Lives of Women in the Colonial Era (Before 1700)

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Between the early 1500’s and year 1700 North America endured the Colonial period. Many of British, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Swedish descent began establishing separate colonies in North America. The main reasons for the new settlement were land, work, and religious freedom. This period of time was life changing for most settlers, but was distinctively a unique experience for the Colonial women.

If anything, the life of a Colonial woman was definitely not simple. Most homes of the Colonists were small and consisted of little protection, and diets were far less than perfect. Also during this time period many illnesses arose to children specifically. This was very difficult on Colonial mothers. While the Husband would work all day, the wife would of course take care of the children, cook, clean, and perform other household tasks. Even though the Colonial women received no pay the role they played, this role was definitely hard work. For the majority of this era most women could not read or write. In some cases women didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own husband. In these cases, their fathers chose whom they would marry. Women were expected to be obedient to their father until they married, then the primary obedience transferred to their husband. Colonial women went through many difficult times, and still had difficult lives but as the colonies grew more and more established, the restrictions on these women began to gradually yet slowly lessen. Because women evidently outnumbered men during this era, Colonial women could be a bit pickier when it came to finding a spouse than the men could. As a result of that, women would often marry men that would give her the most benefits. Although these women would receive benefits from a marriage, there was also a downside to it. Once a woman married, her legal existence was basically removed. They often couldn’t even divorce their husband seeing as they didn’t have any legal rights under the law as a married...
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