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    Courtship and dating in the 1800s

    Back then, a woman literally belonged to her father or husband. Marriage was a business arrangement that two men would make, their bargaining chips being their sons' inheritance and their daughters' dowries. Also, bigger towns and more spacious settlements meant it was harder to keep track of people's private affairs with their privates. Society wasn't really upset that the girls were pregnant, as long as they got married to the father.

    They had something called "laws of coverture" which prohibited a married woman from owning property, even if it was hers before the marriage. The goal was to marry wealth and property together; the people were incidental. So now that neither parents nor fear of death were choosing spouses, young people began to do it themselves. But not all men were that honorable, especially since the towns were now drawing in unsupervised, strange men to work in seaports and industry.

    Chastity and honor were the virtues of the day for women in the Middle Ages.

    Courtship as we now know it was not common during the time of Queen Elizabeth I in England.

    We have since decided to cut that chapter from the book.

    And not patriarchal as we use the term today, where it can be applied to anything from the injustice of the glass ceiling to men who insist on standing up to pee. Plus, the idea of "patriarchy" and completely ruling your "subjects" was losing its popularity in an America that was screaming at a king to stay out of its room. PROMISE TO STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BUNDLING BOARD By comparing marriage records with subsequent birth records, historians can tell that by the late 18th century, 30 to 40 percent of American brides were pregnant at their weddings.

    If you look at the history of dating, marriage, and courtship, a very interesting story emerges.

    Quick Note The original outline for Courtship in Crisis called for a chapter on the history of courtship.

    Since Shakespeare’s time, farcical romances featuring classic tropes like mistaken identity, love at first sight and couples breaking through society’s class barriers have long been a favorite staple of theatergoers.

    And for good reason – for centuries, strategically planned marriages allowed the wealthy and elite to retain their social standing, property and family businesses for generations.

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