Legislating Social Roles Centered On Gender and Race

Legislating Social Roles Centered On Gender and Race

The development of Virginia legislation into the seventeenth century makes clear that colonial leaders failed to desire white females to execute agricultural work. The General Assembly decided that African women were tithable, or eligible to be taxed, as white and black men were in 1643, for example. This difference may mirror lawmakers’ expectation that African females could be industry laborers, therefore adding to the colony’s wide range, and European females would stay static in the domestic sphere. The legislators hoped their choice to restrict white ladies to domestic work would further support the colony’s social purchase and give husbands more authority and control of their spouses. […]