Margaret Brent and the Women of Early Baltimore

It seems as if people constantly forget about the contributions woman have had in the development of this country. Especially in politics or the wellbeing of the masses, there is always a debate on whether or not a woman is qualified for higher positions. But there was a time when women had a big impact on our political, economic, and social system.

During early America in Baltimore, it was normal for women to participate in the economic and civil matter as lawyers, witnesses, and court-appointed appraisers. Husbands would even appoint their wives to act as their attorney and majority of witnesses for wills were women. Women were actually preferred over men to be the witness on wills and would not challenge the woman’s words as they would men. Women also held roles in the ministry and also as religious educators, oOn top of their role as lawyers, ministers, and educator, the majority of the women were farmers wives and would work long hours in the fields with their husbands under bad and unsafe conditions that lowered the life expectancy of the settlers.

d011926aWithout Margaret Brent, there might not be a Maryland today. Margaret Brent was born around 1601 to a wealthy family in Gloucestershire, England. She was a smart and well-educated woman while many of the women were getting married she chose to remain unmarried to maintain her social standing and all her property which she would lose if she was to get married. Margaret Brent later became Governor Leonard Calvert’s executrix of his estate. And handled the affairs of Lord Baltimore and Governor Leonard Calvert.In 1645 St.Mary’s(MD) was invaded by Richard Ingle, he destroyed the property of Catholic settlers, and took the Jesuit priests and Margaret’s brother Giles back to England in chains. Governor Leonard Calvert and other settlers fled to Virginia, and the population of the colony dropped drastically. From 500-600 people to under 100. Late in 1646, the Governor returned with his personally financed soldiers to reestablish Calvert control. But died in 1647 leaving the soldiers waiting for payment and heavily in debt, so Margret sold Governor Leonard Calvert estate to help pay the soldiers but was not enough so she also Lord Baltimore’s cattle without his knowledge because there was not the time to ask him for one seeing as he was in England. And also had to fight to prevent the Calverts from losing territory to Virginia. Without the strength and determination of Margaret Brent, there is no certainty that Maryland would have still existed.

There is no doubt that women are capable of succeeding in these positions but women’s strengths are usually highlighted when they are needed the most but when they are not that’s when the comments like “women are too emotional”, “this career is too dirty of a woman” beings.

 

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