General History/life in the 1800's


i was reading online that women in the 1800's were thought of as the inferior sex. and i was wondering if women were required to do anything the her man desirerd.

also i was wondering how marrige was conducted? was it all by the man or did the women have some say in it?


Like today there were a range of attitudes among different people in the 1800s.  Some were conservative and some were more liberal.  

But generally speaking most people generally considered men to be more dominant than women in that time period and the laws and customs of the time reflected that.  Men typically received more school and women did not commonly work outside the home.  Many young women were permitted many choices and freedoms, including choosing a spouse.  But parents could of course put a great deal of pressure on a woman to accede to their wishes as well.  It was common for a young man to ask the permission of a girl's father before marrying her.

Most women could not vote.  When they married, any property they had became their husband's.  They could not sign contracts without their husband's approval.  There were few domestic violence laws, so men were permitted to do pretty much whatever they wanted to their wives, aside from the most extreme cases.  Men were considered the head of households and women needed to be deferential.

Of course there were limits.  Men could not kill their wives.  Cases of very extreme abused could be punished by law as well.  Women could and did leave abusive relationships.  Although divorce was more difficult then, it did happen.

This is not to say that all women lived miserable lives.  Men certainly loved women and even if they had an attitude of superiority, most tried to keep their women happy and comfortable.  Many treated their wives with consideration and deference, taking their thoughts and feelings into account when making decisions.  But despite all this, it was a very different world for women and women had far less power in society and in the home than they do today.

I hope this helps!
- Mike  

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Michael Troy


My specialties are 17th through 19th Century history, especially in the Americas and Europe. I also have a fair knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman History, and some knowledge of Medieval European history. My expertise is focuses on Military and political history, but I`ll take a crack at anything.


I have been a guest lecturer at George Washington University. Mostly, I have just read hundreds of books about world history.


J.D. Univ. of Michigan B.A. George Washington University

Awards and Honors
Truman Scholar

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