Coverture is a long-standing legal practice in the United States that comes from the English common law. Coverture holds that a man and a woman are a single legal entity—that of the husband. A married woman loses her own legal obligations and rights, and becomes "covered" by her husband. Traditionally a woman took her husband's last name as a symbol of this identity. A female child was covered by her father's identity. When she married that coverage transferred to her husband. Under this system a woman did not legally exist and did not own anything.
In the mid-19th century, with the rise of feminism, coverture began to be criticized as being unfair to women. Various laws began to be weakened and eventually done away with. 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.
References[change | change source]
- Catherine Allgor. "Coverture — The Word You Probably Don’t Know But Should". National Women's History Museum. https://www.nwhm.org/blog/coverture-the-word-you-probably-don%E2%80%99t-know-but-should/. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Women and the Law". Women, Enterprise & Society. President and Fellows of Harvard College. http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/wes/collections/women_law/. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- "Coverture". American History USA. https://www.americanhistoryusa.com/topic/coverture/. Retrieved December 4, 2016.