During the antebellum period, cotton became a significant factor of the nation’s wealth. The wealth obtained from the cotton industry affected women differently depending on their wealth, race, and class. For elite white women the plantation life was often isolated and lonely, as their husbands were often away managing the fields, leaving them to tend to domestic reasonability’s. Yeomen farm wives worked most of their lives; they often lived among poor farmers and herds people like themselves, shared their labor, bartered their goods, and lived and died in relative obscurity . The wealth produced by the cotton industry meant an oppressive slave system, which included harsh working conditions, strict slave codes, consistent supervision, and gruesome punishments. Enslaved blacks were forced to watch the white elite benefit from their endless hard work; they endured inhuman treatment for their free labor, which made their master’s extremely wealthy. Life for slave women meant knowing that freedom was a white prerogative; that beloved family members always were vulnerable to sale, and that sexual abuse was an ever-present possibility . Slave women performed triple duty as laborers, wives, and mothers, responsible to their both their owners and their own families.
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...ime of endless labor. Elite white women work differed significantly from that of slaves and poor white women; they were not required to work innumerable hours of gruesome fieldwork . Most elite white women obtained the role of domestic managers and household labors .
Although life in the south differed for black and white women in terms of their families, working conditions, education, and social lives, they were the cornerstone and foundation of their families. Women committed so much of themselves to protecting, nurturing, and maintaining their domestic life, in addition to a number of other responsibilities placed upon them. Their strength, courage, and significance should never be hidden and/or dominated by patriarchal history. Without women serving as the backbones of their families, life for both their husband’s and children would’ve been quite different.
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