COLONIAL WOMEN AS SECOND-CLASS CITIZENS
Colonial women spun, wove and sewed garments; cooked; cleaned; gardened; washed and ironed; chopped wood, and raised and educated their children. Women had few rights and rarely owned their homes or businesses. Their husband owned all the property including any property or wealth their wives inherited. All wealth and property passed on to the sons upon the death of the father. In exchange, men protected and supported their wives.
Women were the “daughter of” or “the wife of” a man. Parents, husbands and the religious leaders of their communities defined their roles in society which was obedience to them and other male relatives and to become wives and mothers. Colonial society did not look kindly upon women who never married and called them spinsters.
Nonetheless, women had real power running the household while their husbands worked outside the home. When the men went off to war, they ran the business or farm and actively supported the side of the conflict their husbands fought on.
Women and children faced danger when their husbands and sons went off to war. British soldiers took over the colonists’ homes and seized their livestock and other property.
When the Revolution began, women supported the colonists’ protests against Britain. When the British government imposed the Townshend Act which taxed imported goods, women formed spinning bees and wove their own cloth. They supported the boycott of British tea by abstaining from buying and drinking tea.
Women helped with the war effort by sewing shirts for the soldiers. Often they and their children followed the men to the front and cooked, cleaned and washed their clothes. Some women also acted as spies or disguised themselves as men and fought in battle.
And a small number of women had careers. Women such as Phyllis Wheatley, Annis Boudinot Stockton, Mary Katherine Goddard, Mercy Otis Warren, Judith Sargent Stevens Murray and Patience Lovell Wright were writers, artists, publishers and businesswomen.
Women who ran businesses or were artists or writers were women of influence in colonial society especially when the men were fighting the Revolutionary War.
Diamant, Lincoln, editor. Revolutionary Women in the War for American Independence, A One Volume Revised Edition of Elizabeth Ellet’s 1848 Landmark Series. Westport Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1998.
Greenberg, Judith E. and McKeever, Helen Cary. Journal of a Revolutionary War Woman. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996.
Micklos, John. The Brave Women and Children of the American Revolution. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc, 2009
Freeman, Land M., North, Louise V and Wedge, Janet M. In the Words of Women: the Revolutionary War and the Birth of the Nation, 1765-1799. Landam, Md: Lexington Books, 2011.
Redmond, Shirley Raye. Patriots in Petticoats, Heroines of the American Revolution.New York: Random House, 2004
The 1970s weren’t the 1960s………
In July, 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus which prompted me to travel to England in 1976. What’s the connection? My aunts, uncles and cousins lived in a hamlet called Harcha (sometimes spelled Hartjia or Hartzia) in northern Cyprus. Turkey invaded from the north and my relatives barely had enough time to flee for their lives. Not everyone from northern Cyprus escaped and many Greeks are still listed as missing (as are Turks and Armenians and others). My relatives found themselves living in refugee camps in their own country.
By 1976, some of them had immigrated to England so I went to visit them. I had lived with them for seven months in 1965 in Harcha so I wanted to see how they were doing.
1976 was a leap year. America was celebrating its Bicentennial (200th birthday) making it ironic that I went to visit the country whose taxation policies led to the American Revolution.
1976 was the year of the Entebbe raid, the discovery of Legionnaire’s Disease, and Jimmy Carter’s election to the presidency. The UK suffered the hottest, driest, sunniest summer of its twentieth century (at least, up to that point).
The 1970s saw the hard rock bands Deep Purple, Queen, Alice Cooper, and Led Zeppelin rise in popularity while psychedelic rock declined. The Beatles broke up. Country rock performers such as Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and the Eagles, and Southern Rock bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band enjoyed success. The Eagles released Hotel California.
I was a movie nerd; Rocky, Taxi Driver, Carrie, The Omen, and All The President’s Men all came out in 1976.
I wore tube tops, platform shoes, tunic tops, low-rise pants and hip huggers like almost everyone else. Mini-skirts were turning into maxis. I packed some of these articles of clothing (leaving my cowl-necked sweaters at home) and headed for London, England.
Click on the Travel Musings link above to see more.
What’s in a Name? Shakespeare once asked. The answer is: Plenty!
Read “What’s in a Name, Anyway?” by Marion Constantinides July – August 2015 issue of Good Old Days magazine. Available at newsstands or by subscription.
Names really do matter!