Deputy Husbands

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“Deputy Husbands” is an informative article written to help students of today understand better the workings of colonial households of the 18th century. The purpose of this article was to give students another way to look at the way colonial households were run, what the men’s roles were and where the women fit into those roles. Ulrich writes with many different opinions from other authors, giving the reader a broader look at what historians believe was going on.

The author’s thesis is informing the reader that women did have more roles in colonial times than many people consider. Ulrich is trying to help the reader better understand how the women fit into colonial society alongside their husbands not as a “house wife” who did all the cooking, cleaning ect. This was summarized into three assumptions “1) the husband was supreme in the external affairs of the family…2) A husband’s decisions would, however, incorporate his wife’s opinions and interests…3) Should Fate or circumstance prevent the husband from fulfilling his role, the wife could appropriately stand in his place” (pg. 57). Number one is telling us that the wives didn’t have anything to do with the outside of the family. It had been the husband’s responsibility to handle these affairs. The second one is saying that the wife’s opinion is valued. And the third explains that the wife could even step in and take over for her husband sometimes. Alexander Keyssar quoted in the article said “Economic dependency, first upon husbands, then upon grown sons, characterized the live of women in the agricultural village of Woburn” (pg. 57). Now this is contradicting these three assumptions. This tells us that the men did everything and that the women were living by what the men did. The women were dependant upon the men, which could be true in some cases but not the majority. By saying this Keyssar is completely going against the three assumptions that were made. But these two different opinions give us the...
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