and having her own room. The Wheatleys taught her English and Latin. While in her teens, she wrote one of her first pieces of verse, “To the University of Cambridge, in New England,” which celebrates learning, virtue, and redemption through Christ, topics that would dominate her writing. During the late 1760s and early 1770s, Wheatley’s poems attracted the attention of many people of wealth and distinction, such as George Washington. Guests came to the Wheatley household in Boston to meet the young poet. In 1773, Wheatley traveled to London as the guest of the Countess of Huntingdon, a patron who subsidized the printing of some of Wheatley’s work, including her only book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. As proof that an African did indeed write the collection, 18 well-respected men, including John Hancock, signed a foreword attesting to her authorship. Wheatley rarely addressed the issue of slavery and did not seem overly concerned with the plight of slaves. Instead, her writings stressed the importance of religion and morality. Her poem entitled “On Being Brought from Africa to America” actually praises those who brought her from her “Pagan land” and taught her “to understand that there’s a God.” In the last lines of the poem, she writes, “Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain / May be refined, and join th’ angelic train.” Wheatley returned to America later in 1773 and, after the death in 1774 of her former mistress, she lived the remainder of her life in poverty and relative obscurity until her death in 1784. (See Documents.)

In both England and America in the eighteenth century, prose fiction eclipsed poetry as the most popular literary form. Probably the best-known woman poet of the era is also America’s first African-American poet, Phillis Wheatley, whose Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773. (See Documents.) Unfortunately, the idea of a poet who was both black and female was too much for some of Wheatley’s contemporaries. Thomas Jefferson refused to consider her work poetry, and others, although they praised her work, seemed to regard her as an anomaly. Her work was largely focused on morality and piety. During the American Revolution, verse satires and ballads were popular. Since many were published anonymously, some were certainly written by women. Mercy Otis Warren wrote some poetry, though she is best remembered for her historical work. (See Documents.) The best-known poets of the period were John Trumball, Joel Barlow, and Timothy Dwight, now collectively known as “the Hartford Wits.” Trumball is remembered now for his humorous epic McFingal, Barlow for his mock epic Hasty Pudding, and Dwight for his religious epic The Conquest of Canaan. Philip Freneau, called the “poet of the revolution” for his patriotic poems such as “The Rising



Glory of America,” actually did some of his best work in the 1780s. “The Indian Burying Ground” and “The Wild Honey Suckle” are lovely lyric poems that prefigure the work of American Romantic poets. FURTHER READING

Bloom, Harold, ed. American Women Poets. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Kaplan, Cora. Salt and Bitter and Good: Three Centuries of English and American Women Poets. New York: Paddington Press, 1975.


A system establishing public responsibility for the poor. From the beginning, poor laws in British colonial America were modeled on the English system, which was instituted in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and based on a division of the poor into two groups—the deserving and the undeserving. The “deserving” poor were those people who were unable to work because of age or disability. The “undeserving” poor were those who were considered able to work but could not or would not find work. For those who could not work, the poor laws provided what was called “indoor relief,” cash or other forms of direct help. Those who could work were given “outdoor relief,” employment provided by the government, often in workhouses. From their inception, poor laws were subject to criticism because many people felt that they encouraged able-bodied people to become dependent on government assistance. In general, poor women in both the colonial and early national periods, according to Carol Berkin in First Generations, “began in need [and] ended in desperation.” Because of social limitations on the work that women could do, women could not easily extricate themselves from poverty. Poor women and their children were often “bound over,” or indentured, to employers and forced to work as servants. One of the few protections women had against poverty were dower rights, which attempted to ensure that widows were not left destitute by forcing husbands to leave their wives at least one-third of their property in their wills. Dower rights were strictly enforced in British North America because communities did not want to have to care for impoverished widows. Poor laws in some colonies provided that people who received public relief wear a badge marked

with a P; those who refused could be sent to prison or whipped. Thus, to the pain of poverty, the burden of humiliation was added. FURTHER READING

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996.


Women were barred from ordination and preaching in all Christian sects in early America, but many had religious responsibilities akin to preaching. Their maternal role, which was universally seen as central to their lives, included a particular duty to inculcate practical godliness, or morality, in family members and friends. This moral guidance could amount to a kind of preaching in evangelical sects—those marked by a strong impulse to spread their religious message and recruit church members. One of these, the Quakers, rejected ritual ordination of clergy, and allowed a number of women to be ministers along with men. Women in evangelical sects like Puritan Congregationalism in New England could hold meetings in their homes to discuss Christian doctrine. A few individuals tried to enlarge the purpose of these meetings, like Anne Hutchinson, who addressed large gatherings at her home in Boston in the 1630s. The colony of Massachusetts Bay banished her in part because she affected to have biblical authority equal to that of an ordained preacher. Quakers were more tolerant, and one of them, Mary Coffyn Starbuck, was a powerful preacher who made Nantucket a Quaker stronghold early in the eighteenth century. Other notable female Quaker preachers include Sophia Wigington Hume of South Carolina and Rebecca Jones of Pennsylvania. The First Great Awakening in the 1740s inspired many women to be more assertive in their churches, and again, some New England Congregationalists got into trouble. Bathsheba Kingsley was disciplined by her church for preaching in Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1741 and 1743. Sarah Osborn provoked authorities by leading a revival in her home in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1766, attended by people of both sexes, white and black. In the era of the American Revolution, some women breached old boundaries, although they still could not be ordained in any mainstream church. The immigrant Ann Lee brought her own sect, the Shakers, to America from England on the



eve of the Revolution. An American-born Quaker named Jemima Wilkinson established her own sect and traveled extensively, preaching, prophesying, and healing. Freewill Baptist Nancy Towle began preaching in New England in the mid-1810s. The trend reached a pinnacle in 1827, when New Hampshire’s Harriet Livermore preached to a large crowd in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nothing is known about preaching by black women slaves in the early period. Free black women like Jarena Lee also faced male resistance to their preaching. In the early national era, women were more active as missionaries, in which role they often preached. Hannah Jenkins Barnard was a controversial Quaker missionary in England in 1800. Ann Hasseltine Judson, a Baptist, and Harriet Newell, a Congregationalist, were the first female missionaries from the United States to East Asia in 1812, and Newell was the first woman to die in foreign missionary service.


During the colonial period, most women were pregnant from five to ten times in their lives and had from three to eight surviving children. The average period between pregnancies was 28 months. In fact, according to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “the general pattern of a birth every two or Jarena Lee was the first recorded black woman preacher. three years was accepted as a rhythmic part of colonial Americans’ everyday existence.” Women planned their lives around anticipated pregnancies. Though accepted, a pregnancy was WOMEN’S FIRSTS not always celebrated. Since many women died in childbirth, news of Jarena Lee (1783-c.1850) was the first recorded black woman a pregnancy was often greeted with preacher. Born into a free African-American family in New mixed emotions. Nearly every women Jersey, she converted to Christianity in the African Method- had friends and relatives who had ist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1804. She expressed a desire died from complications of pregto preach in 1811, but was rebuffed by AME founder Rev- nancy, and most women had to face erend Richard Allen. In 1819, however, she interrupted a the fact that each pregnancy could be sermon in his Bethel Church in Philadelphia to exhort the life-threatening. Women comforted congregation extemporaneously, and Allen then gave her per- each other and offered support durmission to preach. She traveled in all sections of the country ing pregnancy, urging their friends to for many years, sometimes preaching to audiences of both keep their spirits up because “anxiety blacks and whites. She published her spiritual autobiography is bad for health.” The medical care of pregnant in 1836 and was probably involved in a movement in 1850 by women usually fell to female relatives black women preachers to demand the right to be ordained and midwives. Just before delivery, a in the AME Church. woman would call in the local midwife and female friends and relatives. Gen-



erally, doctors would be called only if there were complications, such as breech deliveries. Midwives treated most complications of pregnancy with herbal remedies, while doctors often resorted to bloodletting, which itself caused many complications and even deaths. Husbands were seldom in the room during a delivery but were usually at home. After the birth of a child, women would avoid strenuous activity for as long as their circumstances would allow. This period was called the “lying in” period. A month was usually the recommended time, but few women had the luxury of resting for so long. Many were back in their kitchens within a day or two. FURTHER READING

Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.


(1730?–1821) Probably the first African-American poet. Lucy Terry was born in Africa and was kidnapped into slavery at a young age. Brought to Rhode Island, she was purchased by Ebenezer Wells of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and worked in his household. By 1746, she had been in the United States long enough to have learned English and to have showed a definite interest in poetry. That year, at the age of 16 or so, she composed an original poem, “Bars Fight,” which told the story of a Native American raid on a New England village. Although she was a slave, her sympathies as a poet lay with the whites who were attacked rather than with the native attackers. “Bars Fight” was not published immediately, but there is no doubt that Terry wrote it. “Bars Fight” is the only poem Terry is known to have written. The historical record on her is sketchy. In 1756 she married Abijah Prince, a free black who purchased her liberty. Prince and her husband helped found Sunderland, Vermont. The couple had six children. Prince died in Sunderland in 1821, 27 years after her husband’s death. “Bars Fight,” however, was not published until 1855, when it appeared in a historical account of western Massachusetts. Today, Lucy Terry Prince’s work is recognized as the oldest example of a poem written by an African American.

PRINTING AND  PUBLISHING A remarkable number of women worked in the printing and publishing business in America during the colonial and early national periods. In a pioneering study published in 1978, Early American Women Printers, Leona M. Hudak provides 25 detailed case studies of women who ran newspapers and presses. She discusses 26 additional cases in the appendix to the book. She concludes that in America, women “worked alongside men in the endless effort to disseminate information.” Of the 25 women she studies, only one—Sarah Updike Goddard—founded a firm with her own money. Most of the other women worked in family businesses and continued to run them after their husbands died. Benjamin Franklin mentions his wife’s involvement in his printing business in his Autobiography: She assisted me cheerfully in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing linen rags for the papermakers, etc., etc.

Like Deborah Read Franklin, many wives had substantial experience in the printing business and could easily take over when their husbands died. The first printing press in America, established in 1638, was owned by a woman, Elizabeth Glover of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anna Zenger, wife of John Peter Zenger—whose trial for libel in 1734 helped to establish the principle of freedom of the press—ran his paper for a year while he was in prison and again after his death. Anne Hoof Green and Clementina Rind both published newspapers and became the official printers for Maryland and Virginia, respectively. Mary Katherine Goddard was chosen to issue the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence to include the names of the signers. The first magazines published in America were issued in 1741, one by Andrew Bradford, whose wife, Cornelia Smith Bradford, took over his newspaper when he died in 1742, and one by Benjamin Franklin. Both of these publications were short-lived. After the Revolution, a number of publishers established magazines and journals that specifically addressed themselves to women as well as men, selecting articles that would be of interest to women and rejecting articles that might offend. Some published admiring biographies of famous women, aware that such stories would appeal to a female readership. Among these were the Colum-


bian Magazine, American Magazine, United States Magazine, Lady and Gentleman’s Pocket Magazine of Literature and Polite Amusement, and Farmer’s Magazine. The first American journal published exclusively for women, The Lady’s Magazine, and Repository of Entertaining Knowledge, appeared in 1792. According to Mary Beth Norton in Liberty’s Daughters, “the pages of these journals constituted the single most important public forum for the voicing of radical opinions on women’s status and role.” Many who wrote in these magazines advocated educational opportunities and wider spheres of influence for women. FURTHER READING

Hudak, Leona M. Early American Women Printers and Publishers: 1638–1820. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1978. Norton, Mary Beth. Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750–1800. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.


(1773–1842) Humanitarian. Margaret Barrett was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1773. In 1814 she married William Prior, a New York merchant. Over the next few years Margaret Prior began to devote herself to charitable work. In 1818, she established a soup kitchen; four years later, she opened a school for impoverished children. Having lost most of her biological children in infancy, she also adopted a disabled orphan, who lived only to the age of ten. She served as a board member of the New York Orphan Society. Prior’s charitable work centered mainly on the New York Female Moral Reform Society. This organization tried to improve the lives of single mothers, prostitutes, and other poor women in New York City. Prior and other volunteers also visited prisoners and the sick, helped people find jobs, and fought alcoholism. She offered prayer, moral support, and material goods such as food and money when they were available. Much of Prior’s work came from a religious zeal: a kind of urban missionary, she hoped to bring Christianity to the poor. For many years she visited an average of 50 poor families a week. She died on April 7, 1842, in New York City.


The legal rights of an individual to own property. The property rights of women in British colonial


America were initially determined by English common law, which held that married women had no identity separate from their husbands and thus no legal right to any of the property within the marriage. Widows were entitled to dower rights, which meant that, by law, husbands had to leave their wives at least one-third of their personal property and a life interest in at least one-third of the family real estate. A life interest meant that income from property belonged to the widow during her life, but she could not dispose of the property. After her death, the property transferred to the children, as specified in her husband’s will. If a husband died without a will or did not leave a wife her “thirds,” she could sue to be granted her share. In New Amsterdam before British rule, husbands and wives typically left all property to one another, trusting the surviving spouse to care for the children. But in the British colonies, widows, even if they were comfortably off, had little or no control over property. And although single women could own property, they made up only a tiny minority of the female population. While there were married women who held personal property in trusts, and while the law provided that women could hold property specified in prenuptial agreements, few women took advantage of these “loopholes.” The idea that men should hold the rights to property was almost universally accepted in both pre- and postrevolutionary America. Women in colonial America, then, had little control over the total wealth of the nation. Studies of probate records, according to Carole Shammas in “Early American Women and Control over Capital,” consistently show that women controlled less than 10 percent of all the nation’s wealth. Even though some laws of inheritance were changed after the American Revolution, the impact on the amount of capital controlled by women was quite minor. Some of the changes included eliminating laws that favored sons over daughters in inheritance and eliminating double shares to eldest sons. Thus daughters were in a position to inherit more property after the Revolution than before. But this change had little impact on the total wealth of women because most women only came into their inheritances after they were married, so the property ended up belonging to their husbands. While a few states made laws that were more favorable to women, radical changes in property rights that increased the real wealth of women were not widespread until the 1830s and 1840s.



See also: Coverture; Feme Sole Trader Acts. FURTHER READING

Hoffman, Ronald, and Peter J. Albert, eds. Women in the Age of the American Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989.


Speaking under the influence of divine inspiration. In the Christian tradition, prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Biblical prophets received a special call to speak God’s word to their people. They condemned oppression, called sinners to repentance, and shared visions of the future. The Puritans believed that the biblical prophets were divinely inspired, but held that God no longer spoke directly to individuals. Dissenter Anne Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony after claiming to receive personal revelations from the Lord. In contrast, the Quakers believed that God chose both men and women as “instruments” for His messages. Since preaching and prophecy were gifts, Quakers did not train ministers but “acknowledged” their calling. Signs of a true calling included premonitions, visions, and prophetic warnings. Quakers also performed what they called prophetic acts to challenge injustice. In 1662, Deborah Wilson protested the public whipping of women stripped to the waist by walking naked through Salem. Visions inspired two women to become “missionary prophets” who founded their own American sects. In 1770, Englishwoman Ann Lee had a revelation that Shakers should live in celibacy. In 1774, she and her followers moved to New York in accordance with another prophetic vision of Lee’s. Jemima Wilkinson, after recovering from a serious illness, believed she had been given a second life to be God’s special messenger. Her followers became known as “Universal Friends.”


The exchange of sexual acts for money. Religious leaders in both Europe and America taught that sex was immoral outside of marriage. Early American laws reflected that belief. Before 1750, prostitution was uncommon. Women married young and most lived with their

families. However, records mention six “bawds” working in New England ports around 1672. By 1800, prostitutes were established in centers of trade, such as Boston and Philadelphia. Sometimes their businesses were disguised as taverns or hat shops. While laws against prostitution were not always strictly enforced, prerevolutionary punishments could be painful. In Virginia, penalties for sexual acts between people who were not married included fines or whippings for both the woman and the man. In New York, convicted prostitutes were whipped or branded. Prostitution did not become a formal trade until around the time of the Revolution, when camp followers traveled with the army and many women were impoverished by war. For poor women, prostitution became an alternative to low-paying jobs. Different classes of prostitutes emerged, ranging from streetwalkers to kept women. Public opinion considered these “fallen women” a danger to the virtuous ideals of the new Republic. During periodic public outcries against vice, brothels in New York and Boston were attacked by mobs. Typically public indignation and law enforcement efforts focused on the women, not their clients. Despite occasional crackdowns, the trade continued. See also: Fornication; Sexuality, Regulation of.

PUEBLO HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Pueblo represented several diverse groups of Native Americans, including the Hopi, Tewa, Zuni, Tano, and Piro. Beginning around 1500, Spanish explorers in the region of present-day New Mexico called these peoples “pueblo” after the type of stucco housing in which they lived. Prior to the arrival of Spanish missionaries and the influences of Catholicism, the Pueblo divided themselves into family groups called lineages. These lineages were grouped according to matriarchal lines, which meant that family power and property passed down through the mother. Households were organized around the senior women who owned and controlled family property. Several generations of a family lived together. A man moved into his wife’s family’s house upon marriage. A Pueblo woman’s role as “nurturer” and provider of sustenance was highly revered, as was her


role as a mother. She gathered and prepared food, built and maintained housing, and supervised family affairs. The men tended corn, traded with outsiders, and protected the village against attacks.



TRAILBLAZERS Priscilla Alden is remembered today primarily because of her courtship by John Alden, a story that was retold by the poet Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow. Priscilla Mullins was born in Surrey, England, to William, a shoemaker, and his wife, Mary. In 1620, the family sailed to America with the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts. During the first terrible winter in America, almost half of the settlers died, among them both Priscilla’s parents and her younger brother. Some time between 1621 and 1623, Priscilla married John Alden, a cooper or barrel maker. Theirs was one of the first marriages in the new colony. It later became one of the most famous marriages in all of American history, thanks to the 1858 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” According to the poem, Miles Standish, one of the leaders of the colony who had been recently widowed, wanted to ask Priscilla to marry him but was too shy to ask her. Instead, he sent the young John Alden to propose for him. Alden, who himself was in love with Priscilla, put his feelings aside in favor of loyalty to his friend. But when Alden asked Priscilla to marry Standish, she uttered her famous response, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?” Alden, only briefly taken aback, took the hint and asked for Priscilla’s hand himself. Priscilla Alden, with her spirited and direct response, has come to represent a romantic ideal of life in America, a place where people marry for love and live happily ever after. Longfellow took the idea for his poem from a book by Timothy Alden, a descendent of John and Priscilla. Although the story is probably not true, it has become a well-known part of American folklore. Not much is known about Priscilla Alden after her marriage. She and John moved from Plymouth to Duxbury, Massachusetts, where they were among the founders of that settlement. Priscilla had 11 children, according to Governor William Bradford, but the names of only eight children are known. John Alden died in 1687 and it is assumed that Priscilla preceded him in death.

A group of individuals who wanted to “purify” the practice of Christianity. Puritanism began in the sixteenth century as an attempt to cleanse the Church of England, which had broken from the Catholic Church in 1534, of “all taint of popery.” Some Puritans rejected the whole idea of a centrally established church and believed that religious practice should be governed by independent groups or congregations of believers. Under James I and Charles I of England Puritans were persecuted, and many chose to emigrate to America. In 1630, 17 ships carried a thousand immigrants, many of them Puritans, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Just before landing in America, John Winthrop, later the first governor of the colony, delivered a sermon in which he declared that the settlement would be “as a City upon a hill, the eyes of all people are on us.” Their new community was to be a theocracy, a state governed by religious principles. Puritans dominated Massachusetts and other parts of New England for most of the seventeenth century. Women were considered intellectually and spiritually inferior in the Puritan faith. Just as Eve tempted Adam into sin in the biblical story, so too Puritan men had to be on their guard against the temptations of women who refused to submit to their husbands and fathers. Thus the preservation of male authority was an important goal of Puritan society. The family was patriarchal, and wives were expected to submit to their husbands in all aspects of their lives. A woman’s place was in the home, and her duty was, according to John Cotton “to keep at home, educating of her children, keeping

and improving what is got by the industry of the man.” In both church and town meetings, women were seated separately from men. When it came to the subject of religion, it was a man’s duty to instruct his wife and daughters, but he was expected to simplify difficult theological concepts so they could understand them. Puritans cited the story of Ann Hopkins, wife of Governor



have improved them usefully and honorably in the place God had set her.

Priscilla Mullins Alden’s marriage to John Alden inspired a poem, illustrated here, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Edward Hopkins, who went mad trying to study religion on her own. According to John Winthrop’s journal (published in the nineteenth century as The History of New England from 1630 to 1649): if she had attended her household affairs, and such things as belong to women, and not gone out of her way and calling to meddle in such things as are proper for men, whose minds are stronger, etc., she had kept her wits, and might

When Anne Hutchinson was tried for heresy in 1637 (see Documents), it is clear from the transcripts of the trial that her gender was as much at issue as her unorthodox religious views. She was sentenced in part, said Governor Winthrop, “as being a woman not fit for our society.” Her banishment served as a clear message to other women that dissent, especially by women, would not be tolerated. While wives were expected to submit to husbands, Puritans valued the married state and felt that love was essential to marriage. According to Edmund Morgan in The Puritan Family, “If a husband and wife failed to love each other above all the world, they not only wronged each other, they disobeyed God.” The letters exchanged by many Puritan couples reveal a deep and genuine affection. Although men had broad authority, it was not without limits. Husbands could not hit their wives or demand that they go against the laws of God. And husbands and wives were expected to share authority over children and servants. FURTHER READING

Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.


The Society of Friends was founded in England by George Fox in the mid-seventeenth century, a period of great religious and political turmoil. The sect became known as Quakers when Fox told a judge who was about to sentence him for blasphemy that he should “tremble at the word of the Lord.” One of the central tenets of Quakerism is the concept of the “inner light,” or “Christ within”—the idea that each individual could find the truth within him or herself, without the help of formal religion or religious texts. Quakers rejected authority and hierarchies of all kinds. Their use of “plain speech,” which used the informal “thee,” as opposed to the more formal “you,” emphasized their sense of the equality of all persons. Quakers rejected a formal set of beliefs and believed that any member could preach the word of God.

“I came to keep bloodguiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust laws of banishment upon pain of death made against the innocent servants of the Lord. Therefore, my blood will be required at your hands who wilfully do it. But, for those who do it in the simplicity of their hearts, I desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my father, and in obedience to this will I stand even to death.” —Mary Dyer, speaking just before her execution



The Quaker belief in equality TRAILBLAZERS extended to women. Fox’s wife, Margaret, wrote ingenious reinterpretations of biblical passages that Mary Dyer and her husband William were followers of ANNE appeared to forbid women to preach, HUTCHINSON, a Puritan woman who questioned the religious and she herself traveled extensively authority of Massachusetts leaders. Hutchinson maintained carrying the message of this new rethat salvation was a personal experience between an individligion throughout England. She was ual and God. Fearing her influence, Puritan officials tried arrested and imprisoned several Hutchinson for heresy and excommunicated her on March times for blasphemy and proselytiz22, 1638. As Hutchinson left the church after the verdict, ing, as was her husband. Dyer and her husband walked out beside her. When Quakers came to North For their support of Hutchinson, the Dyers were excomAmerica, they were considered heremunicated and banished. They moved to Rhode Island, a tics, especially by the Puritans of colony founded on the tenet of religious freedom. Settling in Massachusetts Bay. The first Quakers Newport, Mary raised five sons, and William became a posettled in Rhode Island because of its litical leader in the colony. policy of religious toleration. Quaker In 1652, the Dyers traveled to England on political busiWilliam Penn founded colonies in ness. After several months, William went back to Rhode IsWest New Jersey and Pennsylvania land, while Mary stayed behind. In England, she joined the that were noted for their toleration of Society of Friends, also known as QUAKERS. Like Hutchinall religious groups. son, the Quakers stressed personal spirituality. Quaker women in colonial America Mary Dyer sailed back to Massachusetts in 1657. The year were accorded more freedom and a before, the colony had passed a law designed to suppress greater range of opportunities than Quakerism. After Dyer disembarked in Boston, Massachuwomen of other religions, although setts, authorities arrested her. She was released from prison they were still constrained by the only after her husband paid a large bond. norms of the larger society around After returning to Rhode Island, Dyer learned that sevthem. Marriage among Quakers was eral Quakers were being held in a Massachusetts prison. much more a partnership between equals than the more hierarchical reWhen she traveled to Boston to visit them in the spring of lationship supported by other reli1659, she was imprisoned for two months. Dyer and her gions. The ceremony itself emphasized friends were then released, banished, and threatened with the unique nature of the Quaker undeath if they returned to Massachusetts. All but two men ion, in that the woman did not vow to obeyed. The pair refused to leave because they wanted to “obey” her husband. Despite the protest the colony’s oppressive laws. Dyer returned to Rhode Quaker belief in equality in marriage, Island but came back within a month to join them. All three Quaker women were as domestic in were taken to the gallows. The men were hanged. Dyer was their concerns as other women at the given a last-minute reprieve, but the experience did little to time. They still saw woman’s proper dampen her resolve. Although she left Boston, after the exesphere of influence as the home, but cution, she returned in 1660. Once again, she was arrested women’s roles as homemakers and and sentenced to death. Despite her husband’s impassioned mothers were more respected and valplea for mercy, she was hanged the next day. A martyr to the ued by Quakers than they were by cause of religious freedom, Dyer is today honored by a statue members of other religions. on the grounds of Boston’s State House. Quaker women could and did travel extensively as missionaries and preachers. In 1659, Mary Dyer, a Quaker preacher, was executed in Puritan Boston. Although all she had done was Quaker girls were educated separately from boys preach, she was accused of inciting a rebellion. and studied needlepoint and sewing along with acQuakers held that women should be educated ademic subjects, they were much better educated so that they could effectively manage their house- than most other women in the colonial era. Quaker women held meetings separate from holds and understand religion more fully. While



men, which allowed women to take on leadership roles such as Elder. Although the women’s meetings were not equal to men’s meetings in every way, their separate nature gave Quaker women social status and organizational and speaking experience available to very few other women of the era. It is perhaps no surprise that many of the early advocates of women’s rights were Quaker women. Quakers were also among the first to call for the abolition of slavery. In 1688, a group of Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania, spoke out against

slavery. Such calls for abolition increased among Quakers in the eighteenth century. See also: Bible, the, and the Subordination of Women. FURTHER READING

Bacon, Margaret Hope. Mothers of Feminism: The Story of Quaker Women in America. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986. Larson, Rebecca. Daughters of Light: Quaker Women Preaching and Prophesying in the Colonies and Abroad, 1700–1775. New York: Knopf, 1999.

R  RAMSAY, MARTHA LAURENS (1759–1811) Advocate of traditional women’s roles. Martha Laurens was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on November 3, 1759. She was eager to learn throughout her childhood and adolescence and read voluminously in history, science, and especially religion. Her father, however, taught her that housewifely skills were of primary importance for a woman. In 1787, Martha Laurens married a Charleston doctor and political figure named David Ramsay. The marriage produced 11 children, of whom eight survived childhood. Ramsay eagerly taught them at home, introducing her sons to Latin and Greek and instructing her daughters according to the standard ideas of her time. Although Ramsay moved in high social circles and was related to a number of important government leaders of the time, she preferred the private realm to the public. She believed that her mission was to lend strength to her husband and other men in her life. In this, she saw herself as a model of womanhood and hoped that other wives would follow her example. She died in Charleston on June 10, 1811. The following year her husband published a popular biographical sketch of her life, a work which emphasized the delight she took in her role as a woman.

This devoted mother and well-educated hostess embodied the new Republic’s feminine ideal. Martha was the first of six children born to Thomas and Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, and one of only two who survived their childhood. Her mother died when she was ten. In 1784 she accompanied her father to Paris, where he served as ambassador to France. Jefferson encouraged her education, writing her that the more she learned, the more he loved her. The family returned to Virginia in 1789. “Patsy” fell in love with her second cousin, Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., whom she married in 1790. The Randolphs eventually moved to a plantation near Monticello, where Martha Randolph established a school for their 12 children. Their son James Madison Randolph was the first child born in the White House. Another son, George Wythe Randolph, became the first secretary of war in the Confederacy. A third son, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, shared his mother’s belief in the injustice of slavery and promoted gradual emancipation. Randolph supported her father’s political career by answering his correspondence and serving as hostess at the White House from 1802 to 1803 and from 1805 to 1806. Her husband served in the United States Congress and as Virginia’s governor from 1819 to 1822. However, debt and mental illness led to his complete estrangement from his family. He died bankrupt in 1828. His widow lived with various children until her death eight years later.



(1772–1836) Daughter and confidante of Thomas Jefferson, who served as his first lady during his presidency.

(1762–1828) Author of the first Southern cookbook in America. Mary Randolph was born in Virginia on August 9,


1762. Her cookbook was titled The Virginia Housewife. Randolph intended her book to be “sufficiently clear and concise to impart knowledge to a tyro.” A tyro is an amateur or a beginner in a particular field—a novice. Hers was one of the first cookbooks in North America to provide clear, precise measurements that could easily be replicated. Randolph gained experience for writing her cookbook by operating a boardinghouse in Richmond, Virginia. She was considered an exceptional hostess and cook. Her cookbook was first published in 1824, and by 1850 it had gone through seven editions. It remains in print today. Mary Randolph died on January 23, 1828, in Washington, D.C.


WOMEN’S FIRSTS Ann Lee was the first leader of the SHAKERS in America. Lee was born in Manchester, England, in 1736. She was an illiterate cotton millworker and a cook. After marrying, Lee had four children, all of whom died at an early age. Around 1758 she joined the Shakers, a small sect of former Quakers in England. Lee embraced celibacy, had religious visions, and experienced “awakenings” that led her to bring the first group of Shakers to America in 1774. Lee and her followers first formed Shaker communities at Mount Lebanon and Watervliet in New York. Eventually the Shakers established 18 societies in seven states. Lee’s followers called her “Mother Ann” and viewed her as a prophetess and leader. The Shakers also thought Lee was a female embodiment of the Christ spirit. Shaker communities flourished under Lee’s leadership, welcoming in anyone willing to abandon traditional family structures and share common property. The Shaker movement peaked in the nineteenth century. One community still persists in Sabbath Day Lake, Maine.


(1774–1837) A Virginia aristocrat who was at the center of several eighteenth-century scandals. Ann Cary Randolph (who went by the name Nancy) was charged with murdering her newborn child and was defended by Patrick Henry and John Marshall. Randolph’s problems began when she was 18. She lived with her cousins, Judith and Richard Randolph, on their plantation in Virginia. In 1793, Nancy and her brother-in-law were charged with having a baby in an adulterous affair and then killing the child. After a slave reported the deed, Nancy and Richard were arrested and tried for murder. The pair could afford the best in legal defense in Virginia, and they hired Patrick Henry to argue their case. John Marshall, who would later become chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, provided the closing arguments in their defense. They were found not guilty. Gossip continued to surround Nancy Randolph. Some people believed she poisoned Richard, who died suddenly in 1796. Richard Randolph’s brother Jack and Nancy’s sister Judith spread rumors that Nancy had a love affair with one of Jack’s slaves, Billy Ellis. The rumors were never substantiated. In 1808, Jack Randolph forced Nancy to leave

the family plantation. She moved to New York and for a while tried to support herself, it is believed, through prostitution. Later the same year, she married. Nancy Randolph died in 1837.


See crimes against women

 REED, ESTHER See philanthropy


The number and variety of religious sects throughout colonial America grew as groups emigrated to North America. Religious sects were not established by law and did not have the full power of an established church. Sects in early North American included the Moravians, Quakers, Shakers, and Baptists. There was a proliferation of religious sects after the American Revolution. A few religious sects in colonial America did allow women leaders. The Moravians had women el-



ders. Ann Lee, who founded the Shakers, and Jemima Wilkinson started religious communities of their own. The Quakers allowed women to preach to other women; the men and women held separate meetings. The most numerous sects in colonial America were Quakers in Pennsylvania, and the Baptists in Rhode Island. The majority of the colonial sects were influenced by Calvinist beliefs, which perpetuated the Catholic view that, due to Eve’s falling to temptation, men should rule over women. Mankind was doomed because of a woman’s weaknesses, and, therefore, women could not be entrusted with any form of power or leadership. These beliefs and the

established patriarchal family structure controlled the everyday activities of women within and outside their families in colonial America.


Sympathy toward a republican form of government. The American Revolution raised new questions about the civic role of women in a free society, a society that was no longer a colony. Before the Revolutionary War, women had little or no civic role in their communities. The end of the war brought with it new opportunities and expectations for women to act politically not only within their homes but also in the larger community. People’s rights were no TRAILBLAZERS longer inherited through wealth or by social position. Rather, ancient theoMercy Otis Warren, one of the first patriots to push for sepa- ries of republicanism were enlisted, ration from Britain, mocked the British government in the col- where a government’s legitimacy onies through her plays, most of which were published anony- rested on the consent of the govmously to avoid arrest. She corresponded with John and erned. The ideal of republican ABIGAIL SMITH ADAMS in publicized letters that expounded motherhood, though it sprang from a world view that saw the importance on the virtues of a republic free from British tyranny. Warren was born in 1728 in Barnstable, Massachusetts, of a mother’s intelligence and educaone of 13 children of James and Mary Allyne Otis. Mercy tion as resting primarily in benefits Otis grew up close to political affairs. Her father was a jus- they could bring to the society run by tice of the peace and her brother James was an advocate for her male children, demanded awarethe British king until he resigned his royal appointment to ness from women and inevitably brought them into a larger sphere. speak out against the British government. Historians disagree as to whether In 1754 Mercy Otis married James Warren, a farmer and this new role of women in the ideal of Harvard graduate who later became a representative in the republicanism was the creation of Massachusetts legislature. Warren became active in her hus- women themselves or of the political band’s work and hosted political meetings at their home for leaders of the day. There were beneguests like John Adams and Samuel Adams. Warren was of- fits to both women and to political ten criticized as being too brazen for a colonial woman. Her leaders. The obvious benefit to a new reply was, “Be it known unto Britain even American daugh- struggling country was that republiters are politicians and patriots, and will aid the good work canism enlisted the efforts now of enwith their female efforts.” tire families rather than just husbands Warren’s published works include plays of political satire and fathers. The benefits to women that she intended to be read rather than performed, such as were that they now had a more active The Adulateur and The Group. Her writing quickly became role in the political ideology of the day and they gained some respect for popular among the colonists. Warren’s political popularity began to wane when she op- their contributions. Women now had posed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in Observa- an opportunity to prove their abilities tions on the New Constitution. She also spoke out against her as thinkers, organizers, and as leaders. The new political theories of the old friend John Adams in her three-volume History of the Revolution raised questions about Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. women. Europe’s Enlightenment was See also: Documents. influencing thought in America. Enlightenment thinkers questioned the



subordination of women and began to value the otism to her children and inspire them to love and education of women as well as men. Educated cit- service of their country. The virtues of republican motherhood were izens, they believed, could make a greater contribution to a rational social order. One federalist also expressed in speeches. The following is an exsaid, “All power is derived from the people. Liberty cerpt from a late eighteenth-century commenceis everyone’s birthright. Since all cannot govern or ment address by Miss P. W. Jackson at Mrs. deliberate individually, it is just that they should Rowson’s Academy (the school founded by Suelect their representatives. That everyone should sanna Haswell Rowson): “A woman who is possess, indirectly, and through the medium of his skilled in every useful art, who practices every dorepresentatives, a voice in public councils, and mestic virtue . . . may, by her precept and example, should yield to no will but that of an actual or vir- inspire her brothers, her husband, or her sons, tual majority.” Still, “the governed” pertained with such a love of virtue, such just ideas of the true value of civil liberty . . . that future heroes and mainly to men. Republicanism encouraged women’s participa- statesmen, who arrive at the summit of military or tion and allowed women in public activities in political fame, shall exaltingly declare, it is to my greater numbers. By the 1780s women were orga- mother I owe this election.” Such sentiments nizing their own voluntary associations and charitable organizations. WOMEN’S FIRSTS The benefits of women’s involvement in civic matters were becoming obviMartha Washington was America’s original first lady. She ous to women themselves and to the political and social leaders of the new was the wife of the first American president, George Washrepublic. In addition, educational opington. She was also the first woman in America to have her portunities for women expanded, as picture on paper money and on a stamp. women took on a more active role in Martha Washington was born in Virginia in 1731 and grew society at large. up in a wealthy plantation family. In 1749 she married DanSee also: Civic Life. FURTHER READING

DePauw, Linda Grant. Founding Mothers: Women in America in the Revolutionary Era. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975.

REPUBLICAN  MOTHERHOOD The American Revolution added a new dimension to women’s roles. Besides being a helpmate to her husband, a wife was now expected to teach her children citizenship skills. A woman’s helpmate role of primarily managing the household economy was extended to raising children who understood their role as citizens. Postrevolutionary America required a new ideology. Propaganda in magazines and speeches pushed the virtues of patriotism in women and in their children. The republican mother’s purpose was to teach the new patri-

iel Parke Custis, another wealthy plantation owner who was 20 years her senior. Together they had four children, but two died in infancy. Martha became a wealthy widow when Daniel Custis died in 1757. She owned two mansions, 18,000 acres of land, many enslaved Africans, and nearly $30,000. George Washington began courting Martha when he was a plantation owner and commander of the Virginia forces in the French and Indian War. They were married in Martha’s plantation home in Virginia on January 6, 1759. She and her two children then moved to Mount Vernon, Washington’s plantation on the Potomac River. Martha spent time with George Washington at his various military quarters during the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. After the war the Washingtons returned to Mount Vernon, where they raised two of Martha’s grandchildren. Martha Washington became first lady in 1789 when George Washington became the new nation’s first president. At that time the nation’s capital was in New York City. The Washingtons moved to Philadelphia in 1790 when the capital was relocated. At their house on High Street, Martha Washington hosted elaborate parties with ABIGAIL SMITH ADAMS, the vice president’s wife. Martha Washington was often criticized for spending too much money and entertaining on a scale too extravagant for a new republican government.



helped to further the idea of republican motherhood and its important role in the survival of the new Republic.

RIND, CLEMENTINA (?–1774) Publisher, editor, and entrepreneur. Clementina Rind was one of the first woman publishers and entrepreneurs in America. Rind operated the Virginia Gazette from the printing office in her Williamsburg home after her husband died in 1773, leaving her five children to raise on her own. Rind’s hand-pulled press was the first to publish Thomas Jefferson’s ideas about American freedom. Jefferson had written his ideas at his home in Monticello, but the House of Burgesses felt that his writings were too radical to publish. Rind agreed and published in pamphlet form Jefferson’s A Summary View of the Rights of British America in August 1774. Rind continued to publish controversial materials, and in May 1774 she was named official public printer of Williamsburg. Rind died a few months later. See also: Printing and Publishing.

 ROLFE, REBECCA See Native Americans

 ROSS, BETSY See domestic arts

 ROWLANDSON, MARY See captivity narratives


(c. 1762–1824) Educator, author, and actress. Susanna Haswell Rowson believed most books and schools were too male-oriented and offered little that would interest or instruct women, so she established a prestigious women’s academy in Boston. She wrote novels aimed at young women and textbooks such as An Abridgment of Universal Geography for her female students. Rowson’s most successful novel, Charlotte, A Tale of Truth (1794), went through more than 200 editions. It is considered the first American bestseller.

Famed for writing the first American best-seller, Susanna Haswell Rowson was also a schoolteacher, actress, and playwright. Her novel, Charlotte, A Tale of Truth, was still popular in the 1870s.

Rowson was born in England around 1762. Her mother died ten days after her birth. Rowson’s father, a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, brought Rowson to America when she was five. Their voyage to America was beset with stormy seas and a shipwreck in Boston Harbor. Twenty-five years later, Rowson incorporated this terrifying experience into her novel Rebecca: or The Fille de Chambre. Rowson grew up on the Nantasket Peninsula and studied classic literature from her father’s library. During the American Revolution, Rowson’s family was arrested and their estate was confiscated due to her father’s loyalty to the king of England. Three years later, when Rowson was 16, the family was released. Rowson married hardware merchant and part-


time musician William Rowson in 1786, shortly after the publication of her first novel, Victoria. In her writing and teaching, Rowson extolled the virtues of morality, humility, obedience to authority, and patriotism. Her Christian beliefs were reflected in her works. Rowson believed that through intellect, virtue, and character, women are neither inferior nor subservient to men. Besides writing novels and textbooks, Rowson wrote song lyrics, poetry, and plays. She and her husband acted on both the British and American stages. When the theater she was working for closed in 1797, Rowson opened Mrs. Rowson’s Young Ladies’ Academy in Boston. Rowson’s school became extremely successful and employed several teachers. Rowson taught history, geography, reading, writing, and Bible studies. Her geography lectures had become so famous that in 1805 Rowson’s An Abridgment of Universal Geography was published. She also wrote Youth’s First Steps in Geography for her younger female students in 1818. Rowson died in 1824. She had no children of her own, but, after she became ill, was cared for by devoted former pupils. See also: Textbook Writing.



(1769–1854) Author and newspaper editor. Anne Newport Royall traveled extensively across the United States and wrote of her travels in ten volumes published between 1826 and 1831. Sketches of History, Life and Manners in the United States, by a Traveller is considered her best volume of travel writing. Generally believed to be the first newspaperwoman in North America, Royall went on to own and edit the independent Washington, D.C., newspapers Paul Pry (1831–1836) and The Huntress (1836–1854). Anne Newport was born in Maryland in June 1769. Her childhood was spent mainly on the Pennsylvania frontier. When her father died, she moved to Virginia at the age of 16 to work in the household of William Royall, a scholar, farmer, and Revolutionary War veteran. William Royall taught Anne to read from his extensive library and was impressed with her abilities. In 1797, when Anne Newport was 28 years old, they married. Sixteen years later, William Royall died, leaving his wife the bulk of his estate. Ten years later, however, his other heirs succeeded in


breaking the will, leaving Anne Newport Royall penniless at the age of 54. Represented by John Quincy Adams, Royall struggled for years to gain a government pension as the widow of a Revolutionary War officer. She was finally awarded a pension in 1848, but had very little left after she paid various fees. Between 1826 and 1831, Royall published descriptive travel volumes about the many towns she visited across the United States. She was considered a shrewd observer and a reliable author. Along with Sketches of History, Royall published her travel observations in The Black Book, or a Continuation of Travels in the United States, Mrs. Royall’s Pennsylvania, Mrs. Royall’s Southern Tour, and Letters from Alabama. After settling in Washington, D.C., and starting her newspaper business with longtime friend Sarah Stack, Royall became a talented editor and journalist. Her newspaper Paul Pry was noted for its sharp editorials and local gossip. Royall was known for her skill at researching and reporting government scandals in her paper The Huntress. She had a sharp tongue and freely offered her opinions and observations. Royall’s work was always credible; she was a careful verifier of facts. Royall was also outspoken on religious matters; she pushed for tolerance of Catholics and railed against evangelicals. Royall spoke out in support of territorial expansion and pushed for states’ rights on the matter of slavery. Royall’s other writings include a novel, The Tennessean (1827), and a play, The Cabinet, or Large Parties in Washington. Both were considered failures. The play was presented just once in the Masonic Hall in Washington, D.C. In October 1854, Royall died in poverty at her home on B Street, now part of the grounds of the Library of Congress. According to records, she died with just 31 cents to her name and was buried in a pauper’s grave without a headstone in the Congressional Cemetery. See also: Widowhood.


From the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century, rural life in America was extremely harsh. From lack of food and supplies to lack of communication and appropriate medical care, settlers coming to North America soon learned of the many difficulties of life outside towns and villages.



Most families that moved to rural areas in colonial North America did so to stake claim to large tracts of land. The colonists had a very different approach to land from the Native Americans they met. Europeans, including those emigrating to North America, felt that males could buy or secure land and own it. Native Americans regarded land ownership as a matter of borrowing the land, rather than actually owning it; and some Native Americans passed land down through maternal lines. White women rarely had any property rights. Although they usually did not have any claim to land ownership, colonial women had many responsibilities. Often the children of the household were enlisted to help. Rural families normally lived in crude one-room shelters with wood or dirt floors. Some houses had an overhead loft that served as a bedroom. Most families had an outside lean-to or shed used for housing supplies, keeping hens, washing, and storing milk. Women used a fireplace to warm the house and to cook meals. It was usually the woman’s responsibility to keep the fire going all day long in cold weather. Maintaining the fire and preparing meals were endless tasks for women. In between stoking the fire, setting out dough to rise, and boiling meat, wives would do tasks that varied with the season. For example, gathering eggs, feeding chickens, dairying (milking the cows and making cheese and butter), slaughtering, making bacon, shearing sheep, and tending the vegetable garden were all a woman’s responsibility. Women also spun cloth, made the family’s clothing and quilts, and ground wheat for flour. Sometimes women would take their surplus goods to the nearest village to sell or trade for items such as candles, soap, and pewter ware. Female labor was a necessity on the outer edges of white settlement. Families were basically selfsufficient, producing and manufacturing nearly everything they needed. Distance and lack of money

left them with little choice. Besides performing household chores, many women toiled in the fields as well. Rural tenant families sometimes worked the land for large plantation owners. Although there were clearly understood divisions of labor, the importance of a woman’s labor was recognized in various ways. For example, in one contract signed by a tenant farmer, the husband wrote that he and a servant would work the land and that his wife would “dresse the victuals, milk the cowes, wash for the servants, and do all things necessary for a women to do upon the said plantation.” Women were often pregnant or nursing while doing their daily round of chores. Childbirth was even more difficult in rural areas due to distance and lack of contact with other women. Lower-class and middle-class women rarely saw a doctor either in towns or in rural areas. In towns and villages, women gathered together during childbirth, providing support for one another. They might be attended by midwives such as Martha Ballard. Rural women often had to suffer through childbirth with little help or comfort, and many women died both on farms and in villages during childbirth or soon after due to postnatal complications. Distance, lack of medical knowledge, and the absence of doctors presented another problem for women and their families in rural areas. The infant mortality rates during this period were extremely high. For example, Elizabeth Rogers Appleton (1665–1754) had nine children, but only five lived to adulthood. Almost half of her 40 grandchildren died before reaching adulthood. See also: Midwifery. FURTHER READING

Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. Jensen, Joan. Loosening the Bonds: Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750–1850. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986.



(1787–1812) Native American guide and interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Sacagawea served as an invaluable resource to the expedition headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from 1804 to 1806. President Thomas Jefferson appointed

them to explore the Louisiana Territory, which the United States had purchased from France in 1803. He wanted maps made of the vast area and hoped to find a water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Sacagawea served as navigator, translator, and the only woman member of the expedition.


Sacagawea made vital contributions to the Lewis and Clark expedition. Alice Cooper’s 1912 statue of Sacagawea and her baby stands in Portland, Oregon.

Sacagawea was born in 1787 to the chief of a Shoshone village in Idaho. Her birth name was Boinaiv, which means “Grass Maiden.” When she was about 12 years old, Hidatsa warriors captured Boinaiv and the Shoshones with whom she was traveling. At the Hidatsa camp, Boinav was renamed Sacagawea, or “Bird Woman.” When she was about 15 years old, the Hidatsas sold Sacagawea and another young woman to FrenchCanadian trader Toussiant Charbonneau, who eventually married both girls. In 1804, Charbonneau was hired on as an interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Charbonneau chose Sacagawea, 15 years old and six months pregnant, to accompany them on the expedition. Sacagawea gave birth to their first child, a son named Jean Baptiste, in February 1805. Less than two months later the expedition began, with the infant strapped to Sacagawea’s back. Without the help Sacagawea obtained from the Shoshones, the expedition might not have continued past the Salmon River in central Idaho. She also supplied the party with edible plants on numerous occasions. Lewis wrote in his travel journal that Sacagawea “busied herself in search for the wild artichokes. . . . This operation she performed by penetrating the earth with a sharp stick about some collection of driftwood. Her labors soon proved successful and she procured a good


quantity of these roots.” During their journey Sacagawea gathered, stored, and prepared wild edible food such as a root called Year-pah by the Shoshones. Sacagawea also came to the rescue of the expedition after an abrupt storm tossed over a canoe, spilling out irreplaceable charts, instruments, notes, and supplies. Lewis wrote “the Indian woman, to whom I ascribe equal fortitude and resolution with any person on board at the time of the accident, caught and preserved most of the light articles which were washed overboard.” Lewis later recorded that he and Clark had named a river in Sacagawea’s honor. Sacagawea and her husband remained friends with William Clark after the expedition. Clark had become fond of their son, Jean Baptiste, whom Clark had nicknamed “Pomp.” He offered to adopt and educate the boy. Around 1809, when Jean Baptiste was about four years old, Sacagawea and Charbonneau left their son in Clark’s care while they continued to work as interpreters to fur traders throughout the region. Sacagawea gave birth to a daughter named Lizette in 1812. Lizette, too, was left in Clark’s care after Sacagawea’s death later that year. There is still some controversy as to the exact date of Sacagawea’s death. However, most scholars adhere to an account written by John Luttig, an employee of the Missouri Fur Company. Luttig wrote on December 20, 1812, “this Evening the Wife of Charbonneau, a Snake [Shoshone] Squaw died of a putrid fever she was a good and the best Woman in the fort aged abt 25 years she left a fine infant girl.” Sacagawea was buried on the grounds at Fort Manuel, South Dakota in an unmarked grave. Years later, William Clark published an account book for the years 1825–1828 in which he listed the members of the expedition and indicated whether they were still alive. He identified Sacagawea as deceased. Sacagawea is one of the most memorialized women in American history. There are many statues and landmarks named in her honor. In 2000, the U.S. Mint produced a gold dollar coin imprinted with Sacagawea’s image. See also: Family Life, Native American; Frontier Life. FURTHER READING

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.



 SAMPSON, DEBORAH See American Revolution


(1762–1851) Social critic and early political reformer. Elizabeth Elkins Sanders published one of the first books praising Native American culture and condemning the treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. She went on to speak out against Christian missionaries who carried “the appalling dogmas of Calvinism” to foreign lands. Sanders was a staunch Unitarian who argued the value of maintaining native cultures. Elizabeth Elkins was born in 1762 to Thomas and Elizabeth (White) Elkins in Salem, Massachusetts. She lived in Salem her entire life. In 1782 she married Thomas Sanders, who became one of the most successful businessmen in the town. Together, they had five children. Elizabeth Sanders gave generously to the poor and oppressed and took an active role in the cause of Native Americans, whom she called “the dethroned monarchs of the land.” She wrote about her views on the government’s lack of justice and humanity toward Native Americans in Conversations Principally on the Aborigines of North America (1828). Sanders’s other major contention was that Americans should not be spending vast sums of money to maintain missionaries in foreign lands while problems within the nation remained unsolved. Sanders published her controversial arguments in A Tract on Missions, The Second Part of the Tract on Missions, and Remarks on the “Tour Around Hawaii” by the Missionaries, Messrs. Ellis, Thurston, Bishop, and Goodrich in 1823.

 SAY, LUCY SISTARE See volume 2


From the 1500s through the 1800s, women entered private homes and classrooms to teach. Teaching at this time required no formal training. Few women had the opportunity to attend college; teaching was a career in which women could earn money without a long period of training. Some women served as governesses to wealthy families. In this role, they would educatinge the

Cherry Valley Female Academy in Cherry Valley, New York, was one of many educational institutions for women that started in the early years of the republic.

children of the household. Governesses usually taught reading, writing, arithmetic, French, needlework, and music. The governess most often lived with the family and received little monetary compensation for her work. Other women opened schools of their own or were hired by a community to serve as its teacher. In some instances, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, or sisters started schools and shared the teaching responsibilities. In the case of couples, the wife would most often teach subjects considered “feminine,” such as reading, writing, needlework, and Bible studies, while her husband instructed students in arithmetic, science, and civics. In 1647, in an attempt to curtail idleness, to instill discipline, and to promote the economy, the Massachusetts General Court mandated that any town of 50 families or more must have a school. Literacy became a priority in the Puritan community, which founded both a printing press and Harvard College in its first decade. Stephen Day and his son Matthew printed the first book in North America, The Whole Book of Psalms, Faithfully Translated into English Meter. People were eager to read such devotional literature as it became more readily available. Puritans believed that salvation was aided by a personal encounter with the Word of God, the Bible. Pious families encouraged both their sons and their daughters to learn to read religious works. While girls were not encouraged to attend school, by learning to read, they obtained a skill they could use to teach to others. Literate women had some independence. Schoolteaching was the first career open to educated women in colonial America. For example, in


TRAILBLAZERS In 1825 Julia Hieronymous Tevis founded the Science Hill Academy in Shelbyville, Kentucky, the second girls’ boarding school established west of the Appalachians. She chose a name that would announce her goal of offering a serious education to young women. With 230 students, the selfsupporting academy became a lifework for Tevis, who presided over its fortunes for the next 50 years while bringing up seven children of her own. Tevis acquired very advanced views of women’s need for education through her German-born father, who moved his family back from frontier Kentucky to Washington, D.C., in 1813 in order to secure proper schooling for his three children. There she attended a private academy and led a rather glamorous life, going to the many balls and receptions that enlivened the capital when Congress was in session. In her memoirs, Sixty Years in a School Room, Tevis described the great “illumination” in celebration of General William Henry Harrison’s victory over the Indian confederation led by Tecumseh. She barely escaped the city in 1814 when the British troops reduced the capital’s public buildings to ashes. When Tevis turned 20 in 1819, her father lost his money, pulled down by a bankrupt friend whose note he had cosigned. The family’s house and goods were sold at auction, and Julia left home to take up a teaching job in Virginia. When her father died, she became the virtual head of her family, bringing her mother and younger sister to the small town in Virginia where she was flourishing as a school teacher and after-hours art instructor. Her conversion to Methodism brought her into contact with John Tevis, a young circuit rider, whom she married after a short courtship in 1824. Like many women educators in the early nineteenth century, Tevis greatly admired EMMA WILLARD (see Volume 2), whose 1819 petition to the New York legislature for support of female education had been widely publicized. On the couple’s honeymoon trip to Kentucky, Tevis talked her husband into converting a house, presented as a wedding gift from his father, into a boarding school. Thus began the Science Hill Academy, which lasted into the twentieth century.

Springfield, Massachusetts, Pentecost Mathews was hired for “worke schooling” the children of the elite Pynchon and Holyoke families in 1653. She was paid eight pounds thirty-five shillings for her work. Hannah Beaman became nearby Deerfield’s first schoolteacher. In 1651, a New Haven teacher


earned 40 pounds for instructing young males in reading, writing, and Latin. In 1717, Sarah Stiles began work as a schoolmistress in Windsor, Connecticut. She was hired to teach only reading, leaving the teaching of arithmetic to a male instructor who would teach only in the winter. Teachers often had apprentices working under them, who were most often women. If the master teacher failed to instruct her young charges properly, she could be sued for nonperformance and fired. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, women began taking on greater roles in the establishment and administration of schools. In 1819 educator Emma Willard (see Volume 2) wrote An Address to the Public: Particularly to the Members of the Legislature of New York, Proposing a Plan for Improving Female Education, which was warmly received by President James Monroe and former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In 1821, Willard opened her Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York, with $4,000 raised through taxation by the Troy Common Council. Willard introduced advanced science for her female students and began instructing her girls to become teachers, scientists, artists, geographers, historians, mathematicians, and writers. Among its other professionals, Troy Female Seminary turned out 200 teachers within a few years. See also: Civic Life; Dame Schools; Textbook Writing.


RENSSELAER (1734–1803) Colonial hostess and Revolutionary War patriot. Catherine Schuyler, under instructions from her husband, General Philip Schuyler, who was away serving in the American Revolution under General George Washington, set fire to their vast corn and wheat fields so that the British could not harvest them for their own use.



Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler sets her cornfield ablaze to ward off invading British troops.

to women. A “learned lady” was unbecoming. A woman who was as well-educated as a man was thought to be unnatural. Scriptural readings and Bible studies were acceptable for women, but advanced learning was thought to cause brain damage to “delicate minds.” One book sold in the colonies urged women not to study such things as science because they “lie out of a Lady’s way; they fly up to the Head, and not only intoxicate weak Brains, but turn them.” After the Revolution, more women attended school, but still, few were offered instruction in science. Judith Sargent Stevens Murray wrote a series of essays criticizing the ornamental education of women learning to be “ladies of fashion.” She stated, “As their years increase, the sister must be wholly domesticated, while the brother is led by the hand through all the flowery paths of science.”

In 1777, British General John Burgoyne’s troops were advancing into the Hudson River Valley. Schuyler left her Albany estate to save what she could of the family’s summer estate in Saratoga, which lay in the path of the approaching British TRAILBLAZERS troops. Schuyler met panic-stricken refugees on the way who begged her Jane Colden was the first American woman to become a botnot to proceed. Schuyler replied, anist. Using the Linnaean system of classification, she cata“The General’s wife must not be loged over 300 species of plants. afraid.” She continued to set fields Colden was born in New York City in 1724. Her father afire and encouraged other landownwas the lieutenant governor of New York and a close friend ers in the area to do the same. of Benjamin Franklin. Colden’s parents stressed the imporAfter General Burgoyne’s surrentance of education for all of their ten children—their daughder, Schuyler and her husband enterters as well as their sons. Colden learned the principles of tained Burgoyne and his staff. During botany using a textbook that her father made for her. the war, Burgoyne’s troops had deBecause there were no scientific journals in the early stroyed the Schuyler’s Saratoga man1700s, Colden gathered information by corresponding with sion. Burgoyne commented, “You are leading scientists of the day, including Carolus Linnaeus as too kind to me, who has done so well as Alexander Garden, for whom she wanted to name a much injury to you!” Catherine discovery of hers, Hypericum virginicum (but the name garSchuyler replied, “Such is the fate of denia had already been claimed by John Ellis, another friend war; let us not dwell upon the of Garden’s). subject.” In the 1750s Colden classified the flora of the Hudson


Before the American Revolution, a large number of men, and women like Abigail Smith Adams, supported educational opportunities for women. However, rarely did these improvements include the teaching of science

River Valley, and by 1757, she had identified over 300 species of plants. In addition to cataloging species, Colden sketched plants and made leaf impressions. Her work, which contributed greatly to the field of botany, is on display in the British Museum in London. Despite her enthusiasm for her work, Colden discontinued her botany studies after her marriage to Scottish physician William Farquhar in 1759. She died in 1766.


Women who did learn anything of science, such as Jane Colden, were exceptions before the 1800s. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, educators like Emma Willard (see Volume 2) and Julia Tevis began offering the study of science for women. Others, like author and scientist Priscilla Bell Wakefield, who in 1811 wrote An Introduction to Botany, began to challenge the assumption that women could not consider a career in science. FURTHER READING

Ogilvie, Marilyn B. Women in Science: Antiquity Through the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986.

SEMINOLE HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Seminole group of Native Americans (originally from Alabama and Georgia) formed out of the Creek nation around 1770. Living mainly in Florida, the Seminoles still subsisted mainly on hunting and fishing during the colonial period. The foods they prepared included sofkee—hot soup that women and children of the household kept warm on the fire all day—and taal-holelke—boiled swamp cabbage sweetened with cane syrup or sugar. Flour was made from wild coontie (zamia) roots. From their earliest beginnings, the Seminole were a matriarchal society. Children were born into the clan of their mother and did not marry within their own clan. A new bride and her husband lived with the bride’s mother and were under her rule. She owned all property, including land, household items, and livestock. These items were passed down to her female children. Women also held control over their children. If there were marital problems, the male would leave the household.


Domestic service from the 1500s to the early 1800s in America was dominated by women. From the 1500s to the mid 1700s, most domestic servants were unmarried white women who had come from Europe, mostly from England, Ireland, and Germany, searching for a better life and for a way to make a living.


Tasks and Compensation Domestic servants performed the household chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing, spinning, dairying, and sometimes looking after the children of the household. Domestic work was considered unskilled labor. Pay for domestic service usually consisted of room and board; domestic servants received little or no monetary rewards for their work.

Changes in the Workforce By the mid-1700s, with the increase in AfricanAmerican slave labor, the majority of domestic servants in the South were African-American women. They continued to perform the same household chores that white females had performed prior to an increase in the American slave trade. White plantation owners and even mid-income households could now have slaves perform their domestic duties for little or no money. In replacing servants with slaves, plantation owners and even some Northern farmsteads and urban households could focus their monetary resources and skilled labor on being more productive. Therefore, domestic servants during this period contributed greatly in an indirect manner to the success and expansion of many businesses and private household incomes. The women servants themselves, however, continued to receive little or no reward for their contributions. Female African-American slaves not only served as domestic servants, but were often still expected to work in the fields part of the time. Sojourner Truth (see Volume 2) worked as a domestic servant and said that she had “plowed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me,” which meant “no man could get ahead of me.” Another female former slave said women “do double duty, a man’s share in the field, and a woman’s part at home. They do any kind of field work, even ploughing, and at home the cooking, washing, milking, and gardening.” Along with their work in the fields and households, some African-American women still had their own families and children to care for, that is, if they had not been separated through slave trade. See also: Slave Family Structure.




 SEXTON, LYDIA CADAS COX (1799–1894) First woman to be elected pulpit speaker in the United Brethren Church, the first Christian denomination to begin in the United States. Sexton’s fellow members of the United Brethren Church— both male and female—repeatedly recommended that Sexton be licensed as a preacher, but she repeatedly refused the licensing and continued speaking in the church. Lydia Cadas was born in Rockport, New Jersey, on April 12, 1799, to Baptist preacher Thomas Cadas and his wife Abigail Tingley Cadas. At age 20, Lydia Cadas married Isaac Cox and moved to the frontier of Ohio. She was twice widowed and had two sons when she married for the third and last time, to Joseph Sexton, in September 1829. Together, they had three sons and moved from the frontier in Ohio to Indiana, to Illinois, and finally to Kansas. After hearing Sexton speak at a church service, an elder in the church first offered her a preaching license. Finally, in 1851, church elders voted to license her and presented their decision to the meeting of the United Brethren Illinois Conference. After preaching and renewing her license for seven years, the General Conference decided in 1859 that no women could be licensed to preach in the church, but they continued to recognize Sexton as a gifted speaker and approved her work as a “pulpit speaker.” At the age of 70, Sexton became the first woman chaplain at the Kansas State Prison.

SEXUALITY,  REGULATION OF Although lower-class women sometimes ignored church law and common law regulations, women of the middle and upper class were expected to “act like ladies.” They found the sexual freedom of the lower classes to be appalling. Upper- and middle-class ladies had no sexual freedom, and if they were in an unhappy marriage, they could do little about it. Husbands who wanted out of a marriage could hire lawyers to gain custody of the children and leave the “disgraced” woman in poverty. Such a woman would be left homeless and humiliated. Just before the American Revolution, two new books guided the sexual and social behavior

of “ladies” of the day. Dr. Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women (1766) and Dr. Gregory’s A Father’s Legacy to His Daughters (1774) guided the elite class of women to set themselves apart from the lower, ordinary classes of women by being totally obedient and submissive to their husband’s wishes. According to these practices, a woman had no say in her own and her husband’s sexual practices; her sexual will and desires were to be nonexistent. A lady’s only desire should be for her husband to be happy in every way. To some men, the ideal woman remained passionless and had no desire. Such rigid views of sexuality stemmed from the Christian church’s teachings based on the Bible. According to this Christian dogma, Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden led to the downfall of all humankind. Therefore, women should remain under the domination of men. This especially pertained to the sexual practices of men and women. Western frontier settlers, however, sometimes abandoned established European views of marriage and patterned their sexual behaviors after the Native American model. In this arrangement, a man and a woman simply agreed to stay together. There was rarely a formal, written agreement and sometimes no ceremony. On the frontier, preachers were hard to come by; couples often had several children before a minister would arrive to “officially” marry the couple and baptize the children. Such a lifestyle was usually not viewed as fornication by members of the lower class. These “commoner” couples separated and formed new relationships by mutual consent. Christian missionaries to the frontier were horrified to find white people practicing unrestrained sexual freedom. One complaint to the South Carolina Assembly said men were “swapping away their wives and children, as they would horses or cattle.” However, the courts did not interfere unless a “sinful” couple’s behavior disturbed their neighbors or if “illegitimate” children were abandoned and left in the care of the community. After the Revolution, lower-class women began adopting the sexual practices of upper-class women. In their quest to be viewed as “ladies,” women abandoned their former beliefs about sexual freedom and began to abstain from sexual activity until after marriage. In the early 1800s, a change occurred in the definition of “true womanhood.” The motherchild relationship was seen as more important than


sexual relations. Women wrote frankly that they had no sexual desire, but, instead, focused all of their attentions upon their children. They were devoted to the mother-child relationship and found this more rewarding and fulfilling than sexual relationships. Ideas surrounding manhood, however, continued to support the ethic that encouraged men to engage in sexual activity regardless of a woman’s desires or wishes. See also: Marriage Ceremonies; Marriage, Companionate. FURTHER READING

Brown, Kathleen M. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.


A religious sect that had its origins in Britain in the 1750s as an outgrowth of the Quakers. Their distinctive religious expression included a commitment to communal living, productive labor, and celibacy. Their spiritual practice involved a ritual noted for its dancing and “shaking.” Hence the name “Shakers.” Writer James Thacher reported in his diary around 1750 that “we have the particulars from eye witnesses, who have been admitted to their midnight orgies. They spend whole nights in their revels, and exhibit the most unbecoming scenes, violating all rules of propriety and decency. Both sexes, nearly divest of clothing, fall to dancing in extravagant postures, and frequently whirl themselves round on one leg with inconceivable rapidity, till they fall apparently lifeless on the floor.” There is little doubt that this account is exaggerated, but it shows the kind of suspicion the Shakers aroused. The leader who brought the Shakers to America, was Ann Lee, a sect member from Manchester. “Mother Ann” was a powerful preacher; she claimed to have visions from God and the gift of prophesying. Her followers believed that she was the personification of Christ in female form. The established churches in England considered Lee a heretic, and she was imprisoned for her preaching. While in prison for two weeks, she nearly starved to death, but claimed to have survived through divine providence. When released, Lee and her followers left for North America in 1774. Lee had married Abraham Standerim in 1762


and had borne him four children, all of whom died in infancy. She came to believe that sexuality was a distraction from a life of worship, and to demand a strict celibacy, enforced by sexual segregation, in the sect’s communities. The Shakers found it difficult to gain support for their sect when they first arrived in North America. Lee took a job as a washerwoman and lived in a sparse room with only a cold stone to sit upon. Lee’s husband left her in 1775 for another woman. Eventually, the sect gained some monetary backing and established a settlement in presentday Watervliet, New York, in 1776. The Shakers named their community Niskeyuna. Over the next three years, however, they were able to convert only one person to their faith. In Niskeyuna, the Shakers became known for the simplicity of their lives and their talent in furniture making and needlework. The men of the community turned out fine furniture, the style of which is still in demand today. The women created beautiful works of art with their needles. The division of labor between men and women was standard for the time. The males farmed and tended livestock; the females performed domestic duties and cared for the children. The community was distinguished, however, for the equal recognition accorded to women’s and men’s work. Administration of the community was shared equally by male “elders” and female “eldresses.” Children often came into the community when their parents converted. Many converts were married couples who chose to adopt the Shakers’ communal, celibate way of life. The Shakers also made a practice of adopting orphans. All children were given a choice when they reached adulthood of remaining in the community or entering “the world.” By 1780 the Shakers were gaining popularity, and again their leader, Ann Lee, was arrested. This time, Lee and several Shakers, including her close friend Mary Partherton, were suspected of conspiracies against the American Revolution. The Shakers preached pacifism, and Lee urged New Yorkers to avoid taking up arms against the British. Some officials thought the Shakers were British agents sent to thwart the American’s struggle for independence. Several Shakers, including Ann Lee, were arrested and held for nearly five months. Public outrage led to their release; many Americans were sympathetic to the Shakers’ pacifist sentiments.



After their release, these Shakers were considered martyrs, and converts flocked to their services. The Shakers established a new community at New Lebanon, New York. By 1826, 18 Shaker communities existed with a church membership of nearly 6,000. However, after 1860 the number of Shakers diminished. Today a few Shakers remain at a community in Maine. FURTHER READING

Brewer, Priscilla J. Shaker Communities, Shaker Lives. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1986. Proctor-Smith, Marjorie. Women in Shaker Community and Worship: A Feminist Analysis of the Uses of Religious Symbolism. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1985.

SHAWNEE HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY The Shawnee were originally settled in the Savannah River area in present-day South Carolina. Beginning in the 1670s, colonial growth pushed the Shawnee from their lands to areas in Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and Alabama. Prior to European contact, the Shawnee organized themselves into a five-member confederacy. Each group functioned in independent villages built around patrilineal divisions. Authority was passed down through the male generations of each group. Even though the Shawnee maintained a patriarchal society, women were accorded great respect. Female war and civil chiefs were recognized, such as Tecumseh’s sister, Tecumapease. The Creator (“Waashaa Monetoo”) was believed to have been helped by an old Shawnee woman. Subordinate deities were also female: Earth Mother, Corn Woman, and Pumpkin Woman contributed to the Shawnee harvest. Women’s major roles included planting and harvesting crops and preparing food. In 1824, the Shawnee elevated the tribe’s eldest Grandmother (“Kokomthena”) to a position of supreme deity. It was believed that from her the tribe received its laws, skills, and blessings.


(1763–1841) A member of early North American aristocracy and one of the first women in the new republic to seek a divorce. Nancy Shippen wrote of her life and particularly of her unhappy marriage to Henry

“Harry” Beekman Livingston in her memoirs, published in 1935 as Nancy Shippen: Her Journal Book. Anne “Nancy” Shippen was born into a family of wealth and priviledge. Her father, Dr. William Shippen of Philadelphia, served as general of the Continental Army’s military hospitals, laying the groundwork for the future Medical Corps of the United States Army. Her mother was Alice Lee of the Lee family of Stratford Hall in Virginia. Nancy grew up in Shippen House, a center of political and social activity during the American Revolution. Peggy Shippen Arnold, who married Benedict Arnold, was one of Nancy’s cousins. Shippen House in Philadelphia had frequent visits from dignitaries such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Although Nancy, a belle of Philadelphia society, had many suitors, she was in love with the French diplomat Louis Guillaume Otto, Comte de Mosloy. During the nearly 12 years he was in America assisting the Marquis de Lafayette, Otto visited Nancy Shippen on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Nancy’s father insisted that she marry Harry Livingston, then a colonel in the Continental Army and heir to the Livingston family’s great fortune. Dr. Shippen chose Livingston in order to repair his family’s fortunes, prevailing over his daughter’s wishes. From the beginning, the marriage was an unhappy one, in large part because of Livingston’s bad character. When her only child, Margaret, was but 17 months old, Nancy began writing advice to her daughter in her journal. Otto, who later negotiated the Peace of Amiens and the marriage of Napolean to Marie-Louise, appeared in her journal as the romantic figure named Leander. In 1789 she tried to divorce her husband, with little success. Her choices were to remain with him so that she could see her child, or to formally end the marriage, lose custody of her daughter, and never see her. The Livingston family actively intervened in the custody battle, rarely allowing Nancy to see her child. A divorce was secured when Henry sought one through the Connecticut courts. Nancy Shippen later regained custody of her daughter. Because of Nancy’s failing health and what some at the time called “religious melancholia,” she and her daughter lived for nearly 40 years as recluses. Nancy Shippen died in the summer of 1841 and is buried alongside her daughter at Woodlands cemetery on the estate of Alexander Hamilton, the resting place of the Lees, Shippens, and Livingstons.


See also: Divorce Laws. FURTHER READING

Livingston, Anne Home Shippen. Nancy Shippen, Her Journal Book: The International Romance of a Young Lady of Fashion of Colonial Philadelphia with Letters to Her and About Her. Compiled and edited by Ethel Armes. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1935.

 SHIPPEN, PEGGY See Arnold, Peggy Shippen


See volume 2


Misrepresenting and damaging someone’s reputation. More women than men were accused and found guilty of slander in the colonial period. If the accused woman’s husband refused to pay damages, a “double-tongued naughty woman” was punished with a ducking: she was tied to a chair and then “ducked” into a river or pond. It was thought that the water would have a cooling effect on hot tempers and the embarrassment of being publicly drenched would humble pride. The ducking stool, a machine especially made for this purpose, was considered necessary equipment of many county courthouses, along with branding irons, stocks, pillories, and whipping posts. A Virginia act of 1662 ordered each county to erect ducking stools because “brabling women often slander and scandalize their neighbors for which their poore husbands are often brought into chargeable and vexatious suites, and cast in greate damages.” See also: Gossip.

SLAVE FAMILY  STRUCTURE Intact slave families were either short-lived or nonexistent in colonial North America. Male African Americans were often sold or traded for their labor, while females able to bear children were rarely traded. Therefore, most slave families consisted of a mother and several children. Later, her grown sons would be traded or sold and her daughters expected to bear more children.


Marriage between slaves was rarely recognized by slaveholders and was not legally binding. However, some slaveholders allowed nuclear families to exist if they bore many children, were productive, and were an asset to the slaveholders. This emphasis on childbearing put great burdens on the female slave to have many children so that her family could stay together. Even though a slave family might live together, the husband and wife still were not permitted to make independent decisions for their family. The couple could do nothing to protect one another or children. See also: Slavery.


Soon after European colonization began in America in the sixteenth century, those Europeans engaged in trade with Africa began to buy men, women, and children from West African ports and ship them to the new colonies that the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, and English were carving out. A Dutch merchant ship brought enslaved Africans to Jamestown in Virginia in 1619. Since there was no slavery in England, the status of these new arrivals was left ambiguous for several decades. It was not until the end of the seventeenth century that planters in the Southern colonies began to be dependent upon slave labor to produce the crops that they exported to Europe. They then codified laws establishing and regulating slavery in British North America. After American independence, the Northern states of the new United States embarked on a program of gradual emancipation, leaving the Southern states with their “peculiar institution.” The great demand for cotton in the early nineteenth century promoted the expansion of slavery through the South and generated the tensions between the free and slave states that led to the Civil War (see Volume 2). Although both African-American men and women were held as slaves in the United States, black men and women experienced slavery in very different ways. Both were held captive for their ability to work, and female slaves were also kept for their reproductive abilities. They were sexually exploited by their slaveholders and often bore their children. White slaveholders viewed enslaved women as sensual and promiscuous. White women dressed in



layers of clothes and physical appearance of piety and propriety demanded respect. Slave women, however, wore light clothing as they labored. They often had to pull up their long skirts to their knees as they worked in the fields. These differences led to stereotypes about African-American women. The rape of a slave woman was not recognized as a crime. Afer the foreign slave trade was abolished in 1808, slaveholders needed to replenish their supply of slaves. They often raped their female slaves and forced them to have children who would later work on their plantations. Every year from 1750 to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, more than one-fifth of African-American women between the ages of 15 and 44 bore a child. The average slave woman began motherhood two years before the average white Southern woman. This added to the “promiscuous” stereotype attached to slave women. Men and women slaveholders alike encouraged their female slaves to bear children frequently. Pregnant slaves were often given more food and less work. Some were rewarded with material items, such as clothing or money. If these incentives did not work, the female slaves were threatened with beatings or warned that they would be sold and separated from any children or family they did have. Motherhood then produced new difficulties for the female slave. If the plantation on which she worked did not have a nursery—and most did not—the mother would have to take her babies and small children to the fields with her as she worked, often with a baby on her back. She was expected to produce as much as the other slaves and was punished if she did not. House servants had to tend to their labors as they kept an eye on their own children along with those of the slaveholder. They risked a whipping if they attended to their own children frequently. Slave women who tried to escape took on more risk than did male slaves because they almost always took their children with them. For example, all of the 150 fugitive slave women advertised for in the 1850 New Orleans newspapers ran away with their children. Most slave women between the ages of 15 and 35—the ages of those most likely to escape—were either pregnant, nursing, or caring for young children. Besides the added risk of escaping with children, female slaves were also less likely to run away because they were not familiar with the surrounding countryside and nearby towns. Female slaves

rarely were permitted to leave the plantation. Male slaves, on the other hand, helped transport crops to market and were often traded to other farms for their skilled labor. Female slaves were rarely traded; they were not trained as artisans or craftsmen as male slaves often were and they were kept for their childbearing abilities. Female slaves performed duties regarded as unskilled, but they worked as hard as men. They were lumberjacks and turpentine producers in Georgia and the Carolinas. In every other slave state they plowed using mule and ox teams, hauled logs by leather straps attached to their shoulders, dug ditches, and spread manure fertilizer. Women slaves cultivated crops such as tobacco, cotton, sugar cane, corn, and rice. Those who did not work in the fields were expected to perform household duties and to care for the plantation’s children. In some cases, slaves were even legally owned by the children they cared for. FURTHER READING

Frey, Sylvia R. Water from the Rock: Black Resistance in a Revolutionary Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991. Wood, Peter H. Strange New Land: African Americans, 1617–1776. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.


(1773–1847) Captive and adoptee of Native Americans. Frances Slocum was captured by the Delaware on November 2, 1778 when she was five years old. Her father, Jonathan Slocum, was killed by Native Americans six weeks later. The child’s mother, Ruth Tripp Slocum, escaped and lived to care for her nine remaining children. Frances’s brothers continued to search for their sister for the next 59 years. Frances Slocum was born in Rhode Island to Quaker parents. After her capture by Native Americans, she was taken to Niagara Falls and adopted by a Native American couple. They gave her the name Weletawash. Her new family moved west during the American Revolution and settled near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana. Around 1794 Slocum married Shepancanah of the Miami. She gave birth to two sons, who died very young, and to two daughters who survived her. Slocum was well esteemed by the Miami and grew to love her Native American family. In 1837 Slocum’s brother, Joseph Slocum, fi-


nally located her. Two of her brothers and a sister visited Slocum, who at the time was 64. Slocum, however, decided to continue living with her Miami family. A nephew, George Slocum, and his family came to stay with Frances Slocum and helped her manage her farm and livestock. Slocum petitioned Congress and was granted permission to remain on her land after the removal of the Miami from Indiana to Kansas in 1840. She died of pneumonia in 1847.


(1778–1844) Author and early chronicler of Washington society. Margaret Bayard was married to the founder of the Washington newspaper the National Intelligencer. In 1815 she helped establish the Washington Female Orphan Asylum. Margaret Bayard was reared on a farm in Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Colonel John Bubenheim Bayard and Margaret Hodge. Her father was a prominent Philadelphia merchant before the British occupation of the city. He served as a colonel in the American army during the American Revolution and was with General George Washington at Valley Forge. Margaret’s mother died when she was two; her stepmother died when she was ten. Bayard was then sent to the noted Moravian boarding school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 1792, when she was 14, Margaret moved in with her sister Jane and Jane’s husband, Andrew Kirkpatrick, a lawyer and later judge. It was at the Kirkpatrick’s home in New Jersey that Margaret received an extensive education, reading everything from Isaac Newton to Sophocles. In 1800 Margaret Bayard married her second cousin Samuel Harrison Smith. The couple moved to Washington just as the nation’s capital was moving from Philadelphia. The Smiths played an active role in Washington society, often entertaining prominent men like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The Smiths were in a particularly esteemed position and could gather information easily for their National Intelligencer. In 1810, after Samuel Smith was appointed by President Madison as the first Commissioner of the Revenue, he sold the National Intelligencer to a business associate, Joseph Gales. Margaret concentrated on raising their three daughters and a son. For the next five years, she devoted herself to her


household, her family, and to entertaining in a growing Washington society. She also spent long hours writing letters and entries in her journals. In 1815 Margaret Smith joined with others to establish the Washington Female Orphan Asylum, which was later renamed the Washington City Orphan Asylum when the institution began accepting boys. Smith wrote extensive journals and letters while her children were growing up. In 1824 Smith’s first novel was published. A Winter in Washington, or Memoirs of the Seymour Family was based on real events. The proceeds from her next novel, What Is Gentility?, were donated to the orphan asylum. Smith’s most notable work is about the Washington society she dearly loved. The First Forty Years of Washington Society (1906) contains Smith’s journals and notes written from 1800 to 1841. It still serves as a valuable source for the social and political history of the United States from Jefferson’s to Jackson’s presidencies. This work contains many personal anecdotes about Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Henry Clay, and other national figures. It also includes a vivid account of the burning of Washington by the British in 1814 and an account of the capital’s rebuilding. Smith is considered a perceptive and talented chronicler of Washington history. She died at the age of 66 and is buried in Washington at Rock Creek Cemetery. FURTHER READING

Allgor, Catherine. Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000.

SPANISH HOUSEHOLD  ECONOMY Spanish missionaries and explorers began settling in North America in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the areas of present-day New Mexico and Florida, where the Spaniards sought to bring Catholicism to the Pueblo Indians. The patriarchal (meaning power and property was passed through the father) Spaniards greatly changed the Pueblo way of life, which was originally a matrilineal society. Many Spaniards hired Pueblo women as domestic servants. Spanish women were astonished to find Pueblo women building houses and sought to change what they thought was inappropriate behavior for women.



By the start of the eighteenth century, several thousand Spanish settlers lived in the areas of Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which was referred to as “New Spain.” Spanish women maintained the household and tended to domestic duties, such as keeping a small garden, preparing food, and caring for the children. The Spanish established a social hierarchy in which the Spanish were the social elite and Native Americans became part of a lower class. There developed an obsession with social status and family reputation. For example, a 1752 law forbade a man from the respected Spanish classes from seducing or marrying a girl from a lower social class. Such action would bring dishonor to his family. Men were the heads of Spanish households throughout early America. Women served as supportive wives and mothers. The majority of Spanish households continued to be Catholic: the man was the head of his house, just as God is the Father of the Church, and the priesthood is entirely male. Women were seen as having little value aside from their role as mothers. Just as the Virgin Mary was esteemed in childbirth, Spanish women were highly honored in motherhood. See also: Pueblo Household Economy.


A source of diversion or recreation. Long before the arrival of Europeans, Native American women were participating in activities that are today considered sport. They sometimes danced for hours at a time. The rites of passage from childhood to womanhood included physical displays and tests. The outcomes could affect one’s status in the family and village. When Europeans arrived in North America, they found that there was little time for the recreation or the social pastimes that were prevalent in their homeland. The animals and much of the equipment used in European recreations were not available in America. Instead, women labored for long periods of time and often went for months in isolation or with the company of just one or two other people. Beginning around 1670, settlers began establishing distinctive communal and social events. For example, weddings, elections, and militia training afforded women the opportunity to gather, sing, and dance, and to compete in games and races that today would be considered sport. Women

were rarely permitted to participate in organized sports or competitions in which men participated. An even greater variety of recreations ranging from races to fistfights emerged in the 1700s and 1800s, especially in the urban centers along the Atlantic coast. The Philadelphia Gazette announced in 1724 the “slack rope and tight rope dancing by men and women” as a commercial display of physical abilities in which men and women walked across a rope tied tightly between buildings or other structures. Women were participants in what became the most common public sport of the eighteenth century, horse racing. In the early 1800s, one German visitor to Pennsylvania, Gottlieb Mittleberger, observed that women were not only riding in a race, but were competing “with the best male riders for a wager.” See also: Entertainment.



(1644–1717) Quaker minister and community leader. Mary Coffyn Starbuck was the first recognized minister in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Starbuck, herself a convert to the Society of Friends, headed a community-wide movement that resulted in the conversion of most of the colonists on Nantucket Island to Quakerism. Mary Coffyn was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Tristram Coffyn and Dionis Stevens. She married Nathaniel Starbuck shortly after moving to Nantucket around 1660. She and Nathaniel had ten children. Starbuck conducted most of the community’s commercial business and earned the nickname “The Great Merchant.” She was known for her quick wit, intellect, and administrative skills. Public business was so often conducted in the Starbuck home that it was named “Parliament House.” John Richardson observed in his journal in 1701 that Starbuck was “esteemed as a Judge” by the islanders and that “little of Moment was done there without her.” Starbuck lived her entire life on Nantucket, reportedly ministering and advising whalers and trading with Native Americans. She died at the age of 72 and was buried in the Quaker burial grounds next to the meetinghouse on land donated by her son Nathaniel Starbuck and the original Nantucket proprietors. See also: Preaching.



(c. 1740–c. 1777?) Owner of taverns in colonial Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. Abigail Stoneman was the first person to obtain a license to operate a tavern in Newport. Although her actual birth and death dates and her maiden name are unknown, Abigail Stoneman was born sometime around 1740. Her first husband was Samuel Stoneman, a lieutenant and adjutant of the Rhode Island regiment in the French and Indian War. She was a widow by 1760. Stoneman opened “The Merchant’s Coffee House” in 1767. Here she offered drinks, dancing, and lodging to local gentlemen. The following year she purchased a house and land in Middletown, Rhode Island, to use as an inn to entertain summer visitors. Stoneman advertised that her establishments offered “Board and Lodging for Gentlemen.” In 1770, Stoneman expanded her businesses by opening a tavern and inn named the “Royal Exchange” in Boston. Stoneman married Sir John Treville, Knight of Malta, in 1774. Stoneman sold her Middletown business, and she and Treville moved to New York. It is not known whether Treville was killed in the American Revolution or whether he abandoned Stoneman after spending most of her money. Now alone, Stoneman opened another tavern and dance hall called “The London Coffee-House” in Manhattan in 1777. Nothing more is known of Stoneman after she opened this establishment, which served many British military officers. See also: Feme Sole Trader Acts; Widowhood.



The right of women to vote. Before any organized movement for woman suffrage began, some women were demanding equal access to the political process. They saw the right to vote as the first stage in becoming citizens and in having some control over their own lives. It was educated, independent women who began demanding the right to vote. Margaret Brent was the first woman in North America to demand the vote. Brent owned extensive property in Maryland and in 1647 insisted on two votes in the colonial assembly, one for herself and one for Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, whose power of attorney she held. The governor denied her request, and Brent boycotted the assembly. Women had greater legal rights in some early state constitutions than they had later in the nation. For example, in the late 1700s a widow or spinster who owned property in New Jersey could vote. This was, however, the exception; it was more a legal loophole than the intentional granting of suffrage. New Jersey granted the vote to “all inhabitants” who satisfied certain property and residence requirements. Property-owning women took advantage of the constitution’s vague wording. Then, in 1807 a state legislator who was almost defeated by women voters helped pass a bill to disenfranchise the state’s women and black men. In the new United States, suffrage was decided by the states, not the federal government. Most restricted voting to white males, and some further required that voters be property owners and Protestants.



See colleges; dame schools; schools.



(1656–1680) Native American convert to Catholicism and the first Native American eligible for sainthood. The Catholic Church beatified Catherine, or “Kateri” in her Mohawk language, in 1980. Her devotion to the Church’s teachings, her piety, and her volun-

tary virginity were some of Tekakwitha’s most memorable accomplishments. Tekakwitha’s father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a Catholic Algonquian. They lived in what is now New York State. In 1660, when Tekakwitha was only four years old, a smallpox epidemic swept through her village, killing her immediate family. The disease left Tekakwitha nearly blind and very frail for the remainder of her short life. She was taken in by her aunt and uncle, who frequently mistreated her. When she was 20 years old, Tekakwitha met Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary who



christened her “Catherine.” She became extremely devout, attending Mass daily, praying for long hours in solitude, and completing many works of mercy in her community. Her family and village opposed her faith and, after 18 months of harassment, Tekakwitha left her people and moved to the Christian Mohawk community of Kahnawake at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal, Canada. In Canada, Tekakwitha refused to marry, stating that she would have “no other spouse but Jesus Christ.” She continued her devout worship, performing acts of penance, such as walking barefoot in the snow, fasting, sleeping on a bed of thorns, and burning herself with hot coals. Her already frail body grew weaker, and she died of a fever at the age of 24. See also: Catholics.

 TENNEY, TABITHA GILMAN (1762–1837) American satirical novelist. Tabitha Gilman Tenney is best known for her two-volume novel Female Quixotism: Exhibited in the Romantic Opinions and Extravagant Adventures of Dorcasina Sheldon (1801). This work is a clever satire about a foolish young woman easily deceived by romantic nonsense. Tabitha Gilman was the first of seven children born in Exeter, New Hampshire, to Samuel Gilman and Lydia Robinson Gilman. In 1788 Tabitha married Dr. Samuel Tenney, who served as a doctor in the American Revolution and later as a congressman. Tenney’s first published work was The New Pleasing Instructor (1799), an anthology of classical poetry intended for young ladies of Tenney’s day. When her husband was elected to Congress, the Tenneys moved to Washington. It was there that Tenney wrote her famous novel. After her husband’s death in 1816, Tenney moved back to her hometown of Exeter. She died there at the age of 75 and was buried in the Winter Street Cemetery.

 TEVIS, JULIA See schools


In the colonial era textbooks, primarily religious in nature, were aimed at a male audience, as

most young girls were not provided a formal education. In the late 1700s textbooks began focusing on subjects other than religion, such as science, geography, mathematics, and instruction in various languages. Girls who received a formal education were expected to acquire only a superficial knowledge of such subjects. Girls were usually taught in separate rooms or in separate schools from boys. Some of the textbooks aimed at instructing young women were Lady’s Geography, The Female Academy, The Ladies Compleat Letter Writer, and The Female Miscellany. The last book, according to booksellers’ advertisements, was divided into two sections, the first being “a Sketch of English Grammar, an Abridgement of the Holy History, a small Collection of Fables, etc.,” and the other being “a Series of Letters addressed to a young lady who had made some progress in Reading.” Another popular textbook, An Accidence to the English Tongue, was a simplified grammar text prepared for boys who did not know Latin and “for the benefit of the Female Sex.” Its bias was evident in that it provided females with a “simplified” text. One female educator and author, Susanna Haswell Rowson, was not satisfied with the maledirected textbooks publishers provided. In the early 1800s Rowson wrote several textbooks specifically for her female students. This, however, was the exception, as most textbook publishers continued to publish books aimed at young men.

THOMPSON, SARAH,  COUNTESS OF RUMFORD (1774–1852) Philanthropist and first American to be called a countess. Sarah Thompson was the daughter of Count Rumford, Benjamin Thompson, a prestigious scientist from Massachusetts. Benjamin Thompson had been given the title Count of Rumford in 1790 by the vicar-general of the Holy Roman Empire. Benjamin chose the name Rumford to honor the town in New Hampshire where he married. Sarah Thompson was received by the Bavarian elector in 1797 and permitted one half of her father’s pension with the privilege of living wherever she chose. Upon her father’s death in 1814, Thompson divided her time between London, Paris, and New Hampshire. Thompson helped establish the Rolfe and Rum-


ford asylums for the poor and needy, particularly orphaned girls. She bequeathed $15,000 to the New Hampshire asylum for the insane and $2,000 each to the Concord Female Charitable Society, the Boston Children’s Friend Society, and the Fatherless and Widow’s Society of Boston. See also: Benevolent Associations, Women’s.



(1727?–1792) Printer and newspaper publisher. Together with her husband, Peter Timothy, Ann Timothy published the South-Carolina Gazette, the colony’s first permanent newspaper. Ann Donovan was probably born in Charleston, South Carolina around 1727. Little is known of her life. She married Peter Timothy, a publisher who took over South Carolina’s first permanent newspaper from his mother, Elizabeth Timothy, in 1746. It is believed that Ann and Peter Timothy had as many as 15 children, of whom seven died in infancy. In 1782 Peter Timothy embarked with two of his daughters for Santo Domingo, and they were lost at sea. Ann Timothy then became sole proprietor of their newspaper and printing business. Ann Timothy continued to publish the paper until her death in 1792. Timothy was the first woman named to the official post of “Printer to the State” of South Carolina, which she held from 1785 to 1792. See also: Feme Sole Trader Acts; Printing and Publishing.


(?–1757) Printer and newspaper publisher. Elizabeth Timothy was the first female printer and newspaper publisher in North America. She took over the operation of the South-Carolina Gazette after her husband’s death. Her close friend and former business partner, Benjamin Franklin, noted that Mrs. Timothy was far superior to her husband in the operation of the business. Elizabeth Timothy was born in the Netherlands to a Huguenot family. Her maiden name is not known. She married Lewis Timothy, an Englishman, in Holland and they came to South Carolina with their four children in 1731. The couple later


had three more children in America. Lewis Timothy moved his family to Charleston at the request of Benjamin Franklin. Lewis was to take over the one-year-old weekly South-Carolina Gazette after the editor died of yellow fever. Upon her husband’s unexpected death in 1738, Elizabeth took over the operation of the newspaper without missing an issue. She continued to run the paper until about 1746, when her son Peter and his wife Ann Donovan Timothy took over the business. Elizabeth Timothy was a shrewd business manager. Franklin writes that she “manag’d the Business with such Success that she not only brought up reputably a Family of Children, but at the Expiration of the Term was able to purchase of me the Printing House and establish her Son in it.” Upon her death in 1757, Timothy owned a large amount of land, three houses, and eight slaves. See also: Feme Sole Trader Acts; Printing and Publishing.


(seventeenth century) An enslaved Caribbean Indian woman whose stories of magic spells and devils led to the hysteria of the witch trials of Salem. Tituba was born in a small village in South America and was captured and taken to Barbados as a young child. There she was sold to merchant Samuel Parris, who later became the town parson in Salem Village. First, Parris took Tituba and another slave, John Indian, to New England with his family and then to Boston in 1680. Tituba married John Indian in 1689, and they were taken with the Parris family to Salem Village the same year. Tituba cared for the three Parris children, Thomas, Betty, and Susahanna. In 1692, Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams became hysterical after listening to stories told by Tituba. The girls fell into a series of fits and accused Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osburn of casting spells on them. Tituba and the other two women were arrested on February 29, 1692. At the trials, the three women accused each other of practicing witchcraft. The magistrates agreed to free the accused only if they would confess to practicing witchcraft. At first, Tituba proclaimed her innocence, but then described “four women and one man [who] . . . tell me, if I will not hurt the children, they will hurt me.” The town’s hysteria led to the execution of 14 women and six men. Tituba escaped execution by



confessing to practicing witchcraft, but was imprisoned for 13 months and eventually sold by Reverend Parris.


Peddlers and tradespeople were common in British North America. With the advent of towns and port cities, artisans took their wares to town on market days to sell. Women sold the goods they had made with their hands. The first woman to have acted as a business agent in the North American colonies was Margaret Hardenbrook Philipse. In 1661, after her husband’s death, Philipse began working for Dutch merchants in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. However, rarely were women entitled to the income from their hard work. If a woman was married, her income from trade or retailing usually went to her husband. As port cities developed, shops, taverns, and general stores opened. Few married women could legally own a business before the early 1700s, but widowed and single women called “she merchants” could trade and own businesses in most colonies. In 1733 a petition by a group of female traders to New York newspaper editor John Peter Zenger made readers aware of women’s contributions to a developing urban economy: “We, the widows of this city, have had a Meeting, and as our case is something Deplorable, we beg you will give [our petition a] Place in your Weekly Journal. . . . it is as follows: We are House keepers, Pay our Taxes, carry on Trade, and most of us are she Merchants, and as we in some measure contribute to the Support of Government, we ought to be Intitled to some of the Sweets of it; but we find ourselves entirely neglected, while the Husbands that live in our Neighborhood are daily invited to Dine at Court.” Although it made a powerful statement, the petition failed to bring about any direct positive results for women merchants. The feme sole trader acts of South Carolina in 1712 and 1744, and of Pennsylvania in 1718, allowed married women to engage in trade and retailing and own their business separate from their husbands. They could run their businesses on their own, and they were liable for any debt incurred in doing business. Their husbands were not legally responsible for any debts from the businesses. Women began opening retail stores, seamstress shops, and taverns. Many used their skills in the domestic arts to establish successful busi-

nesses. From the 1720s to the early 1800s, colonial newspapers advertised goods ranging from farm equipment to fine wines sold by these women. For example, Agnes Lind advertised in the SouthCarolina Gazette. Her shop in Charleston offered milliner goods, such as hats, shoes, Irish linen, and fine lace.


(1708–1735) Poet and hymn writer. Besides writing poetry and religious hymns, Jane Colman Turell was a prodigy in her knowledge of the Bible. By the time she was two years old, she knew the alphabet and could recite stories from the Scriptures before such honored guests as Massachusetts Governor Joseph Dudley. Through extensive Bible studies with her father, a minister, Jane Colman memorized many Psalms and Bible verses. Colman’s parents were Benjamin and Jane Clark Colman. Her father’s insistence on his children’s religious education led Jane to her study of religious verse and an interest in classical and British poetry. She wrote her first hymn when she was 11 and paraphrased the Psalms in rhyme. Her studies of British poets led Colman to write such poems as “Encomium on Sir Richard Blackmore’s Poetical Works” and “On the Incomparable Mr. Edmund Waller.” In 1726 Colman married minister Ebenezer Turell of Medford, Massachusetts. She continued to write verse until her death nine years later. Most of her poems that have come down to us were included in her husband’s tribute to her after her death, printed with her father’s two funeral sermons for her. Regrettably, though Ebenezer Turell mentions in his memoir “Some Pieces of Wit and Humour,” he chose not to include any, preferring to remember her through her more serious works. See also: Literature, Eighteenth-Century.

 TUTHILL, LOUISA See childhood


(1775–1821) Teacher and writer. Mary Hunt Palmer Tyler wrote a popular guide to children’s health called The Ma-


ternal Physician; A Treatise on the Nurture and Management of Infants. Her book was published in 1811 and was one of the first to advise parents on behavior, illnesses, and care. Among her recommendations she urged parents to allow daughters to run and enjoy themselves for a few hours a day. Tyler made clear distinctions in gender roles. She encouraged mothers “to reflect upon what manner of men you will wish to see your sons become,” warning that their sons could become too effeminate if mothers instilled “into their tender minds the love of dress and show.”


Tyler was married to playwright Royall Tyler, who wrote The Contrast, widely honored as the first play written by an American-born playwright. Royall Tyler also served in the colonial army, was active in the suppression of Shays’ Rebellion, became an attorney in 1780, and served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Vermont. The Tylers had seven children. Tyler and her daughter Amelia set up a “dame school” in their home. Amelia’s six other siblings and children from the community attended the school, which provided basic instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic.


Beginning in the late 1700s, urban environments in cities such as Boston and Philadelphia both enhanced and constricted women’s lives. Cities created opportunities for women to embrace non-traditional roles, but at the same time, failed to meet many of women’s particular needs and interests. Urban areas developed from small towns in which land was parceled out to groups of settlers, usually 30 or 40 families, who banded together to form these small communities, sharing farmland and community greens. Settlers who formed these towns usually knew one another from previous settlements or from England. Towns usually formed along a central street and later expanded outward, as in present-day Boston. As people began to settle in the Middle and Southern colonies, large port towns formed in present-day New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah. These settlements had ports that

were used to transport goods and people. The port cities became centers of trade and marketplaces where craftspeople of various trades could sell their goods. For example, women often opened seamstress and milliner shops. Although not considered urban by today’s standards, villages, towns, and later port cities distinguished themselves from the outlying rural areas of early America. Life in these more developed areas was less arduous: land was easier to settle, more goods were available for purchase, and families had the close support of those in the nearby community. Women, for example, had the support of doctors and midwives during childbirth, while those in rural areas had little support or medical care. See also: Midwifery; Rural Life; Trade and Retailing. FURTHER READING

Warner, Sam Bass. The Urban Wilderness: A History of the American City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

V  VAN BUREN, HANNAH HOES (1783–1819) Wife of President Martin Van Buren. Hannah Hoes (pronounced “Hoose”) was born in Kinderhook, New York, on March 8, 1783. In 1807, she married Martin Van Buren, a neighbor and relative; both were members of the extensive Dutch community that had settled between New York City and Albany.

Together the Van Burens had four children who survived infancy, all of them boys. Martin Van Buren soon began a successful political career. Hannah Van Buren was not comfortable around politics and politicians. Shy and withdrawn, she stayed out of sight whenever possible; contemporaries described her as small, calm, and gentle. Her health was poor, too, which pushed her further into the background. She died



in Albany on February 5, 1819. Her marriage was said to be a happy one, and Martin Van Buren never remarried. However, Martin never mentioned her in his autobiography, and he eliminated all letters to or from her when he donated his family records to the Library of Congress.

tells a story of marriage and sets up a dichotomy between good and poor choices for husbands. The tragic character Mrs. Henderson dies by an abusive, alcoholic husband. Vickery’s works provided structure, albeit fictional, to help women make decisions about marriage and relationships.



(1645–1688) Administrator of the Dutch patroonship of Rensselaerswyck in what is now New York State. After her husband’s death, Maria Van Rensselaer managed to gain for her six children the richest land patent in the colony. Her alliances with many powerful groups established the Van Rensselaers as one of the most important families of early New York. Maria Van Cortlandt was born in New Amsterdam (present-day New York City) to Oloffe and Anna Loockermans Van Cortlandt, both from wealthy Dutch merchant families. In 1662 Maria married Jeremias Van Rensselaer, son of the first proprietor of Rensselaerswyck near Albany, New York. When her husband died in 1674, control of the vast estate went to Maria Van Rensselaer. She managed to gain clear title of the Van Rensselaer land holdings despite subsequent Dutch and British invasions in 1673 and 1674. The birth of her last child left Van Rensselaer lame, and she used crutches until her death at the age of 43.

See also: Widowhood.


(1779–1821) Novelist. Sukey Vickery wrote mostly epistolary novels, or those that are written in the form of letters. Letter writing was a popular practice during her time, not just for entertainment, but also as a major form of communication. Her most famous novel, Emily Hamilton: A Novel Founded on Incidents in Real Life, was published in 1803. Like most of her works, it provided stories about moral and social issues of the time. Her writing has been compared to works such as Charlotte, a Tale of Truth by Susanna Haswell Rowson. Sometimes seen as didactic, or “preachy,” Vickery’s works provide characters who struggle with good and evil and either suffer or flourish because of the consequences of their choices. Emily Hamilton

In the early 1600s, the Virginia Company of London realized that its colonial settlements would become more self-sufficient and profitable if they were permanent. In order to keep male laborers, the company decided to bring women from England and make them available as wives. (See Documents.) In negotiations with the Virginia House of Burgesses, the Virginia Company, in 1621, agreed to pay for the women’s passage to America if they married shareholders of the Company or tenant farmers. The Company placed the enormous price of 120 pounds of tobacco on each woman. The Virginia Company said this requirement was to protect the women: only freemen or tenants that “had the means to maintain them” would be able to afford the price. Virginia Company “tobacco brides” were brought from England to Jamestown, Virginia, with the promise of a better life. Once she arrived, a woman could accept or refuse a husband. Many were leaving unemployment, homelessness, and hunger. Most, however, suffered greater hardships once in North America. Of the 144 “brides” brought to Jamestown by the Virginia Company, only 35 survived their first six years. See also: Marriage Laws.

VOLUNTARY  ASSOCIATIONS Political clubs, benevolent organizations, and cultural associations or societies to which men and women belonged in British North America. Men and women usually joined separate associations. Some women began their own chapters, clubs, or volunteer groups when they were denied membership into men’s organizations. These groups served a social function; they provided a way for women to make connections within


the community. Women might come together to discuss novels, but more often they sought to tend to the needs of others. Often churches organized benevolent associations. During the Great Awakenings, which began in 1739, a revived interest in religion led to the creation of many groups that evangelized while providing help to the needy. Besides providing food, shelter, education, and clothing, these organizations set out to bring Christianity to those they were helping. For example, a 1751 advertisement appeared in Talbot, Maryland, soliciting gifts and volunteers to build a “Charity-working School” in which children “after being brought up in the Knowledge and Fear of GOD, and learning,” were to be “put out to Apprenticeships or Service, as may best tend to the Good of the Public and Benefits of the Children.” Other benevolent groups included the Female Benevolent Society of St. Thomas (1793), the Boston Female Society for Missionary Purposes (1800), and the African Female Benevolent Society of Newport (1809). Giving of oneself to the needs of others was considered honorable for women and girls in British North America. In the early 1800s, the “Juvenile Band,” 18 young women from Philadelphia, met to make garments for poor children. They also studied botany and collected herbs for the poor. Voluntary political associations were important to women during the American Revolution. The Daughters of Liberty is recognized as the first national American women’s organization. In this group, women helped the cause of the Revolutionary War by supporting the national boycott of imported goods from England. They recycled and reused items that would normally have been imported. They raised sheep and made their own cloth called “homespun”; they made their own tea from herbs, flowers, and fruit; and they helped convince others to support the boycott and harass British Loyalists. Women actively supported the Revolution by joining or creating organizations that sewed clothing and blankets and provided food for soldiers. See also: Bache, Sarah Franklin.



A few women in North America had demanded voting rights and equal access to the political process before 1848, when an organized movement began to win women’s right to vote. However, these women were the exception. Puritan women, for example, did not consider voting as a woman’s duty, but was instead a man’s responsibility. One notable exception, Margaret Brent, was the first woman in North America to demand the vote. Brent owned extensive property in Maryland and in 1647 insisted on two votes in the colonial assembly, one for herself and one for Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, whose power of attorney she held. The governor denied her request, and Brent boycotted the assembly. Women had greater legal rights in some colonial governments than they had later in the nation’s history. This was due more to oversight than intentional granting of woman suffrage. However, few women took advantage of these legal loopholes. A widow or spinster who owned property in New Jersey could vote. New Jersey granted the vote to “all inhabitants” who satisfied certain property and residence requirements. A few propertyowning women took advantage of the state constitution’s vague wording. In 1807 a state legislator who was outraged by the number of women voters helped pass a bill to disenfranchise the state’s women and black men. After the Revolutionary War, voting was decided by the states, not the federal government. Most restricted voting to white males who were property owners, and some further required that voters be Protestants. After the American Revolution, some educated, independent women began demanding the right to vote. Women began seeing the right to vote as the first stage in becoming recognized as full citizens and in having some control over their own lives. By the mid-1800s, an organized effort began to win the right to vote for women. See also: Woman Suffrage.




One of the first ways for women in early America to earn wages was as domestic servants. Women could earn a salary and were provided room and board for performing household tasks, which required little if any training. The hours were long, with domestics preparing meals, cleaning the house, bringing in firewood, and even caring for children. Women also could make money through skills in midwifery. As companies began to manufacture goods at the beginning of the 1800s, women took jobs that drew on their skills in the domestic arts. For example, women in New England labored in textile factories where they earned wages. They took in “outwork,” sewing together pieces of cloth into whole garments in their own homes. Women were paid less than men and were often much better at jobs requiring dexterity. Employers, therefore, often preferred to hire women. Whatever the work, it was a common practice to pay women less than men for the same job. Because men usually had entire families to support and women’s work was seen as temporary, people accepted differences in pay as fair. Women were not seen as the “breadwinners” in a family and their work was commonly seen as unimportant.


See Cherokee household economy

 WARREN, MERCY OTIS See republicanism



(1713?–1789) Mother of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Born in Virginia and orphaned at 13, she lived as a girl with a succession of relatives. She was tall and athletic and loved horses. At age 22 she married Augustine Washing-

ton, a widowed plantation owner with four children. She bore him six children in rapid succession, George being the oldest, before Augustine died in 1743. She never remarried, but managed her children, her slaves, and the estate with an almost military discipline. She was an attentive, possessive, and demanding mother, who did not like her children to be away from her. George’s elder half-brothers had been sent to England for their education, but she kept George by her, proudly preserving all his schoolboy exercises. She refused permission for the 14-year-old George to take up a midshipman’s warrant in Britain’s Royal Navy that had been offered him. It appears that there was conflict between mother and son in later years, when she resented the demands of his public career and sometimes embarrassed him with pleas for money. Yet in her will she left most of her wealth to George. She died in 1789, a few months after his first inauguration as president.

 WASHINGTON, MARTHA See republican motherhood

WATTEVILLE, HENRIETTA  BENIGNA JUSTINE ZINZENDORF VON (1725–1789) Educator. Henrietta Watteville was instrumental in establishing the Moravian Seminary and College for Women in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Moravians are a Protestant denomination that arose from a fifteenth-century religious reform movement in Moravia and Bohemia. Henrietta Zinzendorf was born in Berthelsdorf, Saxony, to Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and Countess Erdmuthe Dorothea von Reuss. She traveled extensively throughout her life, coming to North America for the first time with her father when she was 16. At her father’s insistence, Watteville opened the first boarding school for girls in the British colonies in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1742. Female students were offered instruction in reading, writ-


ing, religion, and household arts. The school later moved to Bethlehem, the center of the Moravian Church in North America. In 1746 Henrietta married Baron Johann von Watteville at a Moravian settlement in Holland. After her husband was consecrated a bishop, the couple returned temporarily to North America in 1748. On this and subsequent trips, Watteville was instrumental in expanding the school curriculum and in consolidating the school with outlying Moravian congregations. The school was later opened to pupils outside the Moravian Church. Over the years, the name changed several times. Known for a time as the Bethlehem Female Seminary, it finally became the Moravian College at Bethlehem. Watteville and her husband had four children. She died in her birthplace at the age of 63. See also: Schools.


(1600s) Sachem, or leader, of the Wampanoags during King Philip’s War. Weetamoo arranged for the attack of white settlers on Lancaster, Massachusetts, during King Philip’s War in 1676. In her captivity narrative, Mary White Rowlandson describes Weetamoo at length, portraying her as “severe and proud,” a woman lacking in mercy and gentleness. Weetamoo married Wamsutta, eldest son of Wampanoag sachem Massasoit. Upon his father’s death in 1662, Wamsutta became leader. His village of Pokanoket rested on land the English settlers later called Rhode Island. Tensions mounted as English settlements grew and the newcomers to America demanded more land from Native Americans. In 1664, Wamsutta was killed while being questioned about land rights by white leaders at Plymouth. Weetamoo then became the new sachem of the Wampanoag village of Pocasset. She managed to keep peace with white settlers for over ten years. However, when her husband’s successor Metacomet (called Philip by the English) chose battle over diplomacy, Weetamoo followed suit. Weetamoo abandoned her second husband, Petananuet, because he refused to fight the English. Weetamoo and the Narragansett sachem Quanopin raided Mary Rowlandson’s town of Lancaster, destroying it, killing many white settlers, and capturing 24 others, including Rowlandson and her


children. Later Quanopin was captured and shot. It is believed that Weetamoo drowned during the war. According to an account by Puritan minister Increase Mather, after her drowning, Puritans cut off her head, impaled it on a stick, and displayed it in the town of Taunton.


(1735?–1796?) Wax sculptor and financial contributor to the American Revolution. When she was about 65 years old, Rachel Lovell Wells wrote to Congress, trying to get back some of the 300 pounds of gold that she had loaned the nation during the Revolutionary War. Money from her wax sculpting had allowed her to buy loan office certificates from the state of New Jersey, which were supposed to be returned with interest at the end of the war. During the war Wells moved to Philadelphia in search of work because British soldiers had robbed her of most of her property. After the war, Wells moved back to New Jersey. At the time of her petition, May 18, 1786, Wells was widowed and living in poverty. The New Jersey legislature decided that only state residents could make a claim on principal and interest payments from the loan certificates. Wells’s claim was denied because she had not lived in New Jersey at the end of the war. Wells appealed to the Continental Congress, but her petition was again denied. Wells stated in her petition that even though she did not fight in the war, she loaned money that provided food, clothing, and blankets for soldiers. Although it was unsuccessful, the petition remains a rare and interesting document about the contributions made to the Revolution by a woman.



As the American colonies were being formed, women were becoming widows at a younger age than had previously been seen in England. Dangers faced by the new settlers made young widows especially common in Virginia. Young widows were encouraged to remarry as quickly as possible be-



cause marriage and reproduction were valued over celibacy. A woman’s ability to reproduce was highly valued not only because of religious beliefs, but also because infant mortality rates were so high. In Virginia, women were in such short supply that widows often married immediately. North of Virginia, life expectancy was higher than in Europe; therefore, women sometimes took longer to remarry. During their period of mourning, before they remarried, and sometimes even after they remarried, widows had to support themselves and often several children. Many worked as domestic servants or took in sewing and laundry for others. Some became indentured servants: in Wareham, Massachusetts, there was an annual auction of indigent widows. If a widow’s late husband had been in business with a partner, the widow might be cheated out of any interest in the business. Court records attest to numerous cases in which business partners took advantage of the fact that few husbands shared business accounting information with their wives. The American Revolution left more women and children in poverty than any other national conflict except the Civil War (see Volume 2). Women widowed by war were among the first to seek pensions from Congress and state legislatures. The bulk of aid to widows came from local charities and groups such as the Quaker women who made the care of widows a priority. Not all widows were left in complete poverty. According to the 1672 “Act concerning the Dowry of Widows,” each widow was guaranteed one-third of her husband’s property. She could take over and manage her third of the remaining property after debts existing at the time of her husband’s death were cleared. The remaining two-thirds went to the children, the state, or other relatives. Sometimes women inherited and took over operations of their husband’s businesses. For example, Ann Donovan Timothy successfully operated South Carolina’s first permanent newspaper, the South-Carolina Gazette, after her husband’s death in 1782. Maria van Cortlandt van Rensselaer took control of her family’s vast estate in New York after her husband’s death in 1674. She managed to gain clear title of the Van Rensselaer land holdings despite subsequent Dutch and British invasions in 1673 and 1674. Another widow, Margaret Hardenbrook Philipse, traded her former role as farmwife for one in commerce: she

developed the first regularly scheduled ship passages across the Atlantic. Affluent widows became a prominent feature of many colonial towns. Usually women who ran businesses on their own were widows. Records show that most towns had some widows who were among the most prominent taxpayers. Men often sought out these wealthy widows for marriage. In 1692, Cotton Mather cautioned widows against marrying a man who was more concerned with the woman’s property than with her. Widows who owned property had more legal rights than did married women during this period. A married woman had feme covert status, which meant that her legal identity was “covered” by her husband’s. Although inconsistently enforced, the English common law, adopted by most colonies, stated that once a woman was married, she could not be a witness in court, could not decide where she would live, could not control property, and could not even keep the wages she earned. Widows, on the other hand, had many legal rights. Single women over 21 and widows could apply for feme sole status. They could own and control property and see to their own legal affairs. In some cases, therefore, widowhood, for all the dread it inspired, brought about independence for women. See also: Coverture; Dower Rights; Feme Sole Trader Acts. FURTHER READING

Brown, Kathleen. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.



(1757–1813) Patriot whose eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution are preserved in Letters of Eliza Wilkinson. Wilkinson was the daughter of a wealthy Welsh immigrant who settled on Yonge’s Island near Charleston, South Carolina. During the British siege of Charleston in 1779, she was a young widow whose husband had died six months after their marriage. Her two brothers fought for independence. Despite British raids on her home and the surrender of Charleston, Wilkinson remained a firm patriot. On a visit to a prison ship, she refused a British officer’s request that she play the guitar,


telling him that she would not feel like making music until her countrymen were freed and the colonists won the war. During the British occupation, she and her friends smuggled supplies to American forces, concealing them under their clothes and headdresses. In 1839, a descendant, Caroline Howard Gilman, published the letters Wilkinson wrote during the siege. These eyewitness accounts give a woman’s perspective on the hardships of the war. They also express her feminist views. Wilkinson’s assertions that women are capable of holding public office and her desire for “liberty of thought” are characteristic of the rhetoric popular in the early Republic.


(1752–1819) Religious leader of one of North America’s shortlived religious sects. In 1776, during a serious illness, Jemima Wilkinson believed that she had died and been revived by Jesus so that she could teach and lead a religious awakening. Wilkinson preached celibacy, pacifism, repentance, salvation for all, and the abolition of slavery. Wilkinson was raised a Quaker in Cumberland, Rhode Island. She was one of 12 children born to Jeremiah and Amey Whipple Wilkinson. She showed early signs of an interest in theology and memorized large sections of the King James Bible. The Quakers, however, dismissed Wilkinson because she attended a New Light Baptist meeting. After her illness and religious transformation, Wilkinson began preaching and attracting followers throughout New England. She dropped her birth name and answered only to the name “Publick Universal Friend.” Wilkinson experimented with faith healing and dream interpretation and portrayed herself as a messianic prophet. When she was 39, Wilkinson and nearly 300 followers founded the religious community of Jerusalem in the Yates County wilderness of western New York state. Wilkinson is often compared to Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers, although Wilkinson was less rigid in her religious teachings. Wilkinson preached at Jerusalem to the faithful until her death at the age of 67. Within two decades of her death, her sect and its Jerusalem community had all but disappeared.



(1750–?) Imposter and self-proclaimed sister of the Queen of England. Calling herself the Marchioness de Waldegrave, Wilson traveled throughout the American colonies, enjoying the hospitality of elite members of society. A convicted criminal and escaped indentured servant, she thus propelled herself into the highest echelons of colonial North America. Sarah Wilson was born in Staffordshire, England. While in her teens, she became a servant to Caroline Vernon, a maid of honor to Queen Charlotte. In 1771, Wilson stole from the queen’s bedroom a gown, a diamond necklace, and a miniature figurine. She was apprehended and sentenced to death. After Vernon and the Queen intervened, Wilson’s sentence was reduced to indentured servitude in the American colonies. In the autumn of 1771, Sarah Wilson was sold to William Devall of Frederick County. She escaped and spent the next 18 months displaying the queen’s gown, the necklace, and the figurine, which she somehow retained from the burglary. Wilson assumed the name Susanna (or Sophia) Carolina Matilda, Marchioness de Waldegrave, sister of the Queen of England. In exchange for a fee, Wilson promised government posts or even commissions in the British army to her hosts in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Around 1773, Devall hired an attorney to track down Wilson and offered a reward for her return. Accounts of Wilson’s life after this point differ. Some say she was apprehended but then escaped a second time. Others claim that she made her way to Canada where she married William Talbot, a captain in the British army.


(1617–1655) Rebel against the Puritan code and niece and daughter-in-law of Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop and his wife Margaret Winthrop. Elizabeth Fones was born in England to Anne (Winthrop) Fones and Thomas Fones, an apothecary in London. She married Henry Winthrop, Jr., the son of John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Henry died in 1630 at age 23 in a drowning accident, leaving Elizabeth a widow with a baby in England. She married Robert



Feake, with whom she had two children, and came to America on the Lyon in 1632 along with Margaret Winthrop. Winthrop is known for her stance against the strict Puritan rules that governed her life and that of most early settlers to America. In 1649, she left Massachusetts because on May 17 of that year a warrant was issued for her arrest and that of William Hallett on a charge that they were unmarried and “living in sin,” having had a child, William. Winthrop later married Hallett. Her three marriages left her in charge of vast properties in Connecticut and New Netherland. Winthrop is the subject of a twentieth-century historical novel by Anya Seton, The Winthrop Woman.


In January 1692, a group of girls in Salem Village, a community in Puritan Massachusetts, began to exhibit strange behavior—screaming, seizures, and trances—that doctors concluded revealed the influence of Satan. So began the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials. Before it was over, more than 100 people had been accused of practicing witchcraft—that is, of having made agreements with the devil in exchange for special powers. Of those charged, 58 were indicted and 29 were convicted in five separate trials that took place over a period of five months. Six of the convicted women escaped execution by “confessing” to being witches; the confessions were used to intimidate those who maintained their innocence, and they often implicated others. Of the


(c. 1590–1647) Letter-writer and wife of the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Margaret Winthrop’s husband, Governor John Winthrop, was among the founders of Massachusetts and the town of Boston. Margaret was born in England to Sir John and Lady Ann Egerton Tyndal of Essex, England. She married John Winthrop in 1618 and moved to his father’s estate of Groton Manor. The bride cared for John’s four children by his two former wives, both of whom had died. During the first 12 years of their marriage, John Winthrop often traveled to London, where he served as an attorney at one of the national courts. In his absence, Margaret would care for their estate and children, who eventually numbered 12. Much can be learned about the Winthrops’ daily lives from the personal letters and diaries of Margaret Winthrop. She wrote to her husband often. Her writings have come to be called “Puritan Letters” and also reveal much about England and the beginnings of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Winthrop settled in Massachusetts in 1630, taking a leading role in the establishment of the colony. He was elected to a one-year term as governor 16 times. Margaret Winthrop remained in England until she gave birth to another child and was able to settle the family estate. She sailed for Boston in 1632 with her child, but the infant died at sea. The Winthrops settled on Beacon Hill in Boston. Margaret Winthop served as hostess at many political and religious meetings at the Winthrop home and, according to her husband’s accounts, was a supportive wife and dutiful mother.

The title page of Cotton Mather’s best-selling book on witchcraft, a copy of which was in Samuel Parris’s library in 1692


remaining 23, 19 were hanged, three died in jail, and one was pressed to death with rocks during his interrogation. Eighty percent of those convicted and executed were women. Elizabeth Parris, nine-year-old daughter of the village parson, and Abigail Williams, her 11-year-old cousin, were fascinated by the tales of devils told by Elizabeth’s father’s West Indian slave Tituba. Their fascination seems to have led to their hysterical behavior and eventually to accusations that drew the attention of the entire town. When asked to name the supernatural tormentors who were causing their seizures, the girls, for no apparent reason, implicated Tituba and local residents Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn. On February 29, 1692, Good, Osburn, and Tituba were arrested. Others began to make accusations, and the arrests continued through the spring. The “witches” were blamed for bringing every kind of misfortune to their victims, from sickness and fire to arguments with neighbors and the deaths of livestock and babies. At first, the accusations were investigated by town magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. Then, as the numbers increased, Governor William Phips set up a special court with seven additional judges. The first trial was held in June, and on June 10 Bridget Bishop was the first to be hanged. The proceedings of the trials were carefully written down, and many have been preserved. From them it appears that the accusers repeatedly “fell into fits” on the arrival of the accused, and that the fits or seizures themselves were considered evidence. In accordance with legal practice of the time, the accused, though not represented by lawyers, were allowed to speak for themselves and to question their accusers and other witnesses. But there was little defense possible against spectral evidence—evidence about mischief performed by the “specters” of the accused, which could not be corroborated and against which there could be no alibi. Among the 19 who were hanged was Rebecca Nurse. She was a 70-year-old mother of eight. Even though she had a spotless reputation and 40 prominent citizens of Salem vouched for her innocence, she was executed on July 19. One of Rebecca Nurse’s sisters was hanged on September 22. The Nurse family tried to convince the town elders to stop the executions. After the executions were finally halted, the family saw to it that the clergymen who led the trials resigned from the ministry. Governor Phips disbanded the special court in October, replacing it with a superior court that did not admit spectral evidence. The trials resumed


the following year, but without spectral evidence, no further convictions were made. The Salem Witch Trials have been blamed on everything from a hallucinogenic fungus present in rye flour to the hysterical need of girls for attention. Some scholars think the “witches” served as scapegoats during a time of social and economic upheaval, when Salem was experiencing a change from a deeply religious, agrarian community to a more secular, commercial society. Perhaps people needed someone or something to blame for problems over which they had no control. Most of the women accused did not represent Puritan ideals of womanhood. Some were strong, independent, and spirited women who would rather die than confess to shameful crimes they had not committed. FURTHER READING

Hill, Frances, ed. The Salem Witch Trials Reader. New York: Da Capo Press, 2000. Williams, Selma R., and Pamela Williams Adelman. Riding the Nightmare: Women and Witchcraft from the Old World to Colonial Salem. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992.


See coverture; family life, colonial; family life, republican; feme sole trading acts; marriage laws


A woman’s status in early British America depended upon multiple elements: gender; race and ethnicity; age; family occupation, income, and wealth; religious affiliation; and social ranking. Disentangling the various components is not always easy. The reader should also keep in mind that a woman might have low social status in one environment but enjoy relatively high status where she lived.

Status of African-American Women Over 15 percent of American women were enslaved in 1790. Their lives, bodies, and children were the property of other Americans, sometimes their own blood relatives. As individuals, they had no legal status whatsoever. Free African-American women represented roughly 2 percent of the population. Excluded from the social life of other free women, many preferred to live in a society of their own. There were several successful free African-American farming communities in southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island;



free African Americans also created towns within the larger metropolises such as Philadelphia and New York City. Within these enclaves, a woman’s status depended upon that of her household, but she also had a great deal of freedom to develop her own reputation, and hence social status, among her friends and neighbors.

Status of Women in Native American Nations Another large segment of American women, uncounted in the census, lived in national groups within the region that became the “United States” in 1783, but still physically belonged to Native American nations. Within their own borders, Cherokee, Iroquois, Shawnee, Creek, and Choctaw women lived within societies organized into status relationships somewhat different from those of British America.

Status of European Women For the remaining American women, the first determinant of status would be family—her father’s family until marriage, and later her husband’s family and the household of which she became mistress. All women were constrained by legal status similar to that of an underage child today. Through most of her life, a woman would be considered feme covert, Old French for “covered woman,” a woman “hidden” within the household. The male head of the household was the only person legally empowered to conduct transactions in her name. Although the property she brought into marriage was legally hers, all income or property accumulated during marriage belonged to her husband to dispose of as he wished. Widows were exempt from this restriction and functioned freely in the financial world, yet they were generally excluded from voting, serving on juries, or holding office. The law granted married women little or no freedom, but practice differed greatly from family to family, and region to region. As stated in the marriage vows and reinforced throughout the culture, a woman’s first duty was to obey her husband. Both legally and socially, she was his servant; his needs came before hers. Yet virtually all of the religions practiced in British America taught that women had as much access as men to piety, sainthood, or heaven. Even the most masculine-centered religions permitted women to learn to read the Bible. Hence, the culture had built within it a contradiction: as citizens or house-

holders, women were expected to be subservient to the men in their lives; as individuals with souls, they were independent in the eyes of their Maker. Seventeenth-century New England preachers regularly sermonized about women’s natural moral weakness. The husband was the moral head of the family, charged with religious instruction and enforcement in his household. At the same time, a woman who had undergone the deeply personal experience of conversion could be admitted to full membership in the congregation, while her husband remained outside the covenant. Though the culture was patriarchal, there were still avenues through which a woman could gain status independently. The Society of Friends (Quakers) believed in the “inner light” of every individual and permitted women to be lay ministers and traveling missionaries. William Penn’s first Charter for the Quaker colony of Pennsylvania explicitly referred in all cases to both “men and women”; unfortunately, the Board of Trade removed all references to women. The Society was governed by monthly meetings, one for women and one for men. Their duties reflected a clear gender division of responsibilities, but the women’s meeting had a great deal of authority. Since the Friends handled all disputes internally, including business debts and contracts, women were not as constrained by feme covert as in the outside world. For most free American women, the level of attainable respect and decision-making powers fell somewhere between seventeenth-century Puritan culture and the eighteenth-century Society of Friends. The most critical decision of a woman’s life would be the choice of a marriage partner. Though free to make that choice herself, she usually received guidance from family members and friends. There was no way to perfectly predict the outcome, however, and there was little recourse in a bad marriage. If a woman had a strong network of family or friends, she might get them to try to persuade an abuser to change his behavior; she might also move back with her family. Most of the time, however, there was little to do but suffer. Alcoholic, lazy, adulterous husbands and deserters doomed their wives to dependence upon others. Mariners’ wives were the one exception: they were permitted to operate as if they were widows during their husbands’ absence. It is no wonder that those sufficiently wealthy to remain independent in widowhood proved reluctant to risk their independence by remarrying.


A successful marriage operated as a partnership, if for no other reason than the organizational need to have the women’s productivity coordinated with the men’s. Over 90 percent of Americans lived on farms as late as the 1820s, and most of the women in cities or towns worked together with their husbands in artisanal, shopkeeping, or tavernkeeping households. The wealthy in every region held the highest status, but most communities consisted of small farmers of roughly equal rank. A woman’s social status usually derived first from her father’s family; if they were well known in the region as productive, honest, and hardworking, she would begin with a higher status than someone coming in unknown to the community. When she married, her status derived from her husband’s station in life and his family’s status. Families went to great lengths to match up comparable partners; marriage among cousins occurred not merely because of proximity, but also security. On a farm, a woman made and repaired clothes; prepared food; tended a garden with chickens and geese, pigs, and milk cows; made butter and cheese, sausages, and salted meat; and cared for small children and invalids. As long as the husband kept the male side functioning, a woman’s success in her arena was necessary to maintaining or improving the status of the family—and thus her own. Since most of men’s work was also unpaid, women received recognition for productivity on a level nonfarming women would lose in the nineteenth century. A woman could also achieve individual respect in her role as a networker: being good at mediating disputes; helping families in trouble; and sharing skills and information about household tasks and medicine with younger women. After the Revolution, women gained significant educational opportunities and recognition for their intelligence. However, as firms and men’s professional organizations took over the organization of the economy, women lost economic choices previously available to them. On balance, it is difficult to determine whether women’s status improved or worsened by the nineteenth century. Ultimately, the status of women in early British America was ambiguous. Women were constrained by a legal system that rendered them invisible and by a culture that expected a daughter’s obedience and a wife’s submission. At the same time, the roles most women played in society and the economy required a level of independence incompatible with total subservience to men. Religion preached both


inferiority and equality. When a strong woman’s network was present, women were awarded levels of status among each other, which may have been the most important to a woman. Nevertheless, it was a very different life from that offered to men. Mary M. Schweitzer See also: Church Membership; Coverture; Divorce Laws; Feme Sole Trader Acts; Widowhood. FURTHER READING

Amott, Teresa, and Julie Matthaei. Race, Gender and Work. Boston: South End Press, 1996. Berkin, Carol. First Generations: Women in Colonial America. New York: Hill & Wang, 1996. Cott, Nancy F. The Bonds of Womanhood: “Woman’s Sphere” in New England, 1780–1835. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Eldridge, Larry D., ed. Women and Freedom in Early America. New York: New York University Press, 1997. Hoff-Wilson, Joan. “The Illusion of Change: Women and the American Revolution.” In Alfred E. Young, ed., The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University, 1976. Kerber, Linda K. No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship. New York: Hill & Wang, 1998. . Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Koehler, Lyle. A Search for Power: The “Weaker Sex” in Seventeenth-Century New England. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980. Norton, Mary Beth. Founding Mothers and Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society. New York: Knopf, 1996. Salmon, Marylynn. Women and the Law of Property in Early America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986. Schweitzer, Mary M. Custom and Contract: Households, Government, and the Economy in Colonial Pennsylvania. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987. Smith, Merrill D. Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730–1830. New York: New York University Press, 1991. Wulf, Karin A. Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000.


(1759–1855) Maine’s first female novelist. Sally Wood published four novels anonymously, each characterized by strong moralizing enlivened with small bits of gothic horror. One novel was later published un-



der her name. Better known as Madame Wood, Keating continued to write in the style of sentimental fiction established earlier by novelist Susanna Haswell Rowson. Sally Barrell was born in York, Maine, to Lieutenant Nathaniel Barrell and Sally Sayward Barrell. The oldest of 11 children, she grew up in relative comfort in the mansion of her grandfather (a successful seaman and judge) in York Harbor, Maine. Her father became a leading merchant and sympathized with the British during the American Revolution. Sally, on the other hand, supported the patriots. She married Richard Keating in 1778, and they had three children. Her husband died five years later from a fever. Sally Keating spent the next 21 years in widowhood, raising her children and writing four novels. In 1804, Keating married General Abiel Wood, a prominent citizen of Wiscasset, Maine. After her husband’s death in 1811, Wood wrote what is considered her best novel, Tales of the Night. In this work, Wood describes the people, climate, and scenery of Maine. Wood later lived with her son Richard Keating in New York City and then with a granddaughter in Kennebunk, Maine, until her death at the age of 95.


(1760–1821) Shaker leader. In 1787 Lucy Wright was named successor to Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers. Wright led the sect during its period of greatest growth, from 1787 until her death in 1821. Wright was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to John and Mary Robbins Wright. At the age of 19, she married Elizur Goodrich, a merchant from the neighboring town of Richmond. Wright and her husband became Shakers and decided to remain celibate. They moved to Ann Lee’s Shaker Watervliet settlement and were housed in separate men’s and women’s quarters. Wright chose to use only her maiden name. Upon Ann Lee’s death, Wright began sharing leadership of the Shakers with Father Joseph Meacham. Wright and Meacham gathered Shaker believers into one community at New Lebanon. This new church community became the model for ten other Shaker communities in New England and New York. Meacham died in 1796, and Wright continued as the sole leader of the Shakers. She sent out mis-

sionaries, which led to the establishment of seven Shaker communities in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Wright also authorized the publication of the primary book on Shaker theology, Benjamin S. Young’s The Testimony of Christ’s Second Appearing (1808). Wright introduced new, livelier songs and more animated dances into Shaker worship. Schools that Wright established for the Children’s Order became highly respected even outside the Shaker community. Wright died at the age of 61 and was buried beside the grave of Ann Lee at the Shaker Cemetery near Albany, New York.


(1725–1786) North America’s first professional sculptor. Patience Lovell Wright sculpted mainly in wax, creating likenesses of well-known living people. Her work predates that of Madame Tussaud, the famous French wax sculptor. Wright was also interested in politics and aided the Americans by passing secret information hidden in her wax figures during the American Revolution. Patience Lovell was born in Bordentown, New Jersey to John and Patience Townsend Lovell. John Lovell was a prosperous farmer, a principled Quaker, and a vegetarian. He insisted that his seven children dress in white from head to toe. In her early twenties, Lovell left her family to move to Philadelphia. There she married a cooper named Joseph Wright in 1748. The couple had five children. Joseph died while Patience was pregnant with their last child. Facing widowhood alone with five children, Wright took stock of her assets and talents. While working with pastry in her kitchen, she realized she had a talent for sculpting. She began working with wax, a cheap and easily available material. Her work quickly gained popularity. By 1772 Wright had created a traveling wax sculpture exhibit. Wright’s sister, Rachel Wells, helped Wright with her growing business. Wright created likenesses of well-known living people, such as the king and queen of England, rather than focus on dead historical, criminal, or literary figures as other sculptors were doing at the time. Wright’s work was especially popular in Charleston, Philadelphia, and New York. In 1771 a fire destroyed much of Wright’s New York exhibit. Shortly thereafter, she decided to ex-


Patience Lovell Wright’s wax sculptures were famous for their lifelike quality.

pand her business to England. She sailed for London in February 1772. Wright received acclaim for her wax works in London from many famous people, such as Benjamin Franklin and King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, whom Wright, in Quaker style, called simply “George” and “Charlotte.” Franklin introduced Wright to other eminent people, including historian Catherine Macaulay, political leader John Sawbridge, and painter Benjamin West. Wright created their likenesses in wax, along with those of noblemen, actors, and scholars. Wright’s talent for novelty and her unusual technique made her sculptures far superior to those of her London competitor, Mrs. Salmon. Besides being a noted artist, Wright was an American patriot. She developed many friendships with British and colonial leaders. During the Revolutionary War, she passed along secret information to members of Congress. John Hancock commended Wright for her efforts. Wright concealed information helpful to the Americans inside a wax sculpture of Lord North that she sent to her sister who was operating Wright’s wax museum in Philadelphia. Wright also opened her London house to American prisoners of war.


In 1780 a scandal arose when Wright’s son Joseph exhibited his artwork at the Royal Academy. One of his portraits depicted his mother modeling a wax head. Spectators were shocked when they discovered that the wax head she was working on was that of Charles I and the two onlookers in the painting were the current king and queen. England’s King Charles I had been beheaded in 1649. Amidst the scandal, Wright traveled to Paris to introduce her sculptures, but her work never found an audience in the city where Philippe Curtius, uncle of Madame Tussaud, had already established a successful wax museum. Wright returned to London in 1781, only to discover that her popularity there had waned. She made preparations to move back to North America, commenting that she could not be “content to have her bones laid in London.” However, Wright died suddenly in 1786 after a serious fall. Wright’s sister continued to exhibit Wright’s sculptures until her own death ten years later. One of Wright’s most famous wax figures, that of Lord Chatham, was the first American work to be displayed in Westminster Abbey, where it still stands. FURTHER READING

Rubenstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990.


(1697–1784) Poet, amateur physician, clerk, and silk farmer. Dubbed a “Renaissance Woman,” Susanna Wright accumulated a large library, spoke fluent French, wrote poetry, and treated her neighbors’ ills with medicinal herbs and remedies. In 1771 Wright won ten pounds for raising the largest number of silkworms in America. Susanna Wright was born to John Wright and Patience Gibson Wright in Manchester, England. John Wright, a Quaker, brought his family of nine to Pennsylvania in 1714. After Susanna’s mother died in 1722, she helped run her father’s ferry boats on the Susquehanna. Wright’s Ferry was a major frontier crossing and later became Columbia, Pennsylvania. Wright worked in her father’s business until 1745 when she was bequeathed a large home by a



neighbor, Samuel Blunston. Although they never married, it is believed that Wright and Blunston were in love. Wright began producing silk from the silkworms she raised in mulberry trees on her farm. She produced the first pair of silk stockings in the province. Benjamin Franklin presented a dress spun from Wright’s silk to Queen Charlotte of England.

Wright was well known for her intellectual abilities. She accumulated a large library from books supplied by prominent Pennsylvanians like James Logan, Benjamin Franklin, and Isaac Norris. Wright served as clerk in her community, writing out wills, deeds, and indentures. She also helped settle land disputes and other legal matters, serving as arbiter and magistrate until her death in 1784.


(1766?–1831?) Hero of the American Revolution. Betty Zane carried gunpowder to replenish supplies during an attack by Native Americans on Fort Henry in 1782, near the end of the Revolutionary War. While others took cover in the fort, Zane ran nearly 50 yards through gunfire to the home of her brother Colonel Ebenezer Zane to get more ammunition. Zane’s exact birthplace and birth date are uncertain. It is believed she was reared in Hardy County in present-day West Virginia. Her father, William Zane, also had four sons. Nothing is known about her mother.

According to several accounts, including the book Betty Zane by descendant Zane Grey, as Betty ran from Fort Henry to her brother’s house, Native American warriors yelled “Squaw, squaw” and they stopped shooting. However, when she returned to the fort with the gunpowder tied to her waist in a tablecloth, they opened fire on her. Zane’s clothes were pierced, but she was unharmed. With more gunpowder, the fort was able to hold out until help arrived three days later. Zane had five daughters with her first husband, John McGloughlin. After his death, she married Jacob Clark, with whom she had two children. She lived on a farm in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, until her death at about the age of 65.

Part 3 Documents





Excerpts from

Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London (1619– 1624) Jamestown was initially settled in 1607 by men. Families would be important in the new Jamestown colony, not only for the propagation of the people but also for economic and labor division. Although there were some women living in Jamestown, the Virginia Company of London sought to provide wives for the mostly male population. According to the members, the settlement could not thrive until families were “ planted” on the soil. About 1619 the Virginia Company sent the first “ bride ship” to Jamestown. After the introduction of women, children soon followed. The following excerpts, which are from recorded minutes of a meeting held by the Virginia Company of London, present contemporary thoughts of the early colonists about the women and children.

The third roll was for sending of maids to Virginia to be made wives, which the planters there did very much desire, by the want of whom have sprang the greatest hindrances of the encrease of the plantation, in that most of them esteeming Virginia not as a place of habitation, but only of a short sojourning, have applyed themselves and their labours wholly to the raising of present profi t, and utterly neglected, not only staple commodities, but even the very necessities of man’s life, in regard whereof, and to prevent so great an inconveniency hereafter, whereby the planters’ mind may by fast tyed to Virginia by the bonds of wives and children, care has been taken to provide them young, handsome and honestly educated maids, whereof sixty are already sent to Virginia, being such as were specially recommended unto the Company for their good bringing up by their parents or friends of good worth; which maids are to be disposed in marriage to the most honest and industrious planters, who are to defray and satisfye, to the adventurers the charge of their passages and provisions at such rates as they and the adventurers’ agents there shall agree; and in case any of them fail through mortality it is ordered that a proportionate addition shall be made upon the rest. In furtherance of which Christian action, divers of the said adventurers had underwrit divers good sums of money, none under 8, whereby the whole sum of that roll did already amount to 800, as may appear by the subscriptions. The demand of the city, read the last court, concerning the hundred children, being much distasted of this Company, being such as were repugnant to the standing orders, which could no way be dispensed with, therefore the committees have rectifi ed and corrected the copy so far forth as may stand with the orders to

In the 1600s, distasted was a common way of expressing displeasure or even disgust.


admit, and have written a letter to the Lord Mayor from the chief of the Council, agreeing to send the letter and return the altered copy to-morrow morning to the court of Aldermen, requiring Sir Thomas Wroth and Mr. Gibbs to deliver them, and require their speedy resolutions, because the speedy departure of the ship will suffer no delay, this following being the true copy. Whereas, The number of one hundred children, whose names are hereafter mentioned, were the last spring sent and transported by the Virginia Company from the city of London unto Virginia, and towards the charge for the transportation and appareling of the same one hundred children a collection of the sum of fi ve hundred pounds was made of divers well and godly disposed persons, charitably minded towards the plantation in Virginia, dwelling within the city of London and suburbs thereof, and thereupon the said fi ve hundred pounds was paid unto the said Company for the purpose aforesaid. And thereupon, for the good of the same children, and in consideration of the premises, it is fully concluded, ordered and decreed by and at a general quarter-court, this day holden by the Treasurer, Council and Company of Virginia, that every of the same children which are now living at the charges, and by the provision of the said Virginia Company, shall be educated and brought up in some good trade and profession, whereby they may be enable to get their living, and maintain themselves when they shall attain their several ages of four-and-twenty years, or be out of their apprenticeships, which shall endure at the least seven years if they so long live. And further, that every of the same children that is to say, the boys at their ages of one-and-twenty years or upwards, and the maids or girls at their age of one-and-twenty years, or day of marriage, which shall fi rst happen, shall have freely given and allotted unto them fi fty acres of land apiece in Virginia aforesaid within the limits of the English plantation, the said acres to be appointed according to the statute de terris mesurandis in England, and that in convenient place or places to hold in fee simple by socage tenure to every of them and their heirs forever, freely at the rent of 12d. by the year, in full of all rents or other payment or service due unto the Lord, therefore to be rendered or done. If the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council shall not be satisfi ed with the Company’s reasons (who desire that some of themselves may be admitted to alledge them), that it is better for the former children to have the same conditions with these latter, the Company will let it pass for this time, yet, with this protestation, that as it is not benefi cial to the children, so it is the extreme wrong and prejudice of the whole plantation. And whereas, also, it is intended and fully resolved that this next spring the number of one hundred children more, whose names are likewise hereafter mentioned, shall be sent and transported by the said Virginia Company out of the city of London unto Virginia aforesaid, and that towards the charge of transporting and appareling the same children, the like collection of fi ve hundred pounds, of men godly and charitably disposed towards the said plantation,




Appareling meant that a sufficient supply of clothing would be provided for and shipped with the children.

De terris mesurandis is Latin for about measuring land. Socage tenure refers to an agreement between a lord and a tenant in which the tenant is allowed to hold land in exchange for services to the lord of the land. d. stands for denarium, which is Latin for penny.



which do reside within the said city and the suburbs thereof, is to be made, and, upon collecting thereof, the same shall be paid to the Virginia Company for the purpose aforesaid: Now, therefore, for the good of the same children, and in consideration of the premises, it is fully concluded and ordered and decreed at a great and general quarter-court, this day holden by the Treasurer, Council and Company of Virginia, that the said hundred children last mentioned shall be sent at the Virginia Company’s charge, and during their voyage shall have their provision sweet and good and well appareled, and all other things necessary for the voyage, and that every of the same children shall be there placed apprentices with honest and good masters that is to say, the boys for the term of seven years or more, so as their apprenticeships may expire at their several ages of one-and-twenty years or upwards, and the maids or girls for the term of seven years, or until they shall attain their several ages of one-and-twenty years, or be married, to be by the same masters during that time educated and brought up in some good crafts, trades or husbandry, whereby they may be enabled to get their living and maintain themselves when they shall attain their several ages or be out of their apprenticeships, and during their apprenticeships shall have all things provided for them as shall be fi t and requisite, as meat, drink, apparel, and other necessaries. And further, that at the expiration of their several apprenticeships, every of the said children shall have freely given unto them and provided for them at the said Company’s charge provision of corn for victuals for one whole year, and shall also have a house ready built to dwell in, and be placed as a tenant in some convenient place upon so much land as they can manage; and shall have one cow and as much corn as he or she will plant, and forty shillings to apparel them, or apparel to that value; and shall also have convenient weapons, munition and armour for defence, and necessary implements and utensils for household, and sufficient working tools and instruments for their trades, labour and husbandry in such sort as other tenants’ are provided for. Moreover, that every of the said children last mentioned which shall have thus served their apprenticeships, and be placed and provided for as aforesaid, shall be tied to be tenants or farmers in manner and form aforesaid for the space of seven years after their apprenticeships ended, and during that time of their labour and pains therein they shall have half of all the increase, profi t and benefi t that shall arise, grow and increase by the management thereof, as well the fruits of the earth, the increased of the cattle as otherwise, and the other moiety thereof, to go and remain to the owners of the land, in lieu and satisfaction of a rent to be paid for the same land so by them to be occupied, and that at the expiration of the same last seven years every of the said children to be at liberty either to continue tenants or farmers of the Company upon the same lands, if they will, at the same rates and in the manner aforesaid, or else provide for themselves elsewhere. And lastly, that either of the same children, at the end of the last seven years, shall have moreover fi ve-and-twenty acres of land,



Husbandry refers to the skill, usually performed by women, of managing a household to ensure that the household resources are used as efficiently as possible.

Victuals: food. This was a serious concern among people in the Virginia plantation. Most of the original inhabitants died of famine.

Moiety: a portion of something that will be divided, such as an estate, the profits of the estate, the goods produced on the estate, or the animals born on the estate.

A N E X A M I N AT I O N O F M R S . A N N E H U T C H I N S O N (1637)

to be given and allotted to them in some convenient place or places within English plantations in Virginia aforesaid, to hold in fee simple by socage tenure to every of them and their heirs forever freely, for the rent of 6d. for every fi ve-and-twenty acres by way of quit rent in lieu of all the services in regard of the tenure; all which premises we, the said Treasurer, Council and Company, do order and decree, and faithfully promise shall be justly and truly performed towards the said children according to the true intent and meaning thereof. After the letter the city yielded.”


Library of Congress. Abstract of the Proceedings of the Virginia Company of London, 1619– 1624 (pp. 39– 42, 158– 159). Prepared by Conway Robinson. R. A. Brock, ed. Richmond, VA: Virginia Historical Society, 1888.

An excerpt from

An Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (1637) In November 1637, ANNE HUTCHINSON (c.1591–1643) was “ examined” by John Winthrop, the governor of Massachusetts, and a court of more than 45 ministers and magistrates— all men. They accused her of various “ radical” behaviors, including criticizing church doctrine and questioning the superiority men presumed to derive over women based purely on their gender. In the excerpt that follows from the trial of Anne Hutchinson, note how she matches wits with the church and governmental officials and presents her knowledge of scriptures as equal or nearly so to the religious authorities. Following the trial, she was banished from the Massachusetts colony. She moved her family to Rhode Island and then to New Amsterdam, where she and all but one of her children were killed by Native Americans.

November 1637 The examination of Mrs. Ann Hutchinson at the court at Newtown. Mr. Winthrop, governor. Mrs. Hutchinson, you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the common wealth and the churches here; you are known to be a woman that hath had a great share in the promoting and divulging of those opinions that are causes of this trouble, and to be nearly joined not only in affinity and affection with some of those the court has taken notice of and passed census upon, but you have spoken divers things as we have been informed very prejudicial to the honour of the churches and ministers thereof, and you have maintained a meeting and an assembly in your house that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fi tting for your sex, and notwithstanding that was

Passed census upon: The phrase refers to others already condemned. Census was an early form of the word “ censure” (to find fault or condemn). Comely means pleasing in appearance.


A N E X A M I N AT I O N O F M R S . A N N E H U T C H I N S O N (1637)

cried down you have continued the same, therefore we have thought good to send for you to understand how things are, that if you be in an erroneous way we may reduce you that so you may become a profi table member here among us, otherwise if you be obstinate in your course that then the court may take such course that you may trouble us no further, therefore I would entreat you to express whether you do not hold and assent in practice to those opinions and factions that have been handled in court already, that is to say, whether you do not justify Mr. Wheelwright’s sermon and the petition. Mrs. Hutchinson. I am called here to answer before you but I hear no things laid to my charge. Gov. I have told you some already and more I can tell you. (Mrs. H.) Name one Sir. Gov. Have I not named some already? Mrs. H. What have I said or done? Gov. Why for your doings, this you did harbour and countenance those that are parties in this faction that you have heard of. (Mrs. H.) That is a matter of conscience, Sir. Gov. Your conscience you must keep or it must be kept for you. Mrs. H. Must not I then entertain the saints because I must keep my conscience. Gov. Say that one brother should commit felony or treason and come to his other brother’s house, if he knows him guilty and conceals him he is guilty of the same. It is his conscience to entertain him, but if his conscience comes into act in giving countenance and entertainment to him that hath broken the law he is guilty too. So if you do countenance those that are transgressors of the law you are in the same fact. Mrs. H. What law do they transgress? Gov. The law of God and of the state. Mrs. H. In what particular? Gov. Why in this among the rest, whereas the Lord doth say honour thy father and thy mother. Mrs. H. Ey Sir in the Lord. Gov. This honour you have broke in giving countenance to them. Mrs. H. In entertaining those did I entertain them against any act (for there is the thing) or what God hath appointed? Gov. You knew that Mr. Wheelwright did preach this sermon and those that countenance him in this do break a law. Mrs. H. What law have I broken? Gov. Why the fi fth commandment. Mrs. H. I deny that for he saith in the Lord. Gov. You have joined with them in the faction. Mrs. H. In what faction have I joined with them? Gov. In presenting the petition. Mrs. H. Suppose I had set my hand to the petition what then? Gov. You saw that case tried before. Mrs. H. But I had not my hand in the petition. Gov. You have counseled them.

Cried down was a phrase that meant decried, officially denounced, or held up to reprobation.

Countenance means to express approval or sanction. Wheelwright had preached a sermon that was deemed Antinomian (against the law) and heretical to Puritan doctrine.

Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt honor thy mother and father.

A N E X A M I N AT I O N O F M R S . A N N E H U T C H I N S O N (1637)

Mrs. H. Wherein? Gov. Why in entertaining them. Mrs. H. What breach of Law is that Sir? Gov. Why dishonouring parents. Mrs. H. But put the case Sir that I do fear the Lord and my parents, may not I entertain them that fear the Lord because my parents will not give me leave? Gov. If they be the fathers of the commonwealth, and they of another religion, if you entertain them then you dishonour your parents and are justifi ably punishable. Mrs. H. If I entertain them, as they have dishonoured their parents I do. Gov. No but you by countenancing them above others put honor upon them. Mrs. H. I may put honor upon them as the children of God and as they do honor the Lord. Gov. We do not mean to discourse with those of your sex but only this; you do adhere unto them and do endeavor to set forward this faction and so you do dishonour us. Mrs. H. I do acknowledge no such thing? neither do I think that I ever put any dishonour upon you. Gov. Why do you keep such a meeting at your house as you do every week upon a set day? Mrs. H. It is lawful for me so to do, as it is all your practices and can you find a warrant for yourself and condemn me for the same thing? The ground of my taking it up was, when I first came to this land because I did not go to such meetings as those were, it was presently reported that I did not allow of such meetings but held them unlawful and therefore in that regard they said I was proud and did despise all ordinances, upon that a friend came unto me and told me of it and I to prevent such aspersions took it up, but it was in practice before I came therefore I was not the first. Dept. Gov. I would go a little higher with Mrs. Hutchinson. About three years ago we were all in peace. Mrs. Hutchinson from that time she came hath made a disturbance, and some that came over with her in the ship did inform me what she was as soon as she was landed. I being then in place dealt with the pastor and teacher of Boston and desired them to enquire of her, and then I was satisfi ed that she held nothing different from us, but within half a year after, she had vented divers of her strange opinions and had made parties in the country, and at length it comes that Mr. Cotton and Mr. Vane were of her judgement, but Mr. Cotton hath cleared himself that he was not of that mind, but now it appears by this woman’s meetings that Mrs. Hutchinson hath so forestalled the minds of many by their resort to her meetings that now she hath a potent party in the country. Now if all these things have endangered us as from that foundation and if she in particular hath disparage all our ministers in the land that they have preached a covenant of works, and only Mr. Cotton a covenant of grace, why this is not to


Vented divers of her strange opinions meant that she had expressed various unusual ideas. Hutchinson had claimed a personal revelation of God during the voyage to Massachusetts.


A N E X A M I N AT I O N O F M R S . A N N E H U T C H I N S O N (1637)

be suffered, and therefore being driven to the foundation and it being found that Mrs. Hutchinson is she that hath depraved all the ministers and hath been the cause of what is fallen out, why we must take away the foundation and the building will fall. Mrs. H. I pray Sir prove it that I said they preached nothing but a covenant of works. Dept. Gov. Nothing but a covenant of works, why a Jesuit may preach truth sometimes. Mrs. H. Did I ever say they preached a covenant of works then? Dept. Gov. If they do not preach a covenant of grace clearly, then they preach a covenant of works. Mrs. H. No Sir, one may preach a covenant of grace more clearly than another so I said. D. Gov. We are not upon that now but upon position. Mrs. H. Prove this then Sir that you say I said. D. Gov. When they do preach a covenant of works do they preach truth? Mrs. H. Yes Sir, but when they preach a covenant of works for salvation, that is not truth. D. Gov. I do but ask you this, when the ministers do preach a covenant of works do they preach a way of salvation? Mrs. H. I did not come hither to answer to questions of that sort. D. Gov. Because you will deny the thing. Mrs. H. Ey, but that is to be proved fi rst. D. Gov. I will make it plain that you did say that the ministers did preach a covenant of works. Mrs. H. I deny that. D. Gov. And that you said they were not able ministers of the new testament, but Mr. Cotton only. Mrs. H. If ever I spake that I proved it by God’s word. Court. Very well, very well. Mrs. H. If one shall come unto me in private, and desire me seriously to tell them what I thought of such an one. I must either speak false or true in my answer. D. Gov. Likewise I will prove this that you said the gospel in the letter and words holds forth nothing but a covenant of works. Mrs. H. I deny this for if I should so say I should speak against my own judgement. Mr. Endicot. I desire to speak seeing Mrs. Hutchinson seems to lay something against them that are to witness against her. Gov. Only I would add this. It is well discerned to the court that Mrs. Hutchinson can tell when to speak and when to hold her tongue. Upon the answering of a question which we desire her to tell her thoughts of she desires to be pardoned. Mrs. H. It is one thing for me to come before a public magistracy and there to speak what they would have me to speak and another when a man comes to me in a way of friendship privately there is difference in that. Gov. What if the matter be all one. Mr. Hugh Peters. That which concerns us to speak unto as yet we are sparing in unless the court command us to speak, then we shall

Mr. Cotton refers to John Cotton, a Puritan preacher whom the Hutchinson family had followed to Massachusetts.

A N E X A M I N AT I O N O F M R S . A N N E H U T C H I N S O N (1637)

answer to Mrs. Hutchinson notwithstanding our brethren are very unwilling to answer. Gov. This speech was not spoken in a corner but in a public assembly, and though things were spoken in private yet now coming to us, we are able to deal with them as public . . . Mrs. H. If you please to give me leave I shall give you the ground of what I know to be true. Being much troubled to see the falseness of the constitution of the church of England, I had like to have turned separatist; whereupon I kept a day of solemn humiliation and pondering of the thing; this scripture was brought unto me- he that denies Jesus Christ to be come in the fl esh in antichrist— This I consider of and in considering found that the papists did not deny him to be come in the fl esh, nor we did not deny him-who then was the antichrist? Was the Turk antichrist only? The Lord knows that I could not open scripture; he must by his prophetical office open it unto me. So after that being unsatisfi ed in the thing, the Lord was pleased to bring this scripture out of the Hebrews. He that denies the testament denies the testator, and in this did open unto me and give me to see that those which did not teach the new covenant had the spirit of antichrist, and upon did this he discover the ministry unto me and ever since. I bless the Lord he hath let me see which was the clear ministry and which the wrong. Since that time I confess I have been more choice and he hath let me to distinguish between the voice of my beloved and the voice of Moses, the voice of John Baptist and the voice of antichrist, for all those voices are spoken of in scripture. Now if you do condemn me for speaking what in my conscience I know to be truth I must commit myself unto the Lord. . . . Mr. Cotton. I should desire to know whether the sentence of the court will bring her to any calamity, and then I would know of her whether she expects to be delivered from that calamity by a miracle or providence of God. Mrs. H. By a providence of God I say I expect to be delivered from some calamity that shall come to me. Gov. The case is altered and will not stand with us now, but I see a marvelous providence of God to bring things to this pass that they are. We have been hearkening about the trial of this thing and now the mercy of God by a providence hath answered our desires and made her to lay open herself and the ground of all these disturbances to be by revelations . . . but all this while there is no use of ministry of the word nor of any clear call of God by his word, but the ground work of her revelations is the immediate revelation of the spirit and not by the ministry of the word, and that is the means by which she hath very much abused the country that they shall look for revelations and are not bound to the ministry of the word, but God will teach them by immediate revelations and this hath been the grounds of all these tumults and troubles, and I would that those were all cut off from us that trouble us, for this is the thing that hath been the root of all the mischief.


Papists: Roman Catholics

Choice meant worthy of being chosen.

Hutchinson, Thomas. The History of the Province of Massachusets-Bay, from the Charter of King William and Queen Mary in 1691 until the Year 1750. Boston: Thomas and John Fleet, 1767.



Excerpts from

Selected Poetry of Anne Bradstreet (1650) Anne Bradstreet’s poems were first published in England in 1650 by her brother-in-law in a volume titled The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America. She wrote the poems as personal refl ections on family and religion, intending that they would be shared only with her family— her husband and children. As can be seen in the following selections, she was especially concerned with and anguished over the wellbeing of her children and the hardships of home life in colonial New England. In “ Before the Birth of One of My Children,” Bradstreet reveals inner fears that permeate her verses: Life is precarious and precious; death is inevitable. Bradstreet gives life to her children and leaves them her poetry as her legacy.


By duty bound, and not by custom led To celebrate the praises of the dead, My mournful mind, sore pressed, in trembling verse Presents my lamentations at his hearse, Who was my father, guide, instructor too, To whom I ought whatever I could do; Nor is’t relation near by hand shall tie, For who more cause to boast his worth than I? Who heard or saw, observed or knew him better? Or who alive than I, a greater debtor? Let malice bite, and envy know its fi ll, He was my father, and I’ll praise him still; Nor was his name, or life lead so obscure That pity might some trumpeters procure, Who after death might make him falsely seem Such as in life, no man could justly deem; Well known and loved, where e’er he lived, by most Both in his native, and in foreign coast, These to the world his merits could make known, So needs to testimonial from his own; But now or never I must pay my sum; While others tell his worth, I’ll not be dumb; One of thy founders, him New England know, Who stayed thy feeble sides when thou wast low, Who spent his state, his strength, and years with care

Bradstreet’ s father, Thomas Dudley (1576– 1653) was a founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He took the family to New England in 1630, founded Cambridge in 1631, and lived for many years in Roxbury. He was elected colonial governor four times and deputygovernor thirteen times.


That after-comers in them might have share; True patriot of this little commonweal, Who is’t can tax thee ought, but for thy zeal? Truth’s friend thou wert, to errors still a foe, Which caused apostates to malign so; My father’s God, be God of me and mine; Upon the earth he did not build his nest, But as a pilgrim, what he had, possessed; High thoughts he gave no harbor in his heart, Nor honours puffed him up, when he had part: Those titles loathed, which some too much do love, For truly his ambition lay above; His humble mind so loved humility, He left it to his race for legacy: And oft and oft, with speeches mild and wise, Gave his in charge, that jewel rich to prize; No ostentation seen in all his ways, As in the mean ones, of our foolish days, Which all they have, and more still set to view, Their greatness may be judged by what they shew; His thoughts were more sublime, his actions wise, Such vanities he justly did despise; Nor wonder ’twas, low things ne’er much did move For he a mansion had, prepared above, For which he sighed and prayed and longed full sore He might be cloathed upon, for evermore; Oft spake of death, and with a smiling cheer He did exult his end was drawing near, Now fully ripe, as shock of wheat that’s grown, Death as a sickle hath him timely mown, And in celestial barn hath housed him high, Where storms, nor show’rs, nor ought can damnify; His generation served, his labours cease; And to his fathers gathered is in peace; Ah, happy soul, ’mongst saints and angels blest, Who after all his toil, is now at rest; His hoary head in righteousness was found, As joy in Heaven on earth let praise resound; Forgotten never be his memory, His blessing rest on his posterity; His pious footsteps followed by his race, At last will bring us to that happy place Where we with joy each other’s face shall see, And parted more by death shall never be.

BEFORE THE BIRTH OF ONE OF MY CHILDREN All things within this fading world hath end, Adversity doth still our joys attend;


Apostates are those who renounce or abandon their faith in God.



No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet, But with death’s parting blow is sure to meet. The sentence past is most irrevocable, A common thing, yet oh inevitable; How soon, my dear, death may my steps attend, How soon it may be thy lot to lose thy friend, We both are ignorant, yet love bids me These farewell lines to recommend to thee, That when the knot’s untied that made us one, I may seem thine, who in effect am none; And if I see not half my days that’s due, What nature would, God grant to yours and you; The many faults that well you know I have, Let be interred in my oblivious grave; If any worth or virtue were in me, Let that live freshly in thy memory And when thou feel’st no grief, as I no harms, Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms: And when thy loss shall be repaid with gains, Look to my little babes my dear remains; And if thou love thy self, or loved’st me These O protect from step dame’s injury; And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse, With some sad sighs honour my absent hearse; And kiss this paper for thy love’s dear sake, Who with salt tears this last farewell did take.

TO MY DEAR AND LOVING HUSBAND If ever two were one, then surely we; If ever man were loved by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me ye women if you can; I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, Or all the riches that the East doth hold; My love is such that rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense; Thy love is such I can no way repay, The heavens reward thee manifold I pray; Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere, That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Bradstreet’ s husband was Simon Bradstreet (1603– 1697), whom she married in England in 1628. As the poem indicates, it was an exceptionally happy marriage.

IN REFERENCE TO MY CHILDREN, 23 JUNE, 1659 I had eight birds hatched in one nest, Four cocks there were, and hens the rest, I nursed them up with pain and care, Nor cost, nor labour did I spare,

Eight birds . . . four cocks . . . and hens the rest refer to Bradstreet’ s eight children, four boys and four girls.


Till at the last they felt their wing; Mounted the trees and learned to sing; Chief of the brood then took his fl ight, To regions far, and left me quite: My mournful chirps I after send, Till he return, or I do end, Leave not thy nest, thy dam and sire, Fly back and sing amidst this choir; My second bird did take her fl ight, And with her mate fl ew out of sight; Southward they both their course did bend, And seasons twain they there did spend: Till after blown by southern gales, They northward steered with fi lled sails; A prettier bird was no where seen, Along the beach among the treen; I have a third of color white, On whom I place no small delight; Coupled with mate loving and true, Hath also bid her dam adieu: And where Aurora fi rst appears, She now hath perched, to spend her years; One to the Academy fl ew To chat among the learned crew: Ambition moves still in his breast That he might chant above the rest, Striving for more than to do well, That nightingales he might excel; My fi fth, whose down is yet scarce gone Is ’mongst the shrubs and bushes fl own, And as his wings increase in strength, On higher boughs he’ll perch at length; My other three, still with me nest, Until they’re grown, then as the rest, Or here or there, they’ll take their fl ight, As is ordained, so shall they light; If birds could weep, then would my tears Let others know what are my fears Lest this my brood some harm should catch, And be surprised for want of watch, Whilst pecking corn, and void of care They fall un’wares in fowler’s snare: Or whilst on trees they sit and sing, Some untoward boy at them do fl ing: Or whilst allured with bell and glass, The net be spread, and caught, alas; Or least by lime twigs they be foiled, Or by some greedy hawks be spoiled; O would my young, ye saw my breast, And knew what thoughts there sadly rest, Great was my pain when I you bred, Great was my care, when I you fed,


Chief of the brood refers to the eldest child, Samuel.

Dam is an old spelling of dame, or lady. Second bird refers to daughter Dorothy.

Treen is the old plural form of “ tree” . A third was daughter Sarah Aurora was the Greek goddess of the dawn. The location referred to, therefore, is somewhere to the east. One to the Academy refers to Simon, Jr. My fi fth was son Dudley.

My other three were Hannah, Mercy, and John.



Long did I keep you soft and warm, And with my wings kept off all harm, My cares are more, and fears than ever, My throbs such now, ’fore were never: Alas my birds, you wisdom want, Of perils you are ignorant, Oft times in grass, on trees, in fl ight, Sore accidents on you may light; O to your safety have an eye So happy may you live and die: Meanwhile my days in tunes I’ll spend Till my weak lays with me shall end; In shady woods I’ll sit and sing, And things that past, to mind I’ll bring; Once young and pleasant, as you are, But former toys (no joys) adieu; My age I will not once lament, But sing, my time so near is spent; And from the top bough take my fl ight, Into a country beyond sight, Where old ones, instantly grow young, And there with seraphims set song: No seasons cold, nor storms they see; But spring lasts to eternity, When each of you shall in your nest Among your young ones take your rest, In chirping language, oft them tell, You had a dam that loved you well, That did what could be done for young, And nursed you up till you were strong, And ’fore she once would let you fl y, She showed you joy and misery; Taught what was good, and what was ill, What would save life, and what would kill? Thus gone, amongst you I may live, And dead, yet speak, and counsel give: Farewell my birds, farewell adieu, I happy am, if well with you.

HERE FOLLOWS SOME VERSES UPON THE BURNING OF MY HOUSE, JULY 10, 1666 COPIED OUT OF A LOOSE PAPER In silent night when rest I took For sorrow near I did not look I wakened was with thund’ring noise And piteous shreiks of dreadful voice;


That fearful sound of fi re and fi re, Let no man know is my desire. I starting up the light did spy, And to my God my heart did cry To strengthen me in my distress And not to leave me succourless; Then coming out beheld a space The fl ame consume my dwelling place; And when I could not longer look I blest his Name that gave and took, That laid my goods now in the dust, Yea so it was, and so ’twas just; It was his own, it was not mine; Far be it that I should repine; He might of all justly bereft, And yet sufficient for us left; When by the ruins oft I passed My sorrowing eyes aside did cast And here and there the places spy Where oft I sat and long did lie: Here stood that trunk, there that chest, There lay that store I counted best; My pleasant things in ashes lie, And them behold no more shall I; Under thy roof no guest shall sit, Nor at thy table eat a bit; No pleasant tale shall e’er be told Nor things recounted done of old; No candle e’er shall shine in thee Nor bridegroom’s voice e’er heard shall be; In silence ever shalt thou lie, Adieu, Adieu; all’s vanity; Then straight I ’gin my heart to chide And did thy wealth on earth abide? Didst fi x thy hope on mould’ring dust, The arm of fl esh didst make thy trust? Raise up thy thoughts above the sky That dunghill mists away may fl y. Thou hast a house on high erect Framed by that almight Architect, With glory richly furnished, Stands permanent though this be fl ed; It’s purchased and paid for too By him who hath enough to do; A prize so vast as is unknown Yet by his gift is made thine own; There’s wealth enough I need no more, Farewell my pelf, farewell my store; The world no longer let me love, My hope and treasure lies above.


Pelf means wealth or riches. Reprinted from A Woman’s Inner World: Selected Poetry and Prose of Anne Bradstreet (pp. 3– 4, 23, 24– 25 29– 31, 83– 84). Adelaide P. Amore, ed. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982.


T H E P O E M S O F P H I L L I S W H E AT L E Y (1773)

Excerpts from

The Poems of Phillis Wheatley (1773) Education, religion, and virtue are common themes in the poems of Phillis Wheatley (c.1753–1784). Brought to America as a small child, she was a first-generation, African slave who received outstanding educational opportunities. “ On Being Brought from Africa to America” refl ects not only her appreciation but also the hope, faith, and religious ideals developed in her New England home. “ To the University of Cambridge” was written when she was only about 13 years old. It celebrates the educational world from science, history, and current events to the religious themes that pervade her verses; it also encourages the “ blooming plants” (students) to beware transgressions and evil. Companion poems “ An Hymn to Morning” and “ An Hymn to Evening” are written in a classical and traditional style. Morning awakes, but the poet regrets the day is so short. Night is soothing and replenishing. The poems are circular, beginning and ending with an address to Aurora (the goddess of the dawn). Wheatley’s only book of poetry was published in 1773.


While an intrinsic ardor prompts to write, The muses promise to assist my pen; ’Twas not long since I left my native shore The land of errors, and Egyptian gloom: Father of mercy, ’twas thy gracious hand Brought me in safety from those dark abodes. Students, to you ’tis giv’n to scan the heights Above, to traverse the ethereal space, And mark the systems of revolving worlds. Still more, ye sons of science ye receive The blissful news by messengers from heav’n, How Jesus’ blood for your redemption fl ows. See him with the hands out-stretcht upon the cross; Immense compassion in his bosom glows; He hears revilers, nor resents their scorn: What matchless mercy in the Son of God! When the whole human race by sin had fall’n, He deign’d to die that they might rise again, And share with him in the sublimest skies, Life without death, and glory without end.


According to Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936 (Cambridge Mass., 1936), pp. 101-32, the students at Harvard during this period had a reputation for boisterousness.

T H E P O E M S O F P H I L L I S W H E AT L E Y (1773)

Improve your privileges while they stay, Ye pupils, and each hour redeem, that bears Or good or bad report of you to heav’n. Let sin, that baneful evil to the soul, By you be shunn’d, nor once remit your guard; Suppress the deadly serpent in its egg. Ye blooming plants of human race devine, An Ethiop tells you ’tis your greatest foe; Its transient sweetness turns to endless pain, And in immense perdition sinks the soul.

ON BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA TO AMERICA ’Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “ Their colour is a diabolic die.” Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, May be refi n’d, and join th’ angelic train. On yon blest regions fi x thy longing view, Mindless of sublunary scenes below; Ascend the sacred mount, in thought arise, And seek substantial and immortal joys; Where hope receives, where faith to vision springs, And raptur’d seraphs tune th’ immortal strings To strains extatic. Thou the chorus join, And to thy father tune the praise divine.


Ethiop is an archaic term for Ethiopian, used generically for dark-skinned Africans. Wheatley here is referring to herself, the author of the poem.

Sable here means black.

AN HYMN TO THE MORNING Attend my lays, ye ever honour’d nine, Assist my labours, and my strains refi ne; In smoothest numbers pour the notes along, For bright Aurora now demands my song. Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies, Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies: The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays, On ev’ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays; Harmonious lays the feather’d race resume, Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume. Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display To shield your poet from the burning day: Calliope awake the sacred lyre, While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fi re: The bow’rs, the gales, the variegated skies In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.

Lays are songs, ballads, or narrative verse. Honour’d nine refers to the classical Greek muses. Aurora was the Greek goddess of the dawn. Dies is a plural form of “ dado,” here referring to the decorations on the lower part of an interior wall. Deck means to bedeck or adorn. Calliope was the muse of epic or lyric poetry.


T H E P O E M S O F P H I L L I S W H E AT L E Y (1773)

See in the east th’ illustriuos king of day! His rising radiance drives the shades away— But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong, And scarce begun, concludes th’ abortive song.

AN HYMN TO THE EVENING Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main The pealing thunder shook the heav’nly plain; Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr’s wing, Exhales the incense of the blooming spring. Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes, And through the air their mingled music fl oats. Through all the heav’ns what beauteous dies are spread! But the west glories in the deepest red: So may our breasts with ev’ry virtue glow, The living temples of our God below! Fill’d with the praise of him who gives the light, And draws the sable curtains of the night, Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind, At morn to wake more heav’nly, more refi n’d; So shall the labours of the day begin More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin. Night’s leaden sceptre seals my drousy eyes, Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.


The following LETTER and VERSES, were written by the famous Phillis Wheatly, the African Poetess, and presented to his Excellency Gen. Washington. SIR, I Have taken the freedom to address your Excellency in the enclosed poem, and entreat your acceptance, though I am not insensible of its inaccuracies. Your being appointed by the Grand Continental Congress to be Generalissimo of the armies of North America, together with the fame of your virtues, excite sensations not easy to suppress. Your generosity, therefore, I presume, will pardon the attempt. Wishing your Excellency all possible success in the great cause you are so generously engaged in. I am, Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant, Phillis Wheatley.

Purl means to embroider with gold or silver thread.

T H E P O E M S O F P H I L L I S W H E AT L E Y (1773)


Providence Oct. 26, 1775. His Excellency Gen. Washington. Celestial choir! enthron’d in realms of light, Columbia’s scenes of glorious toils I write. While freedom’s cause her anxious breast alarms, She fl ashes dreadful in refulgent arms, See mother earth her offspring’s fate bemoan, And nations gaze at scenes before unknown! See the bright beems of heaven’s revolving light Involved in sorrows and the veil of night!

Columbia, from Christopher Columbus, is an exalted term for the United States.

The goddess comes, and she moves divinely fair, Olive and laurel binds her golden hair: Wherever shines this native of the skies, Unnumber’d charms and recent graces rise. Muse! bow propitious while my pen relates How pour her armies through a thousand gates: As when Eolus heaven’s fair face deforms, Enwrapp’d in tempest and a night of storms; Astonish’d ocean feels the wild uproar, The refl uent surges beat the sounding shore. Or thick as leaves in Autumn’s golden reign, Such, and so many, move the warrior’s train. In bright array they seek the work of war, Where high unfurl’d the ensign waves in air. Shall I to Washington their praise to recite? Enough thou know’st them in the fi elds of fi ght. Thee, fi rst in the place and honours,—we demand The grace and glory of thy martial band. Fam’d for thy valour, for thy virtues more, Hear every tongue thy guardian aid implore! One century scarce preform’d its destin’d round, When Gallic powers Columbia’s fury found; And so may you, whoever dares disgrace The land of freedom’s heaven-defended race! Fix’d are the eyes of the nations on the scales, For in their hopes Columbia’s arm prevails. Anon Britannia droops the pensive head, While round increase the rising hills of dead. Ah! cruel blindness to Columbia’s state! Lament thy thirst of boundless power too late. Proceed, great chief, with the virtue on thy side, Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide. A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! be thine.

Eolus, or Aeolus, was the Greek god of the winds and ruler of the Aeolian Islands.

Reprinted from The Poems of Phillis Wheatley (pp. 52, 73– 75, 164– 165). Julian D. Mason, Jr., ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966.





Excerpts from

Selected Letters of the Adams Family (1775– 1776) ABIGAIL ADAMS (1744–1818), a prolific letter-writer and a dedicated wife and mother, was acutely conscious of the great changes taking place in the social and political world in which she lived. Her husband, John Adams (1735–1826), was particularly concerned about declaring independence from England, forming a new government, and drafting its new laws. Following are several letters written at the beginning of the American Revolution that refl ect the sentiment of the times. John, a leading delegate to the Continental Congress, was in Philadelphia, and Abigail was at their farm in Braintree, Massachusetts. Of particular interest is Abigail’s suggestion that the government of the newly united colonies be fair and equal to all and that the laws of the new government represent all the people. Abigail urges her husband to “ Remember the Ladies” when working to create the new Republic, to modify the existing English laws that empowered men so that they were also fair to women. It is a foreshadowing of the women’s movement to follow.

Abigail Adams to John Adams

November 27, 1775

. . . I wish I knew what mighty things were fabricating. If a form of Goverment is to be established here what one will be assumed? Will it be left to our assemblies to chuse one? and will not many men have many minds? and shall we not run into Dissentions among ourselves? I am more and more convinced that Man is a dangerous creature and that power whether vested in many or a few is ever grasping, and like the grave cries give, give. The great fi sh swallow up the small, and he who is most strenuous for the Rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the perogatives of Goverment. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which Humane Nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances. The Building up a Great Empire, which was only hinted at by my correspondent may now I suppose be realized even by the unbelievers. Yet will not ten thousand Difficulties arise in the formation of it? The Reigns of Goverment have been so long slakned, that I fear the people will not quietly submit to those restraints which are necessary for the peace, and security, of the community; if we seperate from Brittain, what Code of Laws will be established. How shall we be governd so as to retain our Liberties? Can any goverment be free which is not admistred by general stated Laws? Who shall frame these Laws? Who will give them force and en-

Fabricating is used here to mean “ taking shape.”





ergy? Tis true your Resolution[s] as a Body have heithertoo had the force of Laws. But will they continue to have? When I consider these things and the prejudices of people in favour of Ancient customs and Regulations, I feel anxious for the fate of our Monarchy or Democracy or what ever is to take place. I soon get lost in a Labyrinth of perplexities, but whatever occurs, may justice and righteousness be the Stability of our times, and order arise out of confusion. Great difficulties may be surmounted, by patience and perseverance . . .

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Braintree, March 31, 1776

. . . I feel very differently at the approach of spring to what I did a month ago. We knew not then whether we could plant or sow with safety, whether when we had toild we could reap the fruits of our own industery, whether we could rest in our own Cottages, or whether we should not be driven from the sea coasts to seek shelter in the wilderness, but now we feel as if we might sit under our own vine and eat the good of the land . . . . . . —I long to hear that you have declared an independancy— and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thouroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

John Adams to Abigail Adams

April 14, 1776

. . . As to Declarations of Independency, be patient . . . As to your extraodinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient—that schools and Colleges were grown turbulent—that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the fi rst Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown dis-

Vassals were persons under the protection of, and subservient to, a feudal lord.





contented. —This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out. Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory. We dare not exert our Power in its full Latitude. We are obliged to go far, and softly, and in Practice you know We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat, I hope General Washington, and all our brave Heroes would fi ght. Abigail Adams to John Adams

May 7, 1776

I can not say that I think you very generous to the ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to men, emancipation to all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives. But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken (and notwithstanding all you wise laws and maxims we have it in our power not only to free ourselves but to subdue our masters, and without violence throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.

The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762– 1784 (pp. 111, 120– 123). L. H. Butterfield, ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975.



Excerpt from

The Gleaner (1798) As the laws for the newly formed country were being created, men’s rights were more and more favored over women’s. Early advocates of women’s rights often focused on education and equality. Reading the essay of JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY (1751–1820) reveals a highly literate woman with a pronounced understanding of history and an eloquent command of language. Murray has been referred to as a “ true historian of women.” In her writing, she stresses the talents of women above and beyond domestic arts and obligations. The following excerpt from The Gleaner (1798) presents some accomplishments of women and the urgent message to readers to persevere in the “ establishment of the female intellect . . . equal to men.”

And, fi rst, by way of exordium, I take leave to congratulate my fair country-women, on the happy revolution which the few past years has made in their favour; that in these infant republics, where, within my remembrance, the use of the needle was the principal attainment which was thought necessary for a woman, the lovely profi cient is now permitted to appropriate a moiety of her time to studies of a more elevated and elevating nature. Female academies are every where establishing, and right pleasant is the appellation to my ear. Yes, in this younger world, “ the Right of Women” begin to be understood; we seem, at length, determined to do justice to THE SEX; and, improving on the opinions of a Wollstonecraft, we are ready to contend for the quantity, as well as quality, of mind. The younger part of the female world have now an inestimable prize put into their hands; and it depends on the rising generation to refute a sentiment, which, still retaining its advocates, grounds its arguments on the incompatibility of the present enlarged plan of female education, with those necessary occupations, that must ever be considered as proper to the department and comprised in the duties of a judiciously instructed and elegant woman; and, if our daughters will combine their efforts, converts to the regulations will every day multiply among us. To argue against facts, is indeed contending with both wind and tide; and, borne down by accumulating examples, conviction of the utility of the present plans will pervade the public mind, and not a dissenting voice will be heard. I may be accused of enthusiasm; but such is my confi dence in THE SEX, that I expect to see our young women forming a new era in female history. They will oppose themselves to every trivial and unworthy monopolizer of time; and it will be apparent, that the adoring their person is not with them a primary object. They will know how to appreciate personal advantages; and, considering them as bestowed by Nature, or Nature’s God, they will hold them in due estimation: Yet, conscious that they confer no intrinsic

An exordium is the introduction to a discourse or essay.

Moiety is a portion roughly equal to half.

Wollstonecraft refers to the English writer and early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759– 1797).



excellence on the temporary possessor, their admeasurement of real virtue will be entirely divested of all those prepossessing ideas, which originate in a beautiful exterior. The noble expansion conferred by a liberal education will teach them humility, for it will give them a glance of those vast tracts of knowledge which they can never explore, until they are accommodated with far other powers than those at present assigned them; and they will contemplate their removal to a higher order of beings, as desirable event. Mild benignity, with all the modest virtues, and every sexual grace—these they will carefully cultivate; for they will have learned, that in no character they can so effectually charm, as in that in which nature designed them the pre-eminence. They will accustom themselves to refl ection; they will investigate accurately, and reason will point their conclusions: Yet they will not be assuming; the characteristic trait will still remain; and retiring sweetness will insure them that consideration and respect, which they do not presume to demand. Thinking justly will not only enlarge their minds, and refi ne their ideas; but it will correct their dispositions, humanize their feelings, and present them the friends of theirs species. The beauteous bosom will no more become a lurking-place for invidious and rancorous passions; but the mild temperature of the soul will be evinced by the benign and equal tenour of their lives. Their manners will be unembarassed; and, studious to shun even the semblance of pedantry, they will be careful to give to their most systematic arguments and deductions, an unaffected and natural appearance. They will rather question than assert; and they will make their communications on a supposition, that the point in discussion has rather escaped the memory of those with whom they converse, than that it was never imprinted there. It is true, that every faculty of their minds will be occasionally engrossed by the most momentous concerns; but as often as necessity or propriety shall render it incumbent on them, they will cheerfully accommodate themselves to the more humble duties which their situation imposes. When their sphere of action is enlarged, when they become wives and mothers, they will fi ll with honour the parts allotted them. . . . They will be primarily solicitous to fulfi l, in every instance, whatever can justly be denominated duty; and those intervals, which have heretofore been devoted to frivolity, will be appropriated to pursuits, calculated to inform, enlarge, and sublime the soul—to contemplations, which will ameliorate the heart, unfold and illumine the understanding, and gradually render the human being an eligible candidate for the society of angels. Such, I predict, will be the daughters of Columbia; and my gladdened spirit rejoices in the prospect. A sensible and informed woman—companionable and serious—possessing also a facility of temper, and united to a congenial mind—blest with competency— and rearing to maturity a promising family of children—Surely, the wide globe cannot produce a scene more truly interesting. See! the virtues are embodied—the domestic duties appear in their place, and they are all fulfi lled—morality is systematized by religion, and sublimed by devotion—every movement is the offspring of elegance,

Daughters of Columbia means women of the United States.


and their manners have received the highest polish. . . . Such is the family of reason—of reason, cultivated and adorned by literature. The idea of the incapability of women, is we conceive, in this enlightened age, totally inadmissible; and we have concluded, that establishing the expediency of admitting them to share the blessings of equality, will remove every obstacle to their advancement. In proportion as nations have progressed in the arts of civilization, the value of THE SEX hath been understood, their rank in the scale of being ascertained, and their consequence in society acknowledged. But if prejudice still fortifi es itself in the bosom of any; if it yet enlisteth its votaries against the said despot and its followers, we produce, instead of arguments, a number of well attested facts, which the student of female annals hath carefully compiled. Women, circumscribed in their education within very narrow limits, and constantly depressed by their occupations, have, nevertheless, tinged the cheek of manhood with a guilty suffusion, for a pusillanimous capitulation with the enemies of their country. Quitting the loom and the distaff, they have beheld, with indignation, their husbands and their sons fl ee in battle: With clasped hands, and determined resolution, they have placed themselves in their paths, obstructing their passage, and insisting, with heroic fi rmness, on their immediate return to death or conquest! . . . Women, in the heat of action, have mounted the rampart with undaunted courage, arrested the progress of the foe, and bravely rescued their besieged dwellings! They have successfully opposed themselves to tyranny and the galling yoke of oppression! Assembling in crowds, they have armed themselves for the combat—they have mingled amid the battling ranks—they have sought heroically— and their well-timed and well-concerted measures have emancipated their country! They have hazarded the stroke of death in its most frightful form, and they have submitted to bonds and imprisonment, for the redemption of their captive husbands! . . . Women have publickly harangued on religion—they have presented themselves as disputants—they have boldly supported their tenets—they have been raised to the chair of philosophy, and of law—they have written fl uently in Greek, and have read with great facility the Hebrew language. Youth and beauty, adorned with every feminine grace, and possessing eminently the powers of rhetoric, have pathetically conjured the mitred fathers and the Christian monarchs to arm themselves for the utter extirpation of the enemies of their holy religion. In the days of knight-errantry, females, elevated by the importance with which they were invested, discriminated unerringly between the virtues and the vices, studiously cultivating the one, and endeavouring to exterminate the other; and their attainments equalled the heroism of there admirers; their bosoms glowed with sentiments as sublime as those they originated; generosity marked their elections; the impassioned feelings, the burst of tenderness, were invariably blended with honour; and every expression, every movement, was descriptive of the general enthusiasm. Pride, heroism, extravagant attachments; these were common to both sexes. Great enterprizes, bold adventures,


Votaries: adherents or devotees.

A distaff is a stick used to hold flax or wool for spinning. The term came to be synonymous with the work of women. Used as an adjective, it refers to the maternal or feminine.

Mitred fathers refers to patriarchs of the church. The miter (or mitre), a liturgical cap worn by popes and bishops, is a classic symbol of the power of the church.



incridible bravery—in every thing the women partook the colour of the times; and their taste and their judgment were exactly conformed. Thus the sexes are congenial; they are copyists of each other; and their opinions and their habits are elevated or degraded, animated or depressed, by precisely the same circumstances. The Northern nations have generally been in the habit of venerating the Female Sex. Constantly employed in bending the bow, in exploring the haunts of those animals, who were the victims of their pleasures and their passions, or of urging against their species the missive shafts of death, they nevertheless banished their ferocity, and assumed the mildest manners, when associating with their mothers, their sisters, their mistresses, or their wives. In their ample forests, their athletic frames and sinewy arms were nerved for battle, while the smiles of some lovely woman were the meed of valour; and the hero who aspired to the approbation of the beautiful arbitress of his fate, authorized his wishes, and established his pretensions, by eminent virtue, and a long series of unbroken attention. A persuasion, that the common Father of the universe manifests himself more readily to females than to males, has, at one period or another, obtained, more or less, in every division of the globe. The Germans, the Britons, and the Scandinavians—from these the supposition received an early credence. The Grecian women delivered oracles—the Romans venerated the Sibyls—among the people of God, the Jewish women prophesied—the predictions of the Egyptian matron were much respected—and we were assured, that the most barbarous nations referred to their females, whatever they fancied beyond the reach of human efforts: And hence we fi nd women in possession of the mysteries of religion, the arcana of physic, and the ceremonies of incantation. Writers assert, that several nations have ascribed to women the gift of prescience, conceiveing that they possessed qualities approximating to divinity; and the ferocious German, embosomed in his native woods, renders a kind of devotional reverence to the Female Sex. Such is the character of those periods, when women were invested with undue elevation; and the reverse presents THE SEX in a state of humiliation, altogether as unwarrantable. The females among the savages of our country, are represented as submitting to the most melancholy and distressing oppression; slaves to the ferocious passions and irregular appetites of those tyrannical usurpers, who brutally and cruelly outrage their feelings. They encounter for their support, incredible hardships and toils. Thus have THE SEX continued the sport of contingencies; unnnaturally subjected to extremes; alternately in the mount of exaltation, and in the valley of unmerited degradation. Is it wonderful, then, that they evince so little stability of character? Rather, is it not astonishing, that their attainments are so numerous, and so considerable? Turning over the annals of different ages, we have selected a number of names, which we purpose, . . . as vouchers of THE SEX’S merit; nor can we doubt, that their united suffrages will, on a candid investigation, effectually establish the female right to that equality with their brethren, which, it is conceived, is assigned them in the Order of Nature.

Meed is an archaic term for reward or payment. Arbitress: feminized form of “ arbiter,” a person who decides or determines.

Sibyls, in classical mythology, were female prophets originally inspired by Apollo. In the 6th century B.C., they were said to have offered nine books of prophecy on the destiny of Rome.

Murray, Judith Sargent. The Gleaner. Boston: I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews, 1798.




An excerpt from

History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (1805) Mercy Otis Warren (1728–1814) believed that a new historical review of the American struggle for independence was due. She began the task in the 1770s and in 1805 she published her History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. This three-volume work provides valuable, firsthand accounts of events and people who played significant roles in the cause of independence. In her introduction to Volume 1, Warren was hesitant about her ability to write an adequate history, but she nevertheless believed it was her duty to undertake the momentous task.

History, the deposite of crimes, and the record of every thing disgraceful or honorary to mankind, requires a just knowledge of character, to investigate the sources of action; a clear comprehension, to review the combination of causes; and precision of language, to detail the events that have produced the most remarkable revolutions. To analyze the secret springs that have effected the progressive changes in society; to trace the origin of the various modes of government, the consequent improvements in science, in morality, or the national tincture that marks the manners of the people under despotic or more liberal forms, is a bold and adventureous work . . . The progress of the American Revolution has been so rapid, and such the alteration of manners, the blending of characters, and the new train of ideas that almost universally prevail, that the principles which animated to the noblest exertions have been nearly annihilated. Many who fi rst stepped forth in vindication of the rights of human nature are forgotten, and the causes which involved the thirteen colonies in confusion and blood are scarcely known, amidst the rage of accumulation and the taste for expensive pleasures that have since prevailed; a taste that has abolished that mediocrity which once satisfi ed, and that contentment which long smiled in every countenance. Luxury, the companion of young acquired wealth, is usually the consequence of opposition to, or close connexion with, opulent commercial states. Thus the hurry of spirits, that ever attends the eager pursuit of fortune and a passion for splendid enjoyment, leads to the forgetfulness; and thus the inhabitants of America cease to look back with due gratitude and respect on the fortitude and virtue of their ancestors, who, through difficulties almost insurmountable, planted them in a happy soil. But the historian and the philosopher will ever venerate the memory of those pious and independent gentlemen, who, after suffering innumerable impositions, restrictions, and penalties, less for political, than

Tincture is an old term for dye, ink, or coloring substance. It came to mean a characteristic quality or active principle.




theological opions, left England, not as adventurers for wealth or fame, but for the quiet enjoyment of religion and liberty. The love of domination and an uncontrolled lust of arbitrary power have prevailed among all nations, and perhaps in proportion to the degrees of civilization. They have been equally conspicious in the decline of Roman virtue, and in the dark pages of British story. It was there principles that overtuned that ancient republic. It was these principles that frequently involved England in civil feuds. It was the resistance to them that brought one of their monarchs to the block, and struck another from his throne. It was the prevalence of them that drove the fi rst settlers of America from elegant habitations and affluent circumstances, to seek an asylum in the cold and uncultivated regions of the western world. Oppressed in Britain by despotic kings, and persecuted by prelatic fury, they fl ed to a distant country, where the desires of men were bounded by the wants of nature; where civilization had not created those artifi cial cravings which too frequently break over every moral and religious tie for their gratifi cation. . . . The independency with which these colonists acted; the high promise of future advantage from the beauty and fertility of the country; and, as was observed soon after, “ the prosperoius state of their settlements, made it to be considered by the heads of the puritan party in England, many of whom were men of the fi rst rank, fortune and abilities, as the sanctuary of liberty.” The order above alluded to, indeed prevented the embarkation of the Lords Say and Brook, the Earl of Warwick, of Hampden, Pym, and many others, who, despairing of recovering their civil and religious liberty on their native shore, had determined to secure it by a retreat to the New World, as it was then called. Patents were purchased by others, within a short period after the present, who planted the thirteen American colonies with a successful hand. Many circumstances concurred to awaken the spirit of adventure, and to draw out men, inured to softer habits, to encounter the difficulties and dangers of planting themselves and families in the wilderness. After a long and hazardous voyage, they landed on the borders of inhospitable wilderness, in the dreary month of December, amidst the horrors of a North America winter. They were at fi rst received by the savage inhabitants of the country with a degree of simple humanity: They smoked with them the calumet of peace; purchased a tract of the uncultivated waste; hutted on the frozen shore, sheltered only by the lofty forest, that had been left for ages to thicken under the rude hand of time. From this small beginning was laid the stable foundations of those extensive settlements, that have since spread over the fairest quarter of the globe. It is natural to suppose a society of men who had suffered so much from a spirit of religious bigotry, would have stretched a lenient hand towards any who might differ from themselves, either in mode or opinion, with regard to the worship of the Deity. But from a strange propensity in human nature to reduce every thing within the vortex of their own ideas, the same intolerant and persecuting spirit, from which they had so recently fl ed, discovered itself in those bold ad-

Prelatic fury: the anger of prelates, or high church officials.

This passage refers to English nobles and parliamentarians who opposed Charles I in the 1630s and took refuge in America. Later, back in England, they became key figures in the English civil war.

The calumet was a long peace pipe, with a wooden stem and stone bowl, used by North American Indians.


venturers, who had braved the dangers of the ocean and planted themselves in a wilderness, for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty. In the cool moments of refl ection, both humanity and philosophy revolt at the diabolical disposition, that has prevailed in almost every country, to persecute such as either from education or principle, from caprice or custom, refuse to subscribe to the religious creed of those, who, by various adventitious circumstances, have acquired a degree of superiority or power. It is rational to believe that the benevolent Author of nature designed universal happiness as the basis of his works. Nor is it unphilosophical to suppose the difference in human sentiment, and the variety of opinions among mankind, may conduce to this end. They may be permitted, in order to improve the faculty of thinking, to draw out the powers of the mind, to exercise the principles of candor, and learn us to wait, in a becoming manner, the full disclosure of the system of divine government. Thus, probably, the variety in the formation of the human soul may appear to be such, as to have rendered it impossible for mankind to think exactly in the same channel. The contemplative and liberal minded man must, therefore, blush for the weakness of his own species, when he sees any of them endeavouring to circumscribe the limits of virtue and happiness within his own contracted sphere, too often darkened by superstition and bigotry. The modern improvements in society, and the cultivation of reason, which has spread its benign infl uence over both the European and the American world, have nearly eradicated this persecuting spirit; and we look back, in both countries, mortifi ed and ashamed of the illiberality of our ancestors . . . The religious bigotry of the fi rst planters, and the temporary ferments it had occasioned, subsided, and a spirit of candor and forbearance every where took place. They seemed, previous to the rupture with Britain, to have acquired that just and happy medium between the ferocity of a state of nature, and those high stages of civilization and refi nement, that at once corrupt the heart and sap the foundation of happiness. The sobriety of their manners and the purity of their morals were exemplary; their piety and hospitality engaging; and the equal and lenient administration of their government secured authority, subordination, justice, regularity and peace. A well-informed yeomanry and an enlightened peasantry evinced the early attention of the fi rst settlers to domestic education. Public schools were established in every town, particularly in the eastern provinces, and as early as one thousand six hundred and thirty-eight, Harvard College was founded at Cambridge. In the southern colonies, it is true, there was not that general attention to early instruction; the children of the opulent planters only were educated in England, while the less affluent were neglected, and the common class of whites had little education above their slaves. Both knowledge and property were more equally divided in the colder regions of the north; consequently a spirit of more equal liberty was diffused. . . .






Yet all America, from the fi rst emigrants to the present generation, felt an attachment to the inhabitants, a regard to the interest, and a reverence for the laws and government of England. Those writers who have observed, that “ these principles had scarcely an existence in the colonies at the commencement of the late war,” have certainly mistaken the character of the country . . . What still heightened the resentment of the Americans, in the beginning of the great contest, was the refl ection, that they had not only always supported their own internal government with little expense to Great Britain; but while a friendly union existed, they had, on all occasions, exerted their utmost ability to comply with every constitutional requisition from the parent state. We need not here revert further back. . . . to prove this, though earlier instances might be adduced . . . A revolution emancipated the colonies from the domination of the sceptre of Britain. This is a story of so much interest to the minds of every son and daughter of America, endowed with the ability of refl ecting, that they will not reluctantly hasten to the detail of transactions, that have awakened the attention and expectation of the millions among the nations beyond the Atlantic.

Warren, Mercy. History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution: Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations (chap. 1). New York: AMS Press, 1805.

Part 1 Essays

Women and Nineteenth-Century America INTRODUCTION The nineteenth century was a time of dramatic change for the United States. This was a time when the nation made the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, and from a society based on slave labor to one based on wage labor. This was also the time when a political system based on deference to the elites gave way to democratic party politics, and when Americans turned from communal values to values based on individualism and the ideal of the “self-made” man. During this century, the nation expanded from a collection of states clustered along the Eastern seaboard to a transcontinental nation that extended to the Pacific and beyond. This was also the time when the country dissolved into a destructive Civil War, only to reunite and solidify national bonds. In sum, the nineteenth century was the period when the United States made the transition to a modern nation. Looking at women can illuminate the causes and effects of this transformation, for women both influenced and were influenced by all of the major developments of the nineteenth century.

ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATIONS: INDUSTRIALIZATION AND THE MARKET REVOLUTION During the early nineteenth century, the United States went through a series of changes that have become known as the MARKET REVOLUTION. This transformation involved the shift to a market economy—that is, the transition to a capitalist economy based on free enterprise. In this system, individuals produced goods to sell for profit in an impersonal market, rather than producing just for subsistence. This transformation also involved improvements in transportation, which facilitated commerce and trade. In turn, the growing emphasis on trade and production for profit encouraged industrialization—the mass production of manufactured items by mechanical means. Conversely, the increased productivity brought about by industrialization furthered the market revolution by promoting trade and commerce.


These economic changes affected women in many ways. As increasing numbers of people left the home to work in FACTORIES, an ideology that distinguished sharply between home and work emerged to reflect this change. This ideology, known as the IDEOLOGY OF SEPARATE SPHERES (see p. 7) was premised on the belief that there were natural and essential differences between men and women, and it assigned roles to women and men that corresponded to those differences. The public arena of work and politics was the male realm, whereas women’s special piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity fitted them for the private sphere of the home. In turn, this ideology facilitated the shift to an industrial economy. Most important, it helped ease the transition from a republic based on civic virtue to a capitalist society based on individual self-interest. By making women responsible for maintaining virtue, it freed men to behave in self-interested ways without completely abandoning the ideal of a virtuous society. Women also contributed more directly to the process of industrialization. First of all, not all women could afford to stay at home as the ideology of separate spheres prescribed. And so, women constituted an important source of labor in the Industrial Revolution. Even those women who did not work as paid laborers contributed to industrialization. By performing HOUSEWORK, they freed men from domestic tasks such as cleaning and cooking. As a result, men could devote more time and energy to industrial production.

POLITICAL CHANGES: THE ADVENT OF “JACKSONIAN DEMOCRACY” The early nineteenth century was also a time of great political transformation. Although the nation had been founded on republican principles, in the years immediately after the AMERICAN REVOLUTION most states still restricted the vote to white men who owned property. By the 1820s this had changed, as most states eliminated property requirements and enacted universal white


male suffrage. This was part of a process of democratization that gave primacy to the “common man,” rather than the elites, as the ultimate source of authority and legitimacy in politics. Achieving popular appeal became increasingly important for politicians in this period. Because of his popular success, Andrew Jackson came to embody the ascendancy of the “common man” in politics, and his election to the presidency in 1828 marked the shift to what has been termed “Jacksonian democracy.” Although women were excluded from this transformation, they played an important role in the process of democratization. The rise of Jacksonian democracy went hand-in-hand with the emergence of the ideology of separate spheres. As democracy undermined traditional distinctions among men, the subordination of women became all the more necessary to maintain a sense of social order and hierarchy. In this way, the consolidation of gender distinctions through the ideology of separate spheres contributed to greater egalitarianism among white men.

WESTERN EXPANSION The exclusionary character of Jacksonian democracy was especially evident in the process of Western expansion, which accelerated rapidly during the first half of the nineteenth century. (See p. 25.) Living up to Jacksonian ideals of democracy, more and more Americans began to move west in this period, in search of greater opportunities for themselves. Yet the movement of white settlers into Western territories also entailed the dispossession of NATIVE AMERICANS from their lands. Native Americans were in many cases removed from their lands by force or by fraud, revealing that the greater equality and opportunity promised by Jacksonian democracy did not extend to them. Indeed, the dispossession of Native Americans to open up lands and opportunity for white settlers demonstrated again how democracy for white men depended on the subordination and oppression of other groups.

RELIGIOUS UPHEAVALS: THE SECOND GREAT AWAKENING All of these social and political changes inspired both optimism and anxiety. One way in which Americans of this time coped with such anxieties was through RELIGION. Religion was a powerful force in the early nineteenth century, as this pe-


riod witnessed a series of evangelical revivals known as the SECOND GREAT AWAKENING. The first of these revivals took place as early as the 1790s, and they reached their peak in the 1830s. Although religious revivals took place all over the country, evangelical fervor was especially strong in the West and in upstate New York. While these revivals differed in character, they were alike in emphasizing the individual’s ability to achieve salvation without the intervention of others. Revivalists believed that the individual would achieve salvation by going through an emotional conversion experience. Because women were considered more emotional and pious than men, women were especially active and prominent participants in these revivals. The heightened importance of religion in this period gave women increased authority, while in turn, women helped further and spread the influence of evangelical religion. (See p. 21.)

REPRESSION AND REFORM The antebellum period also brought with it an outburst of reform activity, inspired partly by evangelical religion. Reformers took on a wide range of social issues. While these reform movements were in some ways liberating and individualistic, they could also be repressive in character. The repressive side of antebellum reform could be seen in one of the most influential reform movements of this period—the TEMPERANCE movement—which sought to restrict the use and consumption of alcohol. (See p. 16.)

PRELUDE TO THE CIVIL WAR: SLAVERY AND SECTIONAL CONFLICT Another offshoot of evangelical religion was the ABOLITION movement, which illustrated the liberating and subversive side of antebellum reform. Opposition to SLAVERY was not new to the 1830s, but the abolition movement that formed in the 1830s differed from earlier antislavery activities both in scope and character. The publication of William Lloyd Garrison’s newspaper The Liberator in 1831 symbolized the beginning of this phase of the antislavery movement. Garrison and his followers used militant tactics and rhetoric to organize mass opposition to slavery. Condemning slavery as a sin, abolitionists argued for the immediate emancipation of slaves. Thus they



forced Americans to confront slavery as a moral issue. Abolitionists also provoked sharp opposition, and one effect of the abolition movement was to incite a stronger defense of slavery by Southern slaveholders. Before the 1830s, at least some slaveholders admitted that slavery was wrong, justifying it only as a necessary evil. After 1830, however, slaveholders reacted to abolitionist condemnations by defending slavery as a positive good that benefited all of society. Women were active on both sides of this debate. Not only did many women join the abolitionist movement; abolitionists also drew a direct connection between the status of women and the status of slaves. Some reformers took this analogy to its logical conclusion and began to advocate greater equality for women. Holding its first convention in 1848, at SENECA FALLS, New York, the WOMEN’S RIGHTS MOVEMENT demanded rights such as property rights in marriage, more liberal DIVORCE laws, and the right to vote. At the same time, many Southern white women defended slavery as staunchly as male slaveholders—especially those women who came from the slaveholding elite. Sharing the racial prejudices of white men, such women did not see any similarity between themselves and their slaves. Instead, they identified with the men of their class, recognizing that their status as SOUTHERN LADIES depended on slavery. As a result of the growing conflict over slavery, sectional tensions between North and South escalated in this period. Further exacerbating these tensions was the annexation of new Western territories during the 1840s, as Northerners and Southerners divided over whether these new territories should be admitted as free or slave states. These sectional tensions culminated in the CIVIL WAR, which began with the firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1861. Although slavery played an important role in bringing about the Civil War, it did not begin as a war to emancipate slaves. Even with the rise of the abolitionist movement, most Northern whites had little interest in the welfare of African-American slaves, for many of them shared Southern white prejudices against AFRICAN AMERICANS. They opposed slavery only because it seemed to threaten their way of life. In particular, slavery threatened the free labor ideal so important to the Northern political and economic system. “Free labor” meant that the individual had to be free to keep his earnings

(this ideal assumed that the individual was male) and that the individual had to be free to choose his employer. Such freedom would enable the individual to improve his economic status. With hard work, the individual would eventually save enough money to establish a farm or business of his own. The individual would then be independent and self-sufficient—the ultimate goal of free labor. This ideal thus exalted the individual, hard work, and social mobility. Many Northern whites feared that if slavery were allowed to expand, slaveowners would take over Western lands, making it impossible for non-slaveowning whites to achieve land ownership or the self-sufficiency that went with it. On the other side, Southerners were adamant in their defense of slavery because it had come to symbolize their way of life. In fact, a majority of white Southerners did not own slaves. Many of them supported the slave system, however, because they believed that the independence and freedom of white men depended on slavery. By identifying slavery with a vision of society that gave primacy to order and community, Southern whites criticized the materialism and self-interest of Northern society. Thus, the Civil War was not just a conflict over slavery; it was also a conflict between two different ways of viewing the world.

THE CIVIL WAR Women played a crucial role in the character and outcome of the Civil War. Women served the war effort as NURSES, as SPIES, as volunteers for military relief associations, and even, in a few cases, as soldiers. While women on both sides of the conflict participated in these activities, the Union was more successful in mobilizing women. By the last years of the war, Confederate women had become increasingly disenchanted with the conflict. Instead of helping with the war effort, more and more women encouraged their husbands and brothers to desert. Thus, in order to understand why the Confederacy lost the war, we need to look not just at the military and political decisions of men, or at the Union’s industrial, technological, and numerical advantages. It is also important to consider how the disaffection of Confederate women contributed to this defeat. Women’s participation in providing relief and medical aid was indispensable to the physical and psychological well-being of the soldiers, and the loss of these services could have seriously weakened the Confederate Army. Women’s growing criticism of the


war may have undermined the morale of the soldiers, while their role in encouraging desertion would have had an even more tangible effect on the army’s military effectiveness.

RECONSTRUCTION AND THE LEGACY OF THE CIVIL WAR The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, with Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. The war left a lasting legacy, however. While the Civil War resulted in a radical transformation of American society, it also provoked a conservative reaction against the reform impulses of the early nineteenth century. The extent and limits of this transformation were especially apparent in RECONSTRUCTION, the period when the federal government sought to reintegrate the South into the Union. Reconstruction brought about a radical change in the legal status of African Americans. Although Abraham Lincoln had not initially defined the Civil War as a struggle to emancipate slaves, one important consequence of the war was the abolition of slavery. Lincoln took the first step toward abolition when he issued the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION on January 1, 1863. While the Emancipation Proclamation turned the Civil War into a war against slavery, it only freed slaves in areas that were not under Union control at the time. With the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, however, the Constitution abolished slavery throughout the United States. The next step in establishing the legal and political equality of African Americans came with the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which recognized African Americans as citizens and granted black men the right to vote. The effect of these amendments on women reveals the limits to Reconstruction. Even while granting black men the right to vote, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments underlined the exclusion of women, both black and white, from that right. Hence woman SUFFRAGE activists divided sharply over whether to support ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. In turn, the arguments used by some supporters of woman suffrage to oppose the Fifteenth Amendment revealed the influence of traditional racial prejudices on even some of the most militant reformers of the time. The limits of Reconstruction were most apparent in the unwillingness of the federal government to redistribute land and property in the


South. As a result, land remained under the control of Southern whites, making it difficult for African Americans freed from slavery to achieve economic independence. Freed people often ended up working for Southern whites under a SHARECROPPING system. Although this provided black sharecroppers with some day-to-day control over their labor, it made them vulnerable to economic exploitation by Southern whites.

FRAGMENTATION AND CONSOLIDATION The Civil War also brought about dramatic social changes in the North, which again had mixed effects. Most important, the Civil War helped speed up the process of industrialization, as the need to produce and transport military supplies stimulated the development of manufacturing and railroads in the North. This process continued after the war, as the United States went through the “Second Industrial Revolution,” in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Both technological developments and the growth of railroads contributed to the rapid industrial expansion of this period. An equally important part of this transformation was the emergence of large corporations that centralized control of the production and distribution of manufactured goods. Through their control of corporations, a small number of individuals, nicknamed the “Robber Barons,” were able to amass vast wealth for themselves. Men like Andrew Carnegie claimed that they had achieved their wealth through their own efforts and abilities. Consequently, the free labor ideal of the “self-made man” took even stronger hold in American society. Ironically, however, this ideal took hold just as it became increasingly difficult for most Americans to achieve it. With the centralization of manufacturing in the hands of large corporations, it became harder for Americans to achieve economic mobility or self-sufficiency. Instead, more and more Americans turned to wage labor to make a living, working as employees of the factory system, with little opportunity for advancement. In the years after the Civil War, then, industrialization further fragmented Americans even as it brought them closer together. The migration of growing numbers of people to CITIES in search of factory jobs brought Americans in closer physical proximity to one another. Yet within those cities, disparities of wealth deepened class divisions and tensions. Women played a crucial role in the



consolidation of class distinctions. Reflecting the conservative climate of this time, upper- and middle-class white women who took part in BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES increasingly saw these activities as a way of controlling the working classes rather than of reforming society. The simultaneous process of fragmentation and consolidation occurred in the South as well, though it took a different form there. After the withdrawal of the last federal troops from the South in 1877 brought Reconstruction to an end, a legalized system segregating whites from African Americans, which would become known as Jim Crow, gradually took hold in that region. White Southerners used force and intimidation to undermine the legal and political rights of African Americans. They turned, in particular, to LYNCHING as a method of intimidation. Conventional assumptions about gender were crucial to lynching, as white Southerners justified this practice by claiming that they were protecting the virtue of white women from the threat of rape by AfricanAmerican men—a fear that grew out of white prejudices, not reality. Revealing the conservatism of this period, the federal government abetted in this retreat from the limited achievements of Reconstruction. The Supreme Court upheld segregation in 1896, with its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson affirming the doctrine of “separate but

equal.” Realizing that federal authority did not threaten white supremacy, white Southerners reconciled themselves to the restoration of the Union. In this way, the reunification of North and South went hand-in-hand with the separation of white and black in the South. Eileen Ka-May Cheng FURTHER READING

Boydston, Jeanne. Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Brekus, Catherine. Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740–1845. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Clinton, Catherine, and Nina Silber, eds. Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Faust, Drew. Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. New York: Vintage, 1997. Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. Lystra, Karen. Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Stansell, Christine. City of Women: Class and Sex in New York, 1789–1860. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987.



Domesticity and the Ideology of Separate Spheres In the early-nineteenth-century United States there was a marked DIVISION OF LABOR within MIDDLE-CLASS households: Women’s sphere or special area was the domestic space, the home and children, while men’s sphere was the outside world. At least among the Northeastern urban middle class the idea that men went “out” to work and that “woman’s place was in the home” was dominant. In an unspoken bargain a woman’s status rose in tandem with her husband’s wealth and public prominence. It could also fall with changes in fortune or the death of her partner. According to this belief system, “true” women were pious, pure, domestic, and submissive. “True” men were more more worldly and potentially more sinful, but it was part of women’s responsibility to reform or at least to improve them. Although women were dependent on men as providers many were able to exert their own authority. Much social, moral, and educational reform depended on the work of these “domestic” females. While some women chafed at the limitations of domesticity, others enjoyed the experience of MOTHERHOOD and also the opportunities for women’s community that emerged. The ideology of separate spheres was also comforting for many men. While they were pursuing private gain, an individualistic goal that seemed to some to contradict the republican, communal virtues they had grown up with, domestic women seemed to hark back to a simpler, more moral life. Men, according to this argument, could be competitive, rational, and amoral in their pursuit of advancement while women would provide an emotional haven. It should be remembered, however, that separate spheres was an ideology, and did not always correspond to the reality of women’s lives. Any shift in beliefs has many causes. In this case they include social changes connected with the emergence of a MIDDLE CLASS. The 1830s, a key period in the development of the ideology of domesticity, was also a time of economic upheaval with a major depression starting in 1837. Political changes associated with the rise of Jacksonian democracy gave suffrage to most white men, and elections were often accompanied by

drunkenness, which made the hustings seem to be an unsuitable place for women. There were also changes in the patterns of FAMILY LIFE with the growth of the companionate family and a falling birth rate. In addition there were cultural factors such as the surge in evangelical religion, as well as the popularity of sentimental NOVELS and ADVICE BOOKS and changes in print technology which enabled women’s MAGAZINES to reach a broad middle-class readership. When most families lived on farms they had worked together as a unit. With INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, and the growth of mills and factories, population shifted to the towns, and the middleclass home became a refuge rather than a center of production. This was less true of white working-class families, or Native American and African-American families, whose women worked in mills and as servants, and were thus denied the luxury of domesticity. Social change is often accompanied by tension, and the rise of the middle class was no exception. The United States went through an enormous transformation during the first half of the nineteenth century as the white population, which up to the Revolution had been concentrated on the Eastern seaboard, spread from rural to urban areas, from east to west, and from farm to factory. The rise of the middle class was accompanied by a shift in family patterns. Middle-class men entered business, or took up a profession such as the church or the law, while their wives stayed home and became the “angel in the house.” In towns and cities from Rochester, New York, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the nature of women’s work changed. They no longer needed to churn butter or weave cloth, nor did they do as much HOUSEWORK, as free black women, the daughters of IRISH IMMIGRANTS, and farm girls wishing to move to the city were available as DOMESTIC SERVANTS. Middle-class women were instead responsible for organizing the home, rearing the children, and instilling morality into their families and sometimes into the wider community. Changes in the composition of the middle- class family contributed to a shift of authority toward



the mother. There was a slow but steady fall in the birth rate from an average of over seven to less than six children per family between 1800 and 1850 and a change in the value of children, who were no longer expected to contribute to the family income. Instead the mother was expected to inculcate values and skills that would keep the children