Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Contents

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p. ix

Illustrations and Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

During the writing and revising of this book, I have incurred innumerable debts. The first version of this work was my doctoral dissertation. The members of my committee at Temple University, Allen F. Davis, P. M. G. Harris...

List of Abbreviations

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p. xv

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Introduction: The "Open Question" of Marriage

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pp. 1-9

Nearly all adults in early America expected to marry at some point in their lives.1 Husbands and wives fought and quarreled, loved and hated, and in many ways behaved much as they do today. What marriage— and the roles of husband...

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1. Dissolving Matrimonial Bonds: Divorce in the New Rep

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pp. 10-43

In a divorce petition dated September 8, 1794, Elizabeth Sutter of Philadelphia charged her husband, James, with cruelty. She and James had been married for about twenty years, and, as Elizabeth related in her petition, he had treated her in an "affectionate manner" for most...

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2. Weaving the Bonds: Husbands' and Wives' Expectations of Marriage

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pp. 44-75

"Even you My Brother . . . could not desire for a Husband one more perfectly formed to make me truly happy," declared Harriet Chew Carroll in an 1801 letter to her brother, Benjamin Chew, Jr.2 These words, written shortly after...

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3. "If We Forsook Prudence": Sexuality in Troubled Marriages

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pp. 76-102

In December 1805, a distraught Jacob Collady confessed that he was unable to consummate his marriage "by having carnal knowledge . . . and performing the duty of a man towards his wife."2 Jacob's shamed admission revealed his...

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4. "Cruel and Barbarous Treatment": The Forms and Meaning of Spouse Abuse

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pp. 103-138

In the ideal marriage in the new republic there was no place for spouse abuse. Joined in an affectionate union, the married couples of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literature discussed their differences. Husbands explained their arguments...

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5. Runaways: "Wilful and Malicious Desertion"

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pp. 139-155

When Hugh Smith placed an advertisement in the 1754 Pennsylvania Gazette noting that his wife, Ann, had "elop'd from him," he declared that she lived "in a very disorderly manner." In a 1785 notice, John Hall stated that his...

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6. For a Maintenance: The Economics of Marital Discord

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pp. 156-178

Divorce did not always settle tensions between married couples. In fact, sometimes it caused new stresses or increased old ones. Martha Tiffin, for instance, received a divorce from bed and board from her husband, James, in December...

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Conclusion: Unraveling the Bonds

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pp. 179-183

If marriage can be compared to a woven fabric, then this work is a study of how that cloth was woven in eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century Pennsylvania and what conditions made it unravel. This examination of marital discord...

Notes

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pp. 185-211

Select Bibliography

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pp. 213-219

Index

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pp. 221-225