Colonial Maryland Facts, History, Religion, Role of Women
In England , Catholics were rarely harassed. English law prohibited Catholics from holding office. They could not worship in public and had to pay tithes tithes Church of England. Although this was discrimination, it was tolerable. In contrast, the few Catholics that settled Colonial Maryland were publicly harassed. Originally established as a Catholic haven, the majority of colonists in Maryland were Protestant. Religious tensions grew between the Protestant majority and the Catholic minority. to counter the religious troubles, the Colonial Maryland governor, Lord Baltimore enacted the Maryland Religious Tolerance Act of 1649. this was an attempt to get the people of Maryland to get along with one another. The Religious toleration Act imposed fines and physical punishment to those who uttered any reproachful words concerning any religious worship regardless of whether it was Catholic or Protestant. However, the Religious toleration Act was not tolerant of non Christian religions, it imposed the death penalty to those who did not believe in God or the trinity. The Religious Toleration act was a failure. It failed not because of the lack of government concern but because the people of Colonial Maryland as individuals were unwilling to compromise.
The apparent frailty of women's bodies explained their early American Experience. In Colonial Maryland, women were scarce and in so being they were protected which contributed to the image of a frail body. The few women who came to America did so as indentured servants. However, they were far from being frail. they endured rough seas, surly sailors and terrible living conditions. Colonial women who survived the journey were exposed to new diseases which killed off many more. The high death rates of Colonial women reinforced the frail body image of women. Those Colonial women who survived these ordeals were from hardy stock. The worked in the plantations, cooing, washing clothes, making soap, etcetera was hard and strenuous work. Many Colonial women worked tobacco which was more physically demanding. Indentured servants were poorly fed, poorly clothed and overworked which gave those women a frail weak body adding to the frail image of women. After servitude these Colonial women married. Life expectancy was short for both men and women. They continued their hard work. Men were concerned about the treatment of their children at the hands of a stepfather so they were generous in their wills to their wives. Perhaps hoping their wives would not remarry. Colonial women did remarry. It was easier for them to remarry sharing the burden of the work with their husbands. By doing so, they reinforced the image that women were frail and needed a man to protect and provide for them. Society accepted and expected women to remarry.