In order to understand the historical role of women in America, it is necessary to very briefly look at the role of women in societies and cultures existing prior to the American experience. In the beginning, most primitive societies were matriarchal. Often this was because specific fathers were in doubt. Possibly two developments led to the overthrow of this type of society. First: the acquisition of power in the form of property; and second: the desire of fathers to be able to establish a reasonable claim to having sired specific sons and heirs to whom their property could pass. There seems to be a kind of alternation in the history of the higher ancient societies. Initially mother right or the power of women was more conspicuous. Gradually this right diminished as tribal life shifted from nomadic to urban. The organization of society seems in some way to represent a loss of status for women.



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