Document HS II-1: A Few Rights for Women: Excerpts from the “Massachusetts Body of Liberties,” 1641.
The 1641 “Massachusetts Body of Liberties” was an extraordinary document, the first in New England to spell out the rights of citizens. Most of the protections were afforded only to men, but a few were also extended to women.
Note: Spelling and the use of capital letters have been modernized.
14. Any conveyance or alienation of land or other estate whatsoever, made by any woman that is married, any child under age, idiot or distracted person, shall be good if it be passed and ratified by the consent of a General Court.
Liberties of Women.
80. Every married woman shall be free from bodily correction or stripes by her husband, unless it be in his own defence upon her assault. If there be any just cause of correction, complaint shall be made to authority assembled in some Court, from which only she shall receive it.
Liberties of Children
- With whom did Article 14 group women? What does this tell you about the status of women?
- Who was the final arbitrator of these regulations? Why?
- What protections were extended to women?