Week 6 Reading Guide: Historians on Marriage and the American Revolution

This week, we'll continue to grapple with questions about continuity and change in marriage during the age of the American revolution, this time focusing on what several prominent historians have to say about the issue.

Questions to think about:

    1. In class this week, we'll be making sure that we all understand the following key concepts and terms. You should come prepared to explain at least two of the items from the list below, using relevant quotes from the readings, AND your own words to put things in accessible, modern language where this is needed. You should be able to give examples of how each of the concepts you defined matters to the arguments of the historians you are reading this week.
      • Coverture
      • Dower
      • Primogeniture
      • Divorce avincula (Absolute divorce) and Divorce a mensa et thoro (Divorce from bed and board)
      • Monogamy and Polygamy
      • Fornication and Adultery
      • Virtue
      • Republicanism
      • Rake and Coquette
      • Rights and Obligations
      • Citizenship
      • Dependence
      • Consent
    2. This is also a good chance to practice taking notes on secondary sources. Try preparing index cards for this week’s assigned articles. This should include:
      • citation information
      • the period covered by the reading
      • the kinds of sources used
      • Quotations of and/or a restatement of the articles’ the main question(s) and argument.
      • Two or three examples of key points & the evidence that supports them.
      • Questions you have about the article. These can be points needing clarification, or things that connect it to other readings.

Questions to write about:

    1. Were married women citizens of the United States? Use this week’s readings to explain your answers.
    2. Was marriage in 1800 different from what it had been in 1750?