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So long as they remained unmarried, women could sue and be sued, write wills, serve as guardians, and act as executors of estates.These rights were a continuation of the colonial legal tradition.In every state, the legal status of free women depended upon marital status.
If he refused to provide for her appropriately, she could sue and win support from the courts.
While waiting for the court’s judgment, she was permitted to run up charges at local stores and taverns—and her husband had to pay for them.
On paper at least, their rights were identical to those of white women.
In the slaveholding South, lawmakers continued to deny enslaved workers these basic human rights.
But the revolutionary emphasis on equality brought some important changes in women’s inheritance rights.
State lawmakers everywhere abolished primogeniture and the tradition of double shares of a parent’s estate, inheritance customs that favored the eldest son.
Few mortgagors or buyers would enter into an agreement without the wife’s consent.
They knew that she retained her right to be maintained by the property in the event of her husband’s death, even if he died insolvent.
Judges consistently applied this rule, called the , in order to prevent men from neglecting their wives.
But the courts could not stop husbands from gambling or making bad investments.