What were women's legal rights during the late 1700's and early 1800's?  Are there any websites or books you could recommend?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In England, women could not own property. Land was passed on to male heirs only. Women needed permission from their fathers to marry. In the rare case of divorce, the children would go with the father or at the very least he decided what would happen to them.
pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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First of all, please not that different colonies (and then different states) had different laws regarding women and their status.  This makes it difficult to say exactly what rights women had.

For example, women could generally own property and could enter into contracts.  However, there were several colonies where married women could not legally own property.  This typically continued to be the case even after the Revolutionary War.

The Southern colonies generally tended to allow women to inherit from their husbands.  They did this because men in the South often died young and society believed it was important to keep their estates together.

I don't know if there is something more current, but a couple major sources for women's rights in the colonial times are

Women and the Law of Property in Early America by Marylynn Salmon

Women Before the Bar: Gender, Law, and Society in Connecticut, 1639-1789 by Cornelia Hughes Dayton.

a4g3l's profile pic

a4g3l | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Tha ks for your answer but i was looking on the information with regards to english law.

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