WIFE, domestic relations. A woman who has a husband.
2. A wife, as such, possesses rights and is liable to obligations. These will be considered. 1st. She may make contracts for the purchase of real estate for her own benefit, unless her husband expressly dissents. 6 Binn. R. 427. And she is entitled to a legacy directly given to her for her separate use. 6 Serg. & Rawle, R. 467. In some places, by statutory provision, she may act as a feme sole trader, and as such acquire personal property. 2 Serg. & Rawle, R. 289.
4. - 3d. She is under obligation to love, honor and obey her husband and is bound to follow him wherever he may desire to establish himself: 5 N. S. 60; (it is presumed not out of the boundaries of the United States,) unless the husband, by acts of injustice and such as are contrary to his marital duties, renders her life or happiness insecure.
5. - 4th. She is not liable for any obligations she enters into to pay money on any contract she makes, while she lives with her husband; she is presumed in such case to act as the agent of her husband. Chitty, Contr. 43
6. - 5th. The incapacities of femes covert, apply to their civil rights, and are intended for their protection and interest. Their political rights stand upon different grounds, they can, therefore, acquire and lose a national char-acter. These rights stand upon the general principles of the law of nations. Harp. Eq. R. 5 3 Pet. R. 242.
7. - 6th. A wife, like all other persons, when she acts with freedom, may be punished for her criminal acts. But the law presumes, when she commits in his presence a crime, not malum in se, as murder or treason, that she acts by the command and coercion of her husband, and, upon this ground, she is exempted from punishment. Rose. on Cr. Ev. 785. But this is only a presumption of law, and if it appears, upon the evidence, that she did not in fact commit the act under compulsion, but was herself a principal actor and inciter in it, she may be punished. 1 Hale, P. C. 516; 1 Russ. on Cr. 16, 20. Vide Contract; Divorce; Husband; Incapacity; Marriage; Necessaries; Parties to actions; Parties to contracts; Women and, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index,