17th Century Overview, North versus South North = Massachusetts Bay Colony, Pennsylvania, Maine, etc. –Families –Intentional Communities (utopian goals) South = Chesapeake Bay Colony, etc. –Single (wealthy) males –Indentured (poor) females and males –Slaves Religious beliefs Protestant and Catholic religious beliefs shape ideas about proper role of women Sin of Eve means all women untrustworthy Eve’s disobedience to God means she should be under the authority of Adam to limit her potential for transgression Paul: “women should keep silence in the churches” – taken to mean women should not teach, nor hold authority over men in church Religious beliefs Patriarchy is the biblically ordained social order and correctly expressed in all things from the home to church to the state Within a patriarchy, people need to understand their place within it, act accordingly, and structure their expectations to meet their role Legal status Married women are “feme covert” no legal identity after marriage (legal status “covered” by their husbands’ = “two become one”) Not able to own personal property – what she brings into the marriage belongs to husband (can be seized for debts, etc) May own real estate, but cannot control it “feme sole traders” or deputy husbands in extreme circumstances Single women are “feme sole” with the same legal rights as men, no political rights Legal status Dower Rights Set amount (usually 1/3) of “life interest” in her husband’s real property after his death e.g. can have 1/3 harvest from farm Called “widow’s thirds” Primogeniture Inheritance generally goes to eldest son unless will declares otherwise Wealthy fathers may try to protect daughter’s inheritance Poor Laws Destitute widows or orphans (mainly) must be cared for by the community Puritan beliefs Personal understanding of God and self Individual bible study and interpretation Constant self-examination and policing Constant self-doubt Living example of adherence to God’s laws Puritans and Women’s Souls Patriarchal authority through the church (St. Paul’s edict: “Let the women keep silent in the churches.” -- 1 Corinthians 14:34) Anne Hutchinson told: "You have stepped out of your place, you have rather been a husband than a wife, and a preacher than a hearer.“ Puritan belief: "the soul consists of two portions, inferior and superior; the superior is masculine and eternal; the feminine inferior and mortal." Puritan families Church covenant mirrors individual covenant: Individual congregations, whose leaders have demonstrated their conversions, agreed that the Gospel would be preached and discipline maintained among the congregation, then God would bestow “saving grace” within the church. “National” covenant means Puritans also apply these ideas about covenant and mutual assent to state Puritan families Coming from stratified society where status and its meaning are vital: deference, respect, order Somewhat mitigated by fact many arriving initially from middle strata of English society Family is core of Puritan society – mirrors larger society and prepares members for Godly lives (as befits saints) Familial hierarchy and recognition of place in it vital to understanding of larger society and individual responsibilities/order: family covenant Orderly families = orderly society John Winthrop, from “A Model of Christian Charity” 1630 God Almighty…hath so disposed of the condition of mankind [that] some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in subjection… The Reason Hereof:...so that the rich and mighty might not eat up the poor, nor the poor and despised rise up against their superiors and shake off their yoke; second, in the regenerate in exercising His graces in them, as in the great ones their love, mercy, gentleness, temperance, &c.; in the poor and inferior sort, their faith, patience, obedience, &c..... When God gives us a special commission He wants it strictly observed in every article.... Puritan families “…a familie is a little Church, and a little common- wealth, at least a lively representation thereof, whereby triall may be made of such as are fit for any place of authoritie, or of subjection in Church or 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 common-wealth.” William Gouge, Of Domesticall Duties (1622) Puritan families Cohort to MA includes preachers, merchants, primarily families 2:3 sex ratio (very good for new settlement) Main unit of economic production (external and household economies) and property transfer Main educational, religious, political unit Desire for order, godly lives of citizens Town layouts Policing of all, including unmarrieds Puritan women “he for God only, she for God in him” Milton Paradise Lost Women and men are equally able to be elect and to develop understandings of God’s word and many women more pious and devout than men. Subordinate status and pain of childbirth makes them more open to spiritual (deaths during childbirth/childbed mean it is constant part of women’s lives – either directly or indirectly) Puritan women Marriage key event in women’s lives Choice frequently guided by family Type of partnership with shared responsibilities “to guid the house &c. not guid the Husband” (Increase Mather sermon 1672) Husband should “make his government of her as easie and gentle as possible; and strive more to be lov’d than fear’d: though neither is to be excluded” (Benjamin Wadsworth, Well-Ordered Family) Puritan women Responsibilities lay inside a specific “private” purview – maintaining home, household economy, children, servants, but could be “deputy husband” under specific circumstances “An old (or Superannuated) Maid, in Boston, is thought such a curse as nothing can exceed it, and look'd on as a dismal Spectacle.“ -- John Dunton, bookseller, 1686 Puritan women “Goodwife” or goody (80-90 percent of Puritan women marry) Well-ordered home, frugal, clean Puritan women Women crucial to household economy Household production – individual and supervision of production Early market society means home production crucial for most Egg and butter money, candles, spinning “women’s work” for wages as cities and towns expand Informal authority Midwives observers “exemplars” Adultery Male and female adulterers punished differently – Illustrates different role of women Male adulterers had wronged their partner’s husband Female adulterers had wronged their own husband AND the wife, children, and relations of their partner Puritan women Women’s sexual nature is welcomed within the bounds of marriage b/c it is necessary to reproduction Bible says to multiply Strengthens “marriage covenant” Orgasm necessary for conception (difficulty of rape suits) Heavy punishments for sexual contact outside of marriage Talking about good and bad sexuality meant to educate children - public punishments and sermons: “F is for fornication” Puritan women Essex County Court records from 1641 and 1685, 135 married women and 131 unmarried women cited for fornication Brides with “early babies” fall into same age category as women who marry with 9-12 month children (early to mid 20s) 62 percent of unmarried mothers are between 15 and 20 and the fathers named avg 25-29 yrs Single mothers cannot duplicate godly family model and are in economic danger – may become a drain; woman’s carnal nature has been tapped Midwives as witness Puritan women Childbirth Communal activity Expression of status of mother and caregivers Risky Anne Bradstreet – 8 children, 7 who outlived her Mercy Bradstreet – 3 children lost, died in childbirth at 28 Average woman has 7 children, with last at age 37 Does not include stillbirths or miscarriages Most women spend adult lives childbearing and childrearing High infant survival rates – could read 80% (London was 20% and Chesapeake could be 40-50%) Multi-generation families in communities Elizabeth Freake and daughter, 1670 Salem Witch Trials, 1692 Women in the colonies almost always women – European witchcrazes also targeted men Most accused exhibit behavior that challenges “goodwife” image Tituba Bridget Bishop (fought with husbands, kept taverns, dressed immodestly) Sarah Good (homeless, destitute, mumbled to self) H As hunt continues, others pulled in Rebecca Nurse (elderly widow who had never remarried)H John Proctor (tavern owner, objected to accusations towards his wife) H Salem Witch Trials, 1692 20 executed (1 by pressing) Up to 13 died in prison Why? Teenage hysteria bolstered by parents Ergot blight Economic and social tension Women who had unsettled social order Frontier unrest, Indian victories King Phillip’s War, 1676 Captive for 11 weeks “savages” “barbarous” “dirty” Anne Hutchinson Daughter of a clergyman, one of 13 children. She was independent minded, assertive, and well trained in religious discourse by her father. At age 21, she married William Hutchinson. She was a good Puritan woman 16 pregnancies in all. She was a good homemaker and housekeeper. Practiced folk medicine and acted as a midwife when called upon. •In 1634, she and her husband came to America in a group led by the Reverend John Cotton, one of the primary Puritan divines. •Opened her home to post-church discussions. Anne Hutchinson At these meetings 60 men and women discussed theology Hutchinson became a leader and teacher on the newer ideas of the “Puritan Divines” led by John Cotton Local authorities told her to stop – Cotton was the enemy of the current governor, John Winthrop. Hutchinson brought to trial 1637 Banished for “disorderlyness”, then appealed Imprisoned for a year and brought to trial in church a second time in 1638, convicted and banished. 58 Bostonians took up arms in support of her. She left colony with small group supporters, followed by husband and children. Later she and her children killed by Indians; husband had already died Gender in Anne Hutchinson’s Case •Anne Hutchinson believed that women should teach and preach because they were as likely as men to have a true covenant of grace with God. John Winthrop felt that too much reading and studying would drive a woman mad. He found Hutchinson haughty, aggressive, disorderly, unfeminine, and suspected her of practicing free love and witchcraft. John Winthrop feared this woman, and particularly her influence over other women. Women were too weak and unintelligent to resist her message weak women would, like Eve, lead their husbands to evil. Gender in Anne Hutchinson’s Case At her second religious one, Hutchinson was told that her problem was that she would "rather be a Husband than a Wife and a Preacher than a Hearer; and a Magistrate than a Subject." In other words, she lacked submissive spirit and dependent demeanor of a true Puritan woman. The charge of witchcraft raised at the end of the second trial. Told story of a deformed baby that Hutchinson had delivered as a midwife as evidence of her being a witch. Winthrop continued to harass Hutchinson in exile. She was seriously ill after her long confinement and at age 46, in the final stages of her last pregnancy. She delivered prematurely, the child died. Winthrop sent for details and published, "that she had produced 30 monstrous births, or thereabouts." Southern Colonies 1607 Virginia Company: Jamestown men: search for riches, resources first women in 1608 “These Savages have no particular propertie in any parcell of that country, but only a general residence there, as wild beasts have in the forest” – Robert Gray “A Good Speed to Virginia” Cycle of violence and truces Women in the Chesapeake Unbalanced sex ratio A few female “headrights” (50 acres of land – women who bought own passage are eligible) Easier marriage – sex ratio and VA Company wants more married men b/c they cause less trouble Marrying Native women not a respectable option after earliest period Female indentured servants 70 to 85 percent of all emigrants in first half of 17th Century are indentured Cannot marry until indenture is served: Later marriage = fewer children Family in the Chesapeake Families fragile for biological reasons (malaria, etc.) life expectancy only 43 years most marriages lasted only 7 years men outnumber women 3 to 1 pregnant women especially vulnerable to malaria few children reach adulthood with both parents living (and almost no grandparents) widows prized (inheritance); remarried quickly Family in the Chesapeake Coming from stratified society where status and its meaning are vital: deference, respect, order Intent to model English gentry Familial hierarchy and recognition of place in it vital to understanding of larger society and individual responsibilities/order Orderly families = orderly society Marriage in Chesapeake Institution of marriage shaped by sparse settlement and lack of community control as existed in New England As result, many early marriages were informal, “common-law” But with fragile families, inheritance becomes an issue As result, pressure to form more rigid and solemnized marriages Marriage in Chesapeake For upper-class, model marriages were English aristocrats – women firmly subordinate, expected to turn blind eye to infidelity, etc. Tension as racial inequalities increase Sexual violence Gender expectations racialized Comparison Marriage differed in British colonies north and south, largely as a result of the institution of slavery. (While there was slavery in the North, it did not predominate as a social form.) In South, where slavery resulted in creation of significant peoples of mixed race and numbers of illegitimate children, control of white, landed or upper class women’s sexuality (fertility) became very important. Male privilege was protected in South by civil law which forbade divorce for male adultery (although did allow for separation in certain circumstances).