A brief history of courtship and dating in america

By the middle of the eighteenth century, well before the onset of the American Revolution, the ability of fathers to delay their sons' marriages until their late twenties had eroded.

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A proper marriage, in their view, was based not on love and affection, but on rational considerations of property, compatibility, and religious piety.Thus, it was considered acceptable for a young man to pursue "’a goodly lass with aboundation of money,’ so long as he could eventually love his wife-to-be.At the same time that courtship grew freer, however, marriage became an increasingly difficult transition point, particularly for women, and more and more women elected not to marry at all.In seventeenth and early eighteenth century New England, courtship was not simply a personal, private matter.A hundred twenty-nine years later, in 1838, another couple began their courtship.

Theodore Dwight Weld, a 39-year old abolitionist, wrote a letter to Angelina Grimke, the daughter of a wealthy, slaveholding South Carolina family who had turned against slavery, in which he disclosed ‘that for a long time you have had my whole heart.’ He had ‘no expectation and almost no hope that [his] feelings are in any degree RECIPROCATED BY YOU.’ Nevertheless, he asked her to reveal her true feelings.Late in the winter of 1708/9, Samuel Gerrish, a Boston bookseller, began to court Mary Sewall, the 18-year old daughter of Puritan magistrate Samuel Sewall.Judge Sewall was a conscientious father, and like many Puritan fathers believed that he had a right and duty to take an active role in his daughter's selection of a spouse.A young man who courted a woman without her father’s permission might be sued for inveigling the woman's affections.Parental involvement in courtship was expected because marriage was not merely an emotional relationship between individuals but also a property arrangement among families.By the middle of the eighteenth century, the figure had shot up to over forty percent.