Coverture was a legal doctrine that was part of the common law of US throughout most of the 19th century. Under the law, an unmarried adult woman was given the status of feme sole, this gave her the right to own property and have legal contracts in her own name.
After a woman married she was given the status of feme covert. A feme covert did not have any legal rights. She could not own property or enter into a legal contract. If a wife earned any wages, they were to be given to the husband. Legally, a woman was the complete responsibility of her husband which included any misdeeds committed by her. This principle is referred to as coverture.