American Family History

1357 Words6 Pages
History of the American Family At the birth of our nation, American families were built on social customs and ideas that in our age may seem unethical. Couples entered into contractual marriages of convenience, and wives were considered property rather than an equal. Colonial marriages were more like business deals, with men choosing mates that were strong, obedient, could bear many children, and of course, some chose ones with dowries or annual income. Mortality rate was high in women and children, 30 percent of children died before the age of 16. Childbirth was the leading cause of death in women, which left husbands for caring for young children and they would quickly remarry. Families often consisted of stepparents and half…show more content…
Husbands went off to the war, which left the wives in charge of all family affairs and businesses. Women also were on battlefields alongside the men as nurses, support, even soldiers and men began to hold women’s roles with more respect. With their newfound confidence women like Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, became advocates for women’s rights. No longer under British law, the colonies now had the freedom of writing their own laws. Abigail reminded her husband to “remember the ladies” when doing so. Women were given the right to divorce their husbands, own property and businesses, and in New Jersey the right to…show more content…
Husbands as well as sons were required to go to war leaving wives to be the sole caretaker. Urban women were the ones who suffered the most because their means of survival depended on income to purchase necessities. Those who still lived on farms could still provide for themselves. Many women worked as aides and nurses for the troops, while others took positions in factories that were once held by men. By the wars end, at least 620,000 men died which put a big dent in the male population and left families to fend for themselves. Many families grouped together and lived in crowded conditions. In 1905, Annie S. Daniel of Charities reported, "The fact that despite the work of the entire family the income is still too small for living purposes, gives rise to greater evil of overcrowding. The average number of persons in the apartments, due largely to this cause, was 6.4 persons. The average number of rooms occupied by such groups was 2.6. In order to make the income reach the out-go, boarders, lodgers, two and three families huddle together, until not even the ghost of decency remain (627). Children were now working in factories as well, for long hours and many were undernourished. By 1910, most states enacted a child labor law, which prohibited children under the age of 15 to work. Children were once again, expected to go to school and with advancement of technology,
Open Document