The degree of freedom in colonial North America varied from one group to another. England established thirteen colonies in North America in the course of the 17th century. During the colonial period, the lives of American women were very different.
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The majority of women performed domestic chores. The rights of women were limited by the English common law, and they were largely based on an individual’s race, religion, class, and marital status.
After marriage, husbands were in-charge of their wives’ properties and rights. Unmarried women could own property, sign contracts, and take legal action. However, after marriage, the wife and children were considered possessions of the husband.
Widows had the right to inherit a third of their husbands’ wealth and property; however they were not allowed to be guardians to their own children.
Enslaved black women did not have any rights while Quaker men and women enjoyed the same rights (Scott 380).
Scott (385) argues that slavery in North America began in the 17th century. Although slavery was present in North America England colonies, Britons did not want to introduce slavery in the new states.
They wanted to continue depending on the 17th century indentured servants. The treatment of indentured servants was not much different from that of slaves. They were denied the freedom of land ownership and voting rights.
They were forced to work under unfavorable conditions at very low wages. Indians were also discriminated against and denied their rights in the U.S. such as the right to land ownership.
An example is the Indian Removal Act that was signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1930 during which Indians lost fertile land to the Americans. The second example is the Puritans, a religious group from Europe that was opposed to the Church of England.
They were against the laws of England that required every individual to contribute 10% of his or her earning to the church. They moved to North America where they were granted freedom of worship.
Edwards, George, and Wallace, Walker. National security and the U.S. Constitution. New York, NY: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1988. Print.
Scott, Rebecca. Degrees of Freedom: Louisiana and Cuba after Slavery. London, LDN: Harvard University Press, 2008. Print.
Wharton, Clarence. The Republic of Texas: A Brief History of Texas from the first American Colonies in 1821 to Annexation in 1846. New York, NY: Nabu Press, 2012. Print.