Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, And Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, And Power In Colonial Virginia

Paperback | November 1, 1996

byKathleen M. Brown

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Kathleen Brown examines the origins of racism and slavery in British North America from the perspective of gender. Both a basic social relationship and a model for other social hierarchies, gender helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery in Virginia. But the rise of racial slavery also transformed gender relations, including ideals of masculinity.

In response to the presence of Indians, the shortage of labor, and the insecurity of social rank, Virginia''s colonial government tried to reinforce its authority by regulating the labor and sexuality of English servants and by making legal distinctions between English and African women. This practice, along with making slavery hereditary through the mother, contributed to the cultural shift whereby women of African descent assumed from lower-class English women both the burden of fieldwork and the stigma of moral corruption.

Brown''s analysis extends through Bacon''s Rebellion in 1676, an important juncture in consolidating the colony''s white male public culture, and into the eighteenth century. She demonstrates that, despite elite planters'' dominance, wives, children, free people of color, and enslaved men and women continued to influence the meaning of race and class in colonial Virginia.

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From Our Editors

Kathleen Brown examines the origins of racism and slavery in British North America from the perspective of gender. Both a basic social relationship and a model for other social hierarchies, gender helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery in Virginia.

From the Publisher

Kathleen Brown examines the origins of racism and slavery in British North America from the perspective of gender. Both a basic social relationship and a model for other social hierarchies, gender helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery in Virginia. But the rise of racial slavery also transformed gender relations, including ideals of masculinity.In res...

From the Jacket

Based on the perspective of gender, this compelling study examines the origins of racism and slavery in colonial Virginia from 1676 to the eighteenth century. According to Brown, gender is both a basic social relationship and a model for social hierarchies and it therefore helped determine the construction of racial categories and the institution of slavery legally, politically, as well as sociall...

Kathleen M. Brown is assistant professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:512 pages, 9.3 × 6.2 × 1.27 inPublished:November 1, 1996Publisher:University of North Carolina Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0807846236

ISBN - 13:9780807846230

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Illustrations and Tables
Abbreviations and Notes on the Text
Introduction

Part I: Gender Frontiers

Chapter 1. Gender and English Identity on the Eve of Colonial Settlement
Chapter 2. The Anglo-Indian Gender Frontier
Chapter 3. Good Wives and Nasty Wenches: Gender and Social Order in a Colonial Settlement

Part II: Engendering Racial Difference

Chapter 4. Engendering Racial Difference, 1640-1670
Chapter 5. Vile Rogues and Honorable Men: Nathaniel Bacon and the Dilemma of Colonial Masculinity
Chapter 6. From Foul Crimes to Spurious Issue: Sexual Regulation and the Social Construction of Race
Chapter 7. Born of a Free Woman: Gender and the Politics of Freedom

Part III: Class and Power in the Eighteenth Century

Chapter 8. Marriage, Class Formation, and the Performance of Male Gentility
Chapter 9. Tea Table Discourses and Slanderous Tongues: The Domestic Choreography of Female Identities
Chapter 10. Anxious Patriarchs

Afterword
Notes
Index

Maps

1. Colonial Virginia in the Middle of the Seventeenth Century
2. The Powhatans and Their Neighbors in 1607

Figures

1. Pocahontas
2. Indian Woman
3. Captain John Smith
4. Powhatan Addressing His People
5. Bastardy Cases Attributed to White Servant Women by Decade, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
6. Inventory of Edward Nicken Signed by Mary Nicken
7. Westover Floor Plan, circa 1726
8. Lucy Parke Byrd
9. Virginian Luxuries
Tables

1. Successful Tax-Exemption Petitions, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
2. Slander Cases, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
3. Reported Runaway Servants and Slaves, 1643-1675, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
4. Punishments for Bastardy by White Female Servants, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties
5. Interracial Bastardy Offenses by White Servant Women, 1660-1729, Norfolk, Lancaster, and York Counties