Gender Roles In English Colonies Essay

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Before the 1700s, English colonies in America struggled heavily with gender inequality, religious tolerance, and general liberties. Throughout the readings of Chapter 2, there are several direct and indirect indications of how the colonies handled the matters of religion, gender, and liberty within the English colonies. While it is usually taught that America was founded by those seeking religious freedom from England, the truth is that a number of English colonies were not exactly religiously tolerant themselves. Colonies like Massachusetts and Connecticut which were typically governed by Puritans were widely known for banishing people who challenged their beliefs on religion. However, colonies like Maryland and Rhode Island would be surprisingly…show more content…
Women were not seen as equal to men in English colonies, and were solely expected to tend to the family and home. When settlers arrived in Virginia, men outnumbered women nearly five to one. In an attempt to maximize their profits, The Virginia Company had women sent to Virginia in order to install families within the colonies. The company believed that “the plantation can never flourish until families be planted and the respect of wives and children fix the people on the soil.” (p.26 line 14) In their letter to the settlers of Virginia, the company clearly objectifies women with statements like, “There hath been especial care had in the choice of them” (p.24 line 17) and “...though we are desirous that marriage be free according to the law of nature, yet would we not have these maids deceived and married to servants.” (p. 26 line 21). The Virginia Company’s shipment of women into the colony along with their letter to the settlers indicates how dismissive women were seen during England’s colonial…show more content…
Since the church was a major factor in the Massachusetts colony problems emerged about the colonists’ personal liberties regarding religion. In his speech, Winthrop compared a woman’s loyalty to her husband to the people’s relationship to the church. “The woman’s own choice makes such a man her husband; yet being so chosen, he is her Lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage…” (p.31 line 30). To paraphrase, Winthrop believes that a man’s religion should be his own choice and not forced unto him by his government as this would lead to their liberties being subject to the government’s will. However, once a man surrenders himself to a certain religion, he is supposed to be a ‘servant’ to the
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