AP U.S. History
Changes have been prominent in the lives of women from the ladies traveling worriedly over the side of the Mayflower to the feminists that were brought up in the pre-revolutionary era. Between the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, the role of women changed in terms of their place in the family, their economic contributions, and their position in the community. American women of the 1600’s were an exceptionally oppressed group, while the women of the 18th century began to be more comfortable showing their true colors. In the puritan communities of the 1600’s women had a right to the love and the support of her husband, but she did not have a right to question his judgment. She was a daughter of Eve, morally weak and easily led into error. Women also had a big and often unappreciated role in their family. For poor families in colonial times, women’s full time job was homemaking. Poor housewives had to cook meals, make clothing, and doctor their family on top of cleaning, making household goods to use and sell, taking care of their animals, maintaining a fire and even tending to the kitchen gardens. Middle class and wealthy women also shared some of these chores in their households, but they often had servants to help them. By the turn of the 18th century women were losing their status as household producers and gaining respect as mothers. In the south, the introduction of slave labor left little work for women. Women fell into submission under the upper-class men. In both the North and South, the daughters of the wealthy urban gentry were becoming the nation’s first leisure class whose only responsibilities were to woo a good and wealthy husband and to bear his children. Women were not supposed to hold positions that properly belonged to the head of the household. In both the puritan North and the country South, men held all the economic positions although women were sometimes in charge of the livestock...
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