Dr. Barry Shollenberger
September 14, 2014
In the early 1700’s the lives of men and women were very different. Social equality was not extended to the women in the household. Wealth, intelligence, and social status were not of importance when it came to be head of the household. They were taught that their husbands were above then and that it was a “wife’s duty” to “love and reverence them,” (Henretta 97).
Women were taught to be subordinates to their husbands and be silent when other were around. Throughout the colonies, a women duties were to be helpmeets to their husbands. They would perform farm work. Farmwives tended gardens and spun thread and yarn. “They knitted sweaters and stockings, made candles and soap, churned milk into butter and pressed curds into cheese, fermented malt for beer, preserved meats, and mastered dozens of other household tasks. “Notable women”— those who excelled at domestic arts — won praise and high status,” (Henretta 97).
Having children was considered one of their duties. Women in the New England Colonies were married by the time they were in their early twenties. By the time women were in their early forties most of them had six or seven children. Some households had as many as fifteen children. In fact, the high number of pregnancies contributed to a twenty percent death rate in mothers during childbirth, (Conforti 63). After 1750, farm sizes shrank in long-settled communities and couples had decided to have less children. The average household had four children.
Women were excluded from equality when it came to legal and cultural rights. Willingly or not, most colonial women abided by the custom that, as essayist Timothy Dwight put it, they should be subservient to their husbands and “employed only in and about the house,” (Henretta 98).
Men had more freedom and they were considered to be above their
Cited: Conforti, Joseph A Saints and Strangers: New England in British North America: Johns Hopkins University Press Baltimore, MD, USA, 12/2005 Henretta, J.A., Edwards, Rebecca, Self, O. America: A Concise History, Volume One: To 1877, 5th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin 's, 01/2012. VitalBook file.