Ebb Tide in New England: Women, Seaports, and Social Change, 1630-1800

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UPNE, 1998 - History - 333 pages
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Although the female population was preponderant in Boston, Salem, Newport, and Portsmouth, Elaine Forman Crane finds that women of this period gradually became less autonomous and more dependent on men than they had been in the early years of English settlement.

Challenging the prevailing notion that women's lives improved during the revolutionary era, the author convincingly argues that women's voices grew weaker and their presence dimmer as the market economy and government expanded. Drawing from census lists, church records, merchants' ledgers, newspapers, town records, and family papers, Crane traces the evolution of religious, commercial, and legal institutions to show how women suffered a deterioration in economic standing, a growing public invisibility, and a heightened reliance on male decision making. She frames her narrative within the context of European women's experiences, revealing a parallel decline in status as the patriarchal structures of church, state, and market became more elaborate and interconnected.

Ebb Tide in New England offers a fresh perspective on ordinary women's lives in the colonial and revolutionary periods, and it makes a strong case for viewing the feminization of poverty in contemporary America as a product of these historical origins.
  

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Contents

Prologue
3
The Demography of Four Towns
9
The European Connection
21
The Sin of an Ungoverned Tongue
53
Women and the Seaport
98
A Severe Legislation
139
Dependence Disorder and the Law
174
Patriarchy Preserved
205
Copyright

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Page 298 - The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts, Collected out of the Records of the General Court, for the several Years wherein they were made and established...

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The New Nation
Anita Vickers
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About the author (1998)

Elaine Forman Crane is Professor of History at Fordham University. She is the author of several books, including Killed Strangely: The Death of Rebecca Cornell and Witches, Wife Beaters, and Whores: Common Law and Common Folk in Early America, both from Cornell.

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