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2-235 (Text)

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addressee,female author,female,Franklin, Jane,50
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Private Correspondence
Teale, 1982
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2-235-plain.txt — 2 KB

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As for doing anything with the women here, in the factory, it seems next to impossible huddled as they all are together, and such impudent creatures, almost all of them, there in order that they may lie in and then go to service again.
I think the whole system of female transportation, - and particularly of female assignment in service, - so faulty and vicious, that to attempt to deal with the women who are the subjects of it, seems waste time and labour.
I wish in my present letter to explain to you, (and to confine myself to this one point) that the circumstances in which female prisoners are placed in this Colony, and the influence to which they are subject are not in general favourable to reformation, but rather have a directly contrary effect.
You are aware that this Assignment of Men has (c)eased or is in the course of being abolished. It has been pronounced 'Domestic Slavery' and the odium of the name has strangled the victim that bore it. You must not suppose however by my saying this, that I am ready to advocate the cause of Assignment. In my opinion, whatever may be said in its favor (and something may be said) it is an unrighteous cause and I rejoice in its abolition. But is it really abolished? What becomes then of the fact that all the women convicts who come out here are still sent into Assignments. And not a single voice that I know of has been raised in England to save them from this tyranny and this degradation. Are the women wholly forgotten in England? or is Assignment stripped of its horrors and cleansed from its iniquity when applied to them? Alas! the fact is otherwise. The Assignment of women is an infinitely worse thing than the assignment of men. It has all the evils of men's assignment both as respects the 'slave' and the master or mistress and still more. The women not only receive but produce more mischief. I will instance this in one point of view only.
Landed from the ship after a voyage which is itself a cause of increased demoralization, they are thrown at once on the bosom of society, to be diffused over every part of it, - no corner of the island so remote in which their presence is not to be found. Few families so mean that they cannot afford to maintain a single female prisoner servant. But chiefly, they are congregated in the Towns, in the midst of every temptation to the lowest licentiousness and vice. These women in all but the highest families and not infrequently in them also, are the nurses and nursery maids of our Colonial households, the earliest teachers consequently of the infant generation, the waiting maids probably of the grown up daughters.  And of whom is this affirmed? of whose least crime perhaps it is that they are thieves of women whose 'trade' in England, I have blushed to see recorded in letters of shame in the Surgeon Superintendant's name-book.