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Coverture is a long-standing legal practice in the United States that comes from the English common law.[1] Coverture holds that a man and a woman are a single legal entity—that of the husband.[1] A married woman loses her own legal obligations and rights, and becomes "covered" by her husband.[1] Traditionally a woman took her husband's last name as a symbol of this identity.[1] A female child was covered by her father's identity.[2] When she married that coverage transferred to her husband.[2] Under this system a woman did not legally exist and did not own anything.[1]

In the mid-19th century, with the rise of feminism, coverture began to be criticized as being unfair to women.[3] Various laws began to be weakened and eventually done away with.[3] But parts of coverture laws, mainly having to do with the husband being responsible for his wife's debts, lasted into the 1960s in some parts of the U.S.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Catherine Allgor. "Coverture — The Word You Probably Don't Know But Should". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Women and the Law". Women, Enterprise & Society. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Coverture". American History USA. Retrieved December 4, 2016.