Wives as Deputy Husbands

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“Wives as Deputy Husbands” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich Article Review “Wives as Deputy Husbands” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich was written to give the author’s opinion on the roles of women in the 17th and 18th century. Some historians thought women were merely there to do housework and take care of the children. They thought they were helpless. On the contrary other’s thought they were very involved in various affairs such as: blacksmiths, silversmiths, tinworkers, shoeworkers, tanners, etc. They thought they may have been very independent. However, this article is used to understand how households were run and how women fit into both female and male roles. The author’s thesis of this article is to inform the reader that women had more roles in colonial times than people rarely consider. Ulrich’s contention is that “the husband was in control of the external affairs and of the family, a husband’s decision would incorporate his wife’s opinion, and should fate or circumstance prevent the husband from fulfilling his role the wife could stand in his place” (Paragraph 4.). Women didn’t only depend on their husband. She was not helpless. Her commitment to her husband did allow him to be able to trust her with difficult tasks that a servant couldn’t be trusted with. A wife specialized in housekeeping skills but it also included the responsibilities of being a deputy husband. Ulrich says “Economic opportunities were limited for women; however, female responsibility was a very broad topic” (Paragraph 8.). A woman could do any task as long as it furthered the good of her family and her husband deemed it acceptable. Wives could double as their husbands and became respected companions and shared the spouse’s authority. There was no sharp division between home and work in the colonial time period. Many people worked on a farm which also doubled as their home. This was also true for male and females, their spaces overlapped. While the husband was around her responsibility was

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