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Purpose of this Webpage

The purpose of this website is to compare, contrast, and inform about the variety of roles of women in pre-colonial, colonial, and revolutionary times in the New World. This webpage is dedicated to sharing the diversity of roles within African women, Native American women, and Caucasian women during these times.

Women played a key role in the development of a new nation, a new society, and a new way of life. Women played a key role in the development of their cultural situation, as well as the broader society. Without women, the United States and surrounding nations would not be what they are today.

African American Women

Sojourner Truth


Sojourner Truth, a nationally known speaker on human rights for slaves and women, was born Isabella Baumfree, a slave in Hurley, New York, and spoke only Dutch during her childhood. Sold and resold, denied her choice in husband, and treated cruelly by her masters, Truth ran away in 1826, leaving all but one of her children behind. After her freedom was bought for $25, she moved to New York City in 1829 and became a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. In 1853, she helped form a utopian community called "The Kingdom," at Sing Sing, New York, which was soon disbanded following the death and possible murder of its leader. Truth was implicated in the scandal but courageously fought the falsehoods aimed at her.

Truth lecture poster After the death of her son, she took the name Sojourner Truth to signify her new role as traveler telling the truth about slavery. She set out on June 1, 1843, walking for miles in a northeasterly direction with 25 cents in her pocket, and rested only when she found lodging offered by either rich or poor. First she attended religious meetings, then began to hold meetings herself that would bring audience members to tears. As she logged mile after mile, her fame grew and her reputation preceded her. Truth's popularity was enhanced by her biography written by the abolitionist Olive Gilbert, with a preface written by William Lloyd Garrison. In 1864, she was invited to the White House, where President Abraham Lincoln personally received her. Later she served as a counselor for the National Freedman's Relief Association, retiring in 1875 to Battle Creek, Michigan.

Sojourner Truth @ UGA

Slave Letter

This is a letter written by a slave to her former master’s wife. This letter shows how some slaves really did have good experiences with their slave owners. (Georgia Bullock Co August 29th 1857 )

My Loving Miss Patsy

Image of this page I hav long bin wishing to imbrace this presant and pleasant opertunity of unfolding my Seans and fealings Since I was constrained to leav my Long Loved home and friends which I cannot never gave my Self the Least promis of returning to. I am well and this is Injoying good hlth and has ever Since I Left Randolph. whend I left Randolf I went to Rockingham and Stad there five weaks and then I left there and went to Richmon virgina to be Sold and I Stade there three days and was bought by a man by the name of Groover and braught to Georgia and he kept me about Nine months and he being a trader Sold me to a man by the name of Rimes and he Sold me to a man by the name of Lester and he has owned me four years and Says that he will keep me til death Siperates us without Some of my old north Caroliner friends wants to buy me again. my Dear Mistress I cannot tell my fealings nor how bad I wish to See youand old Boss and Mss Rahol and Mother. I do not [k]now which I want to See the worst Miss Rahol or mother I have thaugh[t] that I wanted to See mother but never befour did I [k]no[w] what it was to want to See a parent and could not. I wish you to gave my love to old Boss Miss Rahol and bailum and gave my manafold love to mother brothers and sister and pleas to tell them to Right to me So I may here from them if I cannot See them and also I wish you to right to me and Right me all the nuse. I do want to now whether old Boss is Still Living or now and all the rest of them and I want to [k]now whether balium is maried or no. I wish to [k]now what has Ever become of my Presus little girl. I left her in goldsborough with Mr. Walker and I have not herd from her Since and Walker Said that he was going to Carry her to Rockingham and gave her to his Sister and I want to [k]no[w] whether he did or no as I do wish to See her very mutch and Boss Says he wishes to [k]now whether he will Sell her or now and the least that can buy her and that he wishes a answer as Soon as he can get one as I wis himto buy her an my Boss being a man of Reason and fealing wishes to grant my trubled breast that mutch gratification and wishes to [k]now whether he will Sell her now. So I must come to a close by Escribing my Self you long loved and well wishing play mate as a Servant until death

Vilet Lester
of Georgia
to Miss Patsey Padison
of North Caroliner

My Bosses Name is James B Lester and if you Should think a nuff of me to right me which I do beg the faver of you as a Sevant direct your letter to Millray Bullock County Georgia. Pleas to right me So fare you well in love.

Letter @ Duke University

House Slaves

House slaves usually lived better than field slaves. They often had better food and were sometimes even given the family's old clothing. House slaves’ living accomadations were also usually better than those of other slaves. In some cases the slaves were treated like the slave-owners children, which often developed close bonds of affection and friendship. Some house slaves were even educated by the women in the family despite the fact that it was illegal to educate a slave. Trusted house slaves who had provided good service over a long period of time were sometimes promised their freedom when their master's died. However, there are many cases where this promise was not kept. Obviously there are also several cases where not all house slaves had pleasant experiences. Harriet Jacobs reports that her mistress "would station herself in the kitchen, and wait till it was dished, and then spit in all the kettles and pans" to make sure that the slaves did not eat what was left

Field Workers

When plantation systems arose and crops grown were labour intensive plantation owners discovered it was cheaper to buy slaves than to pay wages to workers. Slaves were in the fields from sunrise to sunset and at harvest time they did an eighteen hour day. Women worked the same hours as the men and in most cases pregnant women were expected to continue until their child was born.

Family Life

Plantation owners had complete freedom to buy and sell slaves. Even though slaves married, state laws gave no legal protection to keep women from being separated from their husbands and their children. Stories have been told of some slave owners who kept their slaves behaving and cooperating by threatening to sell children or family members of those slaves. African American families resembled those of the American families because the men/husbands appointed themselves the head of the family and acted legally for their wives.

-Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, and Stoff. Nation of Nations

Slave Breeders

Plantation owners often worried because the death-rates amongst slaves were so high. Therefore they forced their female slaves to have children. This process often began around the age of 12 or 13. Women were expected to have at least 4-5 kids by the time they reached twenty. Plantation owners sometimes even tricked or encouraged their female slaves into having children by saying once they had fifteen children they would be given freedom. Because of all of this female slaves were often advertised as “good breeding stock” when sold.

(Obviously there are stories which show a variety of reactions and situations among different African American slaves.)

*For more information about prominent African American women such as Harriet Tubman, Harriet Jacobs, Phillis Wheatley and many others look on the following links:

*To read a few slave quotes go to:

Native American Women

Traditional Roles of Native American Women

Native Americans were a nomadic people, hunters and gatherers in the early existence after crossing the Bering Strait. They began to settle in Alaska and gradually traveled deeper into North America, then Central and South America. As they traveled farther apart, the native groups became more and more diversified.

Native Americans in central Mexico discovered how to cultivate food and revolutionized the traditional culture. Over time, the “agricultural revolution” began to spread to North America. This revolution encouraged the development of economic, social, and political organizations. Many languages emerged and many cultures began to develop concrete ideals.

The men were in charge of hunting and political authority, although their authority was directed by the approval of the women in the tribe. Women were in charge of gathering and planting seeds, making baskets, and cooking meals. They were in charge of the domestic affairs, but also in the stability and survival of the tribe.

Women in agrarian societies ran the villages. They owned the fields, creating a diversity of crops for the tribe to survive with. They built their own tools and worked the fields with expert hands and faithful hearts. They were dedicated to the development of their people. They experimented with differing crops and different seeds to create diversity in food.

Women in settled areas built their adobes, their pueblos, their homes, their villages. They ran the city by developing architecture and creating “elaborate” homes. By the mid-1500s approximately 70 pueblos existed, clans began to develop identities, and food supplies increased dramatically due to the women’s efforts and strengths in the Native American culture.

Websites on Native Americans

How Cultural Adaptation Affected Native American Women

In order for Native Americans to survive during the colonization of the new world, they had to change their traditional structure.

Few people better illustrate the process of cultural adaptation than the Iroquois. Displaced from their traditional lands and suffering the psychological and cultural disintegration brought on by epidemic disease, rampant alcoholism, and dwindling land resources, the Iroquois reconstituted and revitalized their culture under the leadership of a prophet named Handsome Lake. The prophet endorsed the demand of Quaker missionaries that the traditional Iroquois sexual division of labor emphasizing male hunting and female horticulture be replaced. He argued that men should farm and women rear children and care for the home. He also called for modification of the Iroquois system of matrilineal descent, in which the tie between mothers and daughters had been strong and the bond between spouses had been fragile. Handsome Lake emphasized the sanctity of the marriage bond, and said that marriage should take precedence over all other kinship ties.

As a result of Handsome Lake's religious movement, the Iroquois abandoned their matrilineal longhouses and began to dwell in male-headed households in individual log cabins. They modified their system of matrilineal descent to allow fathers to pass land to their sons. And Iroquois men took up farming, even though this was traditionally viewed as women's work. By adopting those aspects of the encroaching white culture that were relevant to their lives and fitting them into traditional cultural patterns, the Iroquois were largely able to maintain their culture, values, and rituals.

Stories of Native American Women in the Colonial Period


Sacajawea is well-known as the Indian woman who led Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to find the Pacific Ocean. The truth is a bit different from the movie and children's book versions, however. In fact, Sacajawea was not officially a member of the expedition party. Her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, was hired as an interpreter and took Sacajawea along. She was allowed to join the party as an unofficial member because the captains thought she would be useful to help in communicating with some of the Indian tribes they met and also in obtaining horses from her native tribe, the Shoshone.

The following information is taken from the book, "Sacajawea" by Harold P. Howard, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This book is a comparison and compilation of the diaries of eight members of the party: Captains Lewis and Clark; Privates Joseph Whitehouse, Robert Frazier, and George Shannon; Sergeants Charles Floyd, who was the only member of the party who died during the journey, Patrick Gass and John Ordway.

Sacajawea was born about 1790 in what is now the state of Idaho. She was one of the "Snake People," otherwise known as the Shoshone. Her name in Hidatsa was Tsi-ki-ka-wi-as, "Bird Woman. In Shoshone, her name means "Boat Pusher." She was stolen during a raid by a Hidatsa tribe when she was a young girl and taken to their village near what is now Bismark, N. Dakota. Some time afterward the French-Canadian trapper and fur trader, Charbonneau bought Sacajawea and her companion, Otter Woman, as wives. When her husband joined the expedition at Fort Mandan in the Dakotas, Sacajawea was about 16 years old and pregnant.

The expedition spent the winter at Fort Mandan and Sacajawea's baby, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was born on Feb. 11 or 12, 1805. He was also given the Shoshone name, Pomp, meaning First Born.

The expedition resumed the westward trek on April 7, 1805. Their route was along the Missouri River, west to the mountains. On May 14, 1805 an incident occurred which was typical of the calmness and self-possession Sacajawea was to display throughout the journey. The incident was recorded in the diaries because of it's significance to the success of the expedition. On that day, the boat Sacajawea was in was hit by a sudden storm squall. It keeled over on it's side and nearly capsized. As the other members of the crew worked desperately to right the boat, Sacajawea, with her baby strapped to her back, busied herself with retrieving the valuable books and instruments that floated out of the boat. They had been wrapped in waterproof packages for protection and, thanks to Sacajawea's courage and quick actions, suffered no damage.

Contrary to popular opinion, Sacajawea did not serve as a guide for the party. She only influenced the direction taken by the expedition one time, after reaching the area where her people hunted she indicated they should take a tributary of the Beaverhead River to get to the mountains where her people lived and where Lewis and Clark hoped to buy horses.

On August 15, 1805 Sacajawea was re-united with her tribe, only to learn that all her family had died, with the exception of two brothers and the son of her oldest sister, whom she adopted. One of her brothers, Cameahwait, was head chief of the Shoshone. The Shoshone chief agreed to sell the party the horses they needed for the trek through the mountains. He also sketched a map of the country to the west and provided a guide, Old Toby, who took them through the mountains and safely to the Nez Perce country. where they resumed river travel.

Throughout the expedition, Sacajawea maintained a helpful, uncomplaining attitude of cheefulness in the face of hardship. This was so remarkable that it was commented on by all the men who kept diaries. There is one record of her complaining, however. While wintering on the Columbia River before starting their journey back to the east, nearby Indians reported that a whale had washed up on the beach about 35 miles from the fort. Sacajawea said that she had traveled a long way to see the great waters and, now that a monstrous fish was also to be seen, she thought it "very hard" that she could not be permitted to see it, and the ocean too. Captain Clark took a party of two canoes, including Sacajawea and her husband, to find the whale and possibly obtain some blubber. By the time they arrived there was nothing left but the skeleton, but they were able to buy about 35 pounds of blubber.

After the expedition was over in the summer of 1806, Sacajawea, her husband and son remained at Fort Mandan where Lewis and Clark had found them. In August 1806, Captain Clark wrote to Charbonneau and invited him to come to St. Louis and bring his family, or to send Jean Baptiste to Clark for schooling.

Charbonneau and Sacajawea accepted the offer and lived near St. Louis for a time. In March 1811, however, Charbonneau sold his land back to Clark and returned to the Dakotas with Sacajawea. Their son remained in St. Louis in the care of Cpt. Clark, who was the Indian Agent of the Louisiana Purchase at that time.

What became of Sacajawea after leaving St. Louis? There are two widely varying stories, with no proof of either. The first is that she died on Dec. 20, 1812. This information came from the records of John C. Luttig, the clerk at Ft. Manuel, SD who wrote: "This evening the wife of Charbonneau, a Snake squaw, died of a putrid fever. She was a good and the best woman in the fort, aged about 25 years. She left a fine infant girl." It is a fact that, in March 1813, John Luttig returned to St. Louis with a baby whom he called "Sacajawea's Lizette." In August 1813, he applied to be her guardian, as well as that of a boy called "Toussaint," but the court record shows his name crossed out and Cpt. William Clark's written in. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was often called Toussaint. John Luttig died in 1815.

Shoshone oral tradition says that Sacajawea did not die in 1813, but instead, wandered the west for a few years and eventually returned to her tribe on the Wind River Reservation. Tradition says she died there on April 9, 1884, a venerated and influential member of the tribe, and is buried between her son, Jean Baptiste, and her sister's son, Bazil, whom she adopted. There is a monument over the grave on the Wind River Reservation, of the woman called Sacajawea. Many people who were living at the time wrote and told that it was she who traveled with Lewis and Clark to the great water and that the woman who died at Fort Manuel was another wife of Toussaint Charbonneau.

There is no record of what became of Lizette. There is a baptismal record in Westport, MO for Victoire, daughter of Joseph Vertifeuille and Elizabeth Carboneau. It is not known if this was Lizette Charbonneau, Sacajawea's daughter or not.

Jean Baptiste Charbonneau lived at least until 1866. His life can be traced through various records of explorers and fur traders up until that time. He was said to be a remarkable man; superior as a guide and trapper, but also well-educated and conversant in French, German and Spanish as well as his native Shoshone. He was with Prince Paul of Wurttemberg on his travels of the American West in 1823, and returned with him to Germany where he stayed for several years, returning in 1829.

He was with Jim Bridger in 1832, with Kit Carson in 1839 and in charge of a fur-trading party in 1842 when they met Charles Fremont. He was included in George Frederick Ruxton's book, "Life in the Far West" as one of the important fur traders of that time. He was with Lt. Abert on an exploration down the Canadian River and with Col. Philip Cooke and his troops from New Mexico to California. In 1866 he started for the gold fields in Montana and Idaho, but is said to have died on Cow Creek near the present town of Danner, Oregon in 1866. Shoshone oral traditions, however, say that he returned to his tribe during that time and was re-united with his mother, Sacajawea where he lived until his death in 1885.

Related Web Sites

Lewis & Clark The PBS companion web site to the film by Ken Burns

Lewis & Clark Trail sponsored by Heritage Trail, Inc.

Roster of Lewis & Clark Expedition List of the men who accompanied Lewis & Clark.

Lily of the Mohawks

by: Sarah Skanaieah

Tekakwitha was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a non-Christian Mohawk Chief. 

She was born in 1656 on the south bank of the Mohawk River, in a village called Ossernenon. 

When she was four years old, a smallpox epidemic claimed the lives of her parents and baby brother. Their names are unknown. 

Tekakwitha survived the disease but her eyesight was impaired. Her face was scarred and the disease left her weak the rest of her life. After about five years of the sickness, the survivors of the village moved to the north bank of the river to begin a new life. Tekakwitha and her relatives moved into the turtle clan village called Gandauoque (Caughnawaga). 

The first time she saw a priest was in 1667 when Fathers Fremin, Bruyas and Pierron visited Caughnawaga. 

In 1670, St. Peter's Mission was established in Caughnawaga (Fonda, NY). A chapel was built inside one of the longhouses. In 1674, Fr. James de Lamberville took charge of St. Peter's Mission. 

Tekakwitha met Fr. De Lamberville a year later when he visited her home. She told him about her desire to become baptized. She began to take religious instruction, and in 1676, April 5th, on Easter Sunday, she was baptized and given the name Kateri or Katherine. 

In August of 1677, Kateri fled her village to go and live at Sault St. Louis, St. Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. 

Two months later and about two hundred miles through woods, rivers and swamps, Kateri arrived at the Sault with the help of friends. 

On Christmas Day, 1677, Kateri received her first Holy Communion. 

During a winter hunt, Kateri was falsely accused of sinful relations with a hunter. 

Mary Teresa (Tegaiaguenta) and Kateri became friends. Both girls performed extraordinary penances. Kateri and her friend asked permission to start a religious community. Request was denied. 

In 1678, Kateri enrolled in the pious society called The Holy Family because of her extraordinary practices of all virtues. 

On March 15, 1679, at the Feast of the Annunciation, a moment after receiving Holy Communion, Kateri pronounced her vow of perpetual virginity. 

Her whole life was devoted to teaching prayers to the children and helping the sick and the aged until she was struck with an illness that was to claim her life. 

On April 17th, 1680, on Wednesday of Holy Week, she died at 3 o'clock in the afternoon at the age of twenty-four. Her last words were: "Jesos Konoronkwa". "Jesus I Love You". Fifteen minutes after her death before the eyes of two Jesuits and all the Indians that could fit into the room, the ugly scars on her face suddenly disappeared. 

On January 3, 1943, she was declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII. 

She was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1980.

"La Malinche" - - Harlot or Heroine?
Author: Shep Lenchek

"La Malinche." Slave, interpreter, secretary, mistress, mother of the first "Mexican." her very name still stirs up controversy.

Many Mexicans continue to revile the woman called Doña Marina by the Spaniards and La Malinche by the Aztecs, labeling her a traitor and harlot for her role as the alter-ego of Cortes as he conquered Mexico.

They ignore that she saved thousands of Indian lives by enabling Cortes to negotiate rather than slaughter. Her ability to communicate also enabled the Spaniards to introduce Christianity and attempt to end human sacrifice and cannibalism. Herself a convert, baptized Marina, she was an eloquent advocate for her new faith. As for the charges against her, they are in my opinion baseless. So let us visit this remarkable woman and examine the facts.

All historians agree that she was the daughter of a noble Aztec family. Upon the death of her father, a chief, her mother remarried and gave birth to a son. Deciding that he rather than Marina, should rule, she turned her young daughter over to some passing traders and thereafter pro- claimed her dead. Eventually, the girl wound up as a slave of the Cacique (the military chief) of Tabasco. By the time Cortes arrived, she had learned the Mayan dialects used in the Yucatan while still understanding Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and most Non-Mayan Indians.

"La Malinche" did not choose to join Cortes. She was offered to him as a slave by the Cacique of Tabasco, along with 19 other young women. She had no voice in the matter.

Up till then, Cortes had relied on a Spanish priest, Jeronimo de Aguilar, as his interpreter. Shipwrecked off Cozumel, Aguilar spoke the Mayan language as well as Spanish. But when the expedition left the Mayan-speaking area, Cortes discovered that he could not communicate with the Indians. That night he was advised that one of the women given to him in Tabasco spoke "Mexican."

Doña Marina now enters Mexican history. It was she who served as the interpreter at the first meetings between Cortes and the representatives of Moctezuma. At that time Marina spoke no Spanish. She translated what the Aztecs said into the Mayan dialect understood by de Aguilar and he relayed it to Cortes in Spanish. The process was then reversed, Spanish to Mayan and Mayan to Nahuatl.

Bernal Diaz, author of "The Conquest of New Spain" authenticated her pedigree. An eyewitness to the events, he did not describe her physically, but related that after the Conquest he attended a reunion of Doña Marina, her mother and the half- brother who had usurped her rightful place. Diaz marveled at her kindness in forgiving them for the injustice she had suffered. The author referred to her only as Marina or Doña Marina. So whence came the name "La Malinche?" Diaz said that because Marina was always with Cortes, he was called "Malinche"--which the author translated to mean "Marina's Captain." Prescott, in the "Conquest of Mexico," (perhaps the best known book on the subject) confirms that Cortes was always addressed as "Malinche" which he translated as Captain and defined "La Malinche" as "the captain's woman."

Both definitions confirm that the Indians saw Cortes and his spokesperson as a single unit. They recognized that what they heard were the words of "Malinche," not "La Malinche. " So much for the charge that she was a traitor, instigating the destruction of the Aztec Empire.

As for the charge of "harlotry," it is equally flawed. She was totally loyal to Cortes, a one-man woman, who loved her master. Cortes reciprocated her feelings. Time after time he was offered other women but always refused them. Bernal Diaz frequently commented on the nobility of her character and her concern for her fellow "Mexicans."

It is very possible that without her, Cortes would have failed. He himself, in a letter preserved in the Spanish archives, said that "After God we owe this conquest of New Spain to Doña Marina. "

Doña Marina's progress from interpreter to secretary to mistress, as well as her quick mastery of Spanish, are remarkable--and all this amidst the turmoil of constant warfare, times when a woman less courageous and committed might well have fled.

The ability of Marina to help Cortes to communicate with the Indians shaped the entire campaign. From the very first meeting between Cortes and the emissaries of Moctezuma, an effort was made to establish friendly relations with the Aztec Emperor.

Later, during Cortes's encounter with the Caciques of Cempola, that same talent opened the door to the Conquest. Here, Cortes met the "Fat Cacique" and by arresting five tax collectors sent by the Aztecs, made his first Indian allies: Cempoalans were the first of the Indian warriors to join him.

Yet even then, he tried to persuade Moctezuma to invite him to Tenochtitlan, freeing the captives to carry a message to the Emperor that he had come in peace.

Without Marina, attempts to negotiate with the Aztecs would have been impossible.

These efforts did much to keep Moctezuma undecided about how to deal with the invaders. This hesitancy played a large part in the outcome of the Conquest.

Perhaps the most important negotiations Marina made possible were those with the Tlascalans. After an initial armed clash, an alliance was forged that brought thousands of warriors to fight alongside the Spaniards.

As Cortes moved toward the Aztec capital, a pattern evolved.

First conflict, then meetings in which Doña Marina played a key role in avoiding more bloodshed. Hence, the picture of Marina that emerges is that of an intelligent, religious, loyal woman.

Her contribution to the success of the Conquest is immense, but she cannot be held responsible for it happening. To a very large degree, the Conquest came because of the brutality of the Aztecs: a rebellion by their oppressed neighbors, who would have rallied to anyone who promised them relief from the Aztecs' constant demands for tribute and sacrificial victims.

But from another standpoint, the fate of the Aztec Empire was sealed in the very first meetings of the emissaries of Moctezuma with Cortes, when they gave him gifts of gold and silver that Sernal Diaz valued at over 20,000 pesos de oro. Prescott, writing in 1947, valued each peso de oro at $11.67 U.S. Dollars. The Spanish appetite for gold was whetted, making the Conquest inevitable. But had Cortes failed, the next expedition, perhaps without an interpreter, would certainly have shed more Mexican blood.

Then too, had Cortes met with no success, the Smallpox epidemic that raged in the Aztec Capital might well have spread throughout the entire empire. By destroying the city, he perhaps saved the country. Bernal Diaz wrote: "When we entered the city every house was full of corpses. The dry land and stockades were piled high with the dead. We also found Mexicans lying in their own excrement, too sick to move."

After the Conquest, Cortes, with a wife in Spain, arranged to have Marina married to a Castilian knight, Don Juan Xamarillo.

Soon thereafter she disappeared from history.

But she had borne Cortes a son, Don Mahin Cortes. While many other Indian women were impregnated by Spaniards, we have no record of their fate. Hence, if modern-day Mexicans are a blend of Spanish and Indian blood, Doña Marina's son was the first "Mexican" whose career we can follow. He rose to high government position and was a "Comendador" of the Order of St. Jago. In 1548, accused of conspiring against the Viceroy, he was tortured and executed.

In more recent times, the term "Malinchista" has been used by some to describe those who dislike Mexicans. But Doña Marina deserves better. A fearless, loyal and determined woman, she was a heroine who helped save Mexico from its brutal, blood-thirsty rulers--and in doing so she played a major role in fashioning what is today one of the most dynamic societies in all of Latin America.

Caucasian Women

The Life of a White Woman

Shortly after men settled in the new world, it was realized that women were necessary to be present for colonization. Women were shipped over from England for the main purpose of becoming a wife for a settler in the new land. They were sold like objects to be purchased. Women were sold as indentured servants if not sold as wives. Indentured servants would be a servant to their master for five to seven years.

Marriage was expected of all young girls, and women who had been married earlier were in high demand because they were thought to be experienced in housework and in raising children. For women, marriage caused a “civil death” because they were stripped of having any rights in the relationship. There was no sense of equality between husband and wife. Wives must submit to any male authority and assist them when needed. In exchange for this, the husbands must provide and protect their wives. The husband had complete control over his wife, and she needed to be subordinate to him. He had the right to beat her when disobedient. It was not legal for wives to own property, in fact, they couldn’t own anything.

The role of women was to feed the family, make clothing and household essentials like candles, soap, clothing, and food. They also cleaned the house and clothes, cared for the children, and served as nurses. In rural areas, spinning and weaving were also important household jobs. Women could find jobs outside the home as maids, cooks, and seamstresses. They had a role in the working world mostly as factory workers. Women were unskilled and received less money than men. It took women a whole week to make what a man made in one day. But, women had some economic opportunity because they were able to inherit their husband’s business.

During the Revolutionary War, women either stayed back to manage the homes or run the business, they went along with their husbands. The ones who stayed home were forced to house troops when nearby which brought about the danger of rape. But, many went off and disguised as men to fight in the war. More commonly, women were “camp followers” who were cooks, nurses, and laundresses for pay. During this time, women spoke their political opinions and were considered part of the Revolutionary effort.

Many free white women played important roles in the progression of American culture. Just a few women who made great contributions during this time are: Abigail Adams, Margaret Corbin, and Anne Hutchinson.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, the second president of the United States. She was a financial manager, farm manager, and a letter writer. She took a stance to her husband for women’s rights and black’s rights in her letters. Abigail was well educated and learned to read and write very quickly. She was the main educator of her children.

Abigail Adams also traveled with John. When John was in Europe as a diplomatic representative, she went with him. She spent time in there home where she managed financial affairs. For years, she was in the federal capital in Philadelphia, and later on spent a few months in the new White House in Washington D.C.

One on the many letters Abigail wrote to John was about the right to freedom for blacks. On September 22, 1774, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John of "a conspiracy of the negroes," referring to the June petition signed by Prince Hall and others and presented to Thomas Gage, the newly appointed governor of Massachusetts. She wrote that "it always appeared a most iniquitous scheme to me to fight ourselves for what we are daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have."

Margaret Corbin

Margaret’s husband, John Corbin was a Virginian farmer, but enlisted in the war in 1772. Margaret refused to stay home, so she packed her belongings and went with John. The soldiers taught her to shoot a canon, and she was in charge of putting gunpowder down the barrel. On November 16, John Corbin and the rest of the gun crew were killed or injured by an attack from the Hessians. Margaret ran to John’s aid, but there was nothing she could do because he had died in battle. She quickly took her station and fought like a well-trained soldier. She was hit several times, but managed to survive somehow. She was taken prisoner, but released shortly after and taken to the army hospital in Philadelphia. On June 26, 1779, the state of Pennsylvania gave her money “to relieve her present necessities due to her disabled condition caused by wounds received while she filled with distinguished bravery the post of her husband who was killed by her side serving a piece of artillery at Fort Washington." Margaret Corbin was the first American woman to be wounded on the battlefield fighting for American independence. She was also the first women to be paid a pension by the United States government for service to her country.

Anne Hutchinson

On July 20, 1591, Anne Marbury was baptized in Alford, England. America's first female religious leader, Anne Marbury Hutchinson was the daughter of an outspoken clergyman silenced for criticizing the Church of England. Better educated than most men of the day, she spent her youth immersed in her father's library.

At twenty-one, Anne Marbury married Will Hutchinson and began bearing the first of their fifteen children. She became an adherent of the preaching and teachings of John Cotton, a Puritan minister who left England for America. In 1634, the Hutchinson family followed Cotton to New England.

In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Anne began meeting with other women for prayer and religious discussion. Her charisma and intelligence also drew men, including ministers and magistrates, to her gatherings. Soon, she surpassed even Cotton in her emphasis on the individual's relationship with God, stressing personal revelation over institutionalized observances. By 1637, Hutchinson's views challenged religious orthodoxy, while her growing power as a female spiritual leader threatened established gender roles.

Called before the General Court of Massachusetts in November 1637, Hutchinson ably defended herself against charges she defamed the colony's ministers. Her extensive knowledge of Scripture allowed Hutchinson to debate her position on equal ground with her accusers. Yet, her eloquence and intelligence merely rankled judges, who were offended that a woman dared teach and lead men.

After two days on the stand, Hutchinson claimed direct revelation from God. As a result, Puritan authorities banished her from the colony on theological grounds. Refusing to recant, Hutchinson accepted exile and migrated with her family to Roger Williams’ colony of Rhode Island. After her husband died Hutchinson moved to Dutch territory (to an area now known as Co-op City along New York's Hutchinson River Parkway). There Hutchinson and all but one of her children were killed by Wampage Indians. "Proud Jezebel has at last been cast down," wrote Hutchinson's nemesis, Puritan minister and Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop.

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50,000-25,000 B.P.- First Asian penetration of the Americas

1300 C.E- Rise of the Aztec Empire

1492- Columbus discovers America

1521-Tecnochtitalan surrenders to Cortes

1584-1509- Roanoke Voyages

late 1500s- Formation of Powhatan’s confederacy

1607- English settle in Jamestown

1622- White-Indian warfare in Virginia

1644-The first group manumission in North America: 11 blacks successful petition in New Amsterdam for their freedom.

1660- Parliament passes the first Navigation Acts

1663- The first recorded slave conspiracy in American colonies surfaces in Gloucester County, Va.

1669- Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia

1675-1676- Metacomet’s War

1680- Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico

1689- Coode’s Rebellion in Maryland

1730-1740- Rise of importation of black slaves in northern colonies

1708- Africans make up a majority of South Carolina population

1763- End the Seven Years’ War; Pontiac Rebellion

1770- Boston Massacre

1775-Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of VA, promises freedom to slaves if join loyalist forces in the Revolution.

1775- George Washington authorizes the enlistment of blacks in the Continental Army

1775-Revolutionary War

In conclusion

As you can see, there is diversity between and within the differing groups of women. This website shows only a few of the stories and details of the women who were imperative to the development of the New World.

Jonalyn Denlinger---Stephanie Derstine---Bryn Mullet