Table of Contents
This paper will examine the family life in the USA during the colonial time period. This period continued from the early 1500s to the late 1700s, and at that time America was divided into 13 colonies. Life was very hard for people, and that is why family life was the main source for everything. Family life was, maybe, the most important part of people’s being. I would like to center my attention on the role of women during that period. To do it I used the information about women from John Lawson’s A New Voyage to Carolina and the information from the textbook by George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi. First of all, powers of women in the family will be discussed, then the role of women in religion, and the family role of a woman in the 18th century.
A woman’s powers
During the colonial time period more people lived in the southern colonies than in northern. As a result, more women were present in the southern colonies. There was an absolute authority of the husband in the family. For example, there is the information from a diary of one patrician, where he mentioned his relationship with his wife. He managed the estate of his wife and did not consult her about it and could even forbid his wife to take a book from the library without his permission. His wife also was not able to manage the household by herself.
Woman and religion
Not least important is the fact that women were supposed to be fully engaged in the domestic life. They had to manage the household, but did not have an important role in the political, social sphere of life, and religion. Women were considered to be an inferior race. They were forbidden to become ministers, and they were not allowed to preach in public. They could do it only when the Quakers allowed it, and that is all. Women were supposed to raise children, take care of their husbands and manage the household as effective as possible.
The role of the woman in the 18th century
John Lawson examined the life in Carolina in the 18th century. He described different kinds of labor, which women did. For example, he says that “the women are the most industrious sex in that place, and, by their good housewifery, make a great deal of cloth of their own cotton, wool and flax…” Lawson emphasizes the fact that the colony of Carolina promotes the happiness of women. Those women, who did not have children in other colonies, became mothers here, in Carolina. Lawson also says few words about the tradition of marrying young. Women in Carolina married when they were even thirteen. They successfully procreated and did a lot of other different things and helped their husbands. “Many of the women are very handy in canoes, and will manage them with great dexterity and skill…they are ready to help their husbands in any servile work, as planting…” When the girls are still young, they are taught how to manage the business successfully and when they grow up, they become good accountants.
Colonial period in America was a hard period for everyone, and especially for women. They were supposed to be an inferior race. Husbands had an absolute power upon their wives. The wife could not do anything without the permission of her husband. Women were not seen as important figures in social, political, and religious life. Nonetheless, everything was revolving around the family life. Women were very handy and managed to do a lot of different things, helping their husbands and taking care of the household. The woman was a very important person in the family, and it would have been very hard for men to do everything without the help of their wives.