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Making Marriage

Husbands, Wives, and the American State in Dakota and Ojibwe Country

Catherine J. Denial

Publication Year: 2013

The debate over the meaning of marriage in the United States and specifically in Minnesota is not a recent development. From 1820 to 1845, when the first significant numbers of Americans arrived in the region now called Minnesota, they carried the belief that good government and an orderly household went hand in hand. The territorial, state, and federal governments of the United States were built upon a particular vision of civic responsibility: that men, as heads of households, enter civic life on behalf of their dependents—wives, children, servants, and slaves. These dependents were deemed unfit to make personal decisions or to involve themselves in business and government—and they owed labor and obedience to their husbands, fathers, and masters. These ideas clashed forcibly with the conceptions of kinship and social order that existed among the Upper Midwest's long-established Dakota, Ojibwe, and mixed-heritage communities. In resisting the new gender and familial roles advocated by military personnel, Indian agents, and missionaries, the region’s inhabitants frustrated American attempts to transform Indian country into a state. Indeed, many Americans were forced to compromise their own beliefs so that they could put down roots. Through the stories of married—and divorcing—men and women in the region, Catherine J. Denial traces the uneven fortunes of American expansion in the early nineteenth century and the nation-shaping power of marital acts.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-1

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pp. 2-25

In this ???? photograph, Dakota tipis still outnumber frame houses, only oneWhen the first significant numbers of Americans arrivedin the region now called Minnesota, they did so armed withhand in hand. The territorial, state, and federal governments of theUnited States were built upon a particular vision of civic responsibil-ity?that men, as heads of households, entered civic life on behalf of...

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Chapter One

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pp. 26-53

The close proximity of Pike?s Island to Fort Snelling fueled wrangles over itsOn August ?, ????, Colonel Henry Leavenworth welcomedinterpreter Duncan Campbell, Indian agent Lawrence Talia-ferro, fur trader Jean Baptiste Faribault, and twenty-three localSt. Peter?s (Minnesota) and Mississippi rivers. Leavenworth?s goalwas to finalize an agreement to construct a permanent fort in the...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 54-81

Dakota women were the agriculturalists of their communities, which meantnot only growing crops but protecting the fields from predators.Between February ???? and January ????, Mary AnnLongley bore repeated witness to the importance of marriagework among the Dakota at Lac qui Parle, three hundred miles westof Fort Snelling. The newlywed couple arrived at the fort on June ?,...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 82-105

Fort Snelling was built in Dakota country, high upon the blu?s above theIn ????, Frances Webster wrote a severely displeased letterto her brother Edmund, a recent graduate of West Point Academy.Frances came from a military family?her father had served in theWar of ???? and risen to the rank of colonel by the time he resignedhis commission in ????, while a second brother, Ephraim, began his...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 106-129

There are no surviving images of Margaret McCoy. Photographs of her femaledescendents?such as daughter Margaret, above?are the closest we can comeOn January ??, ????, the Wisconsin territorial legislaturepassed An Act for the Relief of Joseph R. Brown, divorcingBrown from his second wife, Margaret McCoy. ( Joseph had divorcedhis first wife in ????.) Joseph and Margaret claimed residency in...

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pp. 130-140

On October ??, ????, just six months after the creationof Minnesota Territory by an act of Congress, the territoriallegislature founded the State Historical Society of Minnesota. The?object of said Society,? read the enabling legislation, ?shall be the col-lection and preservation of a Library, Mineralogical and Geologicalspecimens, Indian curiosities and other matters and things connected...

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pp. 141-144

I could not have imagined when I first encountered Margaret McCoyMilwaukee that many years later her story would give shape to thepages of this book. I had little idea of the adventure I was beginning;little idea, too, of how many people would support me along the way.This book is the product of patience, kindness, curiosity, and friend-...


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pp. 145-168


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pp. 169-184


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pp. 185-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780873519076
E-ISBN-10: 0873519078
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873519069
Print-ISBN-10: 087351906X

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 6 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867742011
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Making Marriage

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Minnesota -- Social life and customs.
  • Marriage customs and rites -- Minnesota -- History.
  • Métis -- Marriage customs and rites -- Minnesota.
  • Ojibwa Indians -- Marriage customs and rites -- Minnesota.
  • Dakota Indians -- Marriage customs and rites -- Minnesota.
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