In the 1970s, two debates engaged many scholars of early United States history. One focused on the status of women, primarily White women. Turning on the so-called golden age theory, which posited that during the eighteenth-century colonial era, American women enjoyed a brief period of high status relative to their English contemporaries and to nineteenth-century American women, this debate pitted scholars who believed women's lives deteriorated after 1800 against those who thought women's lives had been no better before 1800. At issue were the causes of women's subordination: were these causes already in place when the English first settled North America or did they emerge with the rise of nineteenth-century industrial capitalism? The second debate, the so-called origins debate, concerned the emergence of racial slavery in the southern colonies: was slavery the inevitable result of the deep-rooted racial prejudice of early British colonists or did racial prejudice arise only after these planters instituted slave labor? Although these debates are parallel in some respects, key differences distinguished them. Whereas the debate over women's status revolved around implicit comparisons of colonial women to their counterparts in the antebellum period (1800-1860), thus inviting comment from scholars of both historical periods, the origins debate was primarily confined to a discussion about slavery in colonial America. Second, in contrast to the newness of the debate over women's status and its continued currency throughout the early 1980s, the debate over race and slavery, begun in the 1950s, had lost some of its urgency with the publication of Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom (1975), widely regarded as the last word on the subject. Each debate also assumed a different relationship to the groups whose histories it concerned. In its heyday, the origins debate focused mainly on White attitudes toward Africans rather than on Africans themselves. With few exceptions, such as Wood's Black Majority (1974) and Mullin's Flight and Rebellion (1972), which were centrally concerned with enslaved African men, most works pertaining to the origins debate focused on the White architects, mostly male, of racial slavery. In contrast, although women's historians were interested in the institutions and ideologies contributing to women's subordination, they were equally concerned with documenting women's experiences. As in the origins debate, however, early scholarship on colonial women defined its historical constituency narrowly, women's historians focusing mainly on affluent White women. Over time, however, some initial differences between the approaches taken by scholars in the two fields faded. In the 1980s, historians of race and slavery in colonial America shifted their attention to enslaved people; interest in African American culture grew, thereby bringing enslaved women more prominently into view. Historians of early American women moved in similar directions during the decade and began to consider the effect of racial difference on women's experience.