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Women, Witchcraft, and Slaves

by: Mary Jo Davison Gould

Women, Witchcraft, and Slaves HIS 315K

Marketplace > University of Texas at Austin > HIS 315K > Women Witchcraft and Slaves
Mary Jo Davison Gould

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About this Document

How were women supposed to live in New England and how did it change? Witchcraft? What happened? How did Africans lifestyle change in New England and why
Robert olwell
Class Notes
slaves, witchcraft, Women, womeninnewengland, newengland, history, 101
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mary Jo Davison Gould on Tuesday September 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIS 315K at University of Texas at Austin taught by Robert olwell in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views.


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Date Created: 09/20/16
The change in women and the witchcraft trials Reading Mary Rowlandson  She earned her living while in captive because she knows how to sew  She uses a couple of Indian words in the reading. She does not stop to explain what the words mean which gives us insight that the Puritans know at least some terms from the natives’ language o Ex: Sannup – spouse o Ex: Nux – Yes o Ex: Matchit – bad/evil  As an ethnographic text What does it say about Indians and about Puritan-Indian relations? As a Puritan Text What does it say about Mary as a Puritan woman? As a best seller Why was it popular? Prelude: Virginia, March 1629: The case of Thomas(ine) Hall  Is this a man or a woman?  Hall had been indentured in England and upon arrival had announced that he was actually a woman. (Thomasine instead of Thomas)  There was some argument about if Thomas was a woman or a man even though they had examinations of his/her body  She was a seamstress in England but when her brother joined the English army, she cut off her hair and joined as a man.  The court did not say you are a ‘man’ or ‘woman’ and instead created a transgender category  The master wanted a man to work since he paid for a man to come to the new world to work  Gender: Cultural Significance attached to biological sexual difference Clothes make the man (or woman)  Small children were not gendered o Defined by age rather than sex  Boys and girls wore similar ‘smocks’  At age 8, boys were ‘breeched’ o A big moment- ‘becoming a man’  Sumptuary laws – defined what fabrics different ranks could wear  In early America you were what you wore Patriarchalism  All earthly authority descends from Adam (the first king and the first father)  The First government was Adam’s rule of his family (men are not born free and equal, but as the helpless subjects of paternal power)  Political Society is akin to a family, a living organism (body politic) The change in women and the witchcraft trials  Within society people have social duties and obligations (according to their station not individual rights)  In other words, a ruler is more like a father of those who are under his or her rule The (limited) rights of English women  Common law  Coverture (covered or hidden) o A married woman had no civil or legal personhood (she could not own property, make contracts, sue, serve on juries, vote, or hold office)  Sex as property – conjugal rights o Marital rape was impossible o Adultery (a capital offense) was a married woman’s crime  Married man and single woman – not really counted as a crime  Married woman and married or single man – a crime  Think about the Scarlett letter  Although in theory protestants allowed divorce, it was very hard to get one in practice (required a special act of law) o Usually caused a lot of money o Women have to prove how the man has either abandoned them or neglected them Goodwife – title and role  Household ‘Mode of Production’ o Vegetable Garden – usually 4 acre o Chicken, Pigs o Dairying o Cooking o Cleaning o Clothes washing and mending  Child bearing and raising o Average of 8 children  Deputy Husbands o Wives could not act for their husband in his absence o ‘Mr. Freake, his wife”  How they would sign things for their husbands, they never used their names New England – A reinforced Patriarchy  Family Migration (instant society)  Healthy Climate (long marriages, many children, longevity)  Puritan beliefs and practices  Emphasis on Orderly Households  Land as a reward for obedience o Regulation of land o Fathers hold onto the land until they decide to give it to their sons, who could not get married until they had land. Gave the father a lot of power over his sons and their marriages. The change in women and the witchcraft trials  Delayed Marriages – men 30 and women 24 o Result of the father’s control over their sons Puritans and Sexuality  Puritans believed that sex was a part of God’s design: men and women were created for each other’s pleasure  Even premarital sex was condoned – proved that it was pre-marital, that is, that the couple were courting o If sex led to pregnancy, both parties confessed to their sin and promptly wed  15% of puritan prides were pregnant at the time of their marriage  The ‘couples’ were allowed to sleep together in her father’s home. Sometimes they would put a board down the middle or put a woman within a ‘sock’ to prevent sex from happening o However, that was mostly for the people to feel as if they did something about it but everyone still just assumed they had sex The Puritans Sensual Imagination  Puritans Favorite book of the bible: Song of Solomon  AN erotic dialogue between lovers ‘God’s sex manual’  Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine”  To puritans it described not only the ideal of love between men and women, but the love between god and his elect  Ministers were often described as offering ‘spiritual milk’ to their flock and their gravestones featured metaphorical breasts The witch-hunt – 1542-1736  Crime: Maleficium (evil magic) o Witches got their power from the devil  Old England – 2k trials, 300 deaths o From a population of 6 million  New England 234 trials, 36 deaths o From a population of 60k  12x more witches per capita in New England than old  Women comprised 80% of those who were accused and of those who were executed  Was not random- it was used to explain misfortune o Nothing happens randomly, they believed everything happened for a reason o Instead of blaming God and saying he did it, they found someone else to blame. Why women?  Easy target- widows, disorderly o Women, no male protectors, scapegoats?  Likely rebels o Eve was the first witch The change in women and the witchcraft trials o Witches ‘tools’ were taken from the home: the witch was the inversion of the ideal ‘Goodwife’  Sexuality – women as seducers (Eve) o Puritan customs regarding bastardy threatened males’ future  Property o Female property holders subverted the patriarchal order: Majority of women accused of witchcraft either owned or stood to inherit property (no husband, brothers, or sons) The end of witchcraft as a crime  1706 last trial in Virginia  1735 – decriminalized  1728 – forgery is made capital offense  Focus shift from punishing crimes against community to punishing those that are a stab to commerce Virginia Fractured Patriarchy  Single migration (no kin, 3/1 men)  High mortality (early deaths, frequent remarriages, few children, orphans)  Marriages are rarer and short-lived  Children seldom live to adulthood  Constant mobility, need for new land for tobacco  No kin, some wills deed everything to a friend Colonial Chesapeake a ‘Widow-archy  Marriage contracts, liberal wills (female executors and heirs)  In colonial Virginia: widows are the best commodity this country affords  Was widowhood a golden age for colonial women (only for a fortunate few  Widow’s thirds – seldom enough to allow for independence Patriarchalism and the Law of slavery  1662 act: slave children would have o No father o No family name (identity) o No inheritance (no patrimony) o No ancestors (no past) o No descendants (no future)  Legal ‘non-persons’  The law made masters the sole Patriarchs of their plantations  Allows for no other person to have authority (other fathers) on their plantations  Allowed for masters to have slave children without having to free them.


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