Kingdom of Matthias: Women in the 19th Century

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In the nineteenth century, the legal rights of women and men were highly affected by gender and race, both positively and negatively. In the book, “Kingdom of Matthias,” by Paul Johnson and Simon Wilentz, they describe the life of two females, Isabella Van Wagenen and Isabella Matthews Laisdell which whom were affected by slavery and high influences of higher power from men. In the nineteenth century it was believed that males were to support the family by working and earning a wage as a husband was to provide for his wife and a father to provide for his children (Fahs 1/5). Also, during the nineteenth century women were seen to be working in homes and supporting their husbands by cleaning the home, raising the children, and cooking meals (Fahs 1/5). Furthermore, the dominant notion of marriage can be described as a paternal decline for as time progressed many young men realized they could not inherit the farm which coincided with the fact that young women would only inherit a small dowry resulting in a change of how marriage was based on affection instead of parental influence (LEB 222). However, the notion of motherhood had changed overtime with less childbearing as they were planned which allowed more attention to the children allowing them to move to middle-class. The nineteenth century explores many areas of society that are affected by people’s gender and race whom are brought together by religious beliefs, families, and friendships.

The story of “Kingdom of Matthias” describes two women, Isabella Van Wagenen whom is a slave and Isabella Matthews Laisdell whom married. Both women’s positions in society were typical because the universal role of women in all states were to attend to family needs and support their husband. The role of Isabella Van Wagenen in “Kingdom of Matthias” was to perform heavy household work and did most of the cooking because for Matthias, he kept all the women in the house (Johnson and Wilentz 105). On the other hand, Isabella...
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