Across the nation, however the age of consent was raised slowly, unevenly, and with great reluctance.” “According to British common law during the colonial period, the age of consent was seven.
Today we are astounded that girls of this age were assumed to know enough about sex (or about sin) to make such a decision competently.” “At what age is a person capable of making and informed decision about whether or not to engage in sex?
Would it be7,10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, or 21?
Following English law, in which the age was set at 12 in 1275 and lowered to 10 in 1576, ages of consent in the American colonies were generally set at 10 or 12.
The laws protected female virginity, which at the time was considered a valuable commodity until marriage. Silbaugh is associate Professor at Boston University School of Law, they say that before the 1900s age of consent was ten years old, “The law governing the age of consent has changed dramatically in the United States during this century.
In practice, too, the consent laws only protected white females, as many non-white females were enslaved or otherwise discriminated against by the legal system.”  4. So a 50 year old man could legally have sexual intercourse with a 7 year old boy or girl.” “These early laws specified that a girl consenting to sex had to be at least 10 to 12 years old in most states, with a few specifying ages as old as 14 or 16.
In Delaware, the age of consent was seven, based on ancient English laws setting the age squire.” “Traditionally, across the globe, the age of consent for sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom.
In the United States, by the 1880s, most states set the age of consent at 10-12, and in one state Delaware, the age of consent was only 7.
Social and resulting legal attitudes toward the appropriate age of consent have drifted upwards in modern times.
The theft of a girl’s chastity was seen as a property crime against her father and future husband. Most states codified a statutory age of consent during the nineteenth century, and the usual age was ten years.” “In 1962, the American Law Institute recommended that the legal age of consent to sex- that is, the age below which sex is defined as statutory rape- be dropped in every state to age 10 (Katchadourian and Lund 1972: 439).
If two people were married and had sex, no matter what their age, no crime was committed because a woman was her husband’s property. In fact, until the mid 1960s, the legal age of consent in Delaware was 7 (Kling, 1965: 216).
In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman and pubic hair for a man.
Sir Edward Coke in 17th century England ‘made it clear that the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9.
Society started to think of childhood as extending beyond puberty, into the later teenage years.