Women’s Influence on the Decision to Emigrate

Faragher writes of his sample of women’s diaries: “Not one wife initiated the idea [of migrating]; It was always the husband. Less than a quarter of the women writers recorded agreeing with their restless husbands; most of them accepted it as a husband-made decision to which they could only acquiesce. But nearly a third wrote of their objections and how they moved only reluctantly” (Women and Men on the Overland Trail, p. 163). On the other hand, Julie Roy Jeffrey found not only that women participated effectively in the decision-making process, but that “evidence corroborates female power to affect decision making. . . . Whatever ideology had to say about the necessity of female submission, women felt free to disrupt male emigration project and … had bargaining powers.” (See Frontier Women, pp. 30-31.) The debate on the participation of women in the decision to go West is an important one Insofar as it presents a major testing of the relationship between husband and wife in America at mid-century .