Social Aspects Of Colonial Life

793 Words4 Pages
In the 1630’s, migrants from a country where a handful of nobles and gentry owned 80 percent of the arable land came to the New World to establish a society free of the social and economic injustices they had faced. But they brought across the Atlantic Ocean with them, the prejudices and mishaps that they had hoped to escape. By the mid 18th century, women, African Americans, and Indians faced the very same persecutions that the migrants fell under in the 17th century. By traditional customs and law, women were subordinate to men, who dominated their families. Women were expected to be dutiful helpmates to their husbands. Their primary tasks were concerned with child-bearing and standard housewife chores. Most women married in their early twenties and give birth to an average of 6 to 7 children within a range of 20 years. As the size of farms shrank in long-settled communities, families chose to have fewer children. After 1750 women in a typical village bore an average of 4 children in one lifetime. Because of the reduction in childcare necessities, women gained time to pursue other duties. Farm women made extra yarn, cloth, and cheese to contribute to the financial affairs of the family unit. As a result, the living standards of a family were increased. However, women’s lives remained tightly bound by a web of legal and cultural restrictions. Small girls watched their mothers defer to their fathers, and as young women they watched court systems prosecute few men and many women for crimes of fornication and adultery, especially those who bore a living shame of an illegitimate child. They soon learned that their marriages would be inferior in portion to their male siblings and that at their marriage they received not precious land buy livestock or household goods. In the south, because of the drive of economic pursuits that focused less on family structure, women
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