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From prehistoric times through the French and Spanish colonial eras, from the territorial period through statehood, secession, Reconstruction, and modernization, women have played major and defining roles in the development and history of Arkansas. Women of every race, ethnicity, religionsocial class, and legal status have been instrumental in shaping the culture and social structure of Arkansas, even as they have been forced to struggle for equal rights, political and legal equality, economic and social independence—even the most basic human right of freedom.
Prehistory The first women in Arkansas were likely the descendants of Asians who crossed the land bridge to North America between 18, and 10, BC. During the PaleoindianWoodlandArchaicand Mississippian periods, women farmed, hunted, and gathered alongside men.
They created vessels to hold foodtook part in trade activities, and cared for their families and tribal members. The maternal side of the family was very important, as they chose marriage partners for and gave divorces to family members.
Indian women traditionally held some power over marriage and other activities related to the family, while the men held the power in politics and religion. Like their white counterparts, these women were caregivers and, as newly introduced European diseases such as smallpox devastated Indian populations who lacked natural immunities, they bore much of the responsibility of caring for dying men, children, and elderly people. More and more of the Indians who remained in Arkansas adopted French—and, later, American—customs and Woman want real sex Blevins Arkansas activities.
Because French women rarely participated in colonization efforts in North America, many Indian women married French soldiers, explorers, and settlers. Only in the s did white women replace Indian women as the majority of their sex in Arkansas. When European women were available for marriage, they might be taken into a household under an agreement that the couple would live as husband and wife until a Roman Catholic Church official could arrive to declare the union legal.
Many couples lived together for years and even started families before they received the paperwork and the sacrament to legalize their unions. Marriages between Indian women and European men were also legalized at times, but not often. During the French and Spanish colonial periods, European women brought to Arkansas their culture, belongings, and social systems. Some brought fine household goods from Europe, while others lived simply in small homes with makeshift furniture crafted in European styles of local materials.
Their social, legal, and economic status depended upon their race and whether they were married, widowed, or single. During the colonial era, they could be categorized as gentlewomen married to high-ranking army officers, wives and daughters of the local merchants, important helpmates of traders and trappers, African-American slaves and freedwomen, or Indian women who married or cohabitated with white men or who worked within their own tribes. Because of remoteness and the need to survive on the frontier, a woman had the opportunity to contribute to the colonial economy alongside her husband as a merchant, contractor, or property owner.
Most women of African descent in colonial Arkansas were slaves. Slave women and a few freedwomen labored in agriculture and domestic service, while others often worked for their owners in merchant shops. Hazards of life for women in colonial Arkansas were many, and included disease, accidents, war, and kidnapping by Indians. When Indians raided Arkansas Post several European women were kidnapped and sent into slavery along the Gulf Coast; other kidnapped women integrated themselves into tribal cultures through forced and willing marriages although existing records indicate that these were few in.
These changes forced many colonial women to retreat from the lifestyle of relative independence and social mobility they had enjoyed under the French and the Spanish to more domestic and family-centered activities as Anglo-American tradition, culture, and common law became dominant, imposing such restrictions as the loss of property rights to husbands upon marriage.
Antebellum Period Anglo-American immigrants from the states and territories to the north and east began to arrive in Arkansas to establish communities aftermany through land grants awarded to veterans of the War of Unlike the French colonization, Anglo-American immigration included women and children and was focused more on settlement and agriculture than on trapping and trading. As had been the case during the colonial period, women of all races spent much of their days cooking, cleaning, sewing, and farming. In addition, women of all races and social classes were trained from childhood to care for the sick, assist their neighbors during childbirth, raise large families, and marry young Woman want real sex Blevins Arkansas economic advantage on the frontier.
On the other hand, those living in the country often had to render their own cloth, harvest and preserve their food, and generally rely less on manufactured goods than did their urban counterparts. Given the increasing free time available to them in urban areas, white middle- and upper-class women in early nineteenth-century Arkansas might have engaged in a variety of extra-domestic activities, including reading groups, church, drama and debate clubs, singing ensembles, concerts, or benevolence associations such as those dedicated to temperance or assistance for the poor.
On Sundays, most urban women attended churches representing the many denominations found in antebellum Arkansas, where they found their own voices of reform through committee and charitable work for the poor and needy. They also raised funds for their churches through fairs where homemade goods were sold. Rural women, on the other hand, had fewer opportunities for socializing and often relied on camp meetings and traveling revivals to receive religious instruction and visit with neighbors. White women in Arkansas, as in the South generally, were somewhat educated in the antebellum period, but such attainment was difficult because Arkansas had no viable free education system for children.
Schools did exist in Arkansas for those wishing to give their daughters an education: Springhill Female Academy in Hempstead County and the Fayetteville Female Seminary run by Sophia Sawyer were opened to instruct young girls in a variety of subjects and ornamental crafts such as piano and dance.
Other prominent families might send their daughters to the East Coast to receive an education. In antebellum Arkansas, rural and urban Anglo-American women were often directly involved in the management of their family property.
Because of such fears, by the s the behavior and activities of urban slaves were increasingly regulated through local, state, and national laws as well as by their masters. An state law prohibited the residence of free blacks in Arkansas, forcing them either to relocate or to risk being forced back into slavery. During these antebellum years, Indian women in Arkansas found themselves at a crossro.
Of those Indian women remaining in Arkansas, most continued to live on farms with their families and had the same work as their male counterparts while struggling to maintain tribal traditions. However, following various treaties in the s and s that removed the Indian population to reservations in present-day Oklahoma, only a few Indians remained in Arkansas, and they tended to blend into their surroundings by passing as white. Civil War In order to cope with the absence of their husbands and sons during the Civil Warmany Arkansas women gathered in groups to make and collect cloth for uniforms, blankets, bandages, and flags to demonstrate their support for the troops and the war effort.
In many cases, women took over jobs ly held by men, and they often had to defend their homes while raising children and foraging for food. In northern Arkansas, women had the added burden of dealing with bushwhackers and jayhawkersand many witnessed the torture of relatives, destruction of property, and burning of homes. Homer Sloan recounted how, inwhen Federal troops arrived at a nearby plantation home in Woodruff Countythe female owner of the home saved it by giving troops what remained of her food and livestock and even her sewing machine and yarn for knitting socks.
One Mrs. Baker of Searcy County was severely beaten and her elderly husband and young son killed when jayhawkers were not given supplies or financial support from the family. After being beaten, Baker had to bury her son and husband by herself. At such Civil War battles as Pea RidgePrairie GrovePoison Springand HelenaArkansas women nursed the wounded and sick, witnessing the horrors of battle and their effects firsthand.
For example, Nancy Morton Staples of Prairie Grove and her family tended to the Union and Confederate wounded after that battle in their home and in the homes of their neighbors. Many African-American women remained in servitude in Arkansas during the war because they had nowhere else to go, or were not aware that they were legally free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation, or had been forcibly relocated by their owners to areas such as Texas.
As a result, many African-American families were torn apart. When Union troops captured Little Rock and established effective military control over most of the state inseveral hundred black women and their children flocked to the Union military camps in search of safety, food, and freedom. In such camps, however, life was harsh and there was often not enough food, clothing, or shelter. The war destroyed preexisting social structures that, in many cases, had relegated women to positions as second-class citizens or even as human chattel.
White women had opportunities forced upon them and took part in events that would affect the outcome of the war. African-American women, while continuing to face hardships, came out of the war with their freedom, at least nominally. Reconstruction and the Progressive Era Freedom gave black women opportunities they had never experienced under slavery. For the first time, they could stabilize and strengthen their families by establishing separate households and having their marriages legally recognized. Some black women found work as domestic servants for white families, sometimes serving the same families they had served before the war and performing much the same tasks.
Others began long, influential careers; these included Charlotte Stephens of Little Rock Pulaski Countywho was the first black teacher in the city, serving from to As African Americans were increasingly excluded from political office following Reconstruction, the church soon became the center of their social and cultural life. Inthirty-eight African-American women ed the Sisters Union Society in Pulaski County to help improve knowledge in their community.
For white women as well, new opportunities arose in Arkansas after the Civil War. Although prohibited from actively participating in the political process, some made their voices heard and influence felt. Women played an essential role in developing the myth of the Lost Cause in the South through such memorial organizations as the United Daughters of the Confederacy Patrick Cleburne Chapter,while more radical women from rural and agricultural backgrounds found themselves drawn to such organizations as the Grangers and groups that sought to beautify roadways and parks.
Legislation giving women the right to vote had been introduced in the Arkansas legislature inbut the majority ridiculed the idea. Ida Joe Brooks of Little Rock, continued to press for suffrage, holding meetings throughout Arkansas in the s and allying themselves with organizations led by Susan B. After being denied the approval to vote by the Arkansas state legislature insuffragists formed the Arkansas Woman Suffrage Association to lobby for the right.
As Arkansas approached the twentieth century, a wave of new immigrants began settling in the state, adding their rich traditions and cultures to those already there. In particular, Catholic religious orders of women that arrived at this time were able, in part because of their self-sufficiency, to make an impact on society. These orders included the Benedictine Sisters of St. Bernards Hospital in Jonesboro Craighead County in Hocker in Carry Nationformerly of Harrison Boone Countyled a crusade against alcohol that Woman want real sex Blevins Arkansas in a state law that all but prohibited alcohol by Arkansas women made great strides toward greater legal and political rights, despite the fact that the all-male legislature continued to deny women the right to vote, rejecting relevant initiatives in their and legislative sessions.
Finally, inthe General Assembly gave women the right to Woman want real sex Blevins Arkansas in primary elections, and in Arkansas became the twelfth state in the Union and the second in the South to approve the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote in all elections.
The first woman elected to office in Arkansas was Frances Matthew Jones Huntwho was elected to a seat in the General Assembly in Inthe community of Winslow Washington County elected its first female mayor and first all-female city council, an administration dubbed the Petticoat Government that went on to serve two terms under the leadership of Mayor Maud Duncan.Woman want real sex Blevins Arkansas
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