Women often had seven to ten children, and childbirth and parenting were important aspects of their life. When a woman marries, she gives up her legal identity and becomes one with her spouse. Her spouse is now her legal and social representative in all of their social and legal activities. Women were not allowed to own property or drive cars; they could only vote in state elections.
Women had few rights under the law, but many found ways around it. For example, women received half-pay for army duty during the war years, which meant that they held more authority over financial matters than might appear from reading the laws at the time. Also, female slaves were given some freedom by their owners, who knew that if they misbehaved, they would be returned to slavery.
Life for women was difficult because there were no schools for them to learn skills that would help them find employment. When they did work, it usually involved taking care of home and family; jobs such as nurse's aide or secretary were done mostly by women. There were very few positions available for educated women; those that did exist were usually given to men. In fact, between 1731 and 1831, only three women were appointed governors of North Carolina counties.
Women had little influence over government affairs, but that didn't stop them from being active participants in the political process.
Marriage and motherhood were still seen as the most essential tasks for women by conventional norms, but unlike only a few decades ago, a woman's position in her society was not exclusively dependent on her decision to establish a family. Married ladies had a very limited existence. Wives were supposed to take care of their home and spouse. If they didn't, they could be sent away to an asylum.
Wages for women were extremely low compared to those for men. An average salary for a female worker in Chicago in 1897 was $5 per week. Only one in five women worked outside the home, mostly in shops or offices. Women had no choice but to accept this situation since there were hardly any other options available to them.
There were some successful women who went against the grain in many ways. Elizabeth Blackwell, who founded America's first medical school for women, knew all about the difficulties that came with being different. She also knew how important it was for women to have access to health care, which is why she created her hospital out of her own pocket even though it meant living in poverty.
In conclusion, life for married ladies was relatively miserable since they couldn't make any decisions about their lives. However, if they had enough money, they could hire a lawyer and fight for their rights in court.
The world of work was getting better for women. They now made up approximately 20% of the workforce. But even so, their wages remained low.
Married women were often not permitted to form contracts, devise wills, participate in other legal transactions, or manage whatever money they earned. One of the few legal benefits of marriage for a woman was that her husband was legally required to support her and pay her obligations. He could avoid this duty by kicking her out of the house, but then she would be left with nothing.
In addition to being expected to stay at home and have babies, married women had many other duties to fulfill at home. They cooked and cleaned while their husbands worked outside the home. Married women didn't get paid anything for their work; it was done as a service to their husbands and family members.
Women weren't allowed to attend church services with men apart from their husbands. If they did go to church, they sat in the pews dressed in full gowns with hair done up in elaborate styles. After the sermon, they would return home to cook dinner for their families and wash clothes for next month's budget.
In the early days of America, women didn't even have the right to own property. If they wanted to keep something of their own, such as an item of clothing, they had to hide it from view by sewing it into their garments. Otherwise, they would lose it to the husband or father.
After the Revolution, things began to change.
Children were forced to labor in that culture, and individuals married without a formal commitment. Women were not allowed to own property. Family roles were comparable to what they are now. The guy in the family (the father) was the family's employer. He had complete authority over his wife, children, and servants (and slaves). The father is there to support his wife and children. Sometimes he would even go to war to defend the country or other colonies.
The society was based on white male landowners who ruled by vote or appointment. There were no political parties, only groups of people with similar ideas. The government depended on how much power the landholders wanted to give up. If they gave up too much power, then there would be a rebellion. It was always rebelling somewhere!
The economy was also based on slavery. Land was used as currency when there was no money yet. And the biggest product - cotton - could be sold for money. Slaves were important to the economy but not essential. They could have done fine without them. However, many colonies kept slaves because it was cheaper than raising your own food. Also, slaves helped expand the territory of the colony. After all, who wants to work hard their whole life when you can relax and let someone else do it for you?
Life expectancy was low due to disease and violence. Most children didn't reach adulthood. The younger you were, the more likely you were to die.
All women were expected to have children. It, like marriage, was an institution intended at limiting women's roles in society. In principle, it was a holy and prestigious position, "the pinnacle of a woman's existence." However, there were unreasonable conditions and unfair expectations, just as there were in marriage. A woman could not hold property, she could not leave her husband without his consent, and many other restrictions existed.
In practice, however, life for most women would be difficult no matter what role they were expected to play. Only those with money or status were able to obtain a good education, and even they might find themselves working long hours while their husbands spent theirs drinking and gambling away their fortunes.
The majority of women had neither money nor status, but rather lived on the labor of their own hands or that of their husbands. Most would be expected to do all they could to ensure the survival of their families, which included performing menial tasks such as cleaning and cooking daily meals. If they were fortunate enough to have a house of their own, they might be allowed to add chores around the home to their list, but even then they would still be expected to fulfill their duty to provide children whenever possible since this was considered vital to the health of the nation.
Women also had little choice when it came to marriage. For the lower classes, it was often an arrangement made by their parents after only considering their own needs.