Tuesday, January 16, 2024

In Case You Are in Law School

I watched a lawyer say that women and children were chattels in colonial America subject to whatever punishment the father inflicted; women had no rights;  and that women were not allowed to own property.  She learned this in law school 15 years ago, dammit!

"an item of tangible movable or immovable property except real estate and things (such as buildings) connected with real property"

Women and children could not be sold.  

Blackstone's Commentaries are clear that there were limits on the level of correction that could be used against a wife or child.

The husband also, by the old law, might give his wife moderate correction. For, as he is to answer for her misbehaviour, the law thought it reasonable to intrust him with this power of restraining her, by domestic chastisement, in the same moderation that a man is allowed to correct his apprentices or children; for whom the master or parent is also liable in some cases to answer.

Women in the femme coverture status, which meant most never married women and married women, had no legal existence apart from their father or husband. Widows were generally femme sole with their own legal existence.  This is part of why wealthy widows met the property qualification and voted in New Jersey at the begiinng of the 19th century.  The Wealth of a Nation Yet to Be documented a lot of very rich widows who had worn out several wealthy husbands.

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