Examines how demographic disaster in the colony allowed women an unprecedented degree of economic independence.
This book examines how, quite by accident and under very unfortunate circumstances, Britain's colony of South Carolina afforded women an unprecedented opportunity for economic autonomy. Though the colony prospered financially, throughout the colonial period the death rate remained alarmingly high, keeping the white population small. This demographic disruption allowed white women a degree of independence unknown to their peers in most of England's other mainland colonies, for, as heirs of their male relatives, an unusually large proportion of women controlled substantial amounts of real estate. Their economic independence went unchallenged by their male peers because these women never envisioned themselves as anything more than deputies for their husbands, fathers, brothers, and friends.
As far as low country settlers were concerned, allowing women to assume the role of planter was necessary to the creation of a traditional, male-centered society in the colony. Fundamentally conservative, women in South Carolina worked to safeguard the patriarchal social order that the area's staggering mortality rate threatened to destroy. Critical to the perpetuation of English culture and patriarchal authority in South Carolina, female planters attended to the affairs of the world and helped to preserve English society in a wilderness setting.
Introduction "They Who Want to Go Quickly, Go to Carolina": Settling the South Carolina Low Country "A Brilliant Society": Creating a Provincial Aristocracy "The Scene of Our Happiness and Miseries": Gender Relations in the Low Country "The Most Industrious Sex in That Place": Popular Perceptions of Women in Low Country Society "By Order of Madam": Women and Property in the Low Country "Just the Thing That Suits My Genius": Women and Patriarchy in the Low Country Conclusion Bibliography Index
Reviews ...adds greater understanding of the lives of women in the Carolina aristocracy. Recommended for all levels of academic collections.—Choice
^I[I]n the Affairs of the World^R presents some interesting insights into the roles of women in colonial South Carolina.—The Journal of Southern History