DEBATING THE REVOLUTION WOMEN
The women were also courageous enough to defend their homes while gathering Intel for the patriot soldiers. Other women took up roles as maids and cooks for the soldiers while others would nurse the soldiers’ injuries suffered on the battlefield. Women from Massachusetts played a significant role during the revolution with many suffering the consequences of the war as much as the men. The Role of a Massachusetts Farmer’s Wife during the Revolution Most men from Massachusetts in the 18th century were farmers. Following their departure for Concord, their wives met and formed a military association designed to protect homes, neighborhoods, and farms. Other women from Massachusetts eked out a living serving Patriot soldiers as maids and cooks. It was the first time women held such jobs in the military as they were a preserve of male soldiers.
Most Massachusetts farmers’ wives were poor housewives who were accustomed to household chores. As such, they were a perfect fit for the positions. Women’s Lives during the Revolution While the revolution led to a rethink of societal rules, it also stimulated a reconsideration of gender roles. Such movements were aimed at weakening the enemy’s economic power. Women refrained from purchasing British goods and even launched attacks on those who purchased such goods6. Others took to the streets to voice their support for the war and participated in a series of riots that disturbed the peace of enemy cities. Women with a penchant for art published poems and scripted plays to proclaim their patriotism and support for the war7. Women were never reluctant to voice and prove their support for the battle that earned the United States its independence.
The legal status of women still depended upon their marital status in all the thirteen colonies that constituted the United States. Anything married women earned or owned was deemed to belong to their husbands9. They did not get the right to vote, as their husbands had the mandate to make civil, economic, and political decisions for them. Only a few women got reward and recognition for their sacrifices during the revolution with pays and military pensions. However, most got nothing, and their stories remain untold. Taking children to school meant that they could not provide labor at home. As such, it made no sense to take girls to schools since their education would not provide any fiscal benefits to the family.
The common misconception back then was that education prepared one for a public role, a role not meant for women12. There was also a popular belief that women were intellectually inferior to men and thus should not get the same education. Families that chose the path of education for their girls had limited options. Once married, they would take on wifely duties or take up work they could do at home. Other women would help in their husbands’ workplaces such as retailing, boat making, and managing businesses. Others would take up nursing roles in the community or act as teachers. However, working outside was an exception for women, rather than the rule. At home, a wife’s duties included bearing and raising children, keep homes clean and running, made and preserved food, sew and washed clothes.
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