Roles and Lifestyles of American Women

In a retrospect, the evolution of women in the American society truly is fascinating, especially when considering the social roles played by the Native American women at the very start of the colonization era and the roles that American women played in the society by 1850s. Because of a continuous development of the state system and the introduction of the key democratic principles into the state legal system, the American women gained an opportunity to participate in the state politics and social life, as a result, affecting the history of the U.S., which contrasted sharply with the single role of a mother and a wife of a Native American woman, as well as the social hierarchy of the society of 1850s. The Native American women, in their turn, devoted most of their lives to child rearing and supporting their husbands, with little change after the creation of colonies.

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Despite a comparatively slow process of change, which the social role of women in the American society was going, the alterations in the status of women among the settlers were obvious by 1850s. Compared to the 1700s, the changes were drastic; not only did women get an opportunity to be socially active, but also a lot of them were granted positions of teachers: “Troy and Hartford prepared their female students to teach, on the grounds that women made better teachers than did men” (Roark, Johnson, Cohen, Stage and Hartmann 308).

Looking at the alterations critically, one must admit, though, that the change was not as drastic as historians often describe it. Much like the role of a wife and a mother, the one of a teacher incorporate the elements of nurturing; therefore, the shift to acknowledging women’s potential as teachers was quite expected. Nevertheless, the change that the American society witnessed was quite impressive: “the new attention to the training of female minds laid the foundation for major changes in the gender system as girl students of the 1810s matured into adult women of 1830s” (Roark et al. 310).

The lifestyles of women living in the North American colonies, especially at the turn of the centuries, were also quite different from those of Native American women. According to the existing records, Native American women of the XVIII–XIX century were engaged into household and dealing with the related chores for the most part. While little changes occurred to the status of Native American women from 1700s to 1850s, Americans, in their turn, seemed to have broken new grounds in the representation of women in the society.

One could make a slim argument that the influence of the colonists on the Native American society contributed to the emancipation of Native American women: ““For example Huron women, a fur trading society, saw their role dramatically altered due to European influence” (“Native American Women in the Colonial Era” para. 4). However, even with the introduction of new ideas by colonists, Native Americans still preferred following their traditions, both in social and political life: “Women in a hunting based society, prepared hides for trade, cured the meat, and fashioned other good for trade and tribe use as well” (“Native American Women in the Colonial Era” para. 1). As a result, the changes in the role of women among |Native Americans were sporadic.

Though in 1850s, i.e., in the era of the early Republic, women were still underrepresented in the U.S. government and the related legal bodies, the change in the role of women in the American society was drastic compared to the image of a humble mother and an obedient wife, which women of the Native American tribes and the early era of the U.S. colonization were left with. Due to rapid changes within the political system of the state, as well as the numerous proofs for women to be more efficient in certain domains than men, the image of a woman within the American society has been altered from a mother and a wife to an active member of a community.

Works Cited

“Native American Women in the Colonial Era.” Into the Marchard Archive. 2014. Web.

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Roark, James L., Michael P. Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, Sarah Stage and Susan M. Hartmann. The American Promise, Volume I: To 1877: A History of the United States. London, UK: MacMillan. 2012. Print.

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