Britain is among the colonial powers who had advance empires by the 19 th century. The number
of men outnumbered women in the territories. From the beginning, women established homes
and found opportunities in the way of life. Also, there were native and colonial women who had
different societal life and expectations in the colonies. This paper details about the different roles
of women between New England and Southern colonies. Subsequently, it insights on the legal
rights women held during the colonial period. Finally, it shows the analysis of how native
women’s lives differs from that of colonial mistresses.
Females in New England and Southern Colonies had separate duties. In New England, Britain
colonizers ruled over puritan settlers (Scott, P et al 2014). The Puritans had their strong religious
values. This dictated that wives were subordinate to their husbands and were God fearing.
Therefore, wives never worked in fields with their husbands. Similarly, females were taught how to
read so that they could learn the Bible. Only a few were taught how to write. A colonial lady
was expected to be submissive to her father until marriage (Scott, P. et al 2014).
This kind of life did not allow women to vote and they lost control of their property in
marriage. Additionally, a wife could not divorce and single women could not make contracts or
sue anyone until late 18 th century. In the Southern Colonies, women used to work in plantations
according to Scott, P et al 2014. Equally, they were mandated to control their reproductive life.
House wives did the house chores such as cooking and any other duty given to them by their
husbands. This highlights the different roles done by women in the colonies.
The legal responsibilities of a woman were judged according to the common law used. In Puritan
communities, women were excluded from court as per Scott, P. et al 2014. Equally, they were
obliged to attend trials in established courts. Mostly, disputes that occurred were between men,
WOMEN IN COLONIAL AMERICA 3
but there were also cases involving females. When case trials were judged the offender could
pay a small fine to the offended. If a case surpassed paying fine, one could be sentenced
including women (Scott, P. et al 2014).
In the southern colonies laws were applicable to all. To start with, wives succeeded their
husbands plantations and farms in their demise or in their absence. More importantly, women
were familiar with the courts and expressed themselves through the justice system (Scott, P. et al
2014). The legal establishments in the colonies gave females a chance to exercise their rights.
The Native American women had different lives from the colonial women. Initially, inherent wives
controlled food and were agricultural scientists (Kiener et al 2007). Later, they were allowed to sit
in political positions while the colonial women were exclusively slaves and plantation farmers.
Native women enjoyed considerable freedom over their choice of husbands or in deciding
divorce while the colonial women could be sold to slaves when they became pregnant (Kiener et
al 2007). Only white women could own property under the common law. Colonial women lived
under slave codes while native women lived in their father’s house if not married and if married
they lived with their husbands according to Kiener et al 2007. Therefore, native ladies had better
living standards than colonial mistresses.
In conclusion, the British empire degraded the position of women. The status of ladies were
upheld legally later in years. New England females had different life styles from Southern
Colonies. Local inherent females were treated different from the slaves and had better positions
in the society. In this regard, this an interesting topic that shows the submissiveness of women.
WOMEN IN COLONIAL AMERICA 4
Cynthia, A., Kierner. Women, Gender, Families and Households in the Southern Colonies. The Journal of
Southern History, vol. 73, no. 3, 2007, pp, 643-658.
P., Scott, Volker, J & John, M.,L (2014). U.S. History Book
Halevy & Elie (1934). A History of the English People. London Ernest Benn,