English and American Coverture Law: Background information when reading The Woman They Could Not Silence

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The Woman They Could Not Silence

One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear

by Kate Moore

The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore X
The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore
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    Jun 2021, 560 pages

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Nichole Brazelton
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About this Book

English and American Coverture Law

This article relates to The Woman They Could Not Silence

William Blackstone As is made clear in Kate Moore's The Woman They Could Not Silence, the laws of coverture were to blame for the abuse, institutionalization and subsequent poverty Elizabeth Packard suffered at the hands of her husband and other men in her community. Brought to North America by English colonizers, "coverture" was a common law that made married women completely dependent on their husbands. The word "coverture" comes from Old French and means "to cover." Under coverture, women were fully "covered" by the legal identity of their husbands. This meant that, once married, a woman effectively no longer existed in the eyes of the law.

The judge William Blackstone provided the first written description of English coverture in 1765, writing, "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and ...

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