By Merril D. Smith

"In Breaking The Bonds, Merril Smith establishes the formidable aim of deciding upon 'what type of difficulties arose in marriages' and of examining 'how women and men coped with marital discord.' . . . to complete this, Smith studied hundreds and hundreds of divorce petitions, different felony files, newspapers, almshouse dockets, and prescriptive literature. She concludes that, as at the moment, married fought and parted over intercourse, cash, and abuse."
Pennsylvania History

"A richly textured research. . . With a watch to cross-class and cross-race illustration, Smith makes use of diversified assets, together with memoirs and diaries, correspondence, probate files, newspaper ads, depositions and petitions for divorce, and diverse ethical reform and social regulatory association documents. . . . A courageous try to write an outline of 'the improvement of the Puritan inspiration of spirtiual growth.' . . . Gracefully written. . . offers particular new insights right into a too-neglected sector of early republican household politics."
William and Mary Quarterly

The overdue eighteenth century marked a interval of fixing expectancies approximately marriage: companionship got here to coexist as a norm along older patriarchal criteria, women and men started to see their roles in additional disparate methods, expectancies in regards to the pride of marriage grew, and gender differences among husbands and better halves grew to become extra advanced. Marital strife used to be an inevitable final result of those altering expectancies. The problems that rose, together with abuse, an absence of sexual communique, and family violence (frequently as a result of alcholism) vary little from people with which fight today.

Breaking The Bonds is an innovative and unique account that brings to mild a strongly communicative international during which buddies knew of, dinscussed, or even got here to assistance from these locked in unsatisfied marriages.

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Extra info for Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830

Sample text

Grub b wa s a n iro n maste r fro m Lancas ter, wh o aske d fo r a divorc e fro m hi s wife , An n Few , afte r sh e ha d "been delivere d o f a Bastard child " an d marrie d Archibal d McNea l i n 1763. Grub b ha d no t cohabite d wit h hi s wif e sinc e 1756 . Th e Assem bly grante d Grub b th e divorc e wit h permissio n t o remarry , an d th e bill wa s the n signe d int o la w b y Joh n Penn . Perhap s th e fac t tha t Goggin lef t hi s wife—n o matte r ho w justifie d h e ma y hav e been — then returne d an d pai d hi s wife's lying-i n expense s wa s a factor i n hi s not receivin g a divorce .

15 Thi s convic tion probabl y mad e i t easie r fo r th e Assembl y t o approv e th e divorce . This time , however , afte r th e Assembl y sen t th e bil l t o th e Boar d o f Trade an d Plantations , a s wa s required , i t wa s sen t o n t o th e Priv y Council. Althoug h th e Boar d o f Trade ha d questione d th e Grub b bil l at the time , i t ha d bee n approved . Thi s time , ther e wa s more fea r tha t such a n exercis e o f authorit y b y a colonial assembl y durin g thos e un settled time s coul d lea d t o othe r display s o f power .

Th e friend s an d relatives o f th e widow , Rebecc a Vanakin , who m the y calle d insane , also mad e a n unsuccessfu l attemp t t o hav e wha t the y considere d a fraudulent marriag e dissolved . Rebecca' s supporter s accuse d tw o rel atives o f John Martin , "almos t a n Idiot, " o f arrangin g th e marriag e i n order t o obtai n contro l ove r he r money . O f th e othe r five bills , onl y two wer e granted. 12 One o f thes e unsuccessfu l divorc e attempt s reveal s th e pligh t o f husbands wh o coul d onl y obtai n be d an d boar d divorce s unde r th e colony's laws .

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