Woman's Life in Colonial Days eBook (2024)

Woman's Life in Colonial Days

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Table of Contents
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I. The Spirit of Woman—­TheSuffering of Women—­The Era of
Adventure—­Privationand Death in the First Colonial
Days—­Descriptionsby Prince, Bradford, Johnson, etc.—­Early

II. Woman and Her Religion—­ItsUnyielding Quality—­Its
Repressive Effect onWoman—­Wigglesworth’s Day of Doom—­What
It Taught Woman—­Necessityof Early Baptism—­Edward’s Eternityof
Hell Torment
—­Sinnersin the Hands of an Angry God—­Effect
on Womanhood—­PersonalDevils—­Dangers of Earthly Love—­God’s
Sudden Punishments.

III. Inherited Nervousness—­Fearsin Childhood—­Theological Precocity.

IV. Woman’s Day of Rest—­SabbathRules and Customs—­A Typical Sabbath.

V. Religion and Woman’s Foibles—­ReligiousRegulations—­Effect on
Dress—­Women’sSinging in Church—­Southern Opinion of Northern
Severity—­Effectof Feminine Repression.

VI. Woman’s Comfort in Religion—­AnIntolerant Era—­Religious
Gatherings for Women—­FormalMeetings with Mrs. Hutchinson—­Causes
of Complaint—­Meetingsof Quaker Women.

VII. Female Rebellion—­TheAntinomians—­Activities of Anne
Hutchinson—­HerDoctrines—­Her Banishment—­EmotionalStarvation—­Dread
of Heresy—­AnneHutchinson’s Death.

VIII. Woman and Witchcraft—­UniversalBelief in Witchcraft—­Signs
of Witchcraft—­Causesof the Belief—­Lack of Recreation—­Origin
of Witchcraft Mania—­Echoesfrom the Trials—­Waning of the Mania.

IX. Religion Outside of New England—­FirstChurch in Virginia—­Southern
Strictness—­Woman’sReligious Testimony—­Religious Sanity—­The
Dutch Church—­GeneralConclusions.


I. Feminine Ignorance—­Reasons—­TheEvidence in Court Records—­Dame’s
Schools—­SchoolCurriculum—­Training in Home Duties.

II. Woman’s Education in theSouth—­Jefferson’s Advice—­Private
Tutors—­GeneralInterest in Education—­Provision in Wills.

III. Brilliant Exceptions to FemaleIgnorance—­Southern and
Northern Women Contrasted—­UnusualStudies for Women—­Eliza
Pinckney—­JaneTurell—­Abigail Adams.

IV. Practical Education—­AbigailAdams’ Opinion—­Importance of

V. Educational Frills—­FemaleSeminaries—­Moravian
Schools—­Dancing—­Etiquette—­Rulesfor Eating—­Mechanical Arts
Toward Uprightness—­Complaintsof Educational Poverty—­Fancy


I. Charm of the Colonial Home—­Lackof Counter Attractions—­Neither
Saints nor Sinners inthe Home.

II. Domestic Love and Confidence—­TheWinthrop Love Letters—­Edwards’
Rhapsody—­FurtherExamples—­Descriptions of Home Life—­Mrs.
Washington and Mrs.Hamilton at Home.

III. Domestic Toil and Strain—­Southvs. North—­Lack of
Conveniences—­Silverand Linen—­Colonial Cooking—­Cooking
Utensils—­SpecimenMeals—­Home Manufactures.

IV. Domestic Pride—­Effectof Anti-British Sentiment—­Spinning

V. Special Domestic Tasks—­SupplyingNecessities—­Candles—­Soap—­Herbs
—­NeighborlyCo-operation—­Social “Bees.”

VI. The Size of the Family—­LargeFamilies an Asset—­Astonishing
Examples—­InfantDeath-Rate—­Children as Workers.

VII. Indian Attacks—­Sufferingof Captive Women—­Mary Rowlandson’s
Account—­Returningthe Kidnapped.

VIII. Parental Training—­Co-operationBetween Parents—­Cotton Mather
as Disciplinarian—­Sewall’sMethods—­Eliza Pinckney’s
Motherliness—­NewYork Mothers—­Abigail Adams to Her Son.

IX. Tributes to Colonial Mothers—­JudgeSewall’s Noble Words—­Other
Specimens of Praise—­JohnLawson’s Views—­Woman’s Strengthening

X. Interest in the Home—­Franklin’sInterest—­Evidence from
Jefferson—­Sewall’sAffection—­Washington’s Relaxation—­JohnAdams
with the Children—­Examplesof Considerateness—­Mention of Gifts.

XI. Woman’s Sphere—­Oppositionto Broader Activities—­A Sad
Example—­Opinionsof Colonial Leaders—­Woman’s Contentmentwith Her
Sphere—­Woman’sHelpfulness—­Distress of Mrs. Benedict Arnold.

XII. Women in Business—­Husbands’Confidence in Wives’
Shrewdness—­Evidencefrom Franklin—­Abigail Adams as Manager—­General


I. Dress Regulation by Law—­Magistratevs. Women—­Fines.

II. Contemporary Descriptions ofDress—­Effect of Wealth and
Travel—­MadameKnight’s Descriptions—­Testimony bySewall, Franklin,
Abigail Adams.

III. Raillery and Scolding—­NathanielWard on Woman’s Costume—­Newspaper
Comments—­Advertisem*ntof Hoop Petticoats—­Evidence on theSize
of Hoops—­Hair-Dressing—­FeminineReplies to Raillery.

IV. Extravagance in Dress—­Chastellux’sOpinion—­Evidence from Account
Books—­Children’sDress—­Fashions in Philadelphia and New York—­A
Gentleman’s Dress—­DollyMadison’s Costume—­The Meschianza—­ABall
Dress—­Dollsas Models—­Men’s Jokes on Dress—­Increasein Cost of


I. Southern Isolation and Hospitality—­Progressthrough Wealth—­Care-free
Life of the South—­SocialEffect of Tobacco Raising—­Historians’
Opinions of the SocialLife—­Early Growth of Virginia
Hospitality—­JohnHammond’s Description in 1656—­Effectof Cavalier
Blood—­Beverly’sDescription of Virginia Social Life—­Foreign
Opinions of VirginiaLuxury and Culture.

II. Splendor in the Home—­Pitman’sDescription of a Southern
Mansion—­ElegantFurnishings of the Time.

III. Social Activities—­Evidencein Invitations—­Eliza Pinckney’s Opinion
of Carolinians—­Open-House—­Washington’sHospitable
Record—­Artand Music in the South—­A Reception to aBride—­Old-Time
Refreshments—­InformalVisiting—­A Letter by Mrs. Washington—­Social
Effects of Slow Travel.

IV. New England Social Life—­SocialInfluence of Public
Opinion—­CautiousAttitude Toward Pleasure—­Social Origin ofYankee
Inquisitiveness—­Sewall’sRecords of Social Affairs—­Pynchon’sRecords
of a Century Later.

V. Funerals as Recreations—­GrimPleasure in Attending—­Funeral
Cards—­Giftsof Gloves, Rings, and Scarfs—­Absence of
Depression—­Recordsof Sewall’s Attendance—­Wane of Gift-Giving—­A
New Amsterdam Funeral.

VI. Trials and Executions—­PuritanItching for Morbid and
Sensational—­Franknessof Descriptions—­Treatment of Condemned
Criminals—­ThePublic at Executions—­Sewall’s Descriptionof an
Execution—­Comingof More Normal Entertainments—­The Dancing
Master Arrives.

VII. Special Social Days—­LectureDay—­Prayers for the Afflicted—­Fast
Days—­ScantAttention to Thanksgiving and Christmas—­HowBradford
Stopped Christmas Observation—­Sewall’sRecords of Christmas—­A
Century Later.

VIII. Social Restrictions—­Josselyn’sAccount of New England
Restraints—­GrowingLaxity—­Sarah Knight’s Description—­Severity
in 1780—­LawsAgainst Lodging Relatives of the Opposite Sex—­What
Could not be Done in1650—­Husking Parties and Other Community

IX. Dutch Social Life—­ItsPleasant Familiarity—­Mrs. Grant’s
Description of EarlyNew York—­Normal Pleasures—­Loveof Flowers
and Children—­Loveof Eating—­Mrs. Grant’s Record—­Disregardfor
Religion—­Matingthe Children—­Picnicking—­PeculiarCustoms at
Dutch Funerals.

X. British Social Influences—­Increaseof Wealth—­The Schuyler
Home—­Minglingof Gaiety and Economy—­A Description in 1757—­Foreign
Astonishment at NewYork Display—­Richness of Woman’s
Adornment—­Card-Playingand Dancing—­Gambling in Society.

XI. Causes of Display and Frivolity—­Washington’sPunctiliousness—­Mrs.
Washington’s Dislikeof Stateliness—­Disgust of the
Democratic—­SenatorMaclay’s Description of a Dinner by
Washington—­PermanentBenefit of Washington’s Formality—­Elizabeth
Southgate’s Recordof New York Pastimes.

XII. Society in Philadelphia—­SocialWelcome for the British—­Early
Instruction in Dancing—­FormalDancing Assemblies.

XIII. The Beauty of PhiladelphiaWomen—­Abigail Adams’ Description—­The
Accomplished Mrs. Bingham—­Introductionof Social Fads—­Contrasts
with New York Belles.

XIV. Social Functions—­LavishUse of Wealth at Philadelphia—­Washington’s
Birthday—­MarthaWashington in Philadelphia—­Domestic Abilityof the
Belles—­Franklinand his Daughter—­General Wayne’s Statementabout
Philadelphia Gaiety.

XV. Theatrical Performances—­TheirGrowth in Popularity—­Washington’s
Liking for Them—­Mrs.Adams’ Description—­First Performancein
New York, Charleston,Williamsburg, Baltimore—­Invading the

XVI. Strange Customs in Louisiana—­Passionfor Pleasure—­Influence of
Creoles and Negroes—­Habitatfor Sailors and West Indian
Ruffians—­Reasonsfor Vice—­Accounts by Berquin-Duvallon—­Commonness
of Concubinage—­Alliott’sDescription—­Reasons for Aversion to
Marriage—­Corruptnessof Fathers and Sons—­Drawing the Color
Line—­RacePrejudice at Balls—­Fine Qualities of LouisianaWhite
Women—­Excessin Dress—­Lack of Education—­Berquin-Duvallon’s
Disgust—­TheMurder of Babes—­General Conclusions.


I. New England Weddings—­Lackof Ceremony and Merrymaking—­Freedom of
Choice for Women—­TheParents’ Permission—­Evidence from
Sewall—­Penaltyfor Toying with the Heart—­The Dowry.

II. Judge Sewall’s Courtships—­Independenceof Colonial Women—­Sewall
and Madam Winthrop—­HisFriends’ Urgings—­His Marriage to Mrs.
Tilley—­MadamWinthrop’s Hard-Hearted Manner—­SewallLooks
Elsewhere for a Wife—­SuccessAgain.

III. Liberty to Choose—­ElizaPinckney’s Letter on the Matter—­Betty
Sewall’s Rejectionof Lovers.

IV. The Banns and the Ceremony—­BannsRequired in Nearly all
Colonies—­Prejudiceagainst the Service of Preachers—­Sewall’s
Descriptions of Weddings—­Sewall’sEfforts to Prevent Preachers
from Officiating—­Refreshmentsat Weddings—­Increase in Hilarity.

V. Matrimonial Restrictions—­Reasonsfor Them—­Frequency of
Bigamy—­MonthlyFines—­Marriage with Relatives.

VI. Spinsters—­YouthfulMarriages—­Bachelors and Spinsters Viewedwith
Suspicion—­Fateof Old Maids—­Description of a Boston Spinster.

VII. Separation and Divorce—­Rarityof Them—­Separation in Sewall’s
Family—­ItsTragedy and Comedy.

VIII. Marriage in Pennsylvania—­ApproachToward Laxness—­Ben
Franklin’s Marriage—­QuakerMarriages—­Strange Mating among

IX. Marriage in the South—­ChurchService Required by Public
Sentiment—­Merrymaking—­BuyingWives—­Indented Servants—­John
Hammond’s Accountof Them.

X. Romance in Marriage—­BenedictArnold’s Proposal—­Hamilton’s
Opinion of His “Betty”—­TheCharming Romance of Agnes Surrage.

XI. Feminine Independence—­Treasonat the Tongue’s End—­Independence
of the Schuyler Girls.

XII. Matrimonial Advice—­JaneTurell’s Advice to Herself.

XIII. Matrimonial Irregularities—­Frequencyof Them—­Cause of Such
Troubles—­Winthrop’sRecords of Cases—­Death as a Penalty—­Law
against Marriage ofRelatives—­No Discrimination in Punishment
because of Sex—­Sewall’sAccounts of Executions—­Use of the
Scarlet Letter—­Recordsby Howard—­Custom of Bundling—­Its
Origin—­Adulterybetween Indented White Women and
Negroes—­Punishmentin Virginia—­Instances of the Social Evilin
New England—­LessShame among Colonial Men.

XIV. Violent Speech and Action—­RebelliousSpeech against the
Church—­AmazonianWives—­Citations from Court Records—­Punishment
for Slander.


I. Religious Initiative—­AnneHutchinson’s Use of Brains—­Bravery
of Quaker Women—­Perseveranceof Mary Dyer—­Martyrdom of Quakers.

II. Commercial Initiative—­Dabblingin State Affairs—­Women as
Merchants—­Mrs.Franklin in Business—­Pay for Women
Teachers—­Womenas Plantation Managers—­Example of Eliza
Pinckney—­HerBusy Day—­Martha Washington as Manager.

III. Woman’s Legal Powers—­Rightto Own and Will Property—­John
Todd’s Will—­AChurch Attempts to Cheat a Woman—­Astonishing
Career of Margaret Brent—­WomenFortify Boston Neck—­Tompson’s
Satire on it—­FeminineInitiative at Nantucket.

IV. Patriotic Initiative and Courage—­Evidencefrom Letters—­The
Anxiety of the Women—­WomenNear the Firing-Line—­Mrs. Adams in
Danger—­MarthaWashington’s Valor—­Mrs. Pinckney’sOptimism—­Her
Financial Distress—­Entertainingthe Enemy—­Marion’s Escape—­Mrs.
Pinckney’s Presenceof Mind—­Abigail Adams’ Brave Words—­Her
Description of a Battle—­Man’sAppreciation of Woman’s
Bravery—­MercyWarren’s Calmness—­Catherine Schuyler’sValiant
Deed—­HowShe Treated Burgoyne—­Some General Conclusions.






I. The Spirit of Woman

With what a valiant and unyielding spirit our forefathersmet the unspeakable hardships of the first days ofAmerican colonization! We of these softer andmore abundant times can never quite comprehend whatdistress, what positive suffering those bold soulsof the seventeenth century endured to establish anew people among the nations of the world. Thevery voyage from England to America might have dauntedthe bravest of spirits. Note but this glimpsefrom an account by Colonel Norwood in his Voyageto Virginia: “Women and children madedismal cries and grievous complaints. The infinitenumber of rats that all the voyage had been our plague,we now were glad to make our prey to feed on; andas they were insnared and taken a well grown rat wassold for sixteen shillings as a market rate.Nay, before the voyage did end (as I was crediblyinformed) a woman great with child offered twenty shillingsfor a rat, which the proprietor refusing, the womandied.”

That was an era of restless, adventurous spirits—­menand women filled with the rich and danger-loving bloodof the Elizabethan day. We should recall thatevery colony of the original thirteen, except Georgia,was founded in the seventeenth century when the energyof that great and versatile period of the Virgin Queenhad not yet dissipated itself. The spirit thatmoved Ben Jonson and Shakespeare to undertake the newand untried in literature was the same spirit thatmoved John Smith and his cavaliers to invade the Virginiawilderness, and the Pilgrim Fathers to found a commonwealthfor freedom’s sake on a stern and rock-boundcoast. It was the day of Milton, Dryden, andBunyan, the day of the Protectorate with its fanaticaldefenders, the day of the rise and fall of BritishPuritanism, the day of the Revolution of 1688 whichforever doomed the theory of the divine rights ofmonarchs, the day of the bloody Thirty Years’War with its consequent downfall of aristocracy, theday of the Grand Monarch in France with its accumulatingpreparations for the destruction of kingly lights andthe rise of the Commons.

In such an age we can but expect bold adventures.The discovery and exploration of the New World andthe defeat of the Spanish Armada had now made Englandmonarch of sea and land. The imagination of thepeople was aroused, and tales of a wealth like thatof Croesus came from mariners who had sailed the sevenseas, and were willingly believed by an excited audience.Indeed the nations stood ready with open-mouthed wonderto accept all stories, no matter how marvelous or preposterous.America suddenly appeared to all people as the landthat offered wealth, religious and political freedom,a home for the poor, a refuge for the persecuted,in truth, a paradise for all who would begin life anew.With such a vision and with such a spirit many came.The same energy that created a Lear and a Hamlet createda Jamestown and a Plymouth. Shakespeare was atthe height of his career when Jamestown was settled,and had been dead less than five years when the Puritanslanded at Plymouth. Impelled by the soul of sucha day Puritan and Cavalier sought the new land, hopingto find there that which they had been unable to attainin the Old World.

While from the standpoint of years the Cavalier colonyat Jamestown might be entitled to the first discussion,it is with the Puritans that we shall begin this investigation.For, with the Puritan Fathers came the Puritan Mothers,and while the influence of those fathers on Americancivilization has been too vast ever to be adequatelydescribed, the influence of those brave pioneer women,while less ostentatious, is none the less powerful.

What perils, what distress, what positive torture,not only physical but mental, those first mothersof America experienced! Sickness and famine weretheir daily portion in life. Their children, pushingever westward, also underwent untold toil and distress,but not to the degree known by those founders of NewEngland; for when the settlements of the later seventeenthcentury were established some part of the rawness andnewness had worn away, friends were not far distant,supplies were not wanting for long periods, and ifthe privations were intense, there were always theoriginal settlements to fall back upon. Hear whatThomas Prince in his Annals of New England,published in 1726, has to say of those first daysin the Plymouth Colony:

“March 24. (1621) N.B. This month Thirteenof our number die. And in three months past dieHalf our Company. The greatest part in the depthof winter, wanting houses and other comforts; beinginfected with the scurvy and other diseases, whichtheir long voyage and unaccommodate conditions bringupon them. So as there die, sometimes, two orthree a day. Of one hundred persons, scarce fiftyremain. The living scarce able to bury the dead;the well not sufficient to tend the sick: therebeing, in their time of greatest distress, but sixor seven; who spare no pains to help them....But the spring advancing, it pleases GOD, the mortalitybegins to cease; and the sick and lame to recover:which puts new life into the people; though they hadborne their sad affliction with as much patience asany could do."[1]

Indeed, as we read of that struggle with famine, sickness,and death during the first few years of the PlymouthColony we can but marvel that human flesh and humansoul could withstand the onslaught. The braveold colonist Bradford, confirms in his Historyof Plymouth Plantation the stories told by others:“But that which was most sad and lamentable,was that in two or three months’ time half oftheir company died, especially in January and February,being the depth of winter ... that of one hundredand odd persons scarce fifty remained: and ofthese in the time of most distress there was but sixor seven sound persons; who to their great commendations,be it spoken, spared no pains, night nor day, butwith abundance of toil and hazard of their own health,fetched them wood, made them fires, ... in a worddid all the homely, and necessary offices for them.”

The conditions were the same whether in the Plymouthor in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. And yet howbrave—­how pathetically brave—­wasthe colonial woman under every affliction. Inhours when a less valiant womanhood would have sunkin despair these wives and mothers strengthened oneanother and praised God for the humble sustenance Heallowed them. The sturdy colonist, Edward Johnson,in his Wonder Working Providence of Zions Saviourin New England, writing of the privations of 1631,the year after his colony had been founded, pays thistribute to the help-meets of the men:

“The women once a day, as the tide gave way,resorted to the mussels, and clambanks, which area fish as big as horse-mussels, where they daily gatheredtheir families’ food with much heavenly discourseof the provisions Christ had formerly made for manythousands of his followers in the wilderness.Quoth one, ’My husband hath travelled as faras Plymouth (which is near forty miles), and hathwith great toil brought a little corn home with him,and before that is spent the Lord will assuredly provide.’Quoth the other, ’Our last peck of meal is nowin the oven at home a-baking, and many of our godlyneighbors have quite spent all, and we owe one loafof that little we have.’ Then spake a third,’My husband hath ventured himself among the Indiansfor corn, and can get none, as also our honored Governorhath distributed his so far, that a day or two morewill put an end to his store, and all the rest, andyet methinks our children are as cheerful, fat andlusty with feeding upon these mussels, clambanks,and other fish, as they were in England with theirfill of bread, which makes me cheerful in the Lord’sproviding for us, being further confirmed by the exhortationof our pastor to trust the Lord with providing forus; whose is the earth and the fulness thereof.’”

It is a genuine pleasure to us of little faith tonote that such trust was indeed justified; for, continuedJohnson: “As they were encouraging oneanother in Christ’s careful providing for them,they lift up their eyes and saw two ships coming in,and presently this news came to their ears, that theywere come—­full of victuals.... Afterthis manner did Christ many times graciously providefor this His people, even at the last cast.”

If we will stop to consider the fact that many ofthese women of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were accustomedto the comfortable living of the middle-class countrypeople of England, with considerable material wealthand even some of the luxuries of modern civilization,we may imagine, at least in part, the terrifying contrastmet with in the New World. For conditions alongthe stormy coast of New England were indeed primitive.Picture the founding, for instance, of a town thatlater was destined to become the home of philosopherand seer—­Concord, Massachusetts. SaysJohnson in his Wonder Working Providence:

“After they had thus found out a place of abodethey burrow themselves in the earth for their firstshelter, under some hillside, casting the earth aloftupon timber; they make a smoke fire against the earthat the highest side and thus these poor servants ofChrist provide shelter for themselves, their wivesand little ones, keeping off the short showers fromtheir lodgings, but the long rains penetrate throughto their great disturbance in the night season.Yet in these poor wigwams they sing psalms, pray andpraise their God till they can provide them houses,which ordinarily was not wont to be with many tillthe earth by the Lord’s blessing brought forthbread to feed them, their wives and little ones....Thus this poor people populate this howling desert,marching manfully on, the Lord assisting, throughthe greatest difficulties and sorest labors that everany with such weak means have done.”

And Margaret Winthrop writes thus to her step-sonin England: “When I think of the troublesometimes and manyfolde destractions that are in our nativeCountrye, I thinke we doe not pryse oure happinesseheare as we have cause, that we should be in peacewhen so many troubles are in most places of the world.”

Many another quotation could be presented to emphasizethe impressions given above. Reading these afterthe lapse of nearly three centuries, we marvel atthe strength, the patience, the perseverance, the imperishablehope, trust, and faith of the Puritan woman. Suchhardships and privations as have been described abovemight seem sufficient; but these were by no meansall or even the greatest of the trials of womanhoodin the days of the nation’s childhood.To understand in any measure at all the life of achild or a wife or a mother of the Puritan colonieswith its strain and suffering, we must know and comprehendher religion. Let us examine this—­thedominating influence of her life.

II. Woman and Her Religion

Paradoxical as it may seem, religion was to the colonialwoman both a blessing and a curse. Though itgave courage and some comfort it was as hard and unyieldingas steel. We of this later hour may well shudderwhen we read the sermons of Cotton Mather and JonathanEdwards; but if the mere reading causes astonishmentafter the lapse of these hundreds of years, what terrorthe messages must have inspired in those who livedunder their terrific indictments, prophecies, and warnings.Here was a religion based on Judaism and the Mosaiccode, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for atooth.” Moses Coit Tyler has declared inhis History of American Literature:[2] “Theydid not attempt to combine the sacred and the secular;they simply abolished the secular and left only thesacred. The state became the church; the kinga priest; politics a department of theology; citizenshipthe privilege of those only who had received baptismand the Lord’s Supper.”

And what an idea of the sacred was theirs! Thegentleness, the mercy, the loving kindness that areof God so seldom enter into those ancient discussionsthat such attributes are almost negligible. MichaelWigglesworth’s poem, The Day of Doom,published in 1662, may be considered as an authoritativetreatise on the theology of the Puritans; for it notonly was so popular as to receive several reprints,but was sanctioned by the elders of the church themselves.If this was orthodoxy—­and the proof thatit was is evident—­it was of a sort thatmight well sour and embitter the nature of man andfill the gentle soul of womanhood with fear and darkforebodings. We well know that the Puritans thoroughlybelieved that man’s nature was weak and sinful,and that the human soul was a prisoner placed hereupon earth by the Creator to be surrounded with temptations.This God is good, however, in that he has given manan opportunity to overcome the surrounding evils.

“But I’m a prisoner,
Under a heavy chain;
Almighty God’s afflicting hand,
Doth me by force restrain.

* * * * *

“But why should I complain
That have so good a God,
That doth mine heart with comfort fill
Ev’n whilst I feel his rod?

* * * * *

“Let God be magnified,
Whose everlasting strength
Upholds me under sufferings
Of more than ten years’ length.”

The Day of Doom is, in the main, its author’svision of judgment day, and, whatever artistic ortheological defects it may have, it undeniably possessesrealism. For instance, several stanzas deal withone of the most dreadful doctrines of the Puritanfaith, that all infants who died unbaptized enteredinto eternal torment—­a theory that musthave influenced profoundly the happiness and woe ofcolonial women. The poem describes for us whatwas then believed should be the scene on that finalday when young and old, heathen and Christian, saintand sinner, are called before their God to answerfor their conduct in the flesh. Hear the pleaof the infants, who dying, at birth before baptismcould be administered, asked to be relieved from punishmenton the grounds that they have committed no sin.

“If for our own transgression,
or disobedience,
We here did stand at thy lefthand,
just were theRecompense;
But Adam’s guilt oursouls hath spilt,
his fault is charg’dupon us;
And that alone hath overthrownand utterly
undone us.”

Pointing out that it was Adam who ate of the treeand that they were innocent, they ask:

“O great Creator, whywas our nature
depraved and forlorn?
Why so defil’d, andmade so vil’d,
whilst we wereyet unborn?
If it be just, and needs wemust
transgressorsreckon’d be,
Thy mercy, Lord, to us afford,
which sinnershath set free.”

But the Creator answers:

“God doth such doomforbid,
That men should die eternally
for what theynever did.
But what you call old Adam’sfall,
and only his trespass,
You call amiss to call ithis,
both his and yoursit was.”

The Judge then inquires why, since they would havereceived the pleasures and joys which Adam could havegiven them, the rewards and blessings, should theyhesitate to share his “treason.”

“Since then to share in hiswelfare,
you could have been content,
You may with reason share in his treason,
and in the punishment,
Hence you were born in state forlorn,
with natures so depraved
Death was your due because that you
had thus yourselves behaved.

* * * * *

“Had you been made in Adam’sstead,
you would like things have wrought,
And so into the self-same woe
yourselves and yours have brought.”

Then follows a reprimand upon the part of the judgebecause they should presume to question His judgments,and to ask for mercy:

“Will you demand grace atmy hand,
and challenge what is mine?
Will you teach me whom to set free,
and thus my grace confine.

“You sinners are, andsuch a share
as sinners mayexpect;
Such you shall have, for Ido save
none but mineown Elect.

“Yet to compare yoursin with theirs
who liv’da longer time,
I do confess yours is muchless
though every sin’sa crime.

“A crime it is, thereforein bliss
you may not hopeto dwell;
But unto you I shall allow
the easiest roomin Hell.”

Would not this cause anguish to the heart of any mother?Indeed, we shall never know what intense anxiety thePuritan woman may have suffered during the few daysintervening between the hour of the birth and thedate of the baptism of her infant. It is not surprising,therefore, that an exceedingly brief period was allowedto elapse before the babe was taken from its mother’sarms and carried through snow and wind to the desolatechurch. Judge Sewall, whose Diary coversmost of the years from 1686 to 1725, and who recordsevery petty incident from the cutting of his fingerto the blowing off of the Governor’s hat, hasleft us these notes on the baptism of some of his fourteenchildren:

“April 8, 1677. Elizabeth Weeden, the Midwife,brought the infant to the third Church when Sermonwas about half done in the afternoon ... I namedhim John.” (Five days after birth.)[3] “Sabbath-day,December 13th 1685. Mr. Willard baptizeth mySon lately born, whom I named Henry.” (Fourdays after birth.)[4] “February 6, 1686-7.Between 3 and 4 P.M. Mr. Willard baptized mySon, whom I named Stephen.” (Five days afterbirth.)[5]

Little wonder that infant mortality was exceedinglyhigh, especially when the baptismal service took placeon a day as cold as this one mentioned by Sewall:“Sabbath, Janr. 24 ... This day so coldthat the Sacramental Bread is frozen pretty hard,and rattles sadly as broken into the Plates."[6] Wemay take it for granted that the water in the fontwas rapidly freezing, if not entirely frozen, and doubtlessthe babe, shrinking under the icy touch, felt inclinedto give up the struggle for existence, and declinea further reception into so cold and forbidding aworld. Once more hear a description by the kindly,but abnormally orthodox old Judge: “Lord’sDay, Jany 15, 1715-16. An extraordinary ColdStorm of Wind and Snow.... Bread was frozen atthe Lord’s Table: Though ’twas soCold, yet John Tuckerman was baptised. At sixa-clock my ink freezes so that I can hardly write bya good fire in my Wive’s Chamber. Yet wasvery Comfortable at Meeting. Laus Deo."[7]

But let us pass to other phases of this theology underwhich the Puritan woman lived. The God picturedin the Day of Doom not only was of a crueland angry nature but was arbitrary beyond modern belief.His wrath fell according to his caprice upon sinneror saint. We are tempted to inquire as to thestrange mental process that could have led any humanbeing to believe in such a Creator. Regardlessof doctrine, creed, or theology, we cannot totallydissociate our earthly mental condition from thatin the future state; we cannot refuse to believe thatwe shall have the same intelligent mind, and the sameability to understand, perceive, and love. Apparently,however, the Puritan found no difficulty in believingthat the future existence entailed an entire changein the principles of love and in the emotions of sympathyand pity.

“He thatwas erst a husband pierc’d
withsense of wife’s distress,
Whose tender heartdid bear a part
ofall her grievances.
Shall mourn nomore as heretofore,
becauseof her ill plight,
Although he seeher now to be
adamn’d forsaken wight.

“The tender mother willown no other
of all her num’rous brood
But such as stand at Christ’s right hand,
acquitted through his Blood.
The pious father had now much rather
his graceless son should lie
In hell with devils, for all his evils,
burning eternally.”

(Day of Doom.)

But we do not have to trust to Michael Wigglesworth’spoem alone for a realistic conception of the God andthe religion of the Puritans. It is in the sermonsof the day that we discover a still more unbending,harsh, and hideous view of the Creator and his characteristics.In the thunderings of Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards,we, like the colonial women who sat so meekly in thehigh, hard benches, may fairly smell the brimstoneof the Nether World. Why, exclaims Jonathan Edwardsin his sermon, The Eternity of Hell Torments:

“Do but consider what it is to suffer extremetorment forever and ever; to suffer it day and night,from one day to another, from one year to another,from one age to another, from one thousand ages toanother, and so, adding age to age, and thousandsto thousands, in pain, in wailing and lamenting, groaningand shrieking, and gnashing your teeth; with yoursouls full of dreadful grief and amazement, with yourbodies and every member full of racking torture, withoutany possibility of getting ease; without any possibilityof moving God to pity by your cries; without any possibilityof hiding yourselves from him.... How dismalwill it be, when you are under these racking torments,to know assuredly that you never, never shall be deliveredfrom them; to have no hope; when you shall wish thatyou might but be turned into nothing, but shall haveno hope of it; when you shall wish that you might beturned into a toad or a serpent, but shall have nohope of it; when you would rejoice, if you might buthave any relief, after you shall have endured thesetorments millions of ages, but shall have no hope ofit; when after you shall have worn out the age ofthe sun, moon, and stars, in your dolorous groansand lamentations, without any rest day or night, whenafter you shall have worn out a thousand more suchages, yet you shall have no hope, but shall know thatyou are not one whit nearer to the end of your torments;but that still there are the same groans, the sameshrieks, the same doleful cries, incessantly to bemade by you, and that the smoke of your torment shallstill ascend up, forever and ever; and that your souls,which shall have been agitated with the wrath of Godall this while, yet will still exist to bear more wrath;your bodies, which shall have been burning and roastingall this while in these glowing flames, yet shallnot have been consumed, but will remain to roast throughan eternity yet, which will not have been at all shortenedby what shall have been past.”

When we remember that to the Puritan man, woman, orchild the message of the preacher meant the messageof God, we may imagine what effect such words hadon a colonial congregation. To the overwroughtnerves of many a Puritan woman, taught to believemeekly the doctrines of her father, and weakened inbody by ceaseless childbearing and unending toil, sucha picture must indeed have been terrifying. Andthe God that she and her husband heard described Sabbathafter Sabbath was not only heartily willing to condemnman to eternal torment but capable of enjoying thetortures of the damned, and gloating in strange joyover the writhings of the condemned. Is it anywonder that in the midst of Jonathan Edward’ssermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,men and women sprang to their feet and shrieked inanguish, “What shall we do to be saved?”

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell,much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect,over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked;his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks uponyou as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into thefire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have youin his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominablein his eyes, as the most hateful and venomous serpentis in ours. You have offended him infinitely morethan ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yetit is nothing but his hand that holds you from fallinginto the fire every moment; it is ascribed to nothingelse that you did not go to hell the last night; thatyou was suffered to awake again in this world, afteryou closed your eyes to sleep; and there is no otherreason to be given why you have not dropped into hellsince you arose in the morning, but that God’shand has held you up; there is no other reason tobe given why you have not gone to hell, since youhave sat here in the house of God, provoking his pureeyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending hissolemn worship: yea, there is nothing else thatis to be given as a reason why you do not this verymoment drop down into hell.”

Under such teachings the girl of colonial New Englandgrew into womanhood; with such thoughts in mind shesaw her children go down into the grave; with suchforebodings she herself passed out into an uncertainHereafter. Nor was there any escape from suchsermons; for church attendance was for many yearscompulsory, and even when not compulsory, was essentialfor those who did not wish to be politically and sociallyostracized. The preachers were not, of course,required to give proof for their declarations; theymight well have announced, “Thus saith the Lord,”but they preferred to enter into disquisitions bristlingwith arguments and so-called logical deductions.For instance, note in Edwards’ sermon, WhySaints in Glory will Rejoice to see the Torments ofthe Damned, the chain of reasoning leading to theconclusion that those enthroned in heaven shall findjoy in the unending torture of their less fortunateneighbors:

“They will rejoice in seeing the justiceof God glorified in the sufferings of the damned.The misery of the damned, dreadful as it is, is butwhat justice requires. They in heaven will seeand know it much more clearly than any of us do here.They will see how perfectly just and righteous theirpunishment is and therefore how properly inflictedby the supreme Governor of the world.... Theywill rejoice when they see him who is their Fatherand eternal portion so glorious in his justice.The sight of this strict and immutable justice of Godwill render him amiable and adorable in their eyes.It will occasion rejoicing in them, as they will havethe greater sense of their own happiness, byseeing the contrary misery. It is the natureof pleasure and pain, of happiness and misery, greatly

to heighten the sense of each other.... When theyshall see how miserable others of their fellow-creaturesare, who were naturally in the same circ*mstanceswith themselves; when they shall see the smoke oftheir torment, and the raging of the flames of theirburning, and hear their dolorous shrieks and cries,and consider that they in the meantime are in themost blissful state, and shall surely be in it toall eternity; how will they rejoice!... When theyshall see the dreadful miseries of the damned, andconsider that they deserved the same misery, and thatit was sovereign grace, and nothing else, which madethem so much to differ from the damned, that if ithad not been for that, they would have been in thesame condition; but that God from all eternity waspleased to set his love upon them, that Christ hathlaid down his life for them, and hath made them thusgloriously happy forever, O how will they adore thatdying love of Christ, which has redeemed them fromso great a misery, and purchased for them so greathappiness, and has so distinguished them from othersof their fellow-creatures!”

It was a strange creed that led men to teach suchtheories. And when we learn that Jonathan Edwardswas a man of singular gentleness and kind-heartedness,we realize that it must have tortured him to preachsuch doctrines, but that he believed it his sacredduty to do so.

The religion, however, that the Puritan woman imbibedfrom girlhood to old age went further than this; ittaught the theory of a personal devil. To theNew England colonists Satan was a very real individualcapable of taking to himself a physical form with theproverbial tail, horns, and hoofs. Hear whatCotton Mather, one of the most eminent divines ofearly Massachusetts, has to say in his MemorableProvidences about this highly personal Satan:“There is both a God and a Devil and Witchcraft:That there is no out-ward Affliction, but what Godmay (and sometimes doth) permit Satan to trouble hispeople withal: That the Malice of Satan and hisInstruments, is very great against the Children ofGod: That the clearest Gospel-Light shining ina place, will not keep some from entering hellishContracts with infernal Spirits: That Prayeris a powerful and effectual Remedy against the maliciouspractices of Devils and those in Covenant with them."[8]

And His Satanic Majesty had legions of followers,equally insistent on tormenting humanity. InThe Wonders of the Invisible World, publishedin 1692, Mather proves that there is a devil and thatthe being has specific attributes, powers, and limitations:

“A devil is a fallen angel, anangel fallen from the fear and love of God, andfrom all celestial glories; but fallen to all mannerof wretchedness and cursedness.... There are multitudes,multitudes, in the valley of destruction, wherethe devils are! When we speak of the devil,’tis a name of multitude.... The devilsthey swarm about us, like the frogs of Egypt, in themost retired of our chambers. Are we atour boards? beds? There will be devils totempt us into carnality. Are we in our shops?There will be devils to tempt us into dishonesty.Yea, though we get into the church of God, therewill be devils to haunt us in the very templeitself, and there tempt us to manifold misbehaviors.I am verily persuaded that there are very fewhuman affairs whereinto some devils are not insinuated.There is not so much as a journey intended, butSatan will have an hand in hindering or furtheringof it.”
“...’Tis to be supposed,that there is a sort of arbitrary, even militarygovernment, among the devils.... These devilshave a prince over them, who is king over thechildren of pride. ’Tis probable thatthe devil, who was the ringleader of that mutinousand rebellious crew which first shook off theauthority of God, is now the general of thosehellish armies; our Lord that conquered him hastold us the name of him; ’tis Belzebub; ’tishe that is the devil and the rest are his angels,or his soldiers.... ’Tis to be supposedthat some devils are more peculiarly commission’d,and perhaps qualify’d, for some countries,while others are for others.... It is not likelythat every devil does know every language; orthat every devil can do every mischief.’Tis possible that the experience, or, if I maycall it so, the education of all devils is notalike, and that there may be some differencein their abilities....”

What was naturally the effect of such a faith uponthe sensitive nerves of the women of those days?Viewed in its larger aspects this was an objective,not a subjective religion. It could but make thesensitive soul super-sensitive, introspective, morbidlyalive to uncanny and weird suggestions, and strangelyafraid of the temptation of enjoying earthly pleasures.Its followers dared not allow themselves to becomedeeply attached to anything temporal; for such anemotion was the device of the devil, and God wouldsurely remove the object of such affection. Whetherthrough anger or jealousy or kindness, the Creatordid this, the Puritan woman seems not to have stoppedto consider; her belief was sufficient that earthlydesires and even natural love must be repressed.Winthrop, a staunch supporter of colonial New Englandcreeds as well as of independence, gives us an exampleof God’s actions in such a matter: “Agodly woman of the church of Boston, dwelling sometimein London, brought with her a parcel of very finelinen of great value, which she set her heart toomuch upon, and had been at charge to have it all newlywashed, and curiously folded and pressed, and so leftit in press in her parlor over night.”Through the carelessness of a servant, the packagecaught on fire and was totally destroyed. “Butit pleased God that the loss of this linen did hermuch good, both in taking off her heart from worldlycomforts, and in preparing her for a far greater afflictionby the untimely death of her husband...."[9]

Especially did this doctrine apply to the love ofhuman beings. How often must it have grievedthe Puritan mother to realize that she must exerciseunceasing care lest she love her children too intensely!For the passionate love of a mother for her babe wasbut a rash temptation to an ever-watchful and ever-jealousGod to snatch the little one away. Preachersdeclared it in the pulpit, and writers emphasized itin their books; the trusting and faithful woman darednot believe otherwise. Once more we may turnto Winthrop for proof of this terrifying doctrine:

“God will be sanctified in them that come nearhim. Two others were the children of one of theChurch of Boston. While their parents were atthe lecture, the boy (being about seven years of age),having a small staff in his hand, ran down upon theice towards a boat he saw, and the ice breaking, hefell in, but his staff kept him up, till his sister,about fourteen years old, ran down to save her brother(though there were four men at hand, and called toher not to go, being themselves hasting to save him)and so drowned herself and him also, being past recoveryere the men could come at them, and could easily reachground with their feet. The parents had no moresons, and confessed they had been too indulgent towardshim, and had set their hearts overmuch upon him."[10]

And again, what mother could be certain that punishmentfor her own petty errors might not be wreaked uponher innocent child? For the faith of the daydid not demand that the sinner receive upon himselfthe recompense for his deeds; the mighty Ruler abovecould and would arbitrarily choose as the victim theoffspring of an erring parent. Says Winthropin the History of New England, mentioned above:

“This puts me in mind of another child verystrangely drowned a little before winter. Theparents were also members of the church of Boston.The father had undertaken to maintain the mill-dam,and being at work upon it (with some help he had hired),in the afternoon of the last day of the week, nightcame upon them before they had finished what theyintended, and his conscience began to put him in mindof the Lord’s day, and he was troubled, yetwent on and wrought an hour within night. Thenext day, after evening exercise, and after they hadsupped, the mother put two children to bed in theroom where themselves did lie, and they went out tovisit a neighbor. When they returned, they continuedabout an hour in the room, and missed not the child,but then the mother going to the bed, and not findingher youngest child (a daughter about five years ofa*ge), after much search she found it drowned in a wellin her cellar; which was very observable, as by aspecial hand of God, that the child should go outof that room into another in the dark, and then falldown at a trap-door, or go down the stairs, and sointo the well in the farther end of the cellar, thetop of the well and the water being even with theground. But the father, freely in the open congregation,did acknowledge it the righteous hand of God for hisprofaning his holy day against the checks of his ownconscience.”

There was a certain amount of pitiable egotism inall this. Seemingly God had very little to doexcept watch the Puritans. It reminds one ofthe two resolutions tradition says that some Puritanleader suggested: Resolved, firstly, that thesaints shall inherit the earth; resolved, secondly,that we are the saints. A supernatural or divineexplanation seems to have been sought for all events;natural causes were too frequently ignored. Thesuper-sensitive almost morbid nature resulting fromsuch an attitude caused far-fetched hypotheses; Godwas in every incident and every act or accident.We may turn again to Winthrop’s Historyfor an illustration:

“1648. The synod met at Cambridge.Mr. Allen preached. It fell out, about the midstof his sermon, there came a snake into the seat wheremany elders sate behind the preacher. Divers eldersshifted from it, but Mr. Thomson, one of the eldersof Braintree, (a man of much faith) trod upon thehead of it, until it was killed. This being soremarkable, and nothing falling out but by divineprovidence, it is out of doubt, the Lord discoveredsomewhat of his mind in it. The serpent is thedevil; the synod, the representative of the churchesof Christ in New England. The devil had formerlyand lately attempted their disturbance and dissolution;but their faith in the seed of the woman overcame himand crushed his head.”

There was a further belief that God in hasty angeroften wreaked instant vengeance upon those who displeasedHim, and this doctrine doubtless kept many a Puritanin constant dread lest the hour of retribution shouldcome upon him without warning. How often the motherof those days must have admonished in all sincerityher child not to do this or that lest God strike thesudden blow of death in retribution. Numerousindeed are the examples presented of sinners who paidthus abruptly the penalty for transgression.Let Increase Mather speak through his Essay forthe Recording of Illustrious Providences:

“The hand of God was very remarkable in thatwhich came to pass in the Narragansett country inNew England, not many weeks since; for I have goodinformation, that on August 28, 1683, a man there (viz.Samuel Wilson) having caused his dog to mischief hisneighbor’s cattle was blamed for his so doing.He denied the fact with imprecations, wishing thathe might never stir from that place if he had so done.His neighbor being troubled at his denying the truth,reproved him, and told him he did very ill to denywhat his conscience knew to be truth. The atheistthereupon used the name of God in his imprecations,saying, ’He wished to God he might never stirout of that place, if he had done that which he wascharged with.’ The words were scarce outof his mouth before he sunk down dead, and never stirredmore; a son-in-law of his standing by and catchinghim as he fell to the ground.”

And if further proof of the swiftness with which Godmay act is desired, Increase Mather’s IllustriousProvidences may again be cited: “A thingnot unlike this happened (though not in New Englandyet) in America, about a year ago; for in September,1682, a man at the Isle of Providence, belonging toa vessel, whereof one Wollery was master, being chargedwith some deceit in a matter that had been committedto him, in order to his own vindication, horridlywished ’that the devil might put out his eyesif he had done as was suspected concerning him.’That very night a rheum fell into his eyes so thatwithin a few days he became stark blind. Hiscompany being astonished at the Divine hand which thusconspicuously and signally appeared, put him ashoreat Providence, and left him there. A physicianbeing desired to undertake his cure, hearing how hecame to lose his sight, refused to meddle with him.This account I lately received from credible persons,who knew and have often seen the man whom the devil(according to his own wicked wish) made blind, throughthe dreadful and righteous judgment of God.”

III. Inherited Nervousness

In all ages it would seem that woman has more readilyaccepted the teachings of her elders and has takento heart more earnestly the doctrines of new religions,however strange or novel, than has man. It wasso in the days of Christ; it is true in our own eraof Christian Science, Theosophy, and New Thought.The message that fell from the lips of the fanaticallyzealous preachers of colonial times sank deep intothe hearts of New England women. Its impressionwas sharp and abiding, and the sensitive mother transmittedher fears and dread to her child. Timid girls,inheriting a super-conscious realization of human defects,and hearing from babyhood the terrifying doctrines,grew also into a womanhood noticeable for overwroughtnerves and depressed spirits. Timid, shrinkingBetty Sewall, daughter of Judge Sewall, was troubledall the days of her life with qualms about the stateof her soul, was hysterical as a child, wretched inher mature years, and depressed in soul at the hourof her departure. In his famous diary her fathermakes this note about her when she was about fiveyears of age: “It falls to my daughterElizabeth’s Share to read the 24 of Isaiah whichshe doth with many Tears not being very well, andthe Contents of the Chapter and Sympathy with herdraw Tears from me also.”

A writer of our own day, Alice Morse Earle, has wellexpressed our opinion when she says in her ChildLife in Colonial Days: “The terribleverses telling of God’s judgment on the land,of fear of the pit, of the snare, of emptiness andwaste, of destruction and desolation, must have sunkdeep into the heart of the sick child, and producedthe condition shown by this entry when she was a fewyears older: ’When I came in, past 7 atnight, my wife met me in the Entry and told me Betty

had surprised them. I was surprised with the Abruptnessof the Relation. It seems Betty Sewall had givensome signs of dejection and sorrow; but a little whileafter dinner she burst into an amazing cry which caus’dall the family to cry too. Her mother ask’dthe Reason, she gave none; at last said she was afraidshe should go to Hell, her Sins were not pardon’d.She was first wounded by my reading a Sermon of Mr.Norton’s; Text, Ye shall seek me and shall notfind me. And these words in the Sermon, Ye shallseek me and die in your Sins, ran in her Mind andterrified her greatly. And staying at home, sheread out of Mr. Cotton Mather—­Why hathSatan filled thy Heart? which increas’d herFear. Her Mother asked her whether she pray’d.She answered Yes, but fear’d her prayers werenot heard, because her sins were not pardoned.’"[11]

We may well imagine the anguish of Betty Sewall’smother. And yet neither that mother, whose lifehad been gloomy enough under the same religion, northe father who had led his child into distress by holdingbefore her her sinful condition, could offer any genuinecomfort. Miss Earle has summarized with briefnessand force the results of such training: “Afrightened child, a retiring girl, a vacillating sweetheart,an unwilling bride, she became the mother of eightchildren; but always suffered from morbid introspection,and overwhelming fear of death and the future life,until at the age of thirty-five her father sadly wrote,‘God has delivered her now from all her fears.’"[12]

According to our modern conception of what child lifeshould consist of, the existence of the Puritan girlmust have been darkened from early infancy by sucha creed. Only the indomitable desire of the humanbeing to survive, and the capacity of the human spiritunder the pressure of daily duties to thrust backinto the subconscious mind its dread or terror, couldenable man or woman to withstand the physical and mentalstrain of the theories hurled down so sternly and soconfidently from the colonial pulpit. CottonMather in his Diary records this incident whenhis daughter was but four years old: “Itook my little daughter Katy into my Study and thenI told my child I am to dye Shortly and she must,when I am Dead, remember Everything I now said untoher. I sett before her the sinful Condition ofher Nature, and I charged her to pray in Secret Placesevery Day. That God for the sake of Jesus Christwould give her a New Heart. I gave her to understandthat when I am taken from her she must look to meetwith more humbling Afflictions than she does now shehas a Tender Father to provide for her.”

Infinite pity we may well have for those stern parentswho, faithful to what they considered their duty,missed so much of the sanity, sweetness and joy oflife, and thrust upon their babes, whose days shouldhave been filled with love and light and play, thedread of death and hell and eternal damnation.It is with a touch of irony that we read that Mathersurvived by thirty years this child whose infant mindwas tortured with visions of the grave. Yet astrange sort of pride seems to have been taken inthe capacity of children to imbibe such gloomy theologicaltheories and in the ability to repeat, parrotlike,the oft-repeated doctrines of inherent sinfulness.One babe, two years old, was able “savinglyto understand the Mysteries of Redemption”; anotherof the same age was “a dear lover of faithfulministers”; Anne Greenwich, who, we are notsurprised to discover, died at the age of five, “discoursedmost astonishingly of great mysteries”; DanielBradley, when three years old, had an “impressionand inquisition of the state of souls after death”;Elizabeth Butcher, when only two and a half yearsold, would ask herself as she lay in her cradle, “Whatis my corrupt nature?” and would answer herselfwith the quotation, “It is empty of grace, bentunto sin, and only to sin, and that continually.”With such spiritual food were our ancestors fed—­sometimesto the eternal undoing of their posterity’sphysical and mental welfare.

IV. Woman’s Day of Rest

It is possible that the Puritan woman gained one verymaterial blessing from the religion of her day; shewas relieved of practically all work on Sunday.The colonial Sabbath was indeed strictly observed;there was little visiting, no picnicking, no heavymeals, no week-end parties, none of the entertainmentsso prevalent in our own day. The wife and motherwas therefore spared the heavy tasks of Sunday so commonlyexpected of the typical twentieth-century housewife.But it is doubtful whether the alternative—­attendanceat church almost the entire day—­would appearone whit more desirable to the modern woman. TheSabbath of those times was verily a period of religiousworship. No one must leave town, and no one musttravel to town save for the church service. Theremust be no work on the farm or in the city. Boatsmust not be used except when necessary to transportpeople to divine service. Fishing, hunting, anddancing were absolutely forbidden. No one mustuse a horse, ox, or wagon if the church were withinreasonable walking distance, and “reasonable”was a most expansive word. Tobacco was not tobe smoked or chewed near any meeting-house. Theodor of cooking food on Sunday was an abominationin the nostrils of the Most High. And we shouldbear in mind that these rules were enforced from sunseton Saturday to sunset on Sunday—­the twenty-fourhours of the Puritan Sabbath. The Holy Day, asspent by the preacher, John Cotton, may be taken astypical of the strenuous hours of the Sabbath as observedby many a New England pastor:

“He began the Sabbath at evening, thereforethen performed family duty after supper, being longerthan ordinary in exposition. After which he catechizedhis children and servants, and then returned to hisstudy. The morning following, family worshipbeing ended, he retired into his study until the bellcalled him away. Upon his return from meeting(where he had preached and prayed some hours), he returnedagain into his study (the place of his labor and prayer),unto his favorite devotion; where having a small repastcarried him up for his dinner, he continued untilthe tolling of the bell. The public service ofthe afternoon being over, he withdrew for a spaceto his pre-mentioned oratory for his sacred addressesto God, as in the forenoon, then came down, repeatedthe sermon in the family, prayed, after supper sanga Psalm, and toward bedtime betaking himself againto his study he closed the day with prayer.”

To many a modern reader such a method of spendingSunday for either preacher or laymen would seem notonly irksome but positively detrimental to physicaland mental health; but we should bear in mind thatthe opportunity to sit still and listen after six daysof strenuous muscular toil was probably welcomed bythe colonist, and, further, that in the absence ofnewspapers and magazines and other intellectual stimulithe oratory of the clergy, stern as it may have been,was possibly an equal relief. Especially weresuch “recreations” welcomed by the women;for their toil was as arduous as that of the men; whiletheir round of life and their means of receiving thestimulus of public movements were even more restricted.

V. Religion and Woman’s Foibles

The repressive characteristics of the creed of thehour were felt more keenly by those women than probablyany man of the period ever dreamed. For womanseems to possess an innate love of the dainty and thebeautiful, and beauty was the work of Satan. Nothingwas too small or insignificant for this religion toexamine and control. It even regulated that mostdifficult of all matters to govern—­femininedress. As Fisher says in his Men, Women andManners in Colonial Times:

“At every opportunity they raisedsome question of religion and discussed it threadbare,and the more fine-spun and subtle it was themore it delighted them. Governor Winthrop’sJournal is full of such questions as whetherthere could be an indwelling of the Holy Ghostin a believer without a personal union; whether itwas lawful even to associate or have dealingswith idolaters like the French; whether womenshould wear veils. On the question of veils,Roger Williams was in favor of them; but John Cottonone morning argued so powerfully on the otherside that in the afternoon the women all cameto church without them.”
“There were orders of the GeneralCourt forbidding ’short sleeves wherebythe nakedness of the arms may be discovered.’Women’s sleeves were not to be more thanhalf an ell wide. There were to be no ’immoderategreat sleeves, immoderate ... knots of ryban, broadshoulder bands and rayles, silk ruses, double rufflesand cuffs.’ The women were complainedof because of their ’wearing borders ofhair and their cutting, curling, and immodest layingout of their hair.’"[13]

Petty details that would not receive a moment’sconsideration in our own day aroused the theologicalscruples of those colonial pastors, and moved themto interminable arguments which nicely balanced thepros and cons as warranted by scripture. Oneof John Cotton’s most famous sermons dealt withthe question as to whether women had a right to singin church, and after lengthy disquisition the preacherfinally decided that the Lord had no special objectionto women’s singing the Psalms, but this conclusionwas reached only after an unsparing battle of doubtsand logic. “Some,” he declares, “thatwere altogether against singing of Psalms at all witha lively voice, yet being convinced that it is a moralworship of God warranted in Scripture, then if theremust be a Singing one alone must sing, not all (orif all) the Men only and not the Women.... Someobject, ’Because it is not permitted to speakin the Church in two cases: 1. By way ofteaching.... For this the Apostle accountethan act of authority which is unlawful for a woman tousurp over the man, II, Tim. 2, 13. And besidesthe woman is more subject to error than a man, ver.14, and therefore might soon prove a seducer if shebecame a teacher.... It is not permitted to awoman to speak in the Church by way of propoundingquestions though under pretence of desire to learnfor her own satisfaction; but rather it is requiredshe should ask her husband at home.”

Thus we might follow Cotton through many a page andhear his ingenious application of Biblical verses,his carefully balanced arguments, his earnest considerationof what seems to the modern reader a most trivialquestion. To him, however, and probably to thewomen also it was a weighty subject, more importantby far than the cause of the high mortality amongboth mothers and children of the day—­a mortalityappallingly high. It would seem that the fevers,sore throats, consumption, and small pox that destroyedwomen and babes in vast numbers might have claimedsome attention from the hair-splitting clergyman andhis congregation. We must not, however, judgethe age too harshly. It is utterly impossiblefor us of the twentieth century to understand entirelythe view point of the Puritans; for the remarkableera of the nineteenth century intervenes, and freedomfrom superstition and blind faith is a gift whichcame after that era and not before.

From time to time the colonists to the south may havesneered at or even condemned the severity of New Englandlife, but in the main the merchants of New York andthe planters of Virginia and Maryland realized andrespected the moral worth and earnest nature of theMassachusetts settlers. For example, the versatileVirginia leader, William Byrd, remarks sarcasticallyin his History of the Dividing Line Run in theYear 1728: “Nor would I care, like acertain New England Magistrate to order a Man to theWhipping Post for daring to ride for a midwife on theLord’s Day”; but in the same manuscripthe pays these people of rigid rules the followingtribute: “Tho’ these People may beridiculed for some Pharisaical Particularitys in theirWorship and Behaviour, yet they were very useful Subjects,as being Frugal and Industrious, giving no Scandalor Bad Example, at least by any Open and Public Vices.By which excellent Qualities they had much the Advantageof the Southern Colony, who thought their being Membersof the Establish’t Church sufficient to Sanctifievery loose and Profligate Morals. For this reasonNew England improved much faster than Virginia, andin Seven or Eight Years New Plymouth, like Switzerland,seemd too narrow a Territory for its Inhabitants."[14]

Those early New Englanders may have been frugal andindustrious, giving no scandal nor bad example; butthe constant repression, the monotony, the drearinessof the religion often wrought havoc with the sensitivenerves of the women, and many of them needed, far morethan prayers, godly counsel and church trials, theskilled services of a physician. Two incidentsrelated by Winthrop should be sufficient to impressthe pathos or the down-right tragedy of the situation:

“A cooper’s wife of Hingham, having beenlong in a sad melancholic distemper near to phrensy,and having formerly attempted to drown her child,but prevented by God’s gracious providence, didnow again take an opportunity.... And threw itinto the water and mud ... She carried the childagain, and threw it in so far as it could not get out;but then it pleased God, that a young man, comingthat way, saved it. She would give no other reasonfor it, but that she did it to save it from misery,and with that she was assured, she had sinned againstthe Holy Ghost, and that she could not repent of anysin. Thus doth Satan work by the advantage ofour infirmities, which would stir us up to cleave themore fast to Christ Jesus, and to walk the more humblyand watchfully in all our conversation.”

“Dorothy Talby was hanged at Boston for murderingher own daughter a child of three years old.She had been a member of the church of Salem, andof good esteem for goodliness, but, falling at differencewith her husband, through melancholy or spiritualdelusions, she sometime attempted to kill him, andher children, and herself, by refusing meat....After much patience, and divers admonitions not prevailing,

the church cast her out. Whereupon she grew worse;so as the magistrate caused her to be whipped.Whereupon she was reformed for a time, and carriedherself more dutifully to her husband, but soon aftershe was so possessed with Satan, that he persuadedher (by his delusions, which she listened to as revelationsfrom God) to break the neck of her own child, thatshe might free it from future misery. This sheconfessed upon her apprehension; yet, at her arraignment,she stood mute a good space, till the governour toldher she should be pressed to death, and then she confessedthe indictment. When she was to receive judgment,she would not uncover her face, nor stand up, butas she was forced, nor give any testimony of her repentance,either then or at her execution. The cloth whichshould have covered her face, she plucked off, andput between the rope and her neck. She desiredto have been beheaded, giving this reason, that itwas less painful and less shameful. Mr. Peter,her late pastor, and Mr. Wilson, went with her tothe place of execution, but could do no good withher."[15]

VI. Woman’s Comfort in Religion

Little gentleness and surely little of the overwhelminglove that was Christ’s are apparent in a creedso stern and uncompromising. But the age in whichit flourished was not in itself a gentle and tolerantera. It had not been so many years since menand women had been tortured and executed for theirfaith. The Spanish Inquisition had scarcely ceasedits labor of barbarism; and days were to follow bothin England and on the continent when acts almost assavage would be allowed for the sake of religion.In spite, moreover, of all that has been said above,in spite of the literalness, the belief in a personaldevil, the fear of an arbitrary God, the religionof Puritanism was not without comfort to the New Englandwoman. Many are the references to the Creator’scomforting presence and help. Note these linesfrom a letter written by Margaret Winthrop to herhusband in 1637: “Sure I am, that all shallwork to the best to them that love God, or ratherare loved of him. I know he will bring lightout of obscurity, and make his righteousness shineforth as clear as noonday. Yet I find in myselfan adverse spirit, and a trembling heart, not so willingto submit to the will of God as I desire. Thereis a time to plant, and a time to pull up that whichis planted, which I could desire might not be yet.But the Lord knoweth what is best, and his will bedone...”

Though woman might not speak or hold office in theChurch, yet she was not by any means denied the ordinaryprivileges and comforts of religious worship, butrather was encouraged to gather with her sisters ininformal seasons of prayer and meditation. Thegood wives are commended in many of the writings ofthe day for general charity work connected with thechurch, and are mentioned frequently as being presentat the evening assemblies similar to our modern prayer

meetings. Cotton Mather makes this notation inhis Essays to do Good, published in 1710:“It is proposed, That about twelve families agreeto meet (the men and their wives) at each other’shouses, in rotation, once in a fortnight or a month,as shall be thought most proper, and spend a suitabletime together in religious exercises.” Evenwhen women ventured to hold formal religious meetingsthere was at first little or no protest. Accordingto Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts Bay,when Anne Hutchinson, that creator of religious strifeand thorn in the side of the Elders, conducted assembliesfor women only, there was even praise for the innovation.It was only when this leader criticised the clergythat silence was demanded. “Mrs. Hutchinsonthought fit to set up a meeting for the sisters, also,where she repeated the sermons preached the Lord’sday before, adding her remarks and expositions.Her lectures made much noise, and fifty or eightyprincipal women attended them. At first theywere generally approved of.”

Only when the decency and the decorum of the colonywas threatened did the stern laws of the church descendupon Mistress Hutchinson and her followers. Itwas doubtless the riotous conduct of these radicalsthat caused the resolution to be passed by the assemblyin 1637, which stated, according to Winthrop:“That though women might meet (some few together)to pray and edify one another; yet such a set assembly,(as was then in practice at Boston), where sixty ormore did meet every week, and one woman (in a propheticalway, by resolving questions of doctrine, and expoundingscripture) took upon her the whole exercise, was agreedto be disorderly, and without rule.”

Among the Quakers women’s meetings were common;for equality of the sexes was one of their teachings.In the Journal of George Fox (1672) we comeacross this statement: “We had a Mens-Meetingand a Womens-Meeting.... On the First of theseDays the Men and Women had their Meetings for Business,wherein the Affairs of the Church of God were takencare of.” Moreover, what must have seemedan abomination to the Puritan Fathers, these Quakersallowed their wives and mothers to serve in officialcapacities in the church, and permitted them to takepart in the quarterly business sessions. Thus,John Woolman in his Diary says: “Weattended the Quarterly meeting with Ann Gaunt andMercy Redman.” “After the quarterlymeeting of worship ended I felt drawings to go tothe Women’s meeting of business which was veryfull.” What was especially shocking to theirPuritan neighbors was the fact that these Quakersallowed their women to go forth as missionary speakers,and, as in the case of Mary Dyer, to invade the sacredprecincts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to proselyteto Quakerism.

VII. Female Rebellion

But those Puritan colonists had far greater troublesto harass them than the few quiet Quaker women whowere moved by Inner Light to speak in the villagestreets. One of these troubles we have touchedupon—­the Rise of the Antinomians, or thedisturbance caused by Anne Hutchinson. The otherwas the Salem Witchcraft proceedings. In bothof these women were directly concerned, and indeedwere at the root of the disturbances. Let usexamine in some detail the influence of Puritan womanhoodin these social upheavals that shook the foundationsof church rule in New England.

While most of the women of the Puritan colonies seemto have been too busy with their household dutiesand their numerous children to concern themselvesextensively with public affairs, there was this onewoman, Anne Hutchinson, who has gained lasting fameas the cause of the greatest religious and politicaldisturbance occurring in Massachusetts before thedays of the Revolution. Many are the referencesin the early writers to this radical leader and herfollowers. Some of the most prominent men andwomen in the colony were inclined to follow her, andfor a time it appeared that hers was to be the realpower of the day; great was the excitement. ThomasHutchinson in his History of Massachusetts BayColony, told of her trial and banishment:“Countenanced and encouraged by Mr. Vane andMr. Cotton, she advanced doctrines and opinions whichinvolved the colony in disputes and contensions; andbeing improved to civil as well as religious purposes,had like to have produced ruin both to church and state.”

Anne Hutchinson was the daughter of Francis Marbury,a prominent clergyman of Lincolnshire, England.Intensely religious as a child, she was deeply influencedwhen a young woman by the preaching of John Cotton.The latter, not being able to worship as he wishedin England, moved to the Puritan colony in the NewWorld, and Anne Hutchinson, upon her arrival at Boston,frankly confessed that she had crossed the sea solelyto be under his preaching in his new home.

Many of the prominent men of the community soon becameher followers: Sir Harry Vane, Governor of thecolony; her brother-in-law, the Rev. John Wheelwright;William Coddington, a magistrate of Boston; and evenCotton himself, leader of the church and supposedlyorthodox of the orthodox. That this was enoughto turn the head of any woman may well be surmised,especially when we remember that she was presumed tobe the silent and weaker vessel,—­to findsuddenly learned men and even the greatest clergymenof the community sitting at her feet and hearing herdoctrines. It is difficult to determine the realstate of affairs concerning this woman and her teachings.Nothing unless, possibly the witchcraft delusion atSalem, excited the colony as did this disturbancein both church and state. While much has beenwritten, so much of partisanship is displayed in allthe statements that it is with great difficulty that

we are able really to separate the facts from jealousyand bitterness. During the first few months ofher stay she seems to have been commended for herfaithful attendance at church, her care of the sick,and her benevolent attitude toward the community.Even her meetings for the sisters were praised bythe pastors. But, not content with holding meetingsfor her neighbors, she criticised the preachers andtheir teachings. This was especially irritatingto the good Elders, because woman was supposed tobe the silent member in the household and meeting-house,and not capable of offering worthy criticism.But even then the matter might have been passed insilence if the church and state had not been one,and the pastors politicians. Hutchinson, a kinsmanof the rebellious leader, says in his History ofMassachusetts Bay:

“It is highly probable that if Mr. Vane hadremained in England, or had not craftily made useof the party which maintained these peculiar opinionsin religion, to bring him into civil power and authorityand draw the affections of the people from those whowere their leaders into the wilderness, these, likemany other errors, might have prevailed a short timewithout any disturbance to the state, and as the absurdityof them appeared, silently subsided, and posteritywould not have known that such a woman as Mrs. Hutchinsonever existed.... It is difficult to discover,from Mr. Cotton’s own account of his principlespublished ten years afterwards, in his answer to Bailey,wherein he differed from her.... He seems tohave been in danger when she was upon trial. The... ministers treated him coldly, but Mr. Winthrop,whose influence was now greater than ever, protectedhim.”

Just what were Anne Hutchinson’s doctrines noone has ever been able to determine; even Winthrop,a very able, clear-headed man who was well versedin Puritan theology, and who was one of her most powerfulopponents, said he was unable to define them.“The two capital errors with which she was chargedwere these: That the Holy Ghost dwells personallyin a justified person; and that nothing of sanctificationcan help to evidence to believers their justification."[16]

Her teachings were not unlike those of the Quietistsand that of the “Inner Light,” set forthby the Quakers—­a doctrine that has alwaysheld a charm for people who enjoy the mystical.But it was not so much the doctrines probably as thefact that she and her followers were a disturbingelement that caused her expulsion from a colony whereit was vital and necessary to the existence of thesettlement that harmony should prevail. Therehad been great hardships and sacrifices; even yetthe colony was merely a handful of people surroundedby thousands of active enemies. If these colonistswere to live there must be uniformity and conformity.“When the Pequots threatened Massachusetts colonya few men in Boston refused to serve. These wereAntinomians, followers of Anne Hutchinson, who suspected

their chaplain of being under a ’Covenant ofworks,’ whereas their doctrine was one shouldlive under a ’Covenant of grace.’This is one of the great reasons why they were banished.It was the very life of the colony that they shouldhave conformity, and all of them as one man couldscarcely withstand the Indians. Therefore thisreligious doctrine was working rebellion and sedition,and endangering the very existence of the state."[17]

Mistress Hutchinson was given a church trial, andafter long days of discussion was banished. Hersentence as recorded stands as follows: “Mrs.Hutchinson, the wife of Mr. William Hutchinson, beingconvented for traducing the ministers and their ministryin the country, she declared voluntarily her revelation,and that she should be delivered, and the court ruinedwith her posterity, and thereupon was banished."[18]The facts prove that she must have been a woman ofshrewdness, force, personality, intelligence, and endowedwith the ability to lead. At her trial she wascertainly the equal of the ministers in her sharpand puzzling replies. The theological discussionwas exciting and many were the fine-spun, hair-splittingdoctrines brought forward on either side; but to-daythe mere reading of them is a weariness to the flesh.

Anne Hutchinson’s efforts, according to someviewpoints, may have been a failure, but they revealedin unmistakable manner the emotional starvation ofPuritan womanhood. Women, saddened by their hardships,depressed by their religion, denied an open love forbeauty, with none of the usual food for imaginationor the common outlets for emotions, such as the modernwoman has in her magazines, books, theatre and socialfunctions, flocked with eagerness to hear this feminineradical. They seemed to realize that their soulswere starving for something—­they may nothave known exactly what. At first they may havegone to the assemblies simply because such an unusualoccurrence offered at least a change or a diversion;but a very little listening seems to have convincedthem that this woman understood the female heart farbetter than did John Cotton or any other male pastorof the settlements. Moreover, the theory of “innerlight” or the “covenant of grace”undoubtedly appealed as something novel and refreshingafter the prolonged soul fast under the harshnessand intolerance of the Calvinistic creed. Thewomen told their women friends of the new theories,and wives and mothers talked of the matter to husbandsand fathers until gradually a great number of menbecame interested. The churches of MassachusettsBay Colony were in imminent danger of losing theirgrasp upon the people and the government. It isevident that in the home at least the Puritan womanwas not entirely the silent, meek creature she wassupposed to be; her opinions were not only heard byhusband and father but heeded with considerable respect.

And what became of this first woman leader in America?Whether the fate of this woman was typical of whatwas in store for all female speakers and women outsidetheir place is not stated by the elders; but they werefirm in their belief that her death was an appropriatepunishment. She removed to Rhode Island and laterto New York, where she and all her family, with theexception of one person, were killed by the Indians.As Thomas Welde says in the preface of A ShortStory of the Rise, Wane and Ruin of the Antinomians(1644): “I never heard that the Indiansin these parts did ever before commit the like outrageupon any one family, or families; and therefore God’shand is the more apparently seen herein, to pick outthis woful woman, to make her and those belonging toher an unheard of heavy example of their cruelty aboveothers.”

VIII. Woman and Witchcraft

It was at staid Boston that Anne Hutchinson marshalledher forces; it was at peace-loving Salem that theDevil marshalled his witches in a last despairingonslaught against the saints. To many readersthere may seem to be little or no connection betweenwitchcraft and religion; but an examination of thefacts leading to the execution of the various martyrsto superstition at Salem will convince the skepticalthat there was a most intimate relationship betweenthe Puritan creed and the theory of witchcraft.

Looking back after the passing of more than two hundredyears, we cannot but deem it strange that such anenlightened, educated and thoroughly intelligent folkas the Puritans could have believed in the possessionof this malignant power. Especially does it appearincredible when we remember that here was a peoplethat came to this country for the exercise of religiousfreedom, a citizenship that was descended from mentrained in the universities of England, a stalwartband that under extreme privation had founded a collegewithin sixteen years after the settlement of a wilderness.It must be borne in mind, however, that the Massachusettscolonies were not alone in this belief in witchcraft.It was common throughout the world, and was as agedas humanity. Deprived of the aid of modern sciencein explaining peculiar processes and happenings, manhad long been accustomed to fall back upon devils,witches, and evil spirits as premises for his arguments.While the execution of the witch was not so commonan event elsewhere in the world, during the Salemperiod, yet it was not unknown among so-called enlightenedpeople. As late as 1712 a woman was burned nearLondon for witchcraft, and several city clergymenwere among the prosecutors.

A few extracts from colonial writings should makeclear the attitude of the Puritan leaders toward theseunfortunates accused of being in league with the devil.Winthrop thus records a case in 1648: “Atthe court one Margaret Jones of Charlestown was indictedand found guilty of witchcraft, and hanged for it.The evidence against her was, that she was found tohave such a malignant touch, as many persons, (men,women, and children), whom she stroked or touchedwith any affection or displeasure, etc., weretaken with deafness ... or other violent pains orsickness.... Some things which she foretold cameto pass.... Her behaviour at her trial was veryintemperate, lying notoriously, and railing upon thejury and witnesses, etc., and in the like distempershe died. The same day and hour, she was executed,there was a very great tempest at Connecticut, whichblew down many trees, etc."[19]

Whether in North or in South, whether among Protestantsor Catholics, this belief in witchcraft existed.In one of the annual letters of the “EnglishProvince of the Society of Jesus,” written in1656, we find the following comment concerning thebelief among emigrants to Maryland: “Thetempest lasted two months in all, whence the opinionarose, that it was not raised by the violence of thesea or atmosphere, but was occasioned by the malevolenceof witches. Forthwith they seize a little oldwoman suspected of sorcery; and after examining herwith the strictest scrutiny, guilty or not guilty,they slay her, suspected of this very heinous sin.The corpse, and whatever belonged to her, they castinto the sea. But the winds did not thus remittheir violence, or the raging sea its threatenings...."[20]

Even in Virginia, where less rigid religious authorityexisted, it was not uncommon to hear accusations ofsorcery and witchcraft. The form of hysteriaat length reached at Salem was the result of no suddenburst of terror, but of a long evolution of ideasdealing with the power of Satan. As early as1638 Josselyn, a traveler in New England, wrote inNew England’s Rareties Discovered:“There are none that beg in the country, butthere be witches too many ... that produce many strangeapparitions if you will believe report, of a shallopat sea manned with women; of a ship and a great redhorse standing by the main-mast, the ship being ina small cove to the eastward vanished of a sudden.Of a witch that appeared aboard of a ship twenty leaguesto sea to a mariner who took up the carpenter’sbroad axe and cleft her head with it, the witch dyingof the wound at home.”

The religion of Salem and Boston was well fitted fordeveloping this very theory of malignant power in“possessed” persons. The teachingsthat there was a personal devil, that God allowed himto tempt mankind, that there were myriads of devilsunder Satan’s control at all times, ever watchfulto entrap the unwary, that these devils were rulersover certain territory and certain types of people—­theseteachings naturally led to the assumption that theimps chose certain persons as their very own.Moreover, the constant reminders of the danger of strayingfrom the strait and narrow way, and of the torturesof the afterworld led to self-consciousness, introspection,and morbidness. The idea that Satan was at alltimes seeking to undermine the Puritan church alsomade it easy to believe that anyone living outsideof, or contrary to, that church was an agent of thedevil, in short, bewitched. As it is only theuseful that survives, it was essential that the armyof devils be given a work to do, and this work wasevident in the spirit of those who dared to act andthink in non-conformity to the rule of the church.The devil’s ways, too, were beyond the comprehensionof man, cunning, smooth, sly; the most godly mightfall a victim, with the terrible consequence thatone might become bewitched and know it not. Atthis stage it was the bounden duty of the unfortunatebeing’s church brethren to help him by inducinghim to confess the indwelling of an evil spirit andthus free himself from the great impostor. Andif he did not confess then it were better that hebe killed, lest the devil through him contaminateall. Why, says Mather, in his Wonders of theInvisible World: “If the devils nowcan strike the minds of men with any poisons of sofine a composition and operation, that scores of innocentpeople shall unite in confessions of a crime whichwe see actually committed, it is a thing prodigious,beyond the wonders of the former ages, and it threatensno less than a sort of dissolution upon the world.”

To avoid or counteract this desolation was the purposeof the legal proceedings at Salem. It was believedby fairly intelligent people that Satan carried withhim a black book in which he induced his victims towrite their names with their own blood, signifyingthereby that they had given their souls into his keeping,and were henceforth his liegemen. The rendezvousof these lost and damned was deep in the forest; thetime of meeting, midnight. In such a place andat such an hour the assembly of witches and wizardsplotted against the saints of God, namely, the Puritans.According to Cotton Mather’s Wonders of theInvisible World, at the trial of one of thesemartyrs to superstition, George Burroughs, he wasaccused by eight of the confessing witches “asbeing the head actor at some of their hellish rendezvouzes,and one who had the promise of being a king in Satan’skingdom, now going to be erected. One of themfalling into a kind of trance affirmed that G.B. hadcarried her away into a very high mountain, wherehe shewed her mighty and glorious kingdoms, and said,’he would give them all to her, if she wouldwrite in his book.’”

In such an era, of course, the attempt was too oftenmade to explain events, not in the light of commonreason but as visitations of God to try the faithof the folk, or as devices of Satan to tempt them fromthe narrow Path. Such an affliction as “nerves”was not readily acknowledged, and anyone subject tofits or nervous disorders, or any child irritableor tempestuous might easily be the victim of witchcraft.Note what Increase Mather has to say on the matterwhen explaining the case of the children of John Goodwinof Boston: “...In the day time they werehandled with so many sorts of Ails, that it would requireof us almost as much time to Relate them all, as itdid of them to Endure them. Sometimes they wouldbe Deaf, sometimes Dumb, and sometimes Blind, andoften, all this at once.... Their necks wouldbe broken, so that their Neck-bone would seem dissolvedunto them that felt after it; and yet on the sudden,it would become again so stiff that there was no stirringof their Heads...."[21]

As we have noted in previous pages, the morbidnessand super-sensitive spiritual condition of the colonistsbrought on by the peculiar social environment hadfor many years prepared the way for just such a tragicattitude toward physical and mental ailments.The usual safety vents of modern society, the commonfunctions we may class as general “good times,”were denied the soul, and it turned back to feed uponitself. The following hint by Sewall, writtena few years before the witchcraft craze, is significant:“Thorsday, Novr. 12. After the Ministersof this Town Come to the Court and complain againsta Dancing Master, who seeks to set up here, and hathmixt Dances, and his time of Meeting is Lecture-Day;and ’tis reported he should say that by one Playhe could teach more Divinity than Mr. Willard or theOld Testament. Mr. Moodey said ’twas nota time for N.E. to dance. Mr. Mather struck atthe Root, speaking against mixt Dances."[22] And againin the records by another colonist, Prince, we note:“1631. March 22. First Court at Boston.Ordered That all who have cards, dice, or ‘tables’in their houses shall make way with them before thenext court."[23]

But the lack of social safety valves seemingly didnot suggest itself to the Puritan fathers; not thecauses, but the religious effect of the matter waswhat those stern churchmen sought to destroy.Says Cotton Mather: “So horrid and hellishis the Crime of Witchcraft, that were Gods Thoughtsas our thoughts, or Gods Wayes as our wayes, it couldbe no other, but Unpardonable. But that Graceof God may be admired, and that the worst of Sinnersmay be encouraged, Behold, Witchcraft also has founda Pardon.... From the Hell of Witchcraft our mercifulJesus can fetch a guilty Creature to the Glory ofHeaven. Our Lord hath sometimes Recovered thosewho have in the most horrid manner given themselvesaway to the Destroyer of their souls."[24]

Where did this mania, this riot of superstition andfanaticism that resulted in so much sorrow and somany deaths have its beginning and origin? Coffinin his Old Times in the Colonies has summedup the matters briefly and vividly: “Thesaddest story in the history of our country is thatof the witch craze at Salem, Mass. brought about bya negro woman and a company of girls. The negress,Tituba, was a slave, whom Rev. Samuel Parris, oneof the ministers of Salem, had purchased in Barbadoes.We may think of Tituba as seated in the old kitchenof Mr. Parris’s house during the long winterevenings, telling witchcraft stories to the minister’sniece, Elizabeth, nine years old. She draws acircle in the ashes on the hearth, burns a lock ofhair, and mutters gibberish. They are incantationsto call up the devil and his imps. The girlsof the village gather in the old kitchen to hear Tituba’sstories, and to mutter words that have no meaning.The girls are Abigail Williams, who is eleven; AnnePutnam, twelve; Mary Walcot; and Mary Lewis, seventeen;Elizabeth Hubbard, Elizabeth Booth, and Susannah Sheldon,eighteen; and two servant girls, Mary Warren, and SarahChurchill. Tituba taught them to bark like dogs,mew like cats, grunt like hogs, to creep through chairsand under tables on their hands and feet, and pretendto have spasms.... Mr. Parris had read the booksand pamphlets published in England ... and he cameto the conclusion that they were bewitched. Hesent for Doctor Griggs who said that the girls werenot sick, and without doubt were bewitched....The town was on fire. Who bewitches you? theywere asked. Sarah Good, Sarah Osbum, and Tituba,said the girls. Sarah Good was a poor, old woman,who begged her bread from door to door. SarahOsburn was old, wrinkled, and sickly."[25]

The news of the peculiar actions of the girls spreadthroughout the settlement; people flocked to see theirantics. By this time the children had carriedthe “fun” so far that they dared not confess,lest the punishment be terrific, and, therefore, toescape the consequences, they accused various oldwomen of bewitching them. Undoubtedly the littleones had no idea that the delusion would seize so firmlyupon the superstitious nature of the people; but thesettlers, especially the clergymen and the doctors,took the matter seriously and brought the accusedto trial. The craze spread; neighbor accused neighbor;enemies apparently tried to pay old scores by thesame method; and those who did not confess were putto death. It is a fact worth noting that the largemajority of the witnesses and the greater number ofthe victims were women. The men who conductedthe trials and passed the verdict of “guilty”cannot, of course, stand blameless; but it was thelong pent-up but now abnormally awakened imaginationof the women that wrought havoc through their testimonyto incredible things and their descriptions of unbelievableactions. No doubt many a personal grievance, pettyjealousy, ancient spite, and neighborhood quarrel enteredinto the conflict; but the results were out of allproportion to such causes, and remain to-day amongthe blackest and most sorrowful records on the pagesof American history.

As stated above, some of the testimony was incredibleand would be ridiculous if the outcome had not beenso tragic. Let us read some bits from the recordof those solemn trials. Increase Mather in hisRemarkable Providences related the followingconcerning the persecution of William Morse and wifeat Newberry, Massachusetts: “On December8, in the Morning, there were five great Stones andBricks by an invisible hand thrown in at the westend of the house while the Mans Wife was making theBed, the Bedstead was lifted up from the floor, andthe Bedstaff flung out of the Window, and a Cat washurled at her.... The man’s Wife goingto the Cellar ... the door shut down upon her, andthe Table came and lay upon the door, and the man wasforced to remove it e’re his Wife could be releasedfrom where she was."[26a]

Again, see the remarkable vision beheld by GoodmanHortado and his wife in 1683: “The saidMary and her Husband going in a Cannoo over the Riverthey saw like the head of a man new-shorn, and thetail of a white Cat about two or three foot distancefrom each other, swimming over before the Cannoo,but no body appeared to joyn head and tail together."[26b]

Cotton Mather in his Wonders of the Invisible Worldgives us some insight into the mental and physicalcondition of many of the witnesses called upon totestify to the works of Satan. Some of them undoubtedlywere far more in need of an expert on nervous diseasesthan of the ministrations of either jurist or clergyman.“It cost the Court a wonderful deal of Trouble,to hear the Testimonies of the Sufferers; for whenthey were going to give in their Depositions, theywould for a long time be taken with fitts, that madethem uncapable of saying anything. The ChiefJudge asked the prisoner who he thought hindered thesewitnesses from giving their testimonies? and he answered,He supposed it was the Devil.”

It must have been a reign of terror for the Puritanmother and wife. What woman could tell whethershe or her daughter might not be the next victim ofthe bloody harvest? Note the ancient records again.Here are the words of the colonist, Robert Calef,in his More Wonders of the Invisible World:“September 9. Six more were tried, and receivedSentence of Death; viz., Martha Cory af SalemVillage, Mary Easty of Topsfield, Alice Parker andAnn Pudeater of Salem, Dorcas Hoar of Beverly, andMary Bradberry of Salisbury. September 1st, GilesGory was prest to Death.” And Sewall inhis Diary thus speaks of the same barbarousexecution just mentioned: “Monday, Sept.19, 1692. About noon, at Salem, Giles Gory waspress’d to death for standing Mute; much painswas used with him two days, one after another, by theCourt and Capt. Gardner of Nantucket who hadbeen of his acquaintance, but all in vain."[27a]

Those were harsh times, and many a man or woman showedheroic qualities under the strain. The editorof Sewall’s Diary makes this comment uponthe silent heroism of the martyr, Giles Cory:“At first, apparently, a firm believer in thewitchcraft delusion, even to the extent of mistrustinghis saintly wife, who was executed three days afterhis torturous death, his was the most tragic of allthe fearful offerings. He had made a will, whileconfined in Ipswich jail, conveying his property,according to his own preferences, among his heirs;and, in the belief that his will would be invalidatedand his estate confiscated, if he were condemned bya jury after pleading to the indictment, he resolutelypreserved silence, knowing that an acqittance was animpossibility."[27b]

In the case of Cory doubtless the majority of thepeople thought the manner of death, like that of AnneHutchinson, was a fitting judgment of God; for Sewallrecords in his ever-helpful Diary: “Sept.20. Now I hear from Salem that about 18 yearsagoe, he [Giles Cory] was suspected to have stamp’dand press’d a man to death, but was cleared.Twas not remembered till Ann Putnam was told of itby said Cory’s Spectre the Sabbath day nightbefore the Execution."[28]

The Corys, Eastys, and Putnams were families exceedinglyprominent during the entire course of the mania; AnnPutnam’s name appears again and again.She evidently was a woman of unusual force and impressivepersonality, and many were her revelations concerningsuspected persons and even totally innocent neighbors.Such workers brought distressing results, and howoften the helpless victims were women! Hear theseechoes from the gloomy court rooms: “September17: Nine more received Sentence of Death, viz.,Margaret Scot of Rowly, Goodwife Reed of Marblehead,Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker of Andover, also AbigailFalkner of Andover ... Rebecka Eames of Boxford,Mary Lacy and Ann Foster of Andover, and Abigail Hobbsof Topsfield. Of these Eight were Executed."[29]And Cotton Mather in a letter to a friend: “OurGood God is working of Miracles. Five Witcheswere lately Executed, impudently demanding of Goda Miraculous Vindication of their Innocency."[30]

And yet how absurd was much of the testimony thatled to such wholesale murder. We have seen someof it already. Note these words by a witnessagainst Martha Carrier, as presented in Cotton Mather’sWonders of the Invisible World: “Thedevil carry’d them on a pole to a witch-meeting;but the pole broke, and she hanging about Carrier’sneck, they both fell down, and she then received anhurt by the fall whereof she was not at this verytime recovered.... This rampant hag, Martha Carrier,was the person, of whom the confessions of the witches,and of her own children among the rest, agreed, thatthe devil had promised her she should be Queen ofHell.”

Here and there a few brave souls dared to protestagainst the outrage; but they were exceedingly few.Lady Phipps, wife of the governor, risked her lifeby signing a paper for the discharge of a prisonercondemned for witchcraft. The jailor reluctantlyobeyed and lost his position for allowing the prisonerto go; but in after years the act must have been asource of genuine consolation to him. Only fearmust have restrained the more thoughtful citizensfrom similar acts of mercy. Even children wereimprisoned, and so cruelly treated that some lost theirreason. In the New England History and GeneralRegister (XXV, 253) is found this pathetic note:“Dorcas Good, thus sent to prison ’as haleand well as other children,’ lay there sevenor eight months, and ’being chain’d inthe dungeon was so hardly used and terrifyed’that eighteen years later her father alleged ’thatshe hath ever since been very, chargeable, haveinglittle or no reason to govern herself.’"[31]

How many extracts from those old writings might bepresented to make a graphic picture of that era ofhorror and bloodshed. No one, no matter whathis family, his manner of living, his standing in thecommunity, was safe. Women feared to do the leastthing unconventional; for it was an easy task to obtainwitnesses, and the most paltry evidence might causemost unfounded charges. And the only way to escapedeath, be it remembered, was through confession.Otherwise the witch or wizard was still in the possessionof the devil, and, since Satan was plotting the destructionof the Puritan church, anything and anybody in thepower of Satan must be destroyed. Those who metdeath were martyrs who would not confess a lie, andsuch died as a protest against common liberty of conscience.No monument has been erected to their memory, but theirnames remain in the old annals as a warning againstbigotry and fanaticism. Though some sufferedthe agonies of a horrible death, there were innumerablewomen who lived and yet probably suffered a thousanddeaths in fear and foreboding. Hear once morethe words of Robert Calef’s ancient book, MoreWonders of the Invisible World: “Itwas the latter end of February, 1691, when diversyoung persons belonging to Mr. Parris’s family,and one or more of the neighbourhood, began to actafter a strange and unusual manner, viz., by gettinginto holes, and creeping under chairs and stools,and to use sundry odd postures and antick gestures,uttering foolish, ridiculous speeches.... Thephysicians that were called could assign no reasonfor this; but it seems one of them ... told them hewas afraid they were bewitched.... March the11th, Mr. Parris invited several neighbouring ministersto join with him in keeping a solemn day of prayerat his own house.... Those ill affected ... firstcomplained of ... the said Indian woman, named Tituba;she confessed that the devil urged her to sign a book... and also to work mischief to the children, etc.”

“A child of Sarah Good’s was likewiseapprehended, being between 4 and 5 years old.The accusers said this child bit them, and would shewsuch like marks, as those of a small set of teeth,upon their arms....”

“March 31, 1692, was set apart as a day of solemnhumiliation at Salem ... on which day Abigail Williamssaid, ’that she saw a great number of personsin the village at the administration of a mock sacrament,where they had bread as red as raw flesh, and reddrink.’”

The husband of Mrs. Cary, who afterwards escaped,tells this: “Having been there [in prison]one night, next morning the jailer put irons on herlegs (having received such a command); the weight ofthem was about eight pounds: these with her otherafflictions soon brought her into convulsion fits,so that I thought she would have died that night.I sent to entreat that the irons might be taken off;but all entreaties were in vain....”

“John Proctor and his wife being in prison,the sheriff came to his house and seized all the goods,provisions and cattle ... and left nothing in thehouse for the support of the children....”

“Old Jacobs being condemned, the sheriff andofficers came and seized all he had; his wife hadher wedding ring taken from her ... and the neighboursin charity relieved her.”

“The family of the Putnams ... were chief prosecutorsin this business.”

“And now nineteen persons having been hanged,and one pressed to death, and eight more condemned,in all twenty and eight ... about fifty having confessed... above an hundred and fifty in prison, and abovetwo hundred more accused; the special commission ofoyer and terminer comes to a period....”

During the summer of 1692 the disastrous materialand financial results of the reign of terror becameso evident that the shrewd business sense of the colonistbecame alarmed. Harvests were ungathered, fieldsand cattle were neglected, numerous people sold theirfarms and moved southward; some did not await thesale but abandoned their property. The thirstfor blood could not last, especially when it threatenedcommercial ruin. Moreover, the accusers at lengthaimed too high; accusations were made against personsof rank, members of the governor’s family, andeven the relatives of the pastors themselves.“The killing time lasted about four months,from the first of June to the end of September, 1692,and then a reaction came because the informers beganto strike at important persons, and named the wifeof the governor. Twenty persons had been putto death ... and if the delusion had lasted much longerunder the rules of evidence that were adopted everybodyin the colony except the magistrates and ministerswould have been either hung or would have stood chargedwith witchcraft."[32]

The Puritan clergymen have been severely blamed forthis strange wave of fanaticism, and no doubt, asleaders in the movement, they were largely responsible;but even their power and authority could never havecaused such wide-spread terror, had not the womenof the day given such active aid. The femininesoul, with its long pent emotions, craved excitement,and this was an opportunity eagerly seized upon.As Fisher says, “As their religion taught themto see in human nature only depravity and corruption,so in the outward nature by which they were surrounded,they saw forewarnings and signs of doom and dread.Where the modern mind now refreshes itself in NewEngland with the beauties of the seashore, the forest,and the sunset, the Puritan saw only threatenings ofterror."[33]

We cannot doubt in most instances the sincerity ofthese men and women, and in later days, when confessionsof rash and hasty charges of action were made, theirrepentance was apparently just as sincere. JudgeSewall, for instance, read before the assembled congregationhis petition to God for forgiveness. “Ina short time all the people recovered from their madness,[and] admitted their error.... In 1697 the GeneralCourt ordered a day of fasting and prayer for whathad been done amiss in the ‘late tragedy raisedamong us by Satan.’ Satan was the scapegoat,and nothing was said about the designs and motivesof the ministers."[34] Possibly it was just as wellthat Satan was blamed; for the responsibility is thusshifted for one of the most hideous pages in Americanhistory.

IX. Religion Outside of New England

Apparently it was only under Puritanism that the colonialwoman really suffered through the requirements ofher religion. In other colonies there may havebeen those who felt hampered and restrained; but certainlyin New York, Pennsylvania, and the Southern provinces,there was no creed that made life an existence ofdread and fear. In most parts of the South theEstablished Church of England was the authorized,or popular, religious institution, and it would seemthat the women who followed its teachings were asreverent and pious, if not so full of the fear ofjudgment, as their sisters to the North. The earliestsettlers of Virginia dutifully observed the customsand ceremonies of the established church, and it wasthe dominant form of religion in Virginia and theCarolinas throughout the colonial era. John Smithhas left the record of the first place and mannerof divine worship in Virginia: “Wee didhang an awning, which is an old saile, to three orfour trees to shadow us from the Sunne; our wallswere railes of Wood; our seats unhewed trees tillwe cut plankes; our Pulpit a bar of wood nailed totwo neighbouring trees. In foul weather we shiftedinto an old rotten tent; this came by way of adventurefor new. This was our Church till we built ahomely thing like a barne set upon Cratchets, coveredwith rafts, sedge, and earth; so also was the walls;the best of our houses were of like curiosity....Yet we had daily Common Prayer morning and evening;every Sunday two sermons; and every three months aholy Communion till our Minister died: but ourPrayers daily with an Homily on Sundays wee continuedtwo or three years after, till more Preachers came.”

According to Bruce’s Institutional Historyof Virginia in the Seventeenth Century[35] itwould seem that the early Virginians were as strictas the New Englanders about the matter of church attendanceand Sabbath observance. When we come across thenotation that “Sarah Purdy was indicted 1682for shelling corn on Sunday,” we may feel rathersure that during at least the first eighty years oflife about Jamestown Sunday must have been indeeda day of rest. Says Bruce: “The firstGeneral Assembly to meet in Virginia passed a law requiringof every citizen attendance at divine services onSunday. The penalty imposed was a fine, if onefailed to be present. If the delinquent was afreeman he was to be compelled to pay three shillingsfor each offense, to be devoted to the church, andshould he be a slave he was to be sentenced to bewhipped."[36]

In Georgia and the Carolinas of the later eighteenthcentury the influence of Methodism—­especiallyafter the coming of Wesley and Whitefield—­wasmarked, while the Scotch Presbyterian and the FrenchHuguenots exercised a wholesome effect through theirstrict honesty and upright lives. Among thesetwo latter sects women seem to have been very muchin the back-ground, but among the Methodists, especiallyin Georgia, the influence of woman in the church wascertainly noticeable. There was often in thewords and deeds of Southern women in general a noteof confident trust in God’s love and in a joyousfuture life, rather lacking in the writings of NewEngland. Eliza Pinckney, for instance, when butseventeen years old, wrote to her brother George along letter of advice, containing such tender, yetalmost exultant language as the following: “Tobe conscious we have an Almighty friend to bless ourEndeavours, and to assist us in all Difficulties, givesrapture beyond all the boasted Enjoyments of the world,allowing them their utmost Extent & fulness of joy.Let us then, my dear Brother, set out right and keepthe sacred page always in view.... God is Truthitself and can’t reveal naturally or supernaturallycontrarieties."[37a]

There is a sweet reasonableness about this, very refreshingafter an investigation of witches or myriads of devils,and, on the whole, we find much more sanity in theSouthern relationship between religion and life thanin the Northern. While there was some bickeringand quarreling, especially after the arrival of Whitefield;yet such disputes do not seem to have left the bitternessand suspicion that followed in the trail of the churchtrials in Massachusetts. Indeed, various creedsmust have lived peacefully side by side; for the colonialsurveyor, de Brahm, speaks of nine different sectsin a town of twelve thousand inhabitants, and makesthis further comment: “Yet are (they) farfrom being incouraged or even inclined to that disorderwhich is so common among men of contrary religioussentiments in other parts of the world.... (The) inhabitants(were) from the beginning renound for concord, compleasance,courteousness and tenderness towards each other, andmore so towards foreigners, without regard or respectof nature and religion."[37b]

Perhaps, however, by the middle of the eighteenthcentury religious sanity had become the rule bothNorth and South; for there are many evidences at thatlater period of a trust in the mercy of God and comfortin His authority. We find Abigail Adams, whoseletters cover the last twenty-five years of the eighteenthcentury, saying, “That we rest under the shadowof the Almighty is the consolation to which I resortand find that comfort which the world cannot give."[38]And Martha Washington, writing to Governor Trumbull,after the death of her husband, says: “Formyself I have only to bow with humble submission tothe will of that God who giveth and who taketh away,looking forward with faith and hope to the momentwhen I shall be again united with the partner of mylife."[39] In the hour when the long struggle forindependence was opening, Mercy Warren could writein all confidence to her husband, “I somehowor other feel as if all these things were for thebest—­as if good would come out of evil—­wemay be brought low that our faith may not be in thewisdom of men, but in the protecting providence ofGod."[40] Among the Dutch of New York religion, likeeating, drinking and other common things of life, wastaken in a rather matter-of-fact way. Seldomindeed did these citizens of New Amsterdam becomeso excited about doctrine as to quarrel over it; theywere too well contented with life as it was to contendover the life to be. Mrs. Grant in Memoirsof an American Lady has left us many intimatepictures of the life in the Dutch colony. Sheand her mother joined her father in New York in 1758,and through her residence at Claverach, Albany, andOswego gained thorough knowledge of the people, theircustoms, social life and community ideas and ideals.Of their relation to church and creed she remarks:“Their religion, then, like their original nationalcharacter, had in it little of fervor or enthusiasm;their manner of performing religious duties regularand decent, but calm, and to more ardent imaginationsmight appear mechanical.... If their piety, however,was without enthusiasm it was also without bigotry;they wished others to think as they did, without showingrancor or contempt toward those who did not....That monster in nature, an impious woman, was neverheard of among them."[41]

Unlike the New England clergyman, the New York parsonwas almost without power of any sort, and was at notime considered an authority in politics, sickness,witchcraft, or domestic affairs. Mrs. Grant wassurprised at his lack of influence, and declared:“The dominees, as these people call their ministers,contented themselves with preaching in a sober andmoderate strain to the people; and living quietly inthe retirement of their families, were little heardof but in the pulpit; and they seemed to considera studious privacy as one of their chief duties."[42]However, it was only in New England and possibly inVirginia for a short time, that church and state wereone, and this may account for much of the differencein the attitudes of the preachers. In New Yorkthe church was absolutely separate from the government,and unless the pastor was a man of exceedingly strongpersonality, his influence was never felt outsidehis congregation.

In conclusion, what may we say as to the general statusof the colonial woman in the church? Only inthe Quaker congregation and possibly among the Methodistsin the South did colonial womanhood successfully assertit*elf, and take part in the official activities ofthe institution. In the Episcopal church of Virginiaand the Carolinas, the Catholic Church of Marylandand Louisiana, and the Dutch church of New York, womenwere quiet onlookers, pious, reverent, and meek, freelyacknowledging God in their lives, content to be seenand not heard. In the Puritan assembly, likewise,they were, on the surface at least, meek, silent, docile;but their silence was deceiving, and, as shown inthe witchcraft catastrophe, was but the silence ofa smouldering volcano. In the eighteenth century,the womanhood of the land became more assertive, inreligion as in other affairs, and there is no doubtthat Mercy Warren, Eliza Pinckney, Abigail Adams,and others mentioned in these pages were thinkerswhose opinions were respected by both clergy and laymen.The Puritan preacher did indeed declare against speechby women in the church, and demanded that if theyhad any questions, they should ask their husbands;but there came a time, and that quickly, when the voiceof woman was heard in the blood of Salem’s dead.


[1] Reprinted in English Garner, Vol.II, p. 429.

[2] Vol. I, p. 101.

[3] Sewall’s Diary, Vol. I, p. 40.

[4] Ibid., Vol. I, p. 111.

[5] Ibid., Vol. I, p. 167.

[6] Diary, Vol. I, p. 116.

[7] Diary, Vol. III, p. 71.

[8] Original Narratives of Early Am. Hist., Narrativesof the Witchcraft Cases. p. 96, 97.

[9] Winthrop: Hist. of N.E., Vol.II, p. 36.

[10] Winthrop: Hist. of N. Eng., Vol.II, p. 411.

[11] Child Life in Colonial Days; P. 238.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Pp. 137, 185.

[14] Writings of Col. Byrd, Ed. Bassett,p. 25.

[15] Winthrop: History of New England,Vol. II, pp. 79, 335.

[16] Hutchinson: History of MassachusettsBay. Chapter I.

[17] Fiske: Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America,Vol. I, p. 232.

[18] Hutchinson: History of MassachusettsBay, Chapter I.

[19] History of New England, Vol. II,p. 397.

[20] Narratives of Early Maryland, p. 141.

[21] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 102.

[22] Sewall: Diary, Vol. I, p. 103.

[23] Annals of New England, Vol. I, p.579.

[24] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 135.

[25] Page 210.

[26a],[26b] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases,p. 38.

[27a],[27b] Diary, Vol. I, p. 364.

[28] Diary, Vol. I, p. 364.

[29] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 366.

[30] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 215.

[31] Narratives of Witchcraft Cases, p. 159.

[32] Fisher: Men, Women and Manners in ColonialTimes, p. 165.

[33] Fisher: Men, Women and Manners in ColonialTimes, p. 165.

[34] Fisher: Men, Women and Manners in ColonialTimes, p. 171.

[35] Pages 22, 35.

[36] Institutional History, Vol. I, p.29.

[37a],[37b] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p.65.

[38] Letters, p. 106.

[39] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 280.

[40] Brown: Mercy Warren, p. 96.

[41] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 29.

[42] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 155.



I. Feminine Ignorance

Unfortunately when we attempt to discover just howthorough woman’s mental training was in colonialdays we are somewhat handicapped by the lack of accuratedata. Here and there through the early writingswe have only the merest hints as to what girls studiedand as to the length of their schooling. Of course,throughout the world in the seventeenth century itwas not customary to educate women in the sense thatmen in the same rank were educated. Her placewas in the home and as economic pressure was not generallysuch as to force her to make her own living in shopor factory or office, and as society would have scowledat the very idea, she naturally prepared only formarriage and home-making. Very few men of theera, even among philosophers and educational leaders,ever seemed to think that a woman might be a bettermother through thorough mental training. Andthe women themselves, in the main, apparently werenot interested.

The result was that there long existed an astonishinglylarge amount of illiteracy among them. Throughan examination made for the U.S. Department ofEducation, it has been found that among women signingdeeds or other legal documents in Massachusetts, from1653 to 1656, as high as fifty per cent could notwrite their name, and were obliged to sign by meansof a cross; while as late as 1697 fully thirty-eightper cent were as illiterate. In New York fullysixty per cent of the Dutch women were obliged tomake their mark; while in Virginia, where deeds signedby 3,066 women were examined, seventy-five per centcould not sign their names. If the conditionwas so bad among those prosperous enough to own property,what must it have been among the poor and so-calledlower classes?

We know, of course, that early in the seventeenthcentury schools attended by both boys and girls wereestablished in Massachusetts, and before the Pilgrimslanded at Plymouth there was at least one public schoolfor both sexes in Virginia. But for the most partthe girls of early New England appear to have goneto the “dame’s school,” taught bysome spinster or poverty-stricken widow. We mayagain turn to Sewall’s Diary for bitsof evidence concerning the schooling in the seventeenthcentury: “Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1688. LittleHanah going to School in the morn, being enter’da little within the Schoolhouse Lane, is rid overby David Lopez, fell on her back, but I hope littlehurt, save that her Teeth bled a Little; was much frighted;but went to School."[43] “Friday, Jan. 7th,1686-7. This day Dame Walker is taken so illthat she sends home my Daughters, not being able toteach them."[44] “Wednesday, Jan. 19th, 1686-7.Mr. Stoughton and Dudley and Capt. Eliot andSelf, go to Muddy-River to Andrew Gardner’s,where ’tis agreed that L12 only in or as Money,be levyed on the people by a Rate towards maintaininga School to teach to write and read English."[45]“Apr. 27, 1691.... This afternoon had Josephto School to Capt. Townsend’s Mother’s,his Cousin Jane accompanying him, carried his Hornbook."[46]

And what did girls of Puritan days learn in the “dameschools”? Sewall again may enlighten usin a notation in his Diary for 1696: “Marygoes to Mrs. Thair’s to learn to Read and Knit.”More than one hundred years afterwards (1817), AbigailAdams, writing of her childhood, declared: “Myearly education did not partake of the abundant opportunitieswhich the present days offer, and which even our commoncountry schools now afford. I never was sentto any school. I was always sick. Femaleeducation, in the best families went no farther thanwriting and arithmetic; in some few and rare instances,music and dancing."[47]

The Dutch women of New York, famous for their skillin housekeeping, probably did not attend school, butreceived at home what little they knew of reading,writing, and arithmetic. Mrs. Grant, speakingof opportunities for female education in New Amsterdamin 1709, makes it clear that the training of a girl’sbrain troubled no Hollander’s head. “Itwas at this time very difficult to procure the meansof instruction in those inland districts; female education,of consequence, was conducted on a very limited scale;girls learned needlework (in which they were indeedboth skilful and ingenious) from their mothers andaunts; they were taught too at that period to read,in Dutch, the Bible, and a few Calvinist tracts ofthe devotional kind. But in the infancy of thesettlement few girls read English; when they did, theywere thought accomplished; they generally spoke it,however imperfectly, and few were taught writing.This confined education precluded elegance; yet, thoughthere was no polish, there was no vulgarity."[48]

The words of the biographer of Catherine Schuylermight truthfully have been applied to almost any girlin or near the quaint Dutch city: “Meanwhile[about 1740] the girl [Catherine Schuyler] was perfectingherself in the arts of housekeeping so dear to theDutch matron. The care of the dairy, the poultry,the spinning, the baking, the brewing, the immaculatecleanliness of the Dutch, were not so much duties assacred household rites."[49] So much for womanly educationin New Amsterdam. A thorough training in domesticscience, enough arithmetic for keeping accurate accountsof expenses, and previous little reading—­thesewere considered ample to set the young woman on theright path for her vocation as wife and mother.

This high respect for arithmetic was by no means limitedto New York. Ben Franklin, while in London, wrotethus to his daughter: “The more attentivelydutiful and tender you are towards your good mama,the more you will recommend yourself to me....Go constantly to church, whoever preaches. Forthe rest, I would only recommend to you in my absence,to acquire those useful accomplishments, arithmetic,and book-keeping. This you might do with ease,if you would resolve not to see company on the hoursset apart for those studies."[50] In addition, however,Franklin seems not to have been averse to a girl’sreceiving some of those social accomplishments whichmight add to her graces; for in 1750 he wrote hismother the following message about this same child:“Sally grows a fine Girl, and is extreamly industriouswith her Needle, and delights in her Book. Sheis of a most affectionate Temper, and perfectly dutifuland obliging to her Parents, and to all. PerhapsI flatter myself too much, but I have hopes that shewill prove an ingenious, sensible, notable, and worthyWoman, like her Aunt Jenny. She goes now to theDancing-School..."[51]

II. Woman’s Education in the South

It is to be expected that there was much more of thistraining in social accomplishments in the South thanin the North. Among the “first families,”in Virginia and the Carolinas the daughters regularlyreceived instruction, not only in household dutiesand the supervision of the multitude of servants,but in music, dancing, drawing, etiquette and suchother branches as might help them to shine in the sociallife that was so abundant. Thomas Jefferson hasleft us some hints as to the education of aristocraticwomen in Virginia, in the following letter of adviceto his daughter:

“Dear Patsy:—­Withrespect to the distribution of your time, the
following is what Ishould approve:

“From 8 to 10,practice music.

“From 10 to 1,dance one day and draw another.

“From 1 to 2,draw on the day you dance, and write a letter next

“From 3 to 4,read French.

“From 4 to 5,exercise yourself in music.

“From 5 till bedtime,read English, write, etc.

“Informe me what books you read,what tunes you learn, and inclose me your bestcopy of every lesson in drawing.... Take carethat you never spell a word wrong.... Itproduces great praise to a lady to spell well...."[52]

It should be noted, of course, that this message waswritten in the later years of the eighteenth centurywhen the French influence in America was far moreprominent than during the seventeenth. Moreover,Jefferson himself had then been in France some time,and undoubtedly was permeated with French ideas andideals. But the established custom throughoutthe South, except in Louisiana, demanded that the daughtersof the leading families receive a much more variedform of schooling than their sisters in most partsof the North were obtaining. While the sons ofwealthy planters were frequently sent to English universities,the daughters were trained under private tutors, whothemselves were often university graduates, and notinfrequently well versed in languages and literatures.The advice of Philip Fithian to John Peck, his successoras private instructor in the family of a wealthy Virginian,may be enlightening as to the character and sincerityof these colonial teachers of Southern girls:

“The last direction I shall venture to mentionon this head, is that you abstain totally from women.What I would have you understand from this, is, thatby a train of faultless conduct in the whole courseof your tutorship, you make every Lady within theSphere of your acquaintance, who is between twelveand forty years of age, so much pleased with yourperson, & so satisfied as to your ability in the capacityof a Teacher; & in short, fully convinced, that, froma principle of Duty, you have both, by night and byday endeavoured to acquit yourself honourably, inthe Character of a Tutor; & that this account, youhave their free and hearty consent, without makingany manner of demand upon you, either to stay longerin the Country with them, which they would choose,or whenever your business calls you away, that theymay not have it in their Power either by charms orJustice to detain you, and when you must leave them,have their sincere wishes & constant prayrs for Lengthof days & much prosperity."[53]

We have little or no evidence concerning the educationof women belonging to the Southern laboring class,except the investigation of court papers mentionedabove, showing the lamentable amount of illiteracy.In fact, so little was written by Southern women, highor low, of the colonial period that it is practicallyimpossible to state anything positive about theirintellectual training. It is a safe conjecture,however, that the schooling of the average woman inthe South was not equal to that of the average womenof Massachusetts, but was probably fully equal tothat of the Dutch women of New York. And yetwe must not think that efforts in education in the

southern colonies were lacking. As Dr. Lyon G.Tyler has said; “Under the conditions of Virginiasociety, no developed educational system was possible,but it is wrong to suppose that there was none.The parish institutions introduced from England includededucational beginnings; every minister had a school,and it was the duty of the vestry to see that all poorchildren could read and write. The county courtssupervised the vestries, and held a yearly ‘orphanscourt,’ which looked after the material andeducational welfare of all orphans."[54]

Indeed the interest in education during the seventeenthcentury, in Virginia at least, seems to have beengeneral. Repeatedly in examining wills of theperiod we may find this interest expressed and explicitdirections given for educating not only the boys, butthe girls. Bruce in his valuable work, InstitutionalHistory of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century,cites a number of such cases in which provisions weremade for the training of daughters of other femalerelatives.

“In 1657, Clement Thresh, of Rappahannock, inhis will declared that all his estate should be responsiblefor the outlay made necessary in providing, duringthree years, instruction for his step-daughter, who,being then thirteen years of age, had, no doubt, alreadybeen going to school for some length of time.The manner of completing her education (which, itseems, was to be prolonged to her sixteenth year) wasperhaps the usual one for girls at this period:—­shewas to be taught at a Mrs. Peaco*ck’s, very probablyby Mrs. Peaco*ck herself, who may have been the mistressof a small school; for it was ordered in the will,that if she died, the step-daughter was to attendthe same school as Thomas Goodrich’s children."[55]“Robert Gascoigne provided that his wife should... keep their daughter Bridget in school, until shecould both read and sew with an equal degree of skill."[56]“The indentures of Ann Andrewes, who lived inSurry ... required her master to teach her, not onlyhow to sew and ‘such things as were fitt forwomen to know,’ but also how to read and apparentlyalso how to write.” ... “In 1691 agirl was bound out to Captain William Crafford ...under indentures which required him to teach her howto spin, sew and read...."[57]

But, as shown in previous pages, female illiteracyin the South, at least during the seventeenth century,was surprisingly great. No doubt, in the eighteenthcentury, as the country became more thickly settled,education became more general, but for a long timethe women dragged behind the men in plain readingand writing. Bruce declares: “Thereare numerous evidences that illiteracy prevailed toa greater extent than among persons of the oppositesex.... Among the entire female population ofthe colony, without embracing the slaves, only onewoman of every three was able to sign her name infull, as compared with at least three of every fivepersons of the opposite sex."[58]

III. Brilliant Exceptions

In the middle colonies, as in New England, schoolsfor all classes were established at an early date.Thus, the first school in Pennsylvania was openedin 1683, only one year after the founding of Philadelphia,and apparently very few children in that city werewithout schooling of some sort. As is commonlyagreed, more emphasis was placed on education in NewEngland than in any of the other colonies. A largenumber of the men who established the Northern colonieswere university graduates, naturally interested ineducation, and the founding of Harvard, sixteen yearsafter the landing at Plymouth, proves this interest.Moreover, it was considered essential that every man,woman, and child should be able to read the Bible,and for this reason, if for no other, general educationwould have been encouraged. As Moses Coit Tylerhas declared, “Theirs was a social structurewith its corner stone resting on a book.”However true this may be, we are not warranted in assumingthat the women of the better classes in Massachusettswere any more thoroughly educated, according to thestandards of the time, than the women of the betterclasses in other colonies. We do indeed find moreNew England women writing; for here lived the firstfemale poet in America, and the first woman preacher,and thinkers of the Mercy Warren type who show intheir diaries and letters a keen and intelligent interestin public affairs.

It seems due, however, more to circ*mstances thatsuch women as Mercy Warren and Abigail Adams wrotemuch, while their sisters to the South remained comparativelysilent. The husband of each of these two colonialdames was absent a great deal and these men were, therefore,the recipients of many charming letters now made public;while the wife of the better class planter in Virginiaand the Carolinas had a husband who seldom strayedlong from the plantation. Eliza Pinckney’sletters rival in interest those of any American womanof the period, and if her husband had been a man asprominent in war and political affairs as John Adams,her letters would no doubt be considered today highlyvaluable. True, Martha Washington was in a positionto leave many interesting written comments; for shewas for many years close to the very center and originof the most exciting events; but she was more of aquiet housewife than a woman who enjoyed the discussionof political events, and, besides, with a certaininborn reserve and reticence she took pains to destroymuch of the private correspondence between her husbandand herself. Perhaps, with the small amount ofevidence at hand we can never say definitely in whatparticular colonies the women of the higher classeswere most highly educated; apparently very few of themwere in danger of receiving an over-dose of mentalstimulation.

A few women, however, were genuinely interested incultural study, and that too in subjects of an unusualcharacter. Hear what Eliza Pinckney says in herletters:

“I have got no further than the first volm ofVirgil, but was most agreeably disappointed to findmyself instructed in agriculture as well as entertainedby his charming penn, for I am persuaded tho’he wrote for Italy it will in many Instances suitCarolina."[59] “If you will not laugh too immoderatelyat mee I’ll Trust you with a Secrett. Ihave made two wills already! I know I have doneno harm, for I con’d my lesson very perfectly,and know how to convey by will, Estates, Real andPersonal, and never forgett in its proper place, himand his heirs forever.... But after all whatcan I do if a poor Creature lies a-dying, and theirfamily takes it into their head that I can serve them.I can’t refuse; butt when they are well, andable to employ a Lawyer, I always shall."[60]

And again she gives this glimpse of another study:“I am a very Dunce, for I have not acquiredye writing shorthand yet with any degree of swiftness.”That she had made some study of philosophy also isevident in this comment in a letter written aftera prolonged absence from her plantation home for thepurpose of attending some social function: “Ibegan to consider what attraction there was in thisplace that used so agreeably to soothe my pensivehumour, and made me indifferent to everything thegay world could boast; but I found the change not inthe place but in myself.... and I was forced to consultMr. Locke over and over, to see wherein personal Identityconsisted, and if I was the very same Selfe."[61]

Locke’s philosophical theory is surely rathersolid material, a kind indeed which probably not manycollege women of the twentieth century are familiarwith. Add to these various intellectual pursuitsof hers the highly thorough study she made of agriculture,her genuinely scientific experiments in the rotationand selection of crops, and her practical and successfulmanagement of three large plantations, and we maywell conclude that here was a colonial woman with amind of her own, and a mind fit for something besidesfeminine trifles and graces.

Jane Turell, a resident of Boston during the firsthalf of the eighteenth century, was another whoseinterest in literature and other branches of highereducation was certainly not common to the women ofthe period. Hear the narrative of the rather astonishinglist of studies she undertook, and the zeal with whichshe pursued her research:

“Before she had seen eighteen,she had read, and ’in some measure’digested all the English poetry and polite pieces inprose, printed and manuscripts, in her father’swell furnished library.... She had indeedsuch a thirst after knowledge that the leisureof the day did not suffice, but she spent whole nightsin reading....”
“I find she was sometimes firedwith a laudable ambition of raising the honorof her sex, who are therefore under obligations toher; and all will be ready to own she had a fine genius,and is to be placed among those who have excelled.”
“...What greatly contributedto increase her knowledge, in divinity, history,physic, controversy, as well as poetry, was herattentive hearing most that I read upon those headsthrough the long evenings of the winters as wesat together."[62]

Mrs. Adams was still another example of that rarewomanliness which could combine with practical domesticability a taste for high intellectual pursuits.During the Revolutionary days in the hour of deepestanxiety for the welfare of her husband and of her country,she wrote to Mr. Adams: “I have taken agreat fondness for reading Rollin’s AncientHistory since you left me. I am determinedto go through with it, if possible, in these daysof solitude."[63] And again in a letter written onDecember 5, 1773, to Mercy Warren, she says: “Isend with this the first volume of Moliere and shouldbe glad of your opinion of the plays. I cannotbe brought to like them. There seems to me tobe a general want of spirit. At the close ofevery one, I have felt disappointed. There areno characters but what appear unfinished; and he seemsto have ridiculed vice without engaging us to virtue....There is one negative virtue of which he is possessed,I mean that of decency.... I fear I shall incurthe charge of vanity by thus criticising an authorwho has met with so much applause.... I shouldnot have done it, if we had not conversed about itbefore."[64]

Evidently, at least a few of those colonial dameswho are popularly supposed to have stayed at homeand “tended their knitting” were interestedin and enthusiastically conversed about some ratherclassic authors and rather deep questions. Mrs.Grant has told us of the aunt of General Philip Schuyler,a woman of great force of character and magnetic personality:“She was a great manager of her time and alwayscontrived to create leisure hours for reading; forthat kind of conversation which is properly styledgossiping she had the utmost contempt.... Questionsin religion and morality, too weighty for table talk,were leisurely and coolly discussed [In the garden]."[65]

Again, Mrs. Grant pays tribute to her mental abilityas well as to her intelligent interest in vital questionsof the hour, in the following statement: “Sheclearly foresaw that no mode of taxation could beinvented to which they would easily submit; and thatthe defense of the continent from enemies and keepingthe necessary military force to protect the weak andawe the turbulent would be a perpetual drain of menand money to Great Britain, still increasing with theincreased population."[66]

There were indeed brilliant minds among the womenof colonial days; but for the most part the womenof the period were content with a rather small amountof intellectual training and did not seek to gain thatleadership so commonly sought by women of the twentiethcentury. Practically the only view ahead wasthat of the home and domestic life, and the wholetendency of education for woman was, therefore, towardthe decidedly practical.

IV. Practical Education

These brilliant women, like their sisters of lessability, had no radical ideas about what they consideredshould be the fundamental principles in female education;they one and all stood for sound training in domesticarts and home making. Abigail Adams, whose tact,thrift and genuine womanliness was largely responsiblefor her husband’s career, expressed herselfin no uncertain terms concerning the duties of woman:“I consider it as an indispensable requisitethat every American wife should herself know how toorder and regulate her family; how to govern her domesticsand train up her children. For this purpose theAll-wise Creator made woman an help-meet for man andshe who fails in these duties does not answer theend of her creation."[67]

Indeed, it would appear that most, if not all, ofthe women of colonial days agreed with the sentimentof Ben Franklin who spoke with warm praise of a printer’swife who, after the death of her husband, took chargeof his business “with such success that she notonly brought up reputably a family of children, butat the expiration of the term was able to purchaseof me the printing house and establish her son init."[68] And, according to this practical man, hersuccess was due largely to the fact that as a nativeof Holland she had been taught “the knowledgeof accounts.” “I mention this affairchiefly for the sake of recommending that branch ofeducation for our young females as likely to be ofmore use to them and their children in case of widowhoodthan either music or dancing, by preserving them fromlosses by imposition of crafty men, and enabling themto continue perhaps a profitable mercantile housewith establish’d correspondence, till a son isgrown up fit to undertake and go on with it."[69]

And Mrs. Franklin, like her husband and Mrs. Adams,had no doubt of the necessity of a thorough knowledgeof household duties for every woman who expected tomarry. In 1757 she wrote to her sister-in-lawin regard to the proposed marriage of her nephew:“I think Miss Betsey a very agreeable, sweet-tempered,good girl who has had a housewifely education, andwill make to a good husband a very good wife.”

With these fundamentals in female education settled,some of the colonists, at least, were very willingthat the girls should learn some of the intellectual“frills” and fads that might add to femininegrace or possibly be of use in future emergencies.Franklin, for instance, seemed anxious that Sallyshould learn her French and music. Writing tohis wife in 1758, he stated: “I hope Sallyapplies herself closely to her French and musick,and that I shall find she has made great Proficiency.Sally’s last letter to her Brother is the bestwrote that of late I have seen of hers. I onlywish she was a little more careful of her spelling.I hope she continues to love going to Church, and wouldhave her read over and over again the Whole Dutyof Man and the Lady’s Library."[70] Andagain in 1772 we find him writing this advice to Sallyafter her marriage to Mr. Bache: “I haveadvis’d him to settle down to Business in Philadelphiawhere he will always be with you.... and I think thatin keeping a store, if it be where you dwell, you canbe serviceable as your mother was to me. Foryou are not deficient in Capacity and I hope are nottoo proud.... You might easily learn Accountsand you can copy Letters, or write them very well uponOccasion. By Industry and Frugality you may getforward in the World, being both of you yet young."[71]

V. Educational Frills

Toward the latter part of the eighteenth century thatonce-popular institution, the boarding school forgirls, became firmly established, and many were theyoung “females” who suffered as did OliverWendell Holmes’ dear old aunt:

“They braced my auntagainst a board,
To make her straightand tall;
They laced her up, they starvedher down,
To make her light,and small;
They pinched her feet, theysinged her hair,
They screwed itup with pins;—­
Oh, never mortal sufferedmore
In penance forher sins.”

One of the best known of these seminaries was thatconducted by Susanna Rowson, author of the once-famousnovel Charlotte Temple. A letter froma colonial miss of fourteen years, Eliza Southgate,who attended this school, may be enlightening:

“Hon. Father:

“I am again placed at schoolunder the tuition of an amiable lady, so mild,so good, no one can help loving her; she treats allher scholars with such tenderness as would win theaffection of the most savage brute. I learnEmbroiderey and Geography at present, and wishyour permission to learn Musick.... I have describedone of the blessings of creation in Mrs. Rowson, andnow I will describe Mrs. Lyman as the reverse:she is the worst woman I ever knew of or thatI ever saw, nobody knows what I suffered fromthe treatment of that woman."[72]

The Moravian seminaries of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,and of North Carolina were highly popular trainingplaces for girls; for in these orderly institutionsthe students were sure to gain not only instructionin graceful social accomplishments and a thorough knowledgeof housekeeping, but the rare habit of doing all thingswith regularity, neatness, decorum, and quietness.The writer of the above letter has also describedone of these Pennsylvania schools with its prim teachersand commendable mingling of the practical and the artistic.“The first was merely a sewing school,little children and a pretty single spinster about30, her white skirt, white short tight waistcoat, nicehandkerchief pinned outside, a muslin apron and a closecap, of the most singular form you can imagine.I can’t describe it. The hair is all putout of sight, turned back, and no border to the cap,very unbecoming and very singular, tied under thechin with a pink ribbon—­blue for the married,white for the widows. Here was a Piano forte andanother sister teaching a little girl music.We went thro’ all the different school rooms,some misses of sixteen, their teachers were very agreeableand easy, and in every room was a Piano.”

It was a notable fact that dancing was taught in nearlyall of these institutes. In spite of Puritanicaltraining, in spite of the thunder-bolts of colonialpreachers, the tide of public opinion could not bestayed, and the girls would learn the waltzand the prim minuet. Times had indeed changedsince the day when Cotton Mather so sternly spokehis opinion on such an ungodly performance: “Whowere the Inventors of Petulant Dancings? Learnedmen have well observed that the Devil was the FirstInventor of the impleaded Dances, and the Gentileswho worshipped him the first Practitioners of thisArt.”

Colonial school girls may have been meek and lowlyin the seventeenth century—­the words ofWinthrop and the Mathers rather indicate that theywere—­but not so in the eighteenth.Some of them showed an independence of spirit notat all agreeing with popular ideas of the demure maidof olden days. Sarah Hall, for instance, whoseparents lived in Barbadoes, was sent to her grandmother,Madam Coleman of Boston, to attend school. Shearrived with her maid in 1719 and soon scandalizedher stately grandmother by abruptly leaving the houseand engaging board and lodging at a neighboring residence.At her brother’s command she returned; but evena brother’s authority failed to control the spiritedyoung lady; for a few months after the episode MadamColeman wrote: “Sally won’t go toschool nor to church and wants a nue muff and a greatmany other things she don’t need. I tellher fine things are cheaper in Barbadoes. Shesays she will go to Barbadoes in the Spring. Sheis well and brisk, says her Brother has nothing todo with her as long as her father is alive.”The same lady informs us that Sally’s instructionin writing cost one pound, seven shillings, and fourpence, the entrance fee for dancing lessons, one pound,and the bill for dancing lessons for four months,two pounds. No doubt it was worth the price; forlater Sally became rather a dashing society belle.

One thing always emphasized in the training of thecolonial girl was manners or etiquette—­theart of being a charming hostess. As Mrs. Earlesays, “It is impossible to overestimate the valuethese laws of etiquette, these conventions of customhad at a time, when neighborhood life was the wholeoutside world.” How many, many a “don’t”the colonial miss had dinned into her ears! Hearbut a few of them: “Never sit down at thetable till asked, and after the blessing. Askfor nothing; tarry till it be offered thee. Speaknot. Bite not thy bread but break it. Takesalt only with a clean knife. Dip not the meatin the same. Hold not thy knife upright but sloping,and lay it down at the right hand of plate with bladeon plate. Look not earnestly at any other thatis eating. When moderately satisfied leave thetable. Sing not, hum not, wriggle not....Smell not of thy Meat; make not a noise with thy Tongue,Mouth, Lips, or Breath in Thy Eating and Drinking....When any speak to thee, stand up. Say not I haveheard it before. Never endeavour to help himout if he tell it not right. Snigg*r not; neverquestion the Truth of it.”

Girls were early taught these forms, and in additionreceived not only advice but mechanical aid to insuretheir standing erect and sitting upright. Theaverage child of to-day would rebel most vigorouslyagainst such contrivances, and justly; for in a fewAmerican schools, as in English institutions, youngladies were literally tortured through sitting instocks, being strapped to backboards, and wearing stiffenedcoats and stays re-inforced with strips of wood andmetal. Such methods undoubtedly made the colonialdame erect and perhaps stately in appearance, butthey contributed a certain artificial, thin-chestedstructure that the healthy girl of to-day would abhor.

As we have seen, however, some women of the day contrivedto pick up unusual bits of knowledge, or made surprisingexpeditions into the realm of literature and philosophy.Samuel Peters, writing in his General History ofConnecticut in 1781, declared of their accomplishments:“The women of Connecticut are strictly virtuousand to be compared to the prude rather than the Europeanpolite lady. They are not permitted to read plays;cannot converse about whist, quadrille or operas; butwill freely talk upon the subjects of history, geography,and mathematics. They are great casuists andpolemical divines; and I have known not a few of themso well schooled in Greek and Latin as often to putto the blush learned gentlemen.” And yetHannah Adams, writing in her Memoir in 1832,had this to say of educational opportunities in Connecticutduring the latter half of the eighteenth century:“My health did not even admit of attending schoolwith the children in the neighborhood where I resided.The country schools, at that time, were kept but afew months in the year, and all that was then taughtin them was reading, writing, and arithmetic.In the summer, the children were instructed by femalesin reading, sewing, and other kinds of work. Thebooks chiefly made use of were the Bible and Psalter.Those who have had the advantages of receiving therudiments of their education at the schools of thepresent day, can scarcely form an adequate idea ofthe contrast between them, and those of an earlierage; and of the great improvements which have beenmade even in the common country schools. Thedisadvantages of my early education I have experiencedduring life; and, among various others, the acquiringof a very faulty pronunciation; a habit contractedso early, that I cannot wholly rectify it in lateryears.”

North and South women complained of the lack of educationaladvantages. Madame Schuyler deplored the scarcityof books and of facilities for womanly education,and spoke with irony of the literary tastes of theolder ladies: “Shakespeare was a questionableauthor at the Flatts, where the plays were consideredgrossly familiar, and by no means to be compared to‘Cato’ which Madame Schuyler greatly admired.The ’Essay on Man’ was also in high esteem

with this lady."[73] Many women of the day realizedtheir lack of systematic training, and keenly regrettedthe absence of opportunity to obtain it. AbigailAdams, writing to her husband on the subject, says,“If you complain of education in sons what shallI say of daughters who every day experience the wantof it? With regard to the education of my ownchildren I feel myself soon out of my depth, destitutein every part of education. I most sincerely wishthat some more liberal plan might be laid and executedfor the benefit of the rising generation and thatour new Constitution may be distinguished for encouraginglearning and virtue. If we mean to have heroes,statesmen, and philosophers, we should have learnedwomen. The world perhaps would laugh at me, butyou, I know, have a mind too enlarged and liberal todisregard sentiment. If as much depends as isallowed upon the early education of youth and thefirst principles which are instilled take the deepestroot great benefit must arise from the literary accomplishmentsin women."[74]

And again, Hannah Adams’ Memoir of 1832expresses in the following words the intellectualhunger of the Colonial woman: “I was verydesirous of learning the rudiments of Latin, Greek,geography, and logic. Some gentlemen who boardedat my father’s offered to instruct me in thesebranches of learning gratis, and I pursued these studieswith indescribable pleasure and avidity. I still,however, sensibly felt the want of a more systematiceducation, and those advantages which females enjoyin the present day.... My reading was very desultory,and novels engaged too much of my attention.”

After all, it would seem that fancy sewing was consideredfar more requisite than science and literature inthe training of American girls of the eighteenth century.As soon as the little maid was able to hold a needleshe was taught to knit, and at the age of four or fivecommonly made excellent mittens and stockings.A girl of fourteen made in 1760 a pair of silk stockingswith open work design and with initials knitted onthe instep, and every stage of the work from the raisingand winding of the silk to the designing and spinningwas done by one so young. Girls began to makesamplers almost before they could read their letters,and wonderful were the birds and animals and scenesdepicted in embroidery by mere children. An advertisem*ntof the day is significant of the admiration held forsuch a form of decorative work: “MarthaGazley, late from Great Britain, now in the city ofNew York Makes and Teacheth the following curiousWorks, viz.: Artificial Fruit and Flowersand other Wax-works, Nuns-work, Philigre and PencilWork upon Muslin, all sorts of Needle-Work, and Raisingof Paste, as also to paint upon Glass, and Transparantfor Sconces, with other Works. If any young Gentlewomen,or others are inclined to learn any or all of theabove-mentioned curious Works, they may be carefullyinstructed in the same by said Martha Gazley.”

Thus the evidence leads us to believe that a colonialwoman’s education consisted in the main of trainingin how to conduct and care for a home. It washer principal business in life and for it she certainlywas well prepared. In the seventeenth centurygirls attended either a short term public school ora dame’s school, or, as among the better familiesin the South, were taught by private tutors.In the eighteenth century they frequently attendedboarding schools or female seminaries, and here learned—­atleast in the middle colonies and the South—­notonly reading and writing and arithmetic, but dancing,music, drawing, French, and “manners.”In Virginia and New York, as we have seen, illiteracyamong seventeenth century women was astonishinglycommon; but in the eighteenth century those abovethe lowest classes in all three sections could atleast read, write, and keep accounts, and some fewhad dared to reach out into the sphere of higher learning.That many realized their intellectual poverty anddeplored it is evident; how many more who kept nodiaries and left no letters hungered for culture weshall never know; but the very longing of these colonialwomen is probably one of the main causes of that remarkablemovement for the higher education of American womenso noticeable in the earlier years of the nineteenthcentury. Their smothered ambition undoubtedlygave birth to an intellectual advance of women unequalledelsewhere in the world.


[43] Vol. I, p. 231.

[44] Vol. I, p. 161.

[45] Vol. I, p. 165.

[46] Vol. I, p. 344.

[47] Letters of Abigail Adams, p. 24.

[48] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 27.

[49] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.8.

[50] Smyth: Writings of Ben Franklin,Vol. III, p. 203.

[51] Smyth: Writings of Ben Franklin,Vol. III, p. 4.

[52] Ford: Writings of Thomas Jefferson,Vol. III. p. 345

[53] Selections from Fithian’s Writings,Aug. 12, 1774.

[54] American Nation Series, England in America,p. 116.

[55] Vol. I, p. 299.

[56] Vol. I, p. 301.

[57] Vol. I, p. 311.

[58] Institutional History of Virginia, Vol.I, p. 454.

[59] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 50.

[60] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 51.

[61] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 49.

[62] Turell: Memoirs of Life and Death ofMrs. Jane Turell.

[63] Letters of Abigail Adams, p. 11.

[64] Letters of Abigail Adams, p. 9.

[65] Grant: Memoirs of an American Lady,p. 136.

[66] Grant: Memoirs of an American Lady,p. 267.

[67] Letters of Abigail Adams, p. 401.

[68] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.I, p. 344.

[69] Ibid., Vol. I, p. 344.

[70] Smyth: Vol. III, p. 431.

[71] Smyth: Vol. V, p. 345.

[72] Quoted in Earle’s Child Life in ColonialDays, p. 113.

[73] Humphreys; Catherine Schuyler, p. 75.

[74] Brooks: Dames and Daughters of ColonialDays, p. 199.



I. The Charm of the Colonial Home

After all, it is in the home that the soul of thecolonial woman is fully revealed. We may sayin all truthfulness that there never was a time whenthe home wielded a greater influence than during thecolonial period of American history. For thehome was then indeed the center and heart of sociallife. There were no men’s clubs, no women’ssocieties, no theatres, no moving pictures, no suffragemeetings, none of the hundred and one exterior activitiesthat now call forth both father and mother from thehome circle. The home of pre-revolutionary dayswas far more than a place where the family ate andslept. Its simplicity, its confidence, its airof security and permanence, and its atmosphere ofrefuge or haven of rest are characteristics to be graspedin their true significance only through a thoroughreading of the writings of those early days.The colonial woman had never received a diploma indomestic science or home economics; she had neverheard of balanced diets; she had never been taughtthe arrangement of color schemes; but she knew thesecret of making from four bare walls the sacred institutionwith all its subtle meanings comprehended under theone word, home.

All home life, of course, was not ideal. Therewere idle, slovenly women, misguided female fanatics,as there are to-day. Too often in consideringthe men and women who made colonial history we areliable to think that all were of the stamp of Winthrop,Bradford, Sewall, Adams, and Washington. Instead,they were people like the readers of this book, neithersaints nor depraved sinners. In later chapterswe shall see that many broke the laws of man and God,enforced cruel penalties on their brothers and sisters,frequently disobeyed the ten commandments, and balancedtheir charity with malice. Then, too, there wasan ungentle, rough, coarse element in the under-strataof society—­an element accentuated underthe uncouth pioneer conditions. But, in the main,we may believe that the great majority of citizensof New England, the substantial traders and merchantsof the middle colonies, and the planters of the South,were law-abiding, God-fearing people who believedin the sanctity of their homes and cherished them.We shall see that these homes were well worth cherishing.

II. Domestic Love and Confidence

In this discussion of the colonial home, as in previousdiscussions, we must depend for information far moreupon the writings by men than upon those by women.Yet, here and there, in the diaries and letters ofwives and mothers we catch glimpses of what the institutionmeant to women—­glimpses of that deep, abidinglove and faith that have made the home a favoritetheme of song and story. In the correspondencebetween husband and wife we have conclusive evidencethat woman was held in high respect, her advice oftenasked, and her influence marked. The lettersof Governor Winthrop to his wife Margaret might beoffered as striking illustrations of the confidence,sympathy, and love existing in colonial home life.Thus, he writes from England: “My Dear Wife:Commend my Love to them all. I kisse & embracethee, my deare wife, & all my children, & leave theein His armes who is able to preserve you all, & tofulfill our joye in our happye meeting in His goodtime. Amen. Thy faithfull husband.”And again just before leaving England he writes toher: “I must begin now to prepare theefor our long parting which growes very near.I know not how to deal with thee by arguments; forif thou wert as wise and patient as ever woman was,yet it must needs be a great trial to thee, and thegreater because I am so dear to thee. That whichI must chiefly look at in thee for thy ground of contentmentis thy godliness.”

Nor were the wife’s replies less warm and affectionate.Hear this bit from a letter of three centuries ago:“MY MOST SWEET HUSBAND:—­How dearelywelcome thy kinde letter was to me I am not able toexpresse. The sweetnesse of it did much refreshme. What can be more pleasinge to a wife, thanto heare of the welfayre of her best beloved, and howhe is pleased with hir pore endevors.... I wishthat I may be all-wayes pleasinge to thee, and thatthose comforts we have in each other may be daylyincreced as far as they be pleasinge to God....I will doe any service whearein I may please my goodHusband. I confess I cannot doe ynough for thee....”

Is it not evident that passionate, reverent love,amounting almost to adoration, was fairly common inthose early days? Numerous other writings ofthe colonial period could add their testimony.Sometimes the proof is in the letters of men longingfor home and family; sometimes in the messages ofthe wife longing for the return of her “goodman”;sometimes it is discerned in bits of verse, such asthose by Ann Bradstreet, or in an enthusiastic descriptionof a woman, such as that by Jonathan Edwards abouthis future wife. Note the fervor of this famouseulogy by the “coldly logical” Edwards;can it be excelled in genuine warmth by the love lettersof famous men in later days?

“They say there is a young lady in New Havenwho is beloved of that Great Being, who made and rulesthe world, and that there are certain seasons in whichthis Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comesto her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delightand that she hardly cares for anything, except tomeditate on him—­that she expects aftera while to be received up where he is, to be raisedup out of the world and caught up into heaven; beingassured that he loves her too well to let her remainat a distance from him always.... Therefore, ifyou present all the world before her, with the richestof its treasures, she disregards it and cares notfor it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction.She has a strange sweetness in her mind and singularpurity in her affections; is most just and conscientiousin all her conduct; and you could not persuade herto do anything wrong or sinful, if you would giveher all the world, lest she offend this Great Being.She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness and universalbenevolence of mind.... She will sometimes goabout from place to place, singing sweetly; and seemsto be always full of joy and pleasure.... Sheloves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves,and seems to have some one invisible always conversingwith her.”

In several poems Ann Bradstreet, daughter of Gov.Thomas Dudley, and wife of Simon Bradstreet, motherof eight children, and first of the women poets ofAmerica, expressed rather ardently for a Puritan dame,her love for her husband. Thus:

“I crave this boon, thiserrand by the way:
Commend me to the man more lov’d than life,
Show him the sorrows of his widow’d wife,

* * * * *

“My sobs, my longing hopes,my doubting fears,
And, if he love, how can he there abide?”

Again, we note the following:

“If ever two were one, then surelywe;
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can."[75]

“I prize thy love morethan whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that theEast doth hold,
My love is such that riverscannot quench,
Nor aught but love from theegive recompense.
My love is such I can no wayrepay;
The heavens reward thee manifold,I pray,
Then while we live in lovelet’s persevere,
That when we live no morewe may live ever.”

The letters of Abigail Adams to her husband mightbe offered as further evidence of the affectionaterelationships existing between man and wife in colonialdays. Our text books on history so often leavethe impression that the fear of God utterly preventedthe colonial home from being a place of confidentlove; but it is possible that the social restraintsimposed by the church outside the home reacted in sucha manner as to compel men and women to express morefervently the affections otherwise repressed.When we read such lines as the following in Mrs. Adams’correspondence, we may conjecture that the years ofnecessary separation from her husband during the Revolutionarydays, must have meant as much of longing and painas a similar separation would mean to a modern wife:

“My dearest Friend:

“...I hope soon to receive thedearest of friends, and the tenderest of husbands,with that unabated affection which has for yearspast, and will whilst the vital spark lasts, burn inthe bosom of your affectionate


“Boston, 25 October, 1777....This day, dearest of friends, completes thirteenyears since we were solemnly united in wedlock.Three years of this time we have been cruelly separated.I have patiently as I could, endured it, withthe belief that you were serving your country....”
“May 18, 1778.... Beneathmy humble roof, blessed with the society andtenderest affection of my dear partner, I have enjoyedas much felicity and as exquisite happiness, as fallsto the share of mortals...."[76]

And read these snatches from the correspondence ofJames and Mercy Warren. Writing to Mercy, in1775, the husband says: “I long to see you.I long to sit with you under our Vines & have noneto make us afraid.... I intend to fly Home Imean as soon as Prudence, Duty & Honor will permitt.”Again, in 1780, he writes: “MY DEAR MERCY:... When shall I hear from you? My affectionis strong, my anxieties are many about you. Youare alone.... If you are not well & happy, howcan I be so?"[77] Her loving solicitude for his welfareis equally evident in her reply of December 30 1777:“Oh! these painful absences. Ten thousandanxieties invade my Bosom on your account & some timeshold my lids waking many hours of the Cold & LonelyNight."[78]

Those heroic days tried the soul of many a wife whoheld the home together amidst privation and anguish,while the husband battled for the homeland. Fromthe trenches as well as from the congressional hallcame many a letter fully as tender, if not so stately,as that written by George Washington after acceptingthe appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the ContinentalArmy:

“MY DEAREST:—...You may believe me, mydear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemnmanner, that, so far from seeking this appointment,I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it,not only from my unwillingness to part with you andthe family, but from a consciousness of its beinga trust too great for my capacity, and that I shouldenjoy more real happiness in one month with you athome than I have the most distant prospect of findingabroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years....My unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness you willfeel from being left alone."[79]

Even the calm and matter-of-fact Franklin does notfail to express his affection for wife and home; for,writing to his close friend, Miss Ray, on March 4,1755, he describes his longing in these words:“I began to think of and wish for home, and,as I drew nearer, I found the attraction strongerand stronger. My diligence and speed increasedwith my impatience. I drove on violently, andmade such long stretches that a very few days broughtme to my own house, and to the arms of my good oldwife and children, where I remain, thanks to God, atpresent well and happy."[80]

And sprightly Eliza Pinckney expresses her admirationfor her husband with her characteristic frankness,when she writes: “I am married, and thegentleman I have made choice of comes up to my planin every title.” Years later, after hisdeath, she writes with the same frankness to her mother:“I was for more than 14 years the happiest mortalupon Earth! Heaven had blessed me beyond thelott of Mortals & left me nothing to wish for....I had not a desire beyond him."[81]

If the letters and other writings describing homelife in those old days may be accepted as true, itis not to be wondered at that husbands longed so intenselyto rejoin the domestic circle. The atmosphereof the colonial household will be more minutely describedwhen we come to consider the social life of the womenof the times; but at this point we may well hear afew descriptions of the quaint and thoroughly lovablehomes of our forefathers. William Byrd, the Virginiascholar, statesman, and wit, tells in some detailof the home of Colonel Spotswood, which he visitedin 1732:

“In the Evening the noble Colo.came home from his Mines, who saluted me verycivily, and Mrs. Spotswood’s Sister, Miss Theky,who had been to meet him en Cavalier, was so kindtoo as to bid me welcome. We talkt overa legend of old Storys, supp’d about 9 andthen prattl’d with the Ladys, til twas time fora Travellour to retire. In the meantimeI observ’d my old Friend to be very Uxorious,and exceedingly fond of his Children. This wasso opposite to the Maxims he us’d to preachup before he was marry’d, that I you’dnot forbear rubbing up the Memory of them. Buthe gave a very good-natur’d turn to his Changeof Sentiments, by alleging that who ever bringsa poor Gentlewoman into so solitary a place,from all her Friends and acquaintance, wou’dbe ungrateful not to use her and all that belongsto her with all possible Tenderness.”
“...At Nine we met over a Potof Coffee, which was not quite strong enoughto give us the Palsy. After Breakfast the Colo.and I left the Ladys to their Domestick Affairs....Dinner was both elegant and plentifull.The afternoon was devoted to the Ladys, who shew’dme one of their most beautiful Walks. They conductedme thro’ a Shady Lane to the Landing, andby the way made me drink some very fine Waterthat issued from a Marble Fountain, and ran incessantly.Just behind it was a cover’d Bench, where MissTheky often sat and bewail’d her fate as an unmarriedwoman.”
“...In the afternoon the Ladyswalkt me about amongst all their little Animals,with which they amuse themselves, and furnish theTable.... Our Ladys overslept themselvesthis Morning, so that we did not break our Fasttill Ten."[82]

We are so accustomed to look upon George Washingtonas a godlike man of austere grandeur, that we seldomor never think of him as lover or husband. Butsee how home-like the life at Mount Vernon was, as

described by a young Fredericksburg woman who visitedthe Washingtons one Christmas week: “Imust tell you what a charming day I spent at MountVernon with mama and Sally. The Gen’l andMadame came home on Christmas Eve, and such a racketthe Servants made, for they were glad of their coming!Three handsome young officers came with them.All Christmas afternoon people came to pay their respectsand duty. Among them were stately dames and gayyoung women. The Gen’l seemed very happy,and Mistress Washington was from Daybreake making everythingas agreeable as possible for everybody."[83]

Alexander Hamilton found life in his domestic circleso pleasant that he declared he resigned his seatin Washington’s cabinet to enjoy more freelysuch happiness. Brooks in her Dames and Daughtersof Colonial Days,[84] gives us a pleasing pictureof Mrs. Hamilton, “seated at the table cuttingslices of bread and spreading them with butter forthe younger boys, who, standing by her side, readin turn a chapter in the Bible or a portion of Goldsmith’sRome. When the lessons were finished thefather and the elder children were called to breakfast,after which the boys were packed off to school.”“You cannot imagine how domestic I am becoming,”Hamilton writes. “I sigh for nothing butthe society of my wife and baby.”

III. Domestic Toil and Strain

Despite the charm of colonial home life, however,the strain of that life upon womankind was far greaterthan is the strain of modern domestic duties.In New England this was probably more true than inthe South; for servants were far less plentiful inthe North than in Virginia and the Carolinas.But, on the other hand, the very number of the domesticsin the slave colonies added to the duties and anxietiesof the Southern woman; for genuine executive abilitywas required in maintaining order and in feeding,clothing, and caring for the childish, shiftless,unthinking negroes of the plantation. In the Souththe slaves relieved the women of the middle and upperclasses of almost manual labor, and in spite of theconstant watchfulness and tact required of the Southerncolonial dame, she possibly found domestic life somewhateasier than did her sister to the North. The drearydrudgery, the intense physical labor required of thecolonial housewife was of such a nature that the womanof to-day can scarcely comprehend it. Aside fromthe astonishing number of child-births and child-deaths,aside too from the natural privations, dangers, ravagesof war, accidents and diseases, incident to the settlementof a new country, there was the constant drain uponthe woman’s physical strength through lack ofthose household conveniences which every home makernow considers mere necessities. It was a dayof polished and sanded floors, and the proverbial neatnessof the colonial woman demanded that these be keptas bright as a mirror. Many a hundred miles overthose floors did the colonial dame travel—­on

her knees. Then too every reputable householdpossessed its abundance of pewter or silver, and suchware had to be polished with painstaking regularity.Indeed the wealth of many a dame of those old daysconsisted mainly of silver, pewter, and linen, andher pride in these possessions was almost as vastas the labor she expended in caring for them.What a collection was in those old-time linen chests!Humphreys, in her Catherine Schuyler, copiesthe inventory of articles in one: “35 homespunSheets, 9 Fine sheets, 12 Tow Sheets, 13 bolster-cases,6 pillow-biers, 9 diaper brakefast cloathes, 17 Tablecloathes, 12 damask Napkins, 27 homespun Napkins,31 Pillow-cases, 11 dresser Cloathes and a damaskCupboard Cloate.” And this too before theday of the washing-machine, the steam laundry, andthe electric iron! The mere energy lost throughslow hand-work in those times, if transformed intoelectrical power, would probably have run all the millsand factories in America previous to 1800.

There is a decided tendency among modern housewivesto take a hostile view of the ever recurring taskof preparing food for the family; but if these housewiveswere compelled suddenly to revert to the method andamount of cooking of colonial days, there would beuniversal rebellion. Apparently indigestion waslittle known among the colonists—­at leastamong the men, and the amount of heavy food consumedby the average individual is astounding to the modernreader. The caterer’s bill for a banquetgiven by the corporation of New York to Lord Cornberrymay help us to realize the gastronomic ability ofour ancestors:

“Mayor... Dr.
To a piece of beef and cabbage,
To a dish of tripe and cowheel
To a leg of pork and turnips
To 2 puddings
To a surloyn of beef
To a turkey and onions
To a leg mutton and pickles
To a dish chickens
To minced pyes
To fruit, cheese, bread, etc.
To butter for sauce
To dressing dinner,
To 31 bottles wine
To beer and syder.”

We must remember, moreover, that the greater partof all food consumed in a family was prepared throughits every stage by that family. No factory-cannedgoods, no ready-to-warm soups, no evaporated fruits,no potted meats stood upon the grocers’ shelvesas a very present help in time of need. On thefarm or plantation and even in the smaller towns themeat was raised, slaughtered, and cured at home, thewheat, oats, and corn grown, threshed, and frequentlymade into flour and meal by the family, the fruitdried or preserved by the housewife. Molasses,sugar, spices, and rum might be imported from theWest Indies, but the everyday foods must come fromthe local neighborhood, and through the hard manualefforts of the consumer. An old farmer declaredin the American Museum in 1787: “Atthis time my farm gave me and my whole family a goodliving on the produce of it, and left me one year withanother one hundred and fifty silver dollars, forI never spent more than ten dollars a year, whichwas for salt, nails, and the like. Nothing toeat, drink or wear was bought, as my farm providedall.”

The very building of a fire to cook the food was alaborious task with flint and steel, one generallyavoided by never allowing the embers on the familyhearth to die. Fire was indeed a precious giftin that day, and that the methods sometimes used inobtaining it were truly primitive, may be conjecturedfrom the following extract from Prince’s Annalsof New England: “April 21, 1631.The house of John Page of Waterton burnt by carryinga few coals from one house to another. A coalfell by the way and kindled the leaves."[85]

Over those great fire-places of colonial times manya wife presented herself as a burnt offering to herlord and master, the goodman of the house. Thepots and kettles that ornamented the kitchen wallswere implements for pre-historic giants rather thanfor frail women. The brass or copper kettlesoften holding fifteen gallons, and the huge iron potsweighing forty pounds, were lugged hither and thitherby women whose every ounce of strength was neededfor the too frequent pangs of child-birth. Thecolonists boasted of the number of generations a kettlewould outlast; but perhaps the generations were tooshort—­thanks to the size of the kettle.

And yet with such cumbersome utensils, the good wivesof all the colonies prepared meals that would drivethe modern cook to distraction. Hear these eighteenthcentury comments on Philadelphia menus:

“This plain Friend [Miers Fisher,a young Quaker lawyer], with his plain but prettywife with her Thees and Thous, had provided usa costly entertainment: ducks, hams, chickens,beef, pig, tarts, creams, custards, jellies,fools, trifles, floating islands, beer, porter,punch, wine and along, etc.”
“At the home of Chief JusticeChew. About four o’clock we were calledto dinner. Turtle and every other thing, flummery,jellies, sweetmeats of twenty sorts, trifles,whipped sillabubs, floating islands, fools, etc.,with a dessert of fruits, raisins, almonds, pears,peaches.
“A most sinful feast again! everythingwhich could delight the eye or allure the taste;curds and creams, jellies, sweetmeats of varioussorts, twenty kinds of tarts, fools, trifles, floatingislands, whipped sillabubs, etc. Parmesancheese, punch, wine, porter, beer."[86]

To be a housewife in colonial days evidently requiredthe strength of Hercules, the skill of Tubal Cain,and the patience of Job. Such an advertisem*ntas that appearing in the Pennsylvania Packetof September 23, 1780, was not an exceptional challengeto female ingenuity and perseverance:

“Wanted at a Seat about half a day’s journeyfrom Philadelphia, on which are good improvementsand domestics, A single Woman of unsullied Reputation,an affiable, cheerful, active and amiable Disposition;cleanly, industrious, perfectly qualified to directand manage the female Concerns of country business,as raising small stock, dairying, marketing, combing,carding, spinning, knitting, sewing, pickling, preserving,etc., and occasionally to instruct two Young Ladiesin those Branches of Oeconomy, who, with their father,compose the Family. Such a person will be treatedwith respect and esteem, and meet with every encouragementdue to such a character.”

It is apparent that besides the work now commonlycarried on in the household, colonial women performedmany a duty now abrogated to the factory. Infact, so far are we removed from the industrial customsof the era that many of the terms then common in everyhome have lost all meaning for the average modernhousewife. For nearly two centuries the greaterpart of the preparation of material for clothing wasdone by the family; the spinning, the weaving, thedyeing, the making of thread, these and many similardomestic activities preceded the fashion of a garment.When we remember that the sewing machine was unknownwe may comprehend to some extent the immense amountof labor performed by women and girls of those earlydays. The possession of many slaves or servantsoffered but little if any relief; for such ownershipinvolved, of course, the manufacture of additionalclothing. Humphreys in her Catherine Schuylerpresents this quotation commenting upon a skilledhousewife: “Notwithstanding they have solarge a family to regulate (from 50 to 60 blacks)Mrs. Schuyler seeth to the Manufacturing of suitableCloathing for all her family, all of which is the produceof her plantation in which she is helped by her Mama& Miss Polly and the whole is done with less Combustion& noise than in many Families who have not more than4 or 5 Persons in the whole Family.”

IV. Domestic Pride

Of course the well-to-do Americans of the eighteenthcentury at length adopted the custom of importingthe finer cloth, silk, satin and brocade; but afterthe middle of the century the anti-British sentimentimpelled even the wealthiest either to make or to buythe coarser American cloth. Indeed, it becamea matter of genuine pride to many a patriotic damethat she could thus use the spinning wheel in behalfof her country. Daughters of Liberty, havingagreed to drink no tea and to wear no garments offoreign make, had spinning circles similar to thequilting bees of later days, and it was no uncommonsight between 1770 and 1785 to see groups of women,carrying spinning wheels through the streets, goingto such assemblies. See this bit of descriptionof such a meeting held at Rowley, Massachusetts:“A number of thirty-three respectable ladiesof the town met at sunrise with their wheels to spendthe day at the house of the Rev’d Jedekiah Jewell,in the laudable design of a spinning match. Atan hour before sunset, the ladies there appearingneatly dressed, principally in homespun, a polite andgenerous repast of American production was set fortheir entertainment...."[87]

If the modern woman had to labor for clothing as didher great-great-grandmother, styles in dress wouldbecome astonishingly simple. After the spinningand weaving, the cloth was dyed or bleached, and thisin itself was a task to try the fortitude of a strongsoul. Toward the middle of the eighteenth centurythe importation of silks and finer materials somewhatlessened this form of work; but even through the firstdecade of the nineteenth century spinning and weavingcontinued to be a part of the work of many a household.The Revolution, as we have seen, gave a new impetusto this art, and the first ladies of the land proudlyexhibited their skill. As Wharton remarks inher Martha Washington: “Mrs. Washington,who would not have the heart to starve her direstfoe within her own gates, heartily co-operated withher husband and his colleagues. The spinningwheels and carding and weaving machines were set towork with fresh spirit at Mt. Vernon....Some years later, in New Jersey, Mrs. Washington tolda friend that she often kept sixteen spinning wheelsin constant operation, and at one time Lund Washingtonspoke of a larger number. Two of her own dressesof cotton striped with silk Mrs. Washington showedwith great pride, explaining that the silk stripesin the fabrics were made from the ravellings of brownsilk stockings and old crimson damask chair covers.Her coachman, footman, and maid were all attired indomestic cloth, except the coachman’s scarletcuffs, which she took care to state had been importedbefore the war.... The welfare of the slaves,of whom one hundred and fifty had been part of herdower, their clothing, much of which was woven andmade upon the estate, their comfort, especially whenill; and their instruction in sewing, knitting andother housewifely arts, engaged much of Mrs. Washington’stime and thought."[88]

V. Special Domestic Tasks

So many little necessities to which we never givea second thought were matters of grave concern inthose old days. The matter, for instance, ofobtaining a candle or a piece of soap was one requiringthe closest attention and many an hour of drudgery.The supplying of the household with its winter stockof candles was a harsh but inevitable duty in theautumn, and the lugging about of immense kettles, thesmell of tallow, deer suet, bear’s grease, andstale pot-liquor, and the constant demands of thegreat fireplace must have made the candle season aperiod of terror and loathing to many a burdened wifeand mother. Then, too, the constant care of thewood ashes and hunks of fat and lumps of grease forsoap making was a duty which no rural woman dared toneglect. Nor must we forget that every housewifewas something of a physician, and the gathering anddrying of herbs, the making of ointments and salve,the distilling of bitters, and the boiling of syrupswas then as much a part of housework as it is to-daya part of a druggest’s activities.

In a sense, however, the very nature of such workprovided some phases of that social life which authoritiesconsider so lacking in colonial existence. Forthose arduous tasks frequently required neighborlyco-operation, and social functions thus became mingledwith industrial activities. Quilting bees, spinningbees, knitting bees, sewing bees, paring bees, anda dozen other types of “bees” served tolighten the drudgery of such work and developed aspirit of neighborliness that is perhaps a littlelacking under modern social conditions. Ignoringthe crude methods of labor, and the other forms ofhardship, we may look back from the vantage pointof two hundred years of progress and perhaps admireand envy something of the quietness, orderliness, andsimplicity of those colonial homes. After all,however, doubtless many a colonial mother now andthen grew sick at heart over the conditions and problemsfacing her. Confronted with the unsettled conditionof a new country, with society on a most insecurefoundation, with privations, hardships, and genuinetoil always in view, and with the prospect of the terriblestrain of bearing and rearing an inexcusable numberof children, the wife of that era may not have beenable to see all the romance which modern novelistshave perceived in the days that are no more.

VI. The Size of the Family

And this brings us once more to what was doubtlessthe most terrific burden placed upon the colonialwoman—­the incessant bearing of offspring.In those days large families were not a liability,but a positive asset. With a vast wildernessteeming with potential wealth, waiting only for asupply of workers, the only economic pressure on thebirth rate was the pressure to make it larger to meetthe demand for laborers. Every child born inthe colonies was assured, through moderate industry,of the comforts of life, and, through patience andshrewd investments, of some degree of wealth.Boys and girls meant workers—­producersof wealth—­the boys on farm or sea or inthe shop, the girls in the home. Since theirwants were simple, since the educational demands werenot large, since much of the food or clothing wasproduced directly by those who used it, children werenot unwelcome—­at least to the fathers.

Yet, who can say what rebellion unconsciously arosesometimes in the hearts of the women? Doubtlessthey strove to make themselves believe that all thelittle ones were a blessing and welcome—­thereligion of the day taught that any other thoughtwas sinful—­but still there must have beenmany a woman, distant from medical aid, living amidstnew, raw environments, mothers already of many a child,who longed for liberty from the inevitable returnof the trial. Women bore many children—­andburied many. And mothers followed their childrento the grave too often—­to rest with them.Cotton Mather, married twice, was father of fifteenchildren; the two wives of Benjamin Franklin’s

father bore seventeen; Roger Clap of Dorchester, Massachusetts,“begat” fourteen children by one wife;William Phipps, a governor of Massachusetts, had twenty-fivebrothers and sisters all by one mother. CatherineSchuyler, a woman of superior intellect, gave birthto fourteen children. Judge Sewall piously tellsus in his Diary: “Jan. 6, 1701.This is the Thirteenth child that I have offered upto God in Baptisme; my wife having borne me SevenSons and Seven Daughters.” One of the childrenhad been born dead, and therefore had not receivedbaptism. Ben Franklin often boasted of the strongconstitution of his mother and of the fact that shenursed all of her own ten babes; but he does not tellus of the constitution of the children or of the agesto which they lived. Five of Sewall’s childrendied in infancy, and only four lived beyond the ageof thirty. It seems never to have occurred tothe pious colonial fathers that it would be betterto rear five to maturity and bury none, than to rearfive and bury five. The strain on the womanhoodof the period cannot be doubted; innumerable men weremarried twice or three times and no small number fourtimes.

Industry was the law of the day, and every child soonbecame a producer. The burdens placed upon childrennaturally lightened as the colonies progressed; butas late as 1775, if we may judge by the followingrecord, not many moments of childhood were wasted.This is an account of her day’s work jotteddown by a young girl in that year: “Fix’dgown for Prude,—­Mend Mother’s Riding-hood,Spun short thread,—­Fix’d two gownsfor Welsh’s girls,—­Carded tow,—­Spunlinen,—­Worked on Cheese-basket,—­Hatchel’dflax with Hannah, we did 51 lbs. apiece,—­Pleatedand ironed,—­Read a Sermon of Dodridge’s,—­Spooleda piece—­Milked the Cows,—­Spunlinen, did 50 knots,—­Made a Broom of Guineawheat straw,—­Spun thread to whiten,—­Seta Red dye,—­Had two Scholars from Mrs. Taylor’s,—­Icarded two pounds of whole wool and felt Nationaly,—­Spunharness twine,—­Scoured the pewter,—­Aguein my face,—­Ellen was spark’d lastnight,—­spun thread to whiten—­Wentto Mr. Otis’s and made them a swinging visit—­Israelsaid I might ride his jade [horse]—­Prudestayed at home and learned Eve’s Dream by heart."[89]

VII. Indian Attacks

The children whose comment has just been quoted wereprobably safe from all dangers except ague and sparking;but in the previous century women and children dailyfaced possibilities that apparently should have keptthem in a continuous state of fright. Time aftertime mothers and babes were stolen by the Indians,and the tales of their sufferings fill many an interestingpage in the diaries, records, and letters of the seventeenthcentury and the early eighteenth. Hear these wordsfrom an early pamphlet, A Memorial of the PresentDeplorable State of New England, inserted in Sewall’sDiary:

“The Indians came upon the House of one Adamsat Wells, and captived the Man and his Wife, and assassinatedthe children.... The woman had Lain in aboutEight Days. They drag’d her out, and tiedher to a Post, until the House was rifled. Theythen loosed her, and bid her walk. She couldnot stir. By the help of a Stick she got halfa step forward. She look’d up to God.On the sudden a new strength entered into her.She was up to the Neck in Water five times that veryDay in passing Rivers. At night she fell overhead and ears, into a Slough in a Swamp, and hardlygot out alive.... She is come home alive untous.”

The following story of Mrs. Bradley of Haverly, Massachusetts,was sworn to as authentic:

“She was now entered into a SecondCaptivity; but she had the great Encumbranceof being Big with Child, and within Six Weeks ofher Time! After about an Hours Rest, wherein theymade her put on Snow Shoes, which to manage,requires more than ordinary agility, she travelledwith her Tawny Guardians all that night, andthe next day until Ten a Clock, associated with oneWoman more who had been brought to Bed but justone Week before: Here they Refreshed themselvesa little, and then travelled on till Night; whenthey had no Refreshment given them, nor had they any,till after their having Travelled all the Forenoonof the Day Ensuing.... She underwent incredibleHardships and Famine: A Mooses Hide, astough as you may Suppose it, was the best and mostof her Diet. In one and twenty days they cameto their Head-quarters.... But then herSnow-Shoes were taken from her; and yet she mustgo every step above the knee in Snow, with such wearinessthat her Soul often Pray’d That the Lord wouldput an end unto her weary life!”
“...Here in the Night, she foundherself ill.” [Her child was born here]....There she lay till the next Night, with none but theSnow under her, and the Heaven over her, in a mistyand rainy season. She sent then unto a FrenchPriest, that he would speak unto her SquawMistress, who then, without condescending to lookupon her, allow’d her a little Birch-Rind, tocover her Head from the Injuries of the Weather,and a little bit of dried Moose, which beingboiled, she drunk the Broth, and gave it unto theChild.”
“In a Fortnight she was calledupon to Travel again, with her child in her Arms:every now and then, a whole day together withoutthe least Morsel of any Food, and when she had any,she fed only on Ground-nuts and Wild-onions,and Lilly-roots. By the last of May, theyarrived at Cowefick, where they planted theirCorn; wherein she was put into a hard Task, sothat the Child extreamly Suffered. The Salvageswould sometimes also please themselves, withcasting hot Embers into the Mouth of the Child,which would render the Mouth so sore that it couldnot Suck for a long while together, so that itstarv’d and Dy’d....”
“Her mistress, the squaw, kepther a Twelve-month with her, in a Squalid Wigwam:Where, in the following Winter, she fell sick of aFeavour; but in the very height and heat of her Paroxysms,her Mistress would compel her sometimes to Spenda Winters-night, which is there a very bitterone, abroad in all the bitter Frost and Snowof the Climate. She recovered; but Four Indiansdied of the Feavour, and at length her Mistressalso.... She was made to pass the Riveron the Ice, when every step she took, she might havestruck through it if she pleased.”
“...At last, there came to thefight of her a Priest from Quebeck who had knownher in her former Captivity at Naridgowock....He made the Indians sell her to a French Family....where tho’ she wrought hard, she Livedmore comfortably and contented.... She wasfinally allowed to return to her husband."[90]

The account of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity,long known to every New England family, and perhapssecretly read by many a boy in lieu of the presentWild West series, may serve as another vivid exampleof the dangers and sufferings faced by every womanwho took unto herself a husband and went forth fromthe coast settlements to found a new home in the wilderness.The narrative, as written by Mrs. Rowlandson herself,tells of the attack by the Indians, the massacre ofher relations, and the capture of herself and herbabe:

“There remained nothing to mebut one poor, wounded babe, and it seemed atpresent worse than death, that it was in such a pitifulcondition, bespeaking compassion, and I had norefreshing for it, nor suitable things to reviveit.... But now (the next morning) I mustturn my back upon the town, and travel with them intothe vast and desolate wilderness, I knew notwhither. It is not my tongue or pen canexpress the sorrows of my heart, and bitterness ofmy spirit, that I had at this departure; but God waswith me in a wonderful manner, carrying me alongand bearing up my spirit that it did not quitefail.”
“One of the Indians carried mypoor wounded babe upon a horse, it went moaningall along: ‘I shall die, I shall die.’I went on foot after it, with sorrow that cannotbe expressed. At length I took it off thehorse and carried it in my arms, till my strengthfailed and I fell down with it. Then theyset me upon a horse with my wounded child inmy lap, and there being no furniture on the horse’sback, as we were going down a steep hill we both fellover the horse’s head, at which they, likeinhuman creatures, laughed and rejoiced to seeit, though I thought we should there have endedour days, overcome with so many difficulties.”

They went farther and farther into the wilderness,and a few days after leaving her home, her son Josephjoined her, having been captured by another band ofIndians. She tells how, having her Bible withher, she and her son found it a continual help, readingit and praying.

“After this it quickly beganto snow, and when night came on they stopped:and now down I must sit in the snow by a little fire,and a few boughs behind me, with my sick childin my lap and calling much for water, (beingnow) through the wound fallen into a violentfever. My own wound also growing so stiff thatI could scarce sit down or rise up, yet so itmust be, that I must sit all this cold winternight, upon the cold snowy ground, with my sickchild in my arms, looking that every hour would bethe last of its life; and having no Christianfriend near me, either to comfort or help me.”

“...Fearing theworst, I durst not send to my husband, though
there were some thoughtsof his coming to redeem and fetch me,
not knowing what mightfollow....”

“The Lord preserved us in safetythat night, and raised us up again in the morning,and carried us along, that before noon we cameto Concord. Now was I full of joy and yet notwithout sorrow: joy, to see such a lovelysight, so many Christians together; and someof them my neighbors. There I met with my brother,and brother-in-law, who asked me if I knew where hiswife was. Poor heart! he had helped to buryher and knew it not; she, being shot down bythe house, was partly burned, so that those whowere at Boston ... who came back afterward and buriedthe dead, did not know her.... Being recruitedwith food and rainment, we went to Boston thatday, where I met with my dear husband; but thethoughts of our dear children, one being dead, andthe other we could not tell where, abated our comfortin each other....”

And here is the brief story of the return of her daughter:“She was travelling one day with the Indians,with her basket on her back; the company of Indianswere got before her and gone out of sight, all exceptone squaw. She followed the squaw till night,and then both of them lay down, having nothing overthem but the heavens, nor under them but the earth.Thus she traveled three days together, having nothingto eat or drink but water and green whortle-berries.At last they came into Providence, where she was kindlyentertained by several of that town.... The Lordmake us a blessing indeed to each other. Thushath the Lord brought me and mine out of the horriblepit, and hath set us in the midst of tender-heartedand compassionate Christians. ’Tis the desireof my soul that we may walk worthy of the merciesreceived, and which we are receiving.”

This carrying away of white children occurred withsurprising frequency, and we of a later generationcan but wonder that their parents did not wreak moreterrific vengeance upon the red man than is recordedeven in the bloodiest pages of our early history.In 1755, after the close of the war with Pontiac,a meeting took place in the orchard of the Schuylerhomestead at Albany, where many of such kidnapped childrenwere returned to their parents and relatives.Perhaps we can comprehend some of the tragedy of thisform of warfare when we read of this gathering asdescribed by an eye-witness:

“Poor women who had traveledone hundred miles from the back settlements ofPennsylvania, and New England appeared here with anxiouslooks and aching hearts, not knowing whether theirchildren were alive or dead, or how to identifytheir children if they should meet them....”
“On a gentle slope near the Fortstood a row of temporary huts built by retainersto the troops; the green before these buildingswas the scene of these pathetic recognitions whichI did not fail to attend. The joy of thehappy mothers was overpowering and found ventin tears; but not the tears of those who afterlong travel found not what they sought. It wasaffecting to see the deep silent sorrow of theIndian women and of the children, who knew noother mother, and clung fondly to their bosemsfrom whence they were not torn without bitter shrieks.I shall never forget the grotesque figures and wildlooks of these young savages; nor the tremblinghaste with which their mothers arrayed them inthe new clothes they had brought for them, ashoping with the Indian dress they would throw offtheir habits and attachments...."[91]

Such distress caused by Indian raids did not, of course,cease with the seventeenth century. During theentire period of the next century the settlers onthe western frontier lived under constant dread ofsuch calamities. It has been one of the chiefelements in American history—­this ceaselessexpectation of warfare with primitive savages.In the settlement of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys,in the establishment of the great states of the Plains,in the founding of civilization on the Pacific slope,even down to the twentieth century, the price of progresshas been paid in this form of savage torture of womenand children. Even in the long settled communitiesof the eighteenth century such dangers did not entirelydisappear. As late as 1782, when an attempt wasmade by Burgoyne to capture General Schuyler, theancient contest between mother and Indian warrior oncemore occurred. “Their guns were stackedin the hall, the guards being outside and the reliefasleep. Lest the small Philip (grandson of GeneralSchuyler) be tempted to play with the guns, his motherhad them removed. The guards rushed for theirguns, but they were gone. The family fled upstairs, but Margaret, remembering the baby in the cradlebelow, ran back, seized the baby, and when she washalf way up the flight, an Indian flung his tomahawkat her head, which, missing her, buried itself inthe wood, and left its historic mark to the presenttime."[92]

VIII. Parental Training

We sometimes hear the complaint that the trainingof the modern child is left almost entirely to themother or to the woman school teacher, and that asa result the boy is becoming effeminate. The indicationsare that this could not have been said of the colonialchild; for, according to the records of that day,there was admirable co-operation between man and wifein the training of their little ones. Kindly JudgeSewall, who so indiscriminately mingled his accountsof courtships, weddings, funerals, visits to neighbors,notices of hangings, duties as a magistrate, whatnot, often spared time from his activities among thegrown-ups to record such incidents as: “Sabbath-day,Febr. 14, 1685. Little Hull speaks Apple plainlyin the hearing of his grandmother and Eliza Jane;this the first word."[93]

And hear what Samuel Mather in his Life of CottonMather tells of the famous divine’s interestin the children of the household: “He beganbetimes to entertain them with delightful stories,especially scriptural ones; and he would ever concludewith some lesson of piety, giving them to learn thatlesson from the story.... And thus every dayat the table he used himself to tell some entertainingtale before he rose; and endeavored to make it usefulto the olive plants about the table. When hischildren accidentally, at any time, came in his way,it was his custom to let fall some sentence or otherthat might be monitory or profitable to them....As soon as possible he would make the children learnto write; and, when they had the use of the pen, hewould employ then in writing out the most instructive,and profitable things he could invent for them....The first chastisem*nt which he would inflict forany ordinary fault was to let the child see and hearhim in an astonishment, and hardly able to believethat the child could do so base a thing; but believingthey would never do it again. He would never cometo give a child a blow excepting in case of obstinacyor something very criminal. To be chased fora while out of his presence he would make to be lookedupon as the sorest punishment in his family. Hewould not say much to them of the evil angels; becausehe would not have them entertain any frightful fanciesabout the apparitions of devils. But yet he wouldbriefly let them know that there are devils to temptto wickedness.”

Beside this tender picture we may place one of juvenilewarfare in the godly home of Judge Sewall, and ofthe effect such a rise of the Old Adam had upon thesoul of the conscientious magistrate: “Nov.6, 1692. Joseph threw a knob of Brass and hithis sister Betty on the forhead so as to make it bleedand swell, upon which, and for his playing at Prayer-time,and eating when Return Thanks, I whipd him pretty smartly.When I first went in (call’d by his Grandmother)he sought to shadow and hide himself from me behindthe head of the Cradle: which gave me the sorrowfullremembrance of Adam’s carriage."[94]

Such turmoil was, of course, unusual in the Sewallor any other Puritan home; but the spiritual paroxysmsof his daughter Betty, as noted in previous pages,were more characteristic, and probably not half soalarming to the deeply religious father. Thereseems to be little “sorrowfull remembrance”in the following note by the Judge; what would havecaused genuine alarm to a modern parent seemed to bealmost a source of secret satisfaction to him:“Sabbath, May 3, 1696. Betty can hardlyread her chapter for weeping; tells me she is afraidshe is gone back, does not taste that sweetness inreading the Word which once she did; fears that whatwas once upon her is worn off. I said what I couldto her, and in the evening pray’d with her alone."[95]

Though more mention is made in the early records aboutthe endeavors of the father than of the efforts ofthe mother to lead the children aright, we may, ofcourse, take it for granted that the maternal careand watchfulness were at least as strong as in ourown day. Eliza Pinckney, who had read widelyand studied much, did not consider it beneath herdignity to give her closest attention to the awakeningintellect of her babe. “Shall I give youthe trouble, my dear madam,” she wrote to afriend, “to buy my son a new toy (a descriptionof which I enclose) to teach him according to Mr.Locke’s method (which I have carefully studied)to play himself into learning. Mr. Pinckney, himself,has been contriving a sett of toys to teach him hisletters by the time he can speak. You perceivewe begin betimes, for he is not yet four months old.”Her consciousness of her responsibility toward herchildren is also set forth in this statement:“I am resolved to be a good Mother to my children,to pray for them, to set them good examples, to givethem good advice, to be careful both in their soulsand bodys, to watch over their tender minds, to carefullyroot out the first appearing and budings of vice,and to instill piety.... To spair no paines ortrouble to do them good.... And never omit toencourage every Virtue I may see dawning in them."[96]That her care brought forth good fruit is indicatedwhen she spoke, years later, of her boy as “ason who has lived to near twenty-three years of agewithout once offending me.”

Here and there we thus have directed testimony asto the part taken by mothers in the mental and spiritualtraining of children. For instance, in New York,according to Mrs. Grant, such instruction was leftentirely to the women. “Indeed, it wason the females that the task of religious instructiongenerally devolved; and in all cases where the heartis interested, whoever teaches at the same time learns....Not only the training of children, but of plants,such as needed peculiar care or skill to rear them,was the female province."[97]

In New England, as we have seen, the parental loveand care for the little ones was at least as mucha part of the father’s domestic activities asof the mother’s; unfortunately the men were inthe majority as writers, and they generally wroteof what they themselves did for their children.Abigail Adams was one of the exceptional women, andher letters have many a reference to the training ofher famous son. Writing to him while he was withhis father in Europe in 1778, she said: “Mydear Son.... Let me enjoin it upon you to attendconstantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructionsof your father, as you value the happiness of yourmother and your own welfare. His care and attentionto you render many things unnecessary for me to write... but the inadvertency and heedlessness of youthrequire line upon line and precept upon precept, and,when enforced by the joint efforts of both parents,will, I hope, have a due influence upon your conduct;for, dear as you are to me, I would much rather youshould have found your grave in the ocean you havecrossed, or that an untimely death crop you in yourinfant years, than see you an immoral profligate, orgraceless child...."[98]

Such quotations should prove that home life in colonialdays was no one-sided affair. The father andthe mother were on a par in matters of child training,and the influence of both entered into that strongrace of men who, through long years of struggle andwarfare, wrested civilization from savagery, and anew nation from an old one. What a modern writerhas written about Mrs. Adams might possibly be applicableto many a colonial mother who kept no record of herdaily effort to lead her children in the path of righteousnessand noble service: “Mrs. Adams’sinfluence on her children was strong, inspiring, vital.Something of the Spartan mother’s spirit breathedin her. She taught her sons and daughter to bebrave and patient, in spite of danger and privation.She made them feel no terror at the thought of deathor hardships suffered for one’s country.She read and talked to them of the world’s history....Every night, when the Lord’s prayer had beenrepeated, she heard him [John Quincey] say the odeof Collins beginning,

’How sleep the bravewho sink to rest
By all their country’swishes blest.’"[99]

IX. Tributes to Colonial Mothers

With such wives and mothers so common in the New World,it is but natural that many a high tribute to themshould be found in the old records. Not for anyparticular or exactly named trait are these womenpraised, but rather for that general, indescribablequality of womanliness—­that quality whichmen have ever praised and ever will praise. Thosenoble words of Judge Sewall at the open grave of hismother are an epitome of the patience, the love, thesacrifice, and the nobility of motherhood: “Jany.4th, 1700-1.... Nathan Bricket taking in handto fill the grave, I said, Forbear a little, and suffer

me to say that amidst our bereaving sorrows we havethe comfort of beholding this saint put into the rightfulpossession of that happiness of living desir’dand dying lamented. She liv’d commendablyfour and fifty years with her dear husband, and mydear father: and she could not well brook thebeing divided from him at her death; which is the causeof our taking leave of her in this place. Shewas a true and constant lover of God’s Word,worship and saints: and she always with a patientcheerfulness, submitted to the divine decree of providingbread for her self and others in the sweat of herbrows. And now ... my honored and beloved Friendsand Neighbors! My dear mother never thought muchof doing the most frequent and homely offices of lovefor me: and lavished away many thousands of wordsupon me, before I could return one word in answer:And therefore I ask and hope that none will be offendedthat I have now ventured to speak one word in herbehalf; when she herself has now become speechless."[100]

How many are the tributes to those “mothersin Israel”! Hear this unusual one to JaneTurell: “As a wife she was dutiful, prudentand diligent, not only content but joyful in her circ*mstances.She submitted as is fit in the Lord, looked well tothe ways of her household.... She respected allher friends and relatives, and spake of them withhonor, and never forgot either their counsels or theirkindnesses.... I may not forget to mention thestrong and constant guard she placed on the doorof her lips. Whoever heard her call an illname? or detract from anybody?"[101]

And, again, note the tone of this message to AlexanderHamilton from his father-in-law, General Philip Schuyler,after the death of Mrs. Schuyler: “My trialhas been severe.... But after giving and receivingfor nearly half a century a series of mutual evidencesof affection and friendship which increased as weadvanced in life, the shock was great and sensiblyfelt, to be thus suddenly deprived of a beloved wife,the mother of my children, and the soothing companionof my declining years.”

The words of President Dirkland of Harvard upon thedeath of Mrs. Adams, show how deeply women had cometo influence the life of New England by the time ofthe Revolution. His address was a sincere tributenot only to this remarkable mother but to the thousandsof unknown mothers who reared their families throughthose days of distress and death: “Ye willcease to mourn bereaved friends.... You do thenbless the Giver of life, that the course of your endearedand honored friend was so long and so bright; thatshe entered so fully into the spirit of those injunctionswhich we have explained, and was a minister of blessingsto all within her influence. You are soothedto reflect, that she was sensible of the many tokensof divine goodness which marked her lot; that she receivedthe good of her existence with a cheerful and gratefulheart; that, when called to weep, she bore adversitywith an equal mind; that she used the world as notabusing it to excess, improving well her time, talents,and opportunities, and, though desired longer in thisworld, was fitted for a better happiness than thisworld can give."[102]

It is apparent that men were not so neglectful ofpraise nor so cautious of good words for womankindin colonial days as the average run of books on Americanhistory would have us believe. As noted above,womanliness is the characteristic most commonly picturedin these records of good women; but now and then somespecial quality, such as good judgment, or businessability, or willingness to aid in a time of crisisis brought to light. Thus Ben Franklin writes:

“We have an English proverb that says, ’Hethat would thrive must ask his wife.’ Itwas lucky for me that I had one as much dispos’dto industry and frugality as myself. She assistedme chearfully in my business, folding and stitchingpamphlets, tending shop, purchasing old linen ragsfor the paper makers, etc. We kept no idleservants, our table was plain and simple, our furnitureof the cheapest.... One morning being call’dto breakfast, I found it in a china bowl with a spoonof silver! They had been bought for me withoutmy knowledge by my wife.... She thought her husbanddeserv’d a silver spoon and china bowl as wellas any of his neighbors. This was the first appearanceof plate and China in our house, which afterwardsin a course of years, as our wealth increased, augmentedgradually to several hundred pounds in value."[103]

Again, he notes on going to England: “April5, 1757. I leave Home and undertake this longVoyage more chearful, as I can rely on your Prudencein the Management of my Affairs, and education of mydear Child; and yet I cannot forbear once more recommendingher to you with a Father’s tenderest concern.My Love to all."[104]

Whether North or South the praise of woman’sindustry in those days is much the same. JohnLawson who made a survey journey through North Carolinain 1760, wrote in his History of North Carolinathat the women were the more industrious sex in thissection, and made a great deal of cloth of their owncotton, wool, and flax. In spite of the factthat their families were exceedingly large, he notedthat all went “very decently appareled bothwith linens and woolens,” and that because ofthe labor of the wives there was no occasion to runinto the merchant’s debt or lay out money onstores of clothing. And hundreds of miles northold Judge Sewall had expressed in his Diaryhis utmost confidence in his wife’s financialability when he wrote: “1703-4 ...Took 24s in my pocket, and gave my Wife the rest ofmy cash L4, 3-8 and tell her she shall now keep theCash; if I want I will borrow of her. She hasa better faculty than I at managing Affairs:I will assist her; and will endeavour to live uponmy salary; will see what it will doe. The Lordgive his blessing."[105]

And nearly seventy years later John Adams, in writingto Benjamin Rush, declares a similar confidence inhis help-meet and expresses in his quiet way genuinepride in her willingness to meet all ordeals with him.“May 1770. When I went home to my familyin May, 1770 from the Town Meeting in Boston ...I said to my wife, ’I have accepted a seat inthe House of Representatives, and thereby have consentedto my own ruin, to your ruin, and to the ruin of ourchildren. I give you this warning that you mayprepare your mind for your fate.’ She burstinto tears, but instantly cried in a transport ofmagnanimity, ’Well, I am willing in this causeto run all risks with you, and be ruined with you,if you are ruined.’ These were times, myfriend, in Boston which tried women’s soulsas well as men’s.”

Surely men were not unmindful in those stern daysof the strength and devotion of those women who borethem valiant sons and daughters that were to set anation free. And, furthermore, from such tributeswe may justly infer that women of the type of JaneTurell, Eliza Pinckney, Abigail Adams, Margaret Winthrop,and Martha Washington were wives and mothers who,above all else, possessed womanly dignity, loved theirhomes, yet sacrificed much of the happiness of thisbeloved home life for the welfare of the public, were“virtuous, pious, modest, and womanly,”built homes wherein were peace, gentleness, and love,havens indeed for their famous husbands, who in timesof great national woes could cast aside the burdensof public life, and retire to the rest so well deserved.As the author of Catherine Schuyler has so fittinglysaid of the home life of her and her daughter, thewife of Hamilton: “Their homes were centersof peace; their material considerations guarded.Whatever strength they had was for the fray. Nomen were ever better entrenched for political conflictthan Schuyler and Hamilton.... The affectionateintercourse between children, parents, and grand-parentsreflected in all the correspondence accessible makesan effective contrast to the feverish state of publicopinion and the controversies then raging. Nowherewould one find a more ideal illustration of the placehome and family ties should supply as an alleviationfor the turmoils and disappointments of public life."[106]

There are scores of others—­Mercy Warren,Mrs. Knox, and women of their type—­whosebenign influence in the colonial home could be cited.One could scarcely overestimate the value of the lovingcare, forethought, and sympathy of those wives andmothers of long ago; for if all were known,—­andwe should be happy that in those days some phases ofhome life were considered too sacred to be revealed—­perhapswe should conclude that the achievements of thosefamous founders of this nation were due as much totheir wives as to their own native powers. Thecharming mingling of simplicity and dignity is a traitof those women that has often been noted; they livedsuch heroic lives with such unconscious patience andvalor. For instance, hear the description ofMrs. Washington as given by one of the ladies at thecamp of Morristown;—­with what simplicityof manner the first lady of the land aided in a timeof distress:

“Well, I will honestly tell you,I never was so ashamed in all my life. Yousee, Madame ——­, and Madame ——­,and Madame Budd, and myself thought we wouldvisit Lady Washington, and as she was said tobe so grand a lady, we thought we must put on our bestbibbs and bands. So we dressed ourselfesin our most elegant ruffles and silks, and wereintroduced to her ladyship. And don’t youthink we found her knitting and with a speckled(check) apron on! She received us very graciously,and easily, but after the compliments were over,she resumed her knitting. There we werewithout a stitch of work, and sitting in State, butGeneral Washington’s lady with her ownhands was knitting stockings for herself andhusband!”
“And that was not all. Inthe afternoon her ladyship took occasion to say,in a way that we could not be offended at, that itwas very important, at this time, that American ladiesshould be patterns of industry to their countrywomen,because the separation from the mother countrywill dry up the sources whence many of our comfortshave been derived. We must become independentby our determination to do without what we cannotmake ourselves. Whilst our husbands and brothersare examples of patriotism, we must be patternsof industry."[107]

X. Interest in the Home

Many indeed are the hints of gentle, loving home lifepresented in the letters and records of the eighteenthcentury colonists. Domestic life may have beenrather severe in seventeenth century New England—­ourhistories make more of it than the original sourceswarrant—­but the little touches of courtesy,the considerate deeds of love, the words of sympathyand confidence show that those early husbands and wiveswere lovers even as many modern folk are lovers, andthat in the century of the Revolution they courtedand married and laughed and sorrowed much as we ofthe twentieth century do. Sometimes the hint isin a letter from brother to sister, sometimes in themessage from patriot to wife, sometimes in the secretdiary of mother or father; but, wherever found, thewords with their subtle meaning make us realize almostwith a shock that here were human hearts as much aliveto joy and anguish as any that now beat. Heara message from the practical Franklin to his sisterin 1772: “I have been thinking what wouldbe a suitable present for me to make and for you toreceive, as I hear you are grown a celebrated beauty.I had almost determined on a tea table, but when Iconsidered that the character of a good housewifewas far preferable to that of being only a gentlewoman, I concluded to send you a spinning wheel."[108]

And see in these notes from him in London to his wifethe interest of the philosopher and statesman in hishome—­his human longing that it should becomfortable and beautiful. “In the greatCase ... is contain’d some carpeting for a bestRoom Floor. There is enough for one large ortwo small ones; it is to be sow’d together, theEdges being first fell’d down, and Care takento make the Figures meet exactly: there is Borderingfor the same. This was my Fancy. Also twolarge fine Flanders Bed Ticks, and two pair largesuperfine Blankets, 2 fine Damask Table Cloths andNapkins, and 43 Ells of Ghentish Sheeting Holland....There is also 56 Yards of Cotton, printed curiouslyfrom Copper Plates, a new Invention, to make Bed andWindow Curtains; and 7 yards Chair Bottoms...."[109]

“The same box contains 4 Silver Salt Ladles,newest, but ugliest Fashion; a little Instrument tocore Apples; another to make little Turnips out ofgreat ones; six coarse diaper Breakfast Cloths, theyare to spread on the Tea Table, for nobody Breakfastshere on the naked Table; but on the cloth set a largeTea Board with the Cups....” “London,Feb. 14, 1765. Mrs. Stevenson has sent you ...Blankets, Bedticks.... The blue Mohair Stuffis for the Curtains of the Blue Chamber. TheFashion is to make one Curtain only for each Window.Hooks are sent to fix the Rails by at the Top so thatthey might be taken down on Occasion...."[110]

It does the soul good and warms the heart toward oldBenjamin to see him stopping in the midst of his laborsfor America to write his wife: “I sendyou some curious Beans for your Garden,” and“The apples are extreamly welcome, ... the mincedpies are not yet come to hand.... As to our lodging[she had evidently inquired] it is on deal featherbeds,in warm blankets, and much more comfortable than whenwe lodged at our inn...."[111]

Surely, too, the home touch is in this message ofThomas Jefferson at Paris to Mrs. Adams in London.After telling her how happy he was to order shoesfor her in the French capital, he continues: “Toshow you how willingly I shall ever receive and executeyour commissions, I venture to impose one upon you.From what I recollect of the diaper and damask weused to import from England, I think they were betterand cheaper than here.... If you are of the sameopinion I would trouble you to send me two sets oftable cloths & napkins for twenty covers each."[112]And again he turns aside from his heavy duties in Franceto write his sister that he has sent her “twopieces of linen, three gowns, and some ribbon.They are done in paper, sealed and packed in a trunk."[113]

And what of old Judge Sewall of the previous century—­heof a number of wives and innumerable children?Even in his day, when Puritanism was at its worst,or as he would say, at its best, acts of thoughtfulnessand mutual love between man and wife were apparentlynot forgotten. The wonderful Diary offersthe proof: “June 20, 1685: Carriedmy Wife to Dorchester to eat Cherries, Raspberries,chiefly to ride and take the Air. The time myWife and Mrs. Flint spent in the Orchard, I spent inMr. Flint’s Study, reading Calvin on the Psalms...."[114]“July 8, 1687. Carried my wife to Cambridgeto visit my little Cousin Margaret...."[115] “Icarry my two sons and three daughters in the Coachto Danford, the Turks head at Dorchester; eat sageCheese, drunk Beer and Cider and came homeward...."[116]

Thus human were those grave fathers of the nation.History and fiction often conspire to portray themas always walking with solemnity, talking with deepseriousness, and looking upon all mortals and all thingswith chilling gloom; but, after all, they seem, indomestic life at least, to have gone about their dailyround of duties and pleasures in much the same spiritas we, their descendants, work and play. As Whartonin her Through Colonial Doorways says:“The dignified Washington becomes to us a moreapproachable personality when, in a letter writtenby Mrs. John M. Bowers, we read that when she wasa child of six he dandled her on his knee and sangto her about ’the old, old man and the old, oldwoman who lived in the vinegar bottle together,’... or again, when General Greene writes from Middlebrook,’We had a little dance at my quarters.His Excellency and Mrs. Greene danced upwards of threehours without once sitting down. Upon the wholewe had a pretty little frisk.”

And does not John Adams lose some of his aloofnesswhen we see the picture his wife draws of him, submittingto be driven about the room by means of a switch inthe hands of his little grandchild? In the eighteenthcentury home life was evidently just as free from unnecessarydignity as it is to-day, and possibly wives had evenmore genuine affection and esteem for their husbandsthan is the case in the twentieth century. Mrs.Washington’s quiet rebuke to her daughter andsome lady guests who came down to breakfast in dressinggowns and curl papers, may be cited as at least oneproof of consideration for the husband. Seeingsome French officers approaching the house, the youngpeople begged to be excused; but Mrs. Washington shookher head decisively and answered, “No, whatis good enough for General Washington is good enoughfor any of his guests.” Indeed much of thisfamous man’s success must be attributed to thenoble encouragement, the considerateness, and theunsparing industry of his wife. The story isoften told of how the painter, Peale, when he hesitatedto call at seven in the morning, the hour for thefirst sitting for her portrait, found that even thenshe had already attended morning worship, had givenher niece a music lesson, and had read the newspaper.

Brooke in Dames and Daughters of Colonial Daysfurnishes another example of the kindly considerationso common among colonial husbands and wives.Mrs. John Adams, who was afflicted with headaches,believed that green tea brought relief, and wroteher husband to send her a canister. Some timeafterwards she visited Mrs. Samuel Adams, who refreshedher with this very drink:

“The scarcity of the articlemade me ask where she got it. She repliedthat her sweetheart sent it to her by Mr. Gerry.I said nothing, but thought my sweetheart mighthave been equally kind considering the diseaseI was visited with, and that was recommendedas a bracer.”
“But in reality ‘Goodman’John had not been so unfeeling as he appeared.For when he read his wife’s mention of that painin her head he had been properly concerned andstraightway, he says, ’asked Mrs. Yardto send a pound of green tea to you by Mr. Gerry.’Mrs. Yard readily agreed. ‘When I came homeat night,’ continues the much ‘vexed’John, I was told Mr. Gerry was gone. I askedMrs. Yard if she had sent the canister. She saidYes and that Mr. Gerry undertook to deliver itwith a great deal of pleasure. From thattime I flattered myself you would have the poorrelief of a dish of good tea, and I never conceiveda single doubt that you had received it untilMr. Gerry’s return. I asked him accidentlywhether he had delivered it, and he said, ’Yes;to Mr. Samuel Adams’s lady.’"[117]

American letters of the eighteenth century aboundin expressions of love and in mention of gifts senthome as tokens of that love. Thus, Mrs. Washingtonwrites her brother in 1778: “Please to givelittle Patty a kiss for me. I have sent her apair of shoes—­there was not a doll to begot in the city of Philadelphia, or I would have senther one (the shoes are in a bundle for my mamma)."[118]And again from New York in 1789 she writes: “Ihave by Mrs. Sims sent for a watch, it is one of thecargoe that I have so often mentioned to you, thatwas expected, I hope is such a one as will pleaseyou—­it is of the newest fashion, if thathas any influence in your taste.... The chainis of Mr. Lear’s choosing and such as Mrs. Adamsthe vice President’s Lady and those in the politecircle wares and will last as long as the fashion—­andby that time you can get another of a fashionablekind—­I send to dear Maria a piece of chintzto make her a frock—­the piece of muslinI hope is long enough for an apron for you, and inexchange for it, I beg you will give me the workedmuslin apron you have like my gown that I made justbefore I left home of worked muslin as I wish to makea petticoat of the two aprons,—­for my gown... kiss Maria I send her two little handkerchiefsto wipe her nose..."[119]

XI. Woman’s Sphere

With all their evidence of love and confidence intheir wives, these colonial gentlemen were not, however,especially anxious to have womankind dabble in politicsor other public affairs. The husbands were willingenough to explain public activities of a grave natureto their help-meets, and sometimes even asked theiropinion on proposed movements; but the men did nothesitate to think aloud the theories that the homewas woman’s sphere and domestic duties her bestactivities. Governor Winthrop spoke in no uncertainterms for the seventeenth century when he wrote thefollowing brief note in his History of New England:

(1645) “Mr. Hopkins, the governour of Hartfordupon Connecticut, came to Boston and brought his wifewith him (a godly young woman, and of special parts),who was fallen into a sad infirmity, the loss of herunderstanding and reason, which had been growing uponher divers years, by occasion of her giving herselfwholly to reading and writing, and had written manybooks. If she had attended to her household affairs,and such things as belong to women, and not gone outof her way and calling to meddle in such things asare proper for men, whose minds are stronger, etc.,she had kept her wits, and might have improved themusefully and honorably in the place God had set her.”

Thomas Jefferson, writing from Paris in 1788 to Mrs.Bingham, spoke in less positive language but perhapsjust as clearly the opinion of the eighteenth century:“The gay and thoughtless Paris is now becomea furnace of politics. Men, women, children talknothing else & you know that naturally they talk much,loud & warm.... You too have had your politicalfever. But our good ladies, I trust, have beentoo wise to wrinkle their foreheads with politics.They are contented to soothe & calm the minds of theirhusbands returning ruffled from political debate.They have the good sense to value domestic happinessabove all others. There is no part of the earthwhere so much of this is enjoyed as in America.You agree with me in this; but you think that thepleasures of Paris more than supply its wants; in otherwords, that a Parisian is happier than an American.You will change your opinion, my dear madam, and comeover to mine in the end. Recollect the women ofthis capital, some on foot, some on horses, & somein carriages hunting pleasure in the streets in routes,assemblies, & forgetting that they have left it behindthem in their nurseries & compare them with our owncountry women occupied in the tender and tranquil amusem*ntsof domestic life, and confess that it is a comparisonof Americans and angels."[120]

And Franklin writes thus to his wife from London in1758: “You are very prudent not to engagein party Disputes. Women never should meddle withthem except in Endeavors to reconcile their Husbands,Brothers, and Friends, who happen to be of contrarySides. If your Sex can keep cool, you may bea means of cooling ours the sooner, and restoring morespeedily that social Harmony among Fellow Citizensthat is so desirable after long and bitter Dissension."[121]Again, he writes thus to his sister: “Rememberthat modesty, as it makes the most homely virgin amiableand charming, so the want of it infallably rendersthe perfect beauty disagreeable and odious. Butwhen that brightest of female virtues shines amongother perfections of body and mind in the same mind,it makes the woman more lovely than angels."[122]

What seems rather strange to the twentieth centuryAmerican, the women of colonial days apparently agreedwith such views. So few avenues of activity outsidethe home had ever been open to them that they may haveconsidered it unnatural to desire other forms of work;but, be that as it may, there are exceedingly fewinstances in those days, of neglect of home for thesake of a career in public work. Abigail Adamsfrequently expressed it as her belief that a woman’sfirst business was to help her husband, and that awife should desire no greater pleasure. “Tobe the strength, the inmost joy, of a man who withinthe conditions of his life seems to you a hero atevery turn—­there is no happiness more penetratingfor a wife than this."[123]

Women like Eliza Pinckney, Mercy Warren, Jane Turell,Margaret Winthrop, Catherine Schuyler, and ElizabethHamilton most certainly believed this, and their livesand the careers of their husbands testify to the successof such womanly endeavors. Mercy Warren was awriter of considerable talent, author of some ratherwidely read verse, and of a History of the Revolution;but such literary efforts did not hinder her from doingher best for husband and children; while Eliza Pinckney,with all her wide reading, study of philosophy, agriculturalinvestigations, experiments in the production of indigoand silk, was first of all a genuine homemaker.In fact, some times the manner in which these true-heartedwomen stood by their husbands, whether in prosperityor adversity, has a touch of the tragic in it.Beautiful Peggy Shippen, for instance, wife of BenedictArnold—­what a life of distress was hers!Little more than a year of married life had passedwhen the disgrace fell upon her. Hamilton ina letter to his future wife tells how Mrs. Arnold receivedthe news of her husband’s guilt: “Shefor a considerable time entirely lost her self control.The General went up to see her. She upbraidedhim with being in a plot to murder her child.One moment she raved, another she melted into tears.Sometimes she pressed her infant to her bosom andlamented its fate, occasioned by the imprudence ofits father, in a manner that would have pierced insensibilityitself.” “Could I forgive Arnoldfor sacrificing his honor, reputation, duty, I couldnot forgive him for acting a part that must have forfeitedthe esteem of so fine a woman. At present shealmost forgets his crime in his misfortunes; and herhorror at the guilt of the traitor is lost in her loveof the man."[124]

Her friends whispered it about New York and Philadelphiathat she would gladly forsake her husband and returnto her father’s home; but there is absolutelyno proof of the truth of such a statement, and it wasprobably passed about to protect her family. Nosuch choice, however, was given her; for within amonth there came to her an official notice that decisivelysettled the matter:

“Philadelphia,Friday, Oct. 27, 1780.

“The Council taking into considerationthe case of Mrs. Margaret Arnold (the wife ofBenedict Arnold, an attainted traitor with theenemy at New York), whose residence in this city hasbecome dangerous to the public safety, and thisBoard being desirous as much as possible to preventany correspondence and intercourse being carriedon with persons of disaffected character in this Stateand the enemy at New York, and especially with thesaid Benedict Arnold: therefore

“RESOLVED, Thatthe said Margaret Arnold depart this State within
fourteen days from thedate hereof, and that she do not return
again during the continuanceof the present war.”

It is highly probable that she would ultimately havefollowed her husband, anyhow; but this notice causedher to join him immediately in New York, and fromthis time forth she was ever with him, bore him fourchildren, and was his only real friend and comforterthroughout the remainder of his life.

XII. Women in Business

Despite the popular theory about woman’s sphere,men of the day frequently trusted business affairsto her. A number of times we have noted the referencesto the confidence of colonial husbands in their wives’bravery, shrewdness, and general ability. Suchbelief went beyond mere words; it was not infrequentlyexpressed in the freedom granted the women in businessaffairs during the absence of the husband. Morewill be said later about the capacity of the colonialwoman to take the initiative; but a few instancesmay be cited at this point to show how genuinely importantaffairs were often intrusted to the women for longperiods of time. We have seen Sewall’s commentconcerning the financial ability of his wife, andhave heard Franklin’s declaration that he wasthe more content to be absent some time because ofthe business sense of Mrs. Franklin. Indeed,several letters from Franklin indicate his confidencein her skill in such affairs. In 1756, while ona trip through the colonies, he wrote her: “Ifyou have not Cash sufficient, call upon Mr. Moore,the Treasurer, with that Order of the Assembly, anddesire him to pay you L100 of it.... I hope afortnight ... to make a Trip to Philadelphia, andsend away the Lottery Tickets.... and pay off thePrizes, etc., tho’ you may pay such as cometo hand of those sold in Philadelphia, of my signing....I hope you have paid Mrs. Stephens for the Bills."[125]

Again, in 1767, he writes her concerning the marriageof their daughter: “London, June 22....It seems now as if I should stay here another Winter,and therefore I must leave it to your Judgment to actin the Affair of your Daughter’s Match, as shallseem best. If you think it a suitable one, Isuppose the sooner it is compleated the better....I know very little of the Gentleman [Richard Bache]or his Character, nor can I at this Distance.I hope his expectations are not great of any Fortuneto be had with our Daughter before our Death.I can only say, that if he proves a good Husband toher, and a good Son to me, he shall find me as gooda Father as I can be:—­but at present I supposeyou would agree with me, that we cannot do mere thanfit her out handsomely in deaths and Furniture, notexceeding the whole Five Hundred Pounds of Value.For the rest, they must depend as you and I did, ontheir own Industry and Care: as what remainsin our Hands will be barely sufficient for our Support,and not enough for them when it comes to be dividedat our Decease...."[126]

Much has been written of the shrewdness, carefulness,industry, as well as general womanliness of AbigailAdams. For years she was deprived of her husband’spresence and help; but under circ*mstances that attimes must have been appalling, she not only kepther family in comfort, but by her practical judgmentlaid the foundation for that easy condition of lifein which she and her husband spent their later years.But there were days when she evidently knew not whichway to turn for relief from real financial distress.In 1779 she wrote to her husband: “The safestway, you tell me, of supplying my wants is by drafts;but I cannot get hard money for bills. You hadas good tell me to procure diamonds for them; and,when bills will fetch but five for one, hard moneywill exchange ten, which I think is very provoking;and I must give at the rate of ten and sometimes twentyfor one, for every article I purchase. I blushwhile I give you a price current;—­all butcher’smeat from a dollar to eight shillings per pound:corn is twenty-five dollars; rye thirty per bushel;flour fifty pounds per hundred; potatoes ten dollarsper bushel; butter twelve shillings a pound; sugartwelve shillings a pound; molasses twelve dollarsper gallon; ... I have studied and do study everymethod of economy in my power; otherwise a mint ofmoney would not support a family."[127]

Thus we have had a rather varied group of views ofhome life in colonial days. In public there mayhave been a certain primness or aloofness in the relationsof man and woman, but it would seem that in the homethere was at least as much tender affection and mutualconfidence as in the modern family. In all probability,wives and mothers gave much closer heed to the needsand tastes of husbands and children than is their caseto-day; for woman’s only sphere in that periodwas her home, and her whole heart and soul were in

its success. Probably, too, women more thoroughlybelieved then that her chief mission in life was toaid some man in his public affairs by keeping alwaysin preparation for him a haven of comfort, peace,and love. On the other hand, the father of colonialdays undoubtedly gave much more attention to the rearingand training of his children than does the modernfather; for the present public school has largelylessened the responsibilities of parenthood.Both husband and wife were much more “home bodies”than are the modern couple. There were but fewattractions to draw the husband away from the familyhearth at night, and hard physical labor, far morecommon than now, made the restful home evenings andSundays exceedingly welcome.

Due to the crude household implements and the largefamilies, the wife and mother undoubtedly enduredfar more physical strain and hardships than fall tothe lot of the modern woman. The life of colonialwoman, with the incessant childbearing and preparationof a multitude of things now made in factories, probablywasted an undue amount of nervous energy; but it isdoubtful whether the modern woman, with her numerousoutside activities and nerve-racking social requirementshas any advantage in this phase of the matter.The colonial wife was indeed a power in the affairsof home, and thus indirectly exerted a genuine influenceover her husband. And not only the mother butthe father was vitally interested in domestic affairsthat many a man of to-day, and many a woman too, wouldconsider too petty for their attention.

In spite of all the colonial disadvantages, as weview them, it seems undeniably true that those wiveswho have left any written record of their lives weretruly happy. Perhaps their intensely busy existenceleft them but little time to brood over wrongs or fanciedills; more probably their deep love for the strong,level-headed and generally clean-hearted men who establishedthis nation made life exceedingly worth while.Surely, the sanity, order, and stability of those homesof long ago have had much to do with the physicaland moral excellence that have been so generally characteristicof the American people.


[75] Several Poems Compiled with Great Varietyof Wit and Learning, 1678.

[76] Letters of A. Adams, pp. 10, 89, 93.

[77] Brown: Mercy Warren, pp. 73, 95.

[78] Brown: Mercy Warren, p. 98.

[79] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 85.

[80] Smyth: Writings of B. Franklin, Vol.III, p. 245.

[81] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, pp. 93,175.

[82] Bassett: Writings of Col. WilliamByrd, pp. 356-358.

[83] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 153.

[84] Page 242.

[85] English Garner, Vol. II, p. 584.

[86] Earle: Home Life in Colonial Days,p. 160.

[87] Earle: Home Life in Colonial Days,p. 183.

[88] Page 71.

[89] Fisher: Men, Women & Manners of Col.Days, p. 275.

[90] Sewall: Diary, Vol. I, p. 59,ff.

[91] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.123.

[92] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.193.

[93] Vol. I, p. 122.

[94] Diary, Vol. I, p. 369.

[95] Vol. I, p. 423.

[96] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 17.

[97] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 29.

[98] Letters, p. 93.

[99] Brooks: Dames and Daughters of ColonialDays, p. 197.

[100] Sewall: Diary, Vol. II, p.31.

[101] Ebenezer Turell in Memoirs of the Life andDeath of Mrs. Jane Turell.

[102] Letters of A. Adams, p. 57.

[103] Letters of Franklin, Vol. I, p.324.

[104] Letters of Franklin, Vol. III, p.378.

[105] Vol. II, p. 93.

[106] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.228.

[107] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 116.

[108] Smyth: Writings of B. Franklin,Vol. II, p. 87.

[109] Smyth: Writings of B. Franklin,Vol. III, p. 431.

[110] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.IV, p. 359.

[111] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.III, p. 325.

[112] Ford: Writings of Jefferson, Vol.IV, p. 101.

[113] Ibid., Vol. IV, p. 208.

[114] Vol. I, p. 83.

[115] Ibid., Vol. I, p. 170.

[116] Ibid., Vol. I, p. 492.

[117] Pp. 188-9.

[118] Wharton: M. Washington, p.127.

[119] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 205.

[120] Ford: Writings of Jefferson, Vol.III, p. 8.

[121] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.III, p. 438.

[122] Ibid., Vol. II, p. 87.

[123] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 86.

[124] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.183.

[125] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.III, p. 323.

[126] Smyth: Writings of Franklin, Vol.I, p. 31.

[127] Letters of A. Adams, p. 104.



I. Dress Regulation by Law

Who would think of writing a book on woman withoutincluding some description of dress? Apparentlythe colonial woman, like her modern sister, foundbeautiful clothing a subject near and dear to the heart;but evidently the feminine nature of those old daysdid not have such hunger so quickly or so thoroughlyanswered as in our own times. The subject certainlydid not then receive the printed notice now grantedit, and it is rather clear that a much smaller proportionof the bread winner’s income was used on gayapparel. And yet we shall note the same hue andcry among colonial men that we may hear to-day—­thatwomen are dress-crazy, and that the manner and expenseof woman’s dress are responsible for much ofthe evil of the world.

We should not be greatly surprised, then, to discoverthat early in the history of the colonies the magistratestried zealously to regulate the style and cost offemale clothing. The deluded Puritan elders, whobelieved that everything could and should be controlledby law, even attempted until far into the eighteenthcentury to decide just how women should array themselves.But the eternal feminine was too strong for the lawmakers, and they ultimately gave up in despair.Both in Virginia and New England such rules were earlygiven a trial. Thus, in the old court recordswe run across such statements as the following:“Sep. 27, 1653, the wife of Nicholas Maye ofNewbury, Conn., was presented for wearing silk cloakand scarf, but cleared proving her husband was worthmore than L200.” In some of the Southernsettlements the church authorities very shrewdly connectedfine dress with public spiritedness and benevolence,and declared that every unmarried man must be assessedin church according to his own apparel, and every marriedman according to his own and his wife’s apparel.[128]Again in 1651 the Massachusetts court expressed its“utter detestation that men and women of meanecondition, education and calling should take upon themthe garbe of gentlemen by wearinge of gold or silverlace or buttons or poynts at their knees, or walkein great boots, or women of the same ranke to wearsilke or tiffany hoods or scarfs.”

A large number of persons were indeed “presented”under this law, and it is plain that the officersof the times were greatly worried over this form ofearthly pride; but as the settlements grew older thepeople gradually silenced the magistrates, and eachperson dressed as he or she, especially the latter,chose.

II. Contemporary Descriptions

The result is that we find more references to dressin the eighteenth century than in the previous one.The colonists had become more prosperous, a littlemore worldly, and certainly far less afraid of thewrath of God and the judges. As travel to Europebecame safer and more common, visitors brought newfashions, and provincialism in manner, style, andcostume became much less apparent. Madame Knight,who wrote an account of her journey from Boston toNew York in 1704, has left some record of dress inthe different colonies. Of the country women inConnecticut she says: “They are very plainin their dress, throughout all the colony, as I saw,and follow one another in their modes; that you mayknow where they belong, especially the women, meetthem where you will.” And see her descriptionof the dress of the Dutch women of New York:“The English go very fashionable in their dress.But the Dutch, especially the middling sort, differfrom our women in their habit, go loose, wear Frenchmuches, which are like a cap and a head band in one,leaving their ears bare, which are set out with jewelsof a large size, and many in number; and their fingershooked with rings, some with large stones in themof many colors, as were their pendants in their ears,which you should see very old women wear as well asyoung.”

As Mrs. Knight was so observant of how others dressed,let us take a look at her own costume, as describedin Brooks’ Dames and Daughters of ColonialDays: “Debby looked with curious admiringeyes at the new comer’s costume, the scarletcloak and little round cap of Lincoln green, the puffedand ruffled sleeves, the petticoat of green-druggetcloth, the high heeled leather shoes, with their greenribbon bows, and the riding mask of black velvet whichDebby remembered to have heard, only ladies of thehighest gentility wore."[129]

The most famous or most dignified of colonial gentlemenwere not above commenting upon woman’s dress.Old Judge Sewall mingled with his accounts of courts,weddings, and funerals such items as: “Apr.5, 1722. My Wife wore her new Gown of sprig’dPersian.” Again, we note the philosopher-statesman,Franklin, discoursing rather fluently to his wifeabout dress, and, from what we glean, he seems to havebeen pretty well informed on matters of style.Thus in 1766 he wrote: “As the Stamp Actis at length repeal’d, I am willing you shouldhave a new Gown, which you may suppose I did not sendsooner, as I knew you would not like to be finer thanyour neighbours, unless in a Gown of your own spinning.Had the trade between the two Countries totally ceas’d,it was a Comfort to me to recollect, that I had oncebeen cloth’d from Head to Foot in Woolen andLinnen of my Wife’s Manufacture, that I neverwas prouder of any Dress in my Life, and that sheand her Daughter might do it again if it was necessary....Joking apart, I have sent you a fine Piece of PompadoreSattin, 14 Yards, cost 11 shillings a Yard; a silkNegligee and Petticoat of brocaded Lutestring formy dear Sally, with two dozen Gloves...."[130]

A letter dated from London, 1758, reads: ...“I send also 7 yards of printed Cotton, blueGround, to make you a Gown. I bought it by Candle-Light,and lik’d it then, but not so well afterwards.If you do not fancy it, send it as a present fromme to sister Jenny. There is a better Gown foryou, of flower’d Tissue, 16 yards, of Mrs. Stevenson’sFancy, cost 9 Guineas and I think it a great Beauty.There was no more of the sort or you should have hadenough for a Negligee or Suit."[131]

And again: “Had I been well, I intendedto have gone round among the shops and bought somepretty things for you and my dear, good Sally (whoselittle hands you say eased your headache) to send bythis ship, but I must now defer it to the next, havingonly got a crimson satin cloak for you, the newestfashion, and the black silk for Sally; but Billy sendsher a scarlet feather, muff, and tippet, and a boxof fashionable linen for her dress...."[132]

He sends her also in 1758 “a newest fashion’dwhite Hat and Cloak and sundery little things, whichI hope will get safe to hand. I send a pair ofBuckles, made of French Paste Stones, which are nextin Lustre to Diamonds...."[133]

Abigail Adams also has left us rather detailed descriptionsof her dresses prepared for various special occasins.Thus, after being presented at the English Court,she wrote home: “Your Aunt then wore afull dress court cap without the lappets, in whichwas a wreath of white flowers, and blue sheafs, twoblack and blue flat feathers, pins, bought for Court,and a pair of pearl earings, the cost of them—­nomatter what—­less than diamonds, however.A sapphire blue demi-saison with a satin stripe, sackand petticoat trimmed with a broad black lace; crapeflounce, & leave made of blue ribbon, and trimmed withwhite floss; wreaths of black velvet ribbon spottedwith steel beads, which are much in fashion, and broughtto such perfection as to resemble diamonds; whiteribbon also in the van dyke style, made up of the trimming,which looked very elegant, a full dress handkerchief,and a bouquet of roses.... Now for your cousin:A small, white leghorn hat, bound with pink satinribbon; a steel buckle and band which turned up atthe side, and confined a large pink bow; large bowof the same kind of ribbon behind; a wreath of full-blownroses round the crown, and another of buds and roseswithin side the hat, which being placed at the backof the hair brought the roses to the edge; you seeit clearly; one red and black feather, with two whiteones, compleated the head-dress. A gown and coatof chamberi gauze with a red satin stripe over a pinkwaist, and coat flounced with crape, trimmed withbroad point and pink ribbon; wreaths of roses acrossthe coat; gauze sleeves and ruffles."[134]

Although it is absolutely impossible for a man toform the picture, this sounds as though it were elegant.Again she writes: “Cousin’s dressis white, ... like your aunts, only differently trimmedand ornamented; her train being wholly of white crape,and trimmed with white ribbon; the petticoat, whichis the most showy part of the dress, covered and drawnup in what are called festoons, with light wreathsof beautiful flowers; the sleeves white crape, drawnover silk, with a row of lace round the sleeve nearthe shoulder, another half way down the arm, and athird upon the top of the ruffle, a little flowerstuck between; a kind of hat-cap, with three largefeathers, and a bunch of flowers; a wreath of flowersupon the hair."[135]

It is apparent that no large amount of Puritanicalscruples about fine array had passed over into eighteenthcentury America. Whether in New England, theMiddle Colonies, or the South, the natural longingof woman for ornamentation and beautiful adornmenthad gained supremacy, and from the records we mayjudge that some ladies of those days expended an amounton clothing not greatly out of proportion with theamount spent to-day by the well-to-do classes.For instance, in Philadelphia, we find a Miss Chambersadorned as follows: “On this evening, mydress was white brocade silk, trimmed with silver,and white silk high-heeled shoes, embroidered withsilver, and a light-blue sash with silver and tassel,tied at the left side. My watch was suspendedat the right, and my hair was in its natural curls.Surmounting all was a small white hat and white ostrichfeather, confined by brilliant band and buckle."[136]

III. Raillery and Scolding

Of course, the colonial man found woman’s dressa subject for jest; what man has not? Certainlyin America the custom is of long standing. OldNathaniel Ward, writing in 1647 in his Simple Cobblerof Aggawam, declares: “It is a morecommon than convenient saying that nine tailors makea man; it were well if nineteen could make a womanto her mind. If tailors were men indeed wellfurnished, but with more moral principles, they woulddisdain to be led about like apes by such mimic marmosets.It is a most unworthy thing for men that have bonesin them to spend their lives in making fiddle-casesfor futilous women’s fancies; which are thevery pettitoes of infirmity, the giblets of perquisquiliantoys.... It is no little labor to be continuallyputting up English women into outlandish casks; whoif they be not shifted anew once in a few months growtoo sour for their husbands.... He that makescoats for the moon had need take measure every noon,and he that makes for women, as often to keep themfrom lunacy.”

Indeed Ward becomes genuinely excited over the matter,and says some really bitter things: “Ishall make bold for this once to borrow a little oftheir long-waisted but short skirted patience....It is beyond the ken of my understanding to conceive,how those women should have any true grace, or valuablevirtue, that have so little wit as to disfigure themselveswith such exotic garbes, as not only dismantle theirnative lovely lustre, but transclouts them into gant-bar-geese,ill shapen-shotten-shell-fish, Egyptian Hyeroglyphics,or at the best French flirts of the pastery, whicha proper English woman should scorn with her heels....”

The raillery became more frequent and certainly muchmore good-natured in the eighteenth century.Philip Fithian, a Virginia tutor, writing in 1773,said in his Diary: “Almost everyLady wears a red Cloak; and when they ride out theytye a red handkerchief over their Head and face, sothat when I first came into Virginia, I was distressedwhenever I saw a Lady, for I thought she had the toothache.”

In fact, the subject sometimes inspired the men topoetry, as may be seen from the following specimen:

“Young ladies,in town, and those that live ’round,
Leta friend at this season advise you;
Since money’sso scarce, and times growing worse,
Strangethings may soon hap and surprise you.

“First, then, throw asideyour topknots of pride,
Wear none but your own country linen,
Of Economy boast, let your pride be the most,
To show clothes of your own make and spinning.

“What if home-spun, theysay, is not quite so gay
As brocades, yet be not in a passion,
For when once it is known, this is much wornin town,
One and all will cry out—­’’Tisthe fashion.’

* * * * *

“Throw aside your Boheaand your Green Hyson tea,
And all things with a new-fashion duty;
Procure a good store of the choice Labrador
For there’ll soon be enough here tosuit you.

“These do without fear,and to all you’ll appear
Fair, charming, true, lovely, and clever,
Tho’ the times remain darkish, your menmay be sparkish,
And love you much stronger than ever."[137]

A perusal of extracts from newspapers of those daysmakes it clear that a good many men were of the opinionthat more simplicity in dress would indeed make women“fair, charming, true, lovely, and clever.”The Essex Journal of Massachusetts of the lateeighteenth century, commenting upon the follies commonto “females”—­vanity, affectation,talkativeness, etc.,—­adds the followingremarks on dress: “Too great delight indress and finery by the expense of time and money whichthey occasion in some instances to a degree beyondall bounds of decency and common sense, tends naturallyto sink a woman to the lowest pitch of contempt amongstall those of either sex who have capacity enough toput two thoughts together. A creature who spendsits whole time in dressing, prating, gaming, and gadding,is a being—­originally indeed of the rationalmake, but who has sunk itself beneath its rank, andis to be considered at present as nearly on a levelwith the monkey species....”

Even pamphlets and small books were written on thesubject by ireful male citizens, and the publisherof the Boston News Letter braved the wrathof womankind by inserting the following advertisem*ntin his paper: “Just published and Soldby the Printer hereof, HOOP PETTICOATS, Arraignedand condemned by the Light of Nature and Law of God."[138]Many a scribbler hiding behind some Latin pen name,such as Publicus, poured forth in those early papershis spleen concerning woman’s costume.Thus in 1726 the New England Weekly Journalpublished a series of essays on the vanities of females,and the writer evidently found much relief in deliveringhimself on those same hoop skirts: “I shallnot busy myself with the ladies’ shoes and stockingsat all, but I can’t so easily pass over theHoop when ’tis in my way, and therefore I mustbeg pardon of my fair readers if I begin my attackhere. ’Tis now some years since this remarkablefashion made a figure in the world and from its firstbeginning divided the public opinion as to its convenienceand beauty. For my part I was always willing toindulge it under some restrictions: that is tosay if ’tis not a rival to the dome of St. Paul’sto incumber the way, or a tub for the residence ofa new Diogenes. If it does not eclipse too muchbeauty above or discover too much below. In short,I am for living in peace, and I am afraid a fine ladywith too much liberty in this particular would rendermy own imagination an enemy to my repose.”

Perhaps, however, in this particular instance, menhad some excuse for their tirade; it may have comeas a matter of self-preservation. We can morereadily understand their feelings when we learn thesize of the cause of it. In October, 1774, afterMargaret Hutchinson had been presented at the Courtof St. James, she wrote her sister: “Wecalled for Mrs. Keene, but found that one coach wouldnot contain more than two such mighty hoops; and papaand Mr. K. were obliged to go in another coach.”

But hoops and bonnets and other extravagant formsof dress were not the only phases of woman’sadornment that startled the men and fretted theirsouls. The very manner in which the ladies woretheir hair caused their lords and masters to run tothe newspaper with a fresh outburst of contempt.In 1731 some Massachusetts citizen with more wraththan caution expressed himself thus: “Icome now to the Head Dress—­the very highestpoint of female eloquence, and here I find such a varietyof modes, such a medley of decoration, that ’tishard to know where to fix, lace and cambrick, gauzeand fringe, feathers and ribbands, create such a confusion,occasion such frequent changes that it defies art,judgement, or taste to recommend them to any standard,or reduce them to any order. That ornament ofthe hair which is styled the Horns, and has been invogue so long, was certainly first calculated by somegood-natured lady to keep her spouse in countenance."[139]

This last statement proved too much; it was the strawthat broke the camel’s back; even the meek colonialwomen could not suffer this to go unanswered.In the next number of the same paper appeared the following,written probably by some high-spirited dame: “Youseem to blame us for our innovations and fleetingfancy in dress which you are most notoriously guiltyof, who esteem yourselves the mighty, wise, and headof the species. Therefore, I think it highly necessarythat you show us the example first, and begin thereformation among yourselves, if you intend your observationsshall have any with us. I leave the world tojudge whether our petticoat resembles the dome of St.Paul’s nearer than you in your long coats dothe Monument. You complain of our masculine appearancein our riding habits, and indeed we think it is butreasonable that we should make reprisals upon you forthe invasion of our dress and figure, and the advancesyou make in effeminency, and your degeneracy fromthe figure of man. Can there be a more ridiculousappearance than to see a smart fellow within the compassof five feet immersed in a huge long coat to his heelswith cuffs to the arm pits, the shoulders and breastfenced against the inclemencies of the weather bya monstrous cape, or rather short cloak, shoe toes,pointed to the heavens in imitation of the Lap-landers,with buckles of a harnass size? I confess thebeaux with their toupee wigs make us extremely merry,and frequently put me in mind of my favorite monkeyboth in figure and apishness, and were it not fora reverse of circ*mstances, I should be apt to mistakeit for Pug, and treat him with the same familiarity."[140]

IV. Extravagance in Dress

To all appearances it was less safe in colonial daysfor mere man to comment on female attire than at present;for the typical gentlemen before 1800 probably woreas many velvets, brocades, satins, laces, and wigsas any woman of the day or since. Each sex, however,wasted more than enough of both time and money onthe matter. Grieve, the translator of Chastellux,the Frenchman who made rather extensive observationsin America at the close of the Revolution, says ina footnote to Chastellux’s Travels:“The rage for dress amongst the women in America,in the very height of the miseries of the war, wasbeyond all bounds; nor was it confined to the greattowns; it prevailed equally on the sea coasts andin the woods and solitudes of the vast extent of countryfrom Florida to New Hampshire. In travelling intothe interior parts of Virginia I spent a deliciousday at an inn, at the ferry of the Shenandoah, orthe Catacton Mountains, with the most engaging, accomplishedand voluptuous girls, the daughters of the landlord,a native of Boston transplanted thither, who withall the gifts of nature possessed the arts of dressnot unworthy of Parisian milliners, and went regularlythree times a week to the distance of seven miles,to attend the lessons of one DeGrace, a French dancingmaster, who was making a fortune in the country."[141]

Such a statement must not, of course, be taken tooseriously; for, as we have seen, many women, suchas Mrs. Washington, Abigail Adams, and Eliza Pinckney,were almost parsimonious in dress during the greatstrife. Doubtless there were many, however, particularlyin the cities, who could not or would not restraintheir love of finery, especially when so many handsomeand gaily uniformed British officers were at hand.But long before and after the Revolution there seemsto have been no lack of fashionable clothing.The old diaries and account books tell the tale.Thus, Washington has left us an account of articlesordered from London for his wife. Among thesewere “a salmon-colored tabby velvet of the enclosedpattern, with satin flowers, to be made in a sack andcoat, ruffles to be made of Brussels lace or Point,proper to be worn with the above negligee,to cost L20; 2 pairs of white silk hose; 1 pair ofwhite satin shoes of the smallest fives; 1 fashionablehat or bonnet; 6 pairs woman’s best kid gloves;6 pairs mitts; 1 dozen breast-knots; 1 dozen mostfashionable cambric pocket handkerchiefs; 6 poundsperfumed powder; a puckered petticoat of fashionablecolor; a silver tabby velvet petticoat; handsome breastflowers;...” For little Miss Custis wasordered “a coat made of fashionable silk, 6 pairsof white kid gloves, handsome egrettes of differentsorts, and one pair of pack thread stays...."[142]

These may seem indeed rather strange gifts for a meregirl; but we should remember that children of thatday wore dresses similar to those of their mothers,and such items as high-heeled shoes, heavy stays, andenormous hoop petticoats were not at all unusual.Many things unknown to the modern child were commonlyused by the daughters of the wealthier parents, suchas long-armed gloves and complexion masks, made oflinen or velvet, and sun-bonnets sewed through thehair and under the neck—­all this to wardoff every ray of the sun, and thus preserve the delicatecomplexion of childhood.

That we may judge of the quality and quantity of agirl’s apparel in those fastidious days, examinethis list of clothes sent by Colonel John Lewis ofVirginia in 1727 to be used by his ward, in an Englishschool:

“A cap ruffle and tucker, the lace5 shillings per yard, 1 pair White Stays, 8 pairWhite Kid gloves, 2 pair coloured kid gloves, 2pair worsted hose, 3 pair thread hose, 1 pairsilk shoes laced, 1 pair morocco shoes, 1 HoopCoat, 1 Hat, 4 pair plain Spanish shoes, 2pair calf shoes, 1 mask, 1 fan, 1 necklace,1 Girdle and buckle, 1 piece fashionable calico,4 yards ribbon for knots, 1-1/2 yd. Cambric,1 mantua and coat of lute-string."[143]

One New England miss, sent to a finishing school atBoston, had twelve silk gowns, but her teacher “wrotehome that she must have another gown of a ‘recentlyimported rich fabric,’ which was at once boughtfor her because it was suitable for her rank and station."[144]Even the frugal Ben Franklin saw to it that his wifeand daughter dressed as well as the best of them inrich gowns of silk. In the Pennsylvania Gazetteof 1750 there appeared the following advertisem*nt:“Whereas on Saturday night last the house ofBenjamin Franklin of this city, Printer, was brokenopen, and the following things feloniously taken away,viz., a double necklace of gold beads, a woman’slong scarlet cloak almost new, with a double cape,a woman’s gown, of printed cotton of the sortcalled brocade print, very remarkable, the ground dark,with large red roses, and other large and yellow flowers,with blue in some of the flowers, with many greenleaves; a pair of women’s stays covered withwhite tabby before, and dove colour’d tabby behind....”

It seems that in richness of dress Philadelphia ledthe colonial world, even outrivaling the expenditureof the wealthy Virginia planters for this item.While Philadelphia was the political and social centerof the day this extravagance was especially noticeable;but when New York became the capital the Quaker citywas almost over-shadowed by the gaiety displayed indress by the Dutch city. “You will findhere the English fashions,” says St. John deCrevecoeur. “In the dress of the womenyou will see the most brilliant silks, gauzes, hatsand borrowed hair.... If there is a town on theAmerican continent where English luxury displayedits follies it was in New York."[145]

All the blame, however, must not be placed upon theshoulders of colonial dames. What else couldthe women do? They felt compelled to make anappearance at least equal to that of the men, and probablySolomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one ofthese men. Even the conservative Washington appearedon state occasions in “black velvet, a silveror steel hilted small sword at his left side, pearlsatin waistcoat, fine linen and lace, hair full powdered,black silk hose, and bag."[146] Such finery was notlimited to the ruling classes of the land; a Boston

printer of the days immediately following the Revolutionappeared in a costume that surpassed the most startlingthat Boston of our times could display. “Hewore a pea-green coat, white vest, nankeen small clothes,white silk stockings, and pumps fastened with silverbuckles which covered at least half the foot, frominstep to toe. His small clothes were tied atthe knees with ribbon of the same color in doublebows, the ends reaching down to the ankles. Hishair in front was well loaded with pomatum, frizzledor craped and powdered. Behind, his natural hairwas augmented by the addition of a large queue calledvulgarly a false tail, which, enrolled in some yardsof black ribbon, hung half way down his back."[147]

Surely this is enough of the men; let us return tothe women. See the future Dolly Madison at herfirst meeting with the “great, little Mr. Madison.”She had lived a Quaker during her girlhood, but shegrew bravely over it. “Her gown of mulberrysatin, with tulle kerchief folded over the bosom,set off to the best advantage the pearly white anddelicate rose tints of that complexion which constitutedthe chief beauty of Dolly Todd."[148] The ladies ofthe Tory class evidently tried to outshine those ofthe patriot party, and when there was a British functionof any sort,—­as was often the case at Philadelphia—­thescene was indeed gay, with richly gowned matrons andmaids on the arms of English officers, brave withgold lace and gold buttons. One great fete orfestival known as the “Meschianza,” givenat Philadelphia, was so gorgeous a pageant that yearsafterwards society of the capital talked about it.Picture the costume of Miss Franks of Philadelphiaon that occasion: “The dress is more ridiculousand pretty than anything I ever saw—­greatquantity of different colored feathers on the headat a time besides a thousand other things. TheHair dress’d very high in the shape Miss Vining’swas the night we returned from Smiths—­theHat we found in your Mother’s Closet wou’dbe of a proper size. I have an afternoon capwith one wing—­tho’ I assure you Igo less in the fashion than most of the Ladies—­nonebeing dress’d without a hoop...."[149]

And, again, perhaps the modern woman can appreciatethe following description of a costume seen at theinaugural ball of 1789: “It was a plaincelestial blue satin gown, with a white satin petticoat.On the neck was worn a very large Italian gauze handkerchief,with border stripes of satin. The head-dresswas a pouf of satin in the form of a globe, the creneauxor head-piece which was composed of white satin, havinga double wing in large pleats and trimmed with a wreathof artificial roses. The hair was dressed allover in detached curls, four of which in two ranks,fell on each side of the neck and were relieved behindby a floating chignon."[150]

Unlike the other first ladies of the day, Martha Washingtonmade little effort toward ostentation, and her plainmanner of dress was sometimes the occasion of astonishmentand comment on the part of wives of foreign representatives.Says Miss Chambers concerning this contrast betweenEuropean women and Mrs. Washington, as shown at a birthdayball tendered the President in 1795: “Shewas dressed in a rich silk, but entirely without ornament,except the animation her amiable heart gives to hercountenance. Next her were seated the wives ofthe foreign ambassadors, glittering from the floorto the summit of their head-dress. One of theladies wore three large ostrich feathers, her browencircled by a sparkling fillet of diamonds; her neckand arms were almost covered with jewels, and twowatches were suspended from her girdle, and all reflectingthe light from a hundred directions."[151]

Nor was this richness of dress among foreign visitorsconfined to the women. Sally McKean, who becamethe wife of the Spanish minister to America, woreat one state function, “a blue satin dress, trimmedwith white crape and flowers, and petticoat of whitecrape richly embroidered and across the front a festoonof rose color, caught up with flowers”; buther future husband had “his hair powdered likea snow ball; with dark striped silk coat lined withsatin, black silk breeches, white silk stockings,shoes and buckles. He had by his side an eleganthilted small-sword, and his chapeau tipped with whitefeathers, under his arm."[152]

There were, of course, no fashion plates in that day,nor were there any “living models” tostrut back and forth before keen-eyed customers; butfully dressed dolls were imported from France and England,and sent from town to town as examples of properlyattired ladies. Eliza Southgate Bowne, afterseeing the dolls in her shopping expeditions, wroteto a friend: “Caroline and I went a-shoppingyesterday, and ’tis a fact that the little whitesatin Quaker bonnets, cap-crowns, are the most fashionablethat are worn—­lined with pink or blue orwhite—­but I’ll not have one, forif any of my old acquaintance should meet me in thestreet they would laugh.... Large sheer-muslinshawls, put on as Sally Weeks wears hers, are muchworn; they show the form through and look pretty.Silk nabobs, plaided, colored and white are much worn—­veryshort waists—­hair very plain.”

Of course, the men of the day, found a good deal ofpleasure in poking fun at woman’s use of dressand ornaments as bait for entrapping lovers, and manya squib expressing this theory appeared in the newspapers.These cynical notes no more represented the generalopinion of the people than do similar satires in thecomic sheets of to-day; but they are interesting atleast, as showing a long prevailing weakness amongmen. The following sarcastic advertisem*nt, forinstance, was written by John Trumbull:

“To Be Sold atPublic Vendue,
The Whole Estate of
Isabella Sprightly,Toast and Coquette,
(Now retiring from Business)

“Imprimis, all the tools andutensils necessary for carrying on the trade,viz.: several bundles of darts and arrowswell pointed and capable of doing great execution.A considerable quantity of patches, paint, brushesand cosmetics for plastering, painting, and white-washingthe face; a complete set of caps, “a la modea Paris,” of all sizes, from five to fifteeninches in height; with several dozens of cupids,very proper to be stationed on a ruby lip, adiamond eye, or a roseate cheek.
“Item, as she proposes by certainceremonies to transform one of her humble servantsinto a husband and keep him for her own use, sheoffers for sale, Florio, Daphnis, Cynthio, and Cleanthes,with several others whom she won by a constantattendance on business during the space of fouryears. She can prove her indisputable rightthus to dispose of them by certain deeds of gifts,bills of sale, and attestation, vulgarly called loveletters, under their own hands and seals.They will be offered very cheap, for they areall of them broken-hearted, consumptive, or ina dying condition. Nay, some of them have beendead this half year, as they declare and testifyin the above mentioned writing.

“N.B. Theirhearts will be sold separately.”

When all the above implements and wiles failed toentrap a lover, and the coquette was left as a “wall-flower,”as the Germans express it, the men of the day satirizedthe unfortunate one just as mercilessly. Read,for example, a few lines from the Progress of Dullness,thought to be a very humorous poem in its time:

“Poor Harriett now hath had herday;
No more the beaux confess her sway;
New beauties push her from the stage;
She trembles at the approach of age,
And starts to view the altered face
That wrinkles at her in her glass.

* * * * *

“Despised by all and doomed tomeet
Her lovers at her rivals’ feet,
She flies assemblies, shuns the ball,
And cries out vanity, on all;

* * * * *

“Now careless grown of airs polite
Her noon-day night-cap meets the sight;
Her hair uncombed collects together
With ornaments of many a feather.

* * * * *

“She spends her breath as yearsprevail
At this sad wicked world to rail,
To slander all her sex impromptu,
And wonder what the times will come to.”

During the earlier years of the seventeenth century,as we have noted, this deprecatory opinion by menconcerning woman’s garb was not confined toridicule in journals and books, but was even incorporatedinto the laws of several towns and colonies.Women were compelled to dress in a certain mannerand within fixed financial limits, or suffered thepenalties of the courts. Many were the “presentations,”

as such cases were called, of our colonial ancestors.As material wealth increased, however, dress becamemore and more elaborate until in the era shortly beforeand after the Revolution fashions were almost extravagant.Costly satins, silks, velvets, and brocades were amongthe common items of dress purchased by even the moderatelywell-to-do city and planter folk. If space permitted,many quotations by travellers from abroad, accustomedto the splendor of European courts, could be presentedto show the surprising quality and good taste displayedin the garments of the better classes of the New World.To their honor, however, it may be remembered thatthese same American women in the days of tribulationwhen their husbands were battling for a new nationwere willing to cast aside such indications of wealthand pride, and don the humble homespun garments madeby their own hands.


[128] Fiske: Old Virginia, Vol. I,p. 246.

[129] Page 76.

[130] Smyth: Writings of B. Franklin,Vol. IV, p. 449.

[131] Ibid. Vol. III, p. 431.

[132] Ibid. Vol. III, p. 419.

[133] Ibid. Vol. III, p. 438.

[134] Letters of A. Adams, p. 282.

[135] Letters of A. Adams, p. 250.

[136] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 227.

[137] Buckingham: Reminiscences, Vol.I, p. 34.

[138] Buckingham. Vol. I, p. 88.

[139] Buckingham, Vol. I, p. 115.

[140] Ibid.

[141] Vol. II, p. 115.

[142] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 59.

[143] Quoted in Earle: Home Life in ColonialDays, p. 290.

[144] Earle: Home Life in Colonial Days,p. 291.

[145] Wharton: Through Colonial Doorways,p. 89.

[146] Wharton: M. Washington, p.225.

[147] Earle: Home Life in Colonial Days,p. 294.

[148] Goodwin: Dolly Madison, p. 54.

[149] Wharton: Through Colonial Doorways,p. 219.

[150] Wharton: Through Colonial Doorways,p. 79.

[151] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 230.

[152] Crawford: Romantic Days in the EarlyRepublic, p. 53.



I. Southern Isolation and Hospitality

In the earlier part of the seventeenth century thesocial life of the colonists, at least in New England,was what would now be considered monotonous and dull.Aside from marriages, funerals, and church-going therewas little to attract the Puritans from their steadyroutine of farming and trading. In New York theDutch were apparently contented with their daily eating,drinking, smoking, and walking along the Battery orout the country road, the Bowery. In Virginialife, as far as social activities were concerned,was at first dull enough, although even in the earlydays of Jamestown there was some display at the Governor’smansion, while the sessions of court and assembliesbrought planters and their families to town for somebrief period of balls, banquets, and dancing.

As the seventeenth century progressed, however, visiting,dinner parties, dances, and hunts in the South becamemore and more gay, and the balls in the plantationmansions became events of no little splendor.Wealth, gained through tobacco, increased rapidly inthis section, and the best that England and Francecould offer was not too expensive for the luxurioushomes of not only Virginia but Maryland and SouthCarolina. The higher Dutch families of New Yorkalso began to show considerable vigor socially; Philadelphiaforgot the staid dignity of its founder; and evenNew England, especially Boston, began to use accumulatedwealth in ways of levity that would have shocked thePuritan fathers.

In the eighteenth-century South we find accounts ofa carefree, pleasure-loving, joyous mode of life thatread almost like stories of some fairy world.The traditions of the people, among whom was an elementof Cavalier blood, the genial climate, the use of slavelabor, the great demand for tobacco, all united todevelop a social life much more unbounded and hospitablethan that found in the northern colonies. Butthis constant raising of tobacco soon exhausted thesoil; and the planters, instead of attempting to enrichtheir lands, found it more profitable constantly toadvance into the forest wilderness to the west, wherethe process of gaining wealth at the expense of thesoil might be repeated. This was well for Americancivilization, but not immediately beneficial to theintellectual growth of the people. The mansionswere naturally far apart; towns were few in number;schools were almost impossible; and successful newspaperswere for many years simply out of the question.Washington’s estate at Mt. Vernon containedover four thousand acres; many other farms were farlarger; each planter lived in comparative isolation.Those peculiar advantages arising from living neara city were totally absent. As late as 1740 ElizaPinckney wrote a friend in England: “Weare 17 miles by land and 6 by water from Charles Town.”

Thus, each large owner had a tendency to become apetty feudal lord, controlling large numbers of slavesand unlimited resources of soil and labor within anarbitrary grasp. As there were numerous navigablestreams, many of the planters possessed private wharfswhere tobacco could be loaded for shipment and goodsfrom abroad delivered within a short distance of themansion. Such an economic scheme made tradingcenters almost unnecessary and tended to keep the populationscattered. “In striking contrast to NewEngland was the absence of towns, due mainly to tworeasons—­first, the wealth of the water courses,which enabled every planter of means to ship his productsfrom his own wharf, and, secondly, the culture oftobacco, which scattered the people in a continualsearch for new and richer lands. This rural life,while it hindered co-operation, promoted a spiritof independence among the whites of all classes whichcounter-acted the aristocratic form of government."[153]

Channing, writing of conditions in 1800, the closeof this period, says: “The great Virginiaplantations were practically self-sustaining, so faras the actual necessaries of life were concerned; theslaves had to be clothed and fed whether tobacco andwheat could be sold or not, but they produced, withthe exception of the raw material for making theirgarments, practically all that was essential to theirwell being. The money which the Virginia plantersreceived for their staple products was used to purchasearticles of luxury—­wine for the men, articlesof apparel for the women, furnishings for the house,and things of that kind, and to pay the interest onthe load of indebtedness which the Virginia aristocracyowed at home and broad."[154]

Again, the same historian says: “The plentyof everything made hospitality universal, and thewealth of the country was greatly promoted by theopening of the forests. Indeed, so contented werethe people with their new homes (1652) that ... ’seldom(if ever) any that hath continued in Virginia anytime will or do desire to live in England, but postback with what expedition they can, although many arelanded men in England, and have good estates there,and divers ways of preferments propounded to them,to entice and perswade their continuants.’"[155]

Now, this comparative isolation of the plantationlife made visiting and neighborliness doubly gratefuland, hospitality and the spirit of kindness becamealmost proverbial in Virginia. As far back as1656 John Hammond of Virginia and Maryland noted thisfact with no little pride in his Leah and Rachel;for, said he, “If any fall sick and cannot compasseto follow his crope, which if not followed, will soonbe lost, the adjoyning neighbors will either voluntarilyor upon a request joyn together, and work in it byspels, untill the honour recovers, and that gratis,so that no man by sicknesse lose any part of his yearsworke.... Let any travell, it is without charge,and at every house is entertainment as in a hostelry,and with it hearty welcome are strangers entertained....In a word, Virginia wants not good victuals, wantsnot good dispositions, and as God hath freely bestowedit, they as freely impart with it, yet are there aswell bad natures as good.”

This spirit of brotherhood and hospitality, was, ofcourse, very necessary in the first days of colonization,and the sudden increase of wealth prevented its becomingirksome in later days. Naturally, too, the poorerclasses copied after the aristocracy, and thus thecustom became universal along the Southern coast.As mentioned above, there was a Cavalier strain throughoutthe section. As Robert Beverly observed in hisHistory of Virginia, written in 1705: “Inthe time of the rebellion in England several goodcavalier families went thither with their effects,to escape the tyranny of the usurper, or acknowledgementof his title.” Such people had long beenaccustomed to rather lavish expenditures and entertainment,and, as Beverly testifies, they did not greatly changetheir mode of life after reaching America:

“For their recreation, the plantations,orchards and gardens constantly afford them fragrantand delightful walks. In their woods andfields, they have an unknown variety of vegetables,and other varieties of Nature to discover.They have hunting, fishing and fowling, withwhich they entertain themselves an hundred ways.There is the most good nature and hospitality practisedin the world, both towards friends and strangers;but the worst of it is, this generosity is attendednow and then with a little too much intemperance.”
“The inhabitants are very courteousto travelers, who need no other recommendationbut the being human creatures. A stranger hasno more to do, but to enquire upon the road, whereany gentleman or good housekeeper lives, andthere he may depend upon being received withhospitality. This good nature is so general amongtheir people, that the gentry, when they go abroad,order their principal servant to entertain allvisitors, with everything the plantation affords.And the poor planters, who have but one bed,will very often sit up, or lie upon a form or couchall night, to make room for a weary traveler, to reposehimself after his journey....”

Many other statements, not only by Americans, butby cultured foreigners might be presented to showthe charm of colonial life in Virginia. The Marquisde Chastellux, one of the French Revolutionary generals,a man who had mingled in the best society of Europe,was fascinated with the evidence of luxury, cultureand, feminine refinement of the Old Dominion, anddeclared that Virginia women might become excellentmusicians if the fox-hounds would stop baying for alittle while each day. He met several ladieswho sang well and “played on the harpsichord”;he was delighted at the number of excellent Frenchand English authors he found in the libraries; and,above all, he was surprised at the natural dignityof many of the older men and women, and at the evidencesof domestic felicity found in the great homes.

II. Splendor in the Southern Home

Of these vast, rambling mansions numerous descriptionshave been handed down to our day. The following,written in 1774, is an account recorded in his diaryby the tutor, Philip Fithian, in the family of a Virginiaplanter:

“Mr. Carter has chosen for theplace of his habitation a high spot of Groundin Westmoreland County ... where he has erected alarge, Elegant House, at a vast expense, whichcommonly goes by the name of Nomini-Hall.This House is built with Brick but the brickshave been covered with strong lime Mortar, so thatthe building is now perfectly white (erectedin 1732). It is seventy-six Feet long fromEast to West; & forty-four wide from North toSouth, two stories high; ... It has five stacksof Chimneys, tho’ two of these serve onlyfor ornaments.”
“There is a beautiful Jutt, onthe South side, eighteen feet long, & eight Feetdeep from the wall which is supported by three pillars—­Onthe South side, or front, in the upper story are fourWindows each having twenty-four Lights of Glass.In the lower story are two Windows each havingforty-two Lights of Glass, & two Doors each havingSixteen Lights. At the east end the upper storyhas three windows each with 18 lights; & below twowindows both with eighteen lights & a door withnine....”
“The North side I think is themost beautiful of all. In the upper storyis a row of seven windows with 18 lights a piece; andbelow six windows, with the like number of lights;besides a large Portico in the middle, at thesides of which are two windows each with eighteenlights.... At the west end are no Windows—­Thenumber of lights in all is five hundred, & forty nine.There are four Rooms on a Floor, disposed of in thefollowing manner. Below is a dining Roomwhere we usually sit; the second is a dining-roomfor the Children; the third is Mr. Carters study,and the fourth is a Ball-Room thirty Feet long.Above stairs, one room is for Mr. & Mrs. Carter;the second for the young Ladies; & the othertwo for occasional Company. As this Houseis large, and stands on a high piece of Land it maybe seen a considerable distance.”

Nor were these houses less elegantly furnished thanmagnificently built. Chastellux was astoundedat the taste and richness of the ornaments and permanentfixtures, and declared of the Nelson Home at Yorktownthat “neither European taste nor luxury was excluded;a chimney piece and some bas-reliefs of very finemarble exquisitely sculptured were particularly admired.”As Fisher says of such mansions, in his interestingMen, Women and Manners in Colonial Times: “Theywere crammed from cellar to garret with all the articlesof pleasure and convenience that were produced inEngland: Russia leather chairs, Turkey workedchairs, enormous quantities of damask napkins and table-linen,silver and pewter ware, candle sticks of brass, silverand pewter, flagons, dram-cups, beakers, tankards,chafing-dishes, Spanish tables, Dutch tables, valuableclocks, screens, and escritoires."[156]

III. Social Activities

In such an environment a gay social life was eminentlyfitting, and how often we may read between the linesof old letters and diaries the story of such festiveoccasions. For instance, scan the records of thelife of Eliza Pinckney, and her beautiful daughter,one of the belles of Charleston, and note such bitsof information as the following:

“Governor Lyttelton will wait on the ladiesat Belmont” (the home of Mrs. Pinckney and herdaughter); “Mrs. Drayton begs the pleasure ofyour company to spend a few days”; “Lordand Lady Charles Montague’s Compts to Mrs. andMiss Pinckney, and if it is agreeable to them shallbe glad of their Company at the Lodge”; “Mrs.Glen presents her Compts to Mrs. Pinckney and Mrs.Hyrne, hopes they got no Cold, and begs Mrs. Pinckneywill detain Mrs. Hyrne from going home till Monday,and that they (together with Miss Butler and the 3young Lady’s) will do her the favour to dinewith her on Sunday.” (Mr. Pinckney had been deadfor several years.)[157]

And again, in a letter written in her girlhood toher brother about 1743, Eliza Pinckney says of thepeople of Carolina:

“The people in genl are hospitableand honest, and the better sort add to thesea polite gentile behaviour. The poorer sort arethe most indolent people in the world or theycould never be wretched in so plentiful a countryas this. The winters here are very fineand pleasant, but 4 months in the year is extreamlydisagreeable, excessive hott, much thunder andlightening and muskatoes and sand flies in abundance.”
“Crs Town, the Metropolis, isa neat, pretty place. The inhabitants politeand live in a very gentile manner. The streetsand houses regularly built—­the ladiesand gentlemen gay in their dress; upon the wholeyou will find as many agreeable people of bothsexes for the size of the place as almost any where...."[158]

Companies great enough to give the modern housewifenervous prostration were often entertained at dinners,while many of the planters kept such open house thatno account was kept of the number of guests who cameand went daily and who commonly made themselves somuch at home that the host or hostess often scarcelydisturbed them throughout their entire stay.Several years after the Revolution George Washingtonrecorded in his diary the surprising fact that forthe first time since he and Martha Washington hadreturned to Mount Vernon, they had dined alone.As Wharton says in her Martha Washington, “Warmhearted, open-handed hospitality was constantly exercisedat Mount Vernon, and if the master humbly recordedthat, although he owned a hundred cows, he had sometimesto buy butter for his family, the entry seems to havebeen made in no spirit of fault finding.”Of this same Washingtonian hospitality one Frenchtraveller, Brissot de Warville, wrote: “Everything has an air of simplicity in his [Washington’s]house; his table is good, but not ostentatious; andno deviation is seen from regularity and domesticeconomy. Mrs. Washington superintends the whole,and joins to the qualities of an excellent housewifethat simple dignity which ought to characterize awoman whose husband has acted the greatest part onthe theater of human affairs; while she possessesthat amenity and manifests that attention to strangerswhich renders hospitality so charming."[159]

With such hospitality there seemed to go a certainelevation in the social life of Virginia and SouthCarolina entirely different from the corrupt conditionsfound in Louisiana in the seventeenth century, andalso in contrast with the almost cautious manner inwhich the New Englanders of the same period tastedpleasure. In those magnificent Southern houses—­Quinceyspeaks of one costing L8000, a sum fully equal inmodern buying capacity to $100,000—­therewas much stately dancing, almost an extreme form ofetiquette, no little genuine art, and music of exceptional

quality. The Charleston St. Cecilia Society, organizedin 1737, gave numerous amateurs opportunities to hearand perform the best musical compositions of the day,and its annual concerts, continued until 1822, werescarcely ever equalled elsewhere in America, duringthe same period. In the aristocratic circlesformal balls were frequent, and were exceedingly brilliantaffairs. Eliza Pinckney, describing one in 1742,says: “...The Govr gave the Gentn a verygentile entertainment at noon, and a ball at nightfor the ladies on the Kings birthnight, at wch wasa Crowded Audience of Gentn and ladies. I danceda minuet with yr old acquaintance Capt Brodrick whowas extreamly glad to see one so nearly releated tohis old friend...."[160] Ravenel in her Eliza Pinckneyreconstructs from her notes a picture of one of thosedignified balls or fetes in the olden days:
“On such an occasion as thatreferred to, a reception for the young bridewho had just come from her own stately home of AshleyHall, a few miles down the river, the guests naturallywore all their braveries. Their dresses,brocade, taffety, lute-string, etc., werewell drawn up through their pocket holes. Theirslippers, to match their dresses, had heels evenhigher and more unnatural than our own....With bows and courtesies, and by the tips oftheir fingers, the ladies were led up the high stonesteps to the wide hall, ... and then up the staircase with its heavy carved balustrade to thepanelled rooms above.... Then, the lasttouches put to the heads (too loftily piled with cushions,puffs, curls, and lappets, to admit of being coveredwith anything more than a veil or a hood)....Gay would be the feast....”
“The old silver, damask and Indiachina still remaining show how these feasts wereset out.... Miss Lucas has already told us somethingof what the country could furnish in the way of goodcheer, and we may be sure that venison and turkeyfrom the forest, ducks from the rice fields,and fish from the river at their doors, werethere.... Turtle came from the West Indies, with‘saffron and negroe pepper, very delicate fordressing it.’ Rice and vegetableswere in plenty—­terrapins in every pond,and Carolina hams proverbially fine. Thedesserts were custards and creams (at a weddingalways bride cake and floating island), jellies,syllabubs, puddings and pastries.... They hadport and claret too ... and for suppers a deliciouspunch called ‘shrub,’ compoundedof rum, pineapples, lemons, etc., not to be commendedby a temperance society.”
“The dinner over, the ladieswithdrew, and before very long the scraping ofthe fiddlers would call the gentlemen to the dance,—­pretty,graceful dances, the minuet, stately and gracious,which opened the ball; and the country dance, fore-runnerof our Virginia reel, in which every one old, andyoung joined."[161]

It is little wonder that Eliza Pinckney, upon returningfrom just such a social function to take up once morethe heavy routine of managing three plantations, complained:“At my return thither every thing appeared gloomyand lonesome, I began to consider what attraction therewas in this place that used so agreeably to soothemy pensive humor, and made me indifferent to everythingthe gay world could boast; but I found the changenot in the place but in myself."[162]

The domestic happiness found in these plantation mansionswas apparently ideal. Families were generallylarge; there was much inter-marriage, generation aftergeneration, within the aristocratic circle; and thuseverybody was related to everybody. This gavean excuse for an amount of informal and prolongedvisiting that would be almost unpardonable in thesemore practical and in some ways more economical days.There was considerable correspondence between thefamilies, especially among the women, and by meansof the numerous references to visits, past or to come,we may picture the friendly cordial atmosphere of thetime. Washington, for instance, records thathe “set off with Mrs. Washington and Patsy,Mr. [Warner] Washington and wife, Mrs. Bushrod andMiss Washington, and Mr. Magowen for ‘Towelston,’in order to stand for Mr. B. Fairfax’s thirdson, which I did with my wife, Mr. Warner Washingtonand his lady.” “Another day he returnsfrom attending to the purchase of western lands tofind that Col. Bassett, his wife and children,have arrived during his absence, ’Billy andNancy and Mr. Warner Washington being here also.’The next day the gentlemen go a-hunting together, Mr.Bryan Fairfax having joined them for the hunt and thedinner that followed.”

Again, we find Mrs. Washington writing, with her usualunique spelling and sentence structure, to her sister:

“Mt. VernonAug 28 1762.

“MY DEAR NANCY,—­Ihad the pleasure to receive your kind letter ofthe 25 of July just as I was setting out on a visitto Mr. Washington in Westmoreland where I spenta weak very agreabley. I carried my littlepatt with me and left Jackey at home for a trialto see how well I could stay without him though weware gone but won fortnight I was quite impatientto get home. If I at aney time heard thedoggs barke or a noise out, I thought thair wasa person sent for me....
“We are daly expect(ing) thekind laydes of Maryland to visit us. I mustbegg you will not lett the fright you had given youprevent you comeing to see me again—­IfI coud leave my children in as good Care as youcan I would never let Mr. W——­n comedown without me—­Please to give mylove to Miss Judy and your little babys and makemy best compliments to Mr. Bassett and Mrs. Dawson.

“I am with sincere regard
“dear sister
“yours most affectionately

Because of the lack of good roads and the apparentlygreat distances, the mere matter of travelling wasfar more important in social activities than is thecase in our day of break-neck speed. A ridiculouslysmall number of miles could be covered in a day; therewere frequent stops for rest and refreshment; andthe occupants of the heavy, rumbling coaches had ampleopportunity for observing the scenery and the peculiaritiesof the territory traversed. Martha Washington’sgrandson has left an account of her journey from Virginiato New York, and recounts how one team proved balky,delayed the travellers two hours, and thus upset alltheir calculations. But the kindness of thosethey met easily offset such petty irritations as stubbornhorses and slow coaches. Note these lines fromthe account:

“We again set out for Major Snowden’swhere we arrived at 4 o’clock in the evening.The gate (was) hung between 2 trees which werescarcely wide enough to admit it. We were treatedwith great hospitality and civility by the majorand his wife who were plain people and made everyeffort to make our stay as agreeable as possible.”
“May 19th. This morningwas lowering and looked like rain—­we wereentreated to stay all day but to no effect we had madeour arrangements & it was impossible....Majr Snowden accompanied us 10 or a dozen milesto show a near way and the best road.... We proceededas far as Spurriers ordinary and there refreshed ourselvesand horses.... Mrs. Washington shifted herselfhere, expecting to be met by numbers of gentlemenout of B——­re—­(Baltimore)in which time we had everything in reddiness,the carriage, horses, etc., all at the door inwaiting."[164]

The story of that journey, now made in a few hours,is filled with interesting light upon the ways ofthe day:—­the numerous accidents to coachesand horses, the dangers of crossing rivers on flimsyferries, the hospitality of the people, who sent messengersto insist that the party should stop at the varioushomes, the strange mingling of the uncouth, the totallywild, and the highly civilized and cultured.Probably at no other time in the world’s historycould so many stages of man’s progress and conquestof nature be seen simultaneously as in America ofthe eighteenth century.

IV. New England Social Life

Turning to New England, we find of course that underthe early Puritan regime amusem*nts were decidedlyunder the ban. We have noted under the discussionof the home the strictness of New England views, andhow this strictness influenced every phase of publicand private life. Indeed, at this time life waslargely a preparation for eternity, and the ethicaldemands of the day gave man an abnormally tender andsensitive conscience. When Nathaniel Mather declaredin mature years that of all his manifold sins noneso stuck upon him as that, when a boy, he whittledon the Sabbath day, and did it behind the door—­“agreat reproach to God”—­he was butillustrating the strange atmosphere of fear, reverence,and narrowness of his era.

And yet, those earlier settlers of Plymouth and Bostonwere a kindly, simple-hearted, good-natured people.It is evident from Judge Sewall’s Diarythat everybody in a community knew everybody else,was genuinely interested in everyone’s welfare,and was always ready with a helping hand in days ofaffliction and sorrow. All were drawn togetherby common dangers and common ties; it was an excellentexample of true community interest and co-operation.This genuine solicitude for others, this desire toknow how other sections were getting along, this naturalcuriosity to inquire about other people’s health,defences against common dangers, and advancement in

agriculture, trade and manufacturing, led to a formof inquisitiveness that astonished and angered foreigners.Late in the eighteenth century even Americans beganto notice this proverbial Yankee trait. SamuelPeters, writing in 1781 in his General Historyof Connecticut, said: “After a shortacquaintance they become very familiar and inquisitiveabout news. ’Who are you, whence come you,where going, what is your business, and what your religion?’They do not consider these and similar questions asimpertinent, and consequently expect a civil answer.When the stranger has satisfied their curiosity theywill treat him with all the hospitality in their power.”

Fisher in his Men, Women, & Manners in ColonialTimes declares: “A ... Virginianwho had been much in New England in colonial timesused to relate that as soon as he arrived at an innhe always summoned the master and mistress, the servantsand all the strangers who were about, made a briefstatement of his life and occupation, and having assuredeverybody that they could know no more, asked for hissupper; and Franklin, when travelling in New England,was obliged to adopt the same plan."[165]

Old Judge Sewall, a typical specimen of the betterclass Puritan, certainly possessed a kindly curiosityabout his neighbors’ welfare, and many are hisreferences to visits to the sick or dying, or to attendanceat funerals. While there were no great balls norbrilliant fetes, as in the South, his Diaryemphatically proves that there were many pleasantvisits and dinner parties and a great deal of the inevitablecourting. Thus, we note the following:

“Tuesday, January 12. Idine at the Governour’s: where Mr. West,Governour of Carolina, Capt. Blackwell, hisWife and Daughter, Mr. Morgan, his Wife and DaughterMrs. Brown, Mr. Eliakim Hutchinson and Wife....Mrs. Mercy sat not down, but came in after dinnerwell dressed and saluted the two Daughters. MadmBradstreet and Blackwell sat at the upper endtogether, Governour at the lower end."[166]
“Dec. 20, 1676 ... Mrs.Usher lyes very sick of an Inflammation in theThroat.... Called at her House coming home totell Mr. Fosterling’s Receipt, i.e.A Swallows Nest (the inside) stamped and appliedto the throat outwardly."[167]
“Satterday, June 5th, 1686.I rode to Newbury, to see my little Hull, andto keep out of the way of the Artillery Election, onwhich day eat Strawberries and Cream with SisterLongfellow at the Falls."[168]
“Monday, July 11. I hireEms’s Coach in the Afternoon, wherein Mr.Hez. Usher and his wife, and Mrs. Bridget herdaughter, my Self and wife ride to Roxbury, visitMr. Dudley, and Mr. Eliot, the Father who blessesthem. Go and sup together at the Grayhound Tavernwith boil’d Bacon and rost Fowls. Came homebetween 10 and 11 brave Moonshine, were hinder’dan hour or two by Mr. Usher, else had been ingood season."[169]
“Thorsday, Oct. 6, 1687 ...On my Unkle’s Horse after Diner, I carrymy wife to see the Farm, where we eat Aples and drankCider. Shew’d her the Meeting-house....In the Morn Oct. 7th Unkle and Goodm. Browncome our way home accompanying of us. Set outafter nine, and got home before three. Call’dno where by the way. Going out, our Horsefell down at once upon the Neck, and both fainto scramble off, yet neither receiv’d any hurt...."[170]

Nearly a century later Judge Pynchon records a sociallife similar, though apparently much more liberalin its views of what might enter into legitimate entertainment:

“Saturday, July 7, 1784.Dine at Mr. Wickkham’s, with Mrs. Browne andher two daughters.... In the afternoon Mrs. Browneand I, the Captain, Blaney, and a number of gentlemenand ladies, ride, and some walk out, some toMalbon’s Garden, some to Redwood’s, severalof us at both; are entertained very agreeably at eachplace; tea, coffee, cakes, syllabub, and Englishbeer, etc., punch and wine. We returnat evening; hear a song of Mrs. Shaw’s, andare highly entertained; the ride, the road, the prospects,the gardens, the company, in short, everythingwas most agreeable, most entertaining—­wasadmirable."[171]

“Thursday, October25, 1787 ... Mrs. Pynchon, Mrs. Orne, and
Betsy spend the eveningat Mrs. Anderson’s; musick and

“Monday, November10, 1788 ... Mrs. Gibbs, Curwen, Mrs. Paine,
and others spend theevening here, also Mr. Gibbs, at

“Friday, April19 1782. Some rain. A concert at night; musicians
from Boston, and dancing."[174]

“June 24, Wednesday,1778. Went with Mrs. Orne [his daughter] to
visit Mr. Sewall andlady at Manchester, and returned on

V. Funerals as Recreations

Even toward the close of the eighteenth century, however,lecture days and fast days were still rather conscientiouslyobserved, and such occasions were as much a part ofNew England social activities as were balls and receptionsin Virginia. Judge Pynchon makes frequent noteof such religious meetings; as,—­“April25, Thursday, 1782. Fast Day. Service atChurch, A.M.; none, P.M."[176] “Thursday, July20, 1780. Fast Day; clear."[177] Funerals andweddings formed no small part of the social interestsof the day, and indeed the former apparently calledfor much more display and formality than was everthe case in the South. There seems to have beenamong the Puritans a certain grim pleasure in attendinga burial service, and in the absence of balls, dancing,and card playing, the importance of the New Englandfuneral in early social life can scarcely be overestimated.During the time of Sewall the burial was an occasionfor formal invitation cards; gifts of gloves, rings,

and scarfs were expected for those attending; andthe air of depression so common in a twentieth centuryfuneral was certainly not conspicuous. It mayhave been because death was so common; for the deathrate was frightfully high in those good old days,and in a community so thinly populated burials wereso extremely frequent that every one from childhoodwas accustomed to the sight of crepe and coffin.Man is a gregarious creature and craves the assembly,and as church meetings, weddings, executions, andfunerals were almost the sole opportunities for socialintercourse, the flocking to the house of the deadwas but normal and natural. Sewall seems to havebeen in constant attendance at such gatherings:
“Midweek, March 23, 1714-5.Mr. Addington buried from the Council-Chamber... 20 of the Council were assisting, it being theday for Appointing Officers. All had Scarvs.Bearers Scarvs, Rings, Escutcheons...."[178]

“My Daughter isInter’d.... Had Gloves and Rings of 2 pwtand
1/2. Twelve Ministersof the Town had Rings, and two out of

“Tuesday, 18,Novr. 1712. Mr. Benknap buried. Joseph wasinvited
by Gloves, and had ascarf given him there, which is the

“Feria sexta, April 8, 1720.Govr. Dudley is buried in his father Govr.Dudley’s Tomb at Roxbury. Boston and RoxburyRegiments were under Arms, and 2 or 3 Troops....Scarves, Rings, Gloves, Escutcheons....Judge Dudley in a mourning Cloak led the Widow; ...Were very many People, spectators out of windows, onFences and Trees, like Pigeons...."[181]

“July 25th, 1700.Went to the Funeral of Mrs. Sprague, being
invited by a good pairof Gloves."[182]

This comment is made upon the death of Judge Sewall’sfather:

“May 24th....My Wife provided Mourning upon my Letter by Severs.
All went in mourningsave Joseph, who staid at home because his
Mother lik’d nothis cloaths...."[183]

“Febr. 1, 1700. Waited onthe Lt. Govr. and presented him with a Ringin Remembrance of my dear Mother, saying, Please toaccept in the Name of one of the Company yourHonor is preparing to go."[184]
“July 15, 1698.... On deathof John Ive.... I was not at his Funeral.Had Gloves sent me, but the knowledge of his notoriouslywicked life made me sick of going ... and so Istaid at home, and by that means lost a Ring...."[185]
“Friday, Feb. 10, 1687-8.Between 4 and 5 I went to the Funeral of theLady Andros, having been invited by the Clerk of theSouth Company. Between 7 and 8 Lechus (Lynchs?i.e. links or torches) illuminating thecloudy air. The Corps was carried into the Hersedrawn by Six Horses. The Souldiers makinga Guard from the Governour’s House downthe Prison Lane to the South Meeting-house, theretaken out and carried in at the western dore,and set in the Alley before the pulpit, with Six MourningWomen by it.... Was a great noise and clamorto keep people out of the House, that might notrush in too soon.... On Satterday Feb. 11,the mourning cloth of the Pulpit is taken off and givento Mr. Willard."[186]

“Satterday, Nov.12, 1687. About 5 P.M. Mrs. Elisa Saffenis
entombed.... Mothernot invited."[187]

In the earlier days of the New England colonies thegift of scarfs, gloves, and rings for such serviceswas almost demanded by social etiquette; but beforeJudge Sewall’s death the custom was passing.The following passages from his Diary illustratethe change:

“Decr. 20, feria sexta....Had a letter brought me of the Death of SisterShortt.... Not having other Mourning I look’dout a pair of Mourning Gloves. An hour or2 later Mr. Sergeant, sent me and Wife Gloves;mine are so little I can’t wear them."[188]

“August 7r 16,1721. Mrs. Frances Webb is buried, who died ofthe
Small Pox. I thinkthis is the first public Funeral without

The Puritans were not the only colonists to celebratedeath with pomp and ceremony; but no doubt the customwas far more nearly universal among them than amongthe New Yorkers or Southerners. Still, in NewAmsterdam a funeral was by no means a simple or drearyaffair; feasting, exchange of gifts, and display wereconspicuous elements at the burial of the wealthyor aristocratic. The funeral of William Lovelacein 1689 may serve as an illustration:

“The room was draped with mourning and adornedwith the escutcheons of the family. At the headof the body was a pall of death’s heads, andabove and about the hearse was a canopy richly embroidered,from the centre of which hung a garland and an hour-glass.At the foot was a gilded coat of arms, four feet square,and near by were candles and fumes which were keptcontinually burning. At one side was placed acupboard containing plate to the value of L200.The funeral procession was led by the captain of thecompany to which deceased belonged, followed by the‘preaching minister,’ two others of theclergy, and a squire bearing the shield. Beforethe body, which was borne by six ‘gentlemenbachelors,’ walked two maidens in white silk,wearing gloves and ‘Cyprus scarves,’ andbehind were six others similarly attired, bearingthe pall.... Until ten o’clock at nightwines, sweet-meats, and biscuits were served to themourners."[190]

VI. Trials and Executions

Whenever normal pleasures are withdrawn from a communitythat community will undoubtedly indulge in abnormalones. We should not be surprised, therefore,to find that the Puritans had an itching for the detailsof the morbid and the sensational. The natureof revelations seldom, if ever, grew too repulsivefor their hearing, and if the case were one of adulteryor incest, it was sure to be well aired. Therewas a possibility that if an offender made a thorough-goingconfession before the entire congregation or community,he might escape punishment, and on such occasionsit would seem that the congregation sat listening closelyand drinking in all the hideous facts and minutiae.The good fathers in their diaries and chronicles notonly have mentioned the crimes and the criminals,but have enumerated and described such details as filla modern reader with disgust. In fact, Winthropin his History of New England has cited examplesand circ*mstances so revolting that it is impossibleto quote them in a modern book intended for the generalpublic, and yet Winthrop himself seemed to see nothingwrong in offering cold-bloodedly the exact data.Such indulgence in the morbid or risque wasnot, however, limited to the New England colonists;it was entirely too common in other sections; butamong the Puritan writers it seemed to offer an outletfor emotions that could not be dissipated otherwisein legitimate social activities.

To-day the spectacle or even the very thought of alegal execution is so horrible to many citizens thatthe state hedges such occasions about with the utmostprivacy and absence of publicity; but in the seventeenthcentury the Puritan seems to have found considerablesecret pleasure in seeing how the victim faced eternity.Condemned criminals were taken to church on the dayof execution, and there the clergyman, dispensing withthe regular order of service, frequently consumed severalhours thundering anathema at the wretch and describingto him his awful crime and the yawning pit of hellin which even then Satan and his imps were preparingtortures. If the doomed man was able to face allthis without flinching, the audience went away disappointed,feeling that he was hard-hearted, stubborn, “predestinedto be damned”; but if with loud lamentationand wails of terror he confessed his sin and his fearof God’s vengeance, his hearers were pleasedand edified at the fall of one more of the devil’sagents. Often times a similar scene was enactedat the gallows, where a host of men, women, and evenchildren crowded close to see and hear all. JudgeSewall has recorded for us just such an event:

“Feria Sexta, June 30, 1704.... After Diner,about 3 P.M. I went to see the Execution....Many were the people that saw upon Bloughton’sHill. But when I came to see how the River wascover’d with People, I was amazed! Somesay there were 100 Boats, 150 Boats and Canoes, saithCousin Moody of York. He told them. Mr. CottonMather came with Capt. Quelch and six othersfor Execution from the Prison to Scarlet’s Wharf,and from thence.... When the scaffold was hoistedto a due height, the seven Malefactors went up; Mr.Mather pray’d for them standing upon the Boat.Ropes were all fasten’d to the Gallows (saveKing, who was Repriev’d). When the Scaffoldwas let to sink, there was such a Schreech of theWomen that my wife heard it sitting in our Entry nextthe Orchard, and was much surprised at it; yet thewind was sou-west. Our house is a full mile fromthe place."[191]

This also from the kindly judge indicates the interestin the last service for the condemned one:

“Thursday, March 11, 1685-6. Persons crowdmuch into the Old Meeting-House by reason of JamesMorgan ... and before I got thither a crazed womancryed the Gallery of Meetinghouse broke, which madethe people rush out, with great Consternation, a greatpart of them, but were seated again.... Morganwas turned off about 1/2 hour past five. Theday very comfortable, but now 9 o’clock rainsand has done a good while.... Mr. Cotton Matheraccompanied James Morgan to the place of Execution,and prayed with him there."[192]

It would seem that the Puritan woman might have usedher influence by refusing to attend such assemblies.Let us not, however, be too severe on her; perhaps,if such a confession were scheduled for a day in ourtwentieth century the confessor might not face emptyseats, or simply seats occupied by men only.In our day, moreover, with its multitude of amusem*nts,there would be far less excuse; for the monotony oflife in the old days must have set nerves tinglingfor something just a little unusual, and such barbarousoccasions were among the few opportunities.

Gradually amusem*nts of a more normal type began tocreep into the New England fold. Judge Sewallmakes the following comment: “Tuesday, Jan.7, 1719. The Govr has a ball at his own Housethat lasts to 3 in the Morn;"[193] but he does notmake an additional note of his attending—­sureproof that he did not go. Doubtless the hour ofclosing seemed to him scandalous. Then, too,early in the eighteenth century the dancing masterinvaded Boston, and doubtless many of the older membersof the Puritan families were shocked at the alacritywith which the younger folk took to this sinful art.It must have been a genuine satisfaction to Sewallto note in 1685 that “Francis Stepney, the DancingMaster, runs away for Debt. Several Attachmentsout after him."[194] But scowl at it as the olderpeople did, they had to recognize the fact that by1720 large numbers of New England children were learningthe graceful, old-fashioned dances of the day, andthat, too, with the consent of the parents.

VII. Special “Social” Days

“Lecture Day,” generally on Thursday,was another means of breaking the monotony of NewEngland colonial existence. It resembled the Sabbathin that there was a meeting and a sermon at the church,and very little work done either on farm or in town.Commonly banns were published then, and condemnedprisoners preached to or at. For instance, Sewallnotes: “Feb. 23, 1719-20. Mr. Coopercomes in, and sits with me, and asks that he may bepublished; Next Thorsday was talk’d of, at last,the first Thorsday in March was consented to."[195]On Lecture Day, as well as on the Sabbath, the beautifulcustom was followed of posting a note or bill in thehouse of God, requesting the prayers of friends forthe sick or afflicted, and many a fervent petitionarose to God on such occasions. Several timesSewall refers to such requests, and frequently indeedhe felt the need of such prayers for himself and his.

“Satterday, Augt. 15. Hambleton and mySister Watch (his eldest daughter was ill). Iget up before 2 in the Morning of the L(ecture) Day,and hearing an earnest expostulation of my daughter,I went down and finding her restless, call’dup my wife.... I put up this Note at the Old (FirstChurch) and South, ’Prayers are desired for HanahSewall as drawing Near her end.’"[196]

And when his wife was ill, he wrote: “Oct.17, 1717. Thursday, I asked my wife whether ’twerebest for me to go to Lecture: She said, I can’ttell: so I staid at home. Put up a Note....It being my Son’s Lecture, and I absent, twastaken much notice of."[197]

As the editor of the famous Diary comments:“Judge Sewall very seldom allowed any privatetrouble or sorrow, and he never allowed any matterof private business, to prevent his attendance upon‘Meeting,’ either on the Lord’sDay, or the Thursday Lecture. On this day, onaccount of the alarming illness of his wife—­whichproved to be fatal—­he remains with her,furnishing his son, who was to preach, with a ‘Note’to be ’put up,’ asking the sympatheticprayers of the congregation in behalf of the family.He is touched and gratified on learning how much feelingwas manifested on the occasion. The incidentis suggestive of one of the beautiful customs oncerecognized in all the New England churches, in townand country, where all the members of a congregation,knit together by ties and sympathies of a common interest,had a share in each other’s private and domesticexperiences of joy and sorrow.”

Such customs added to the social solidarity of thepeople, and gave each New England community a neighborlinessnot excelled in the far more vari-colored life ofthe South. Fast days and days of prayer, observedfor thanks, for deliverance from some danger or affliction,petitions for aid in an hour of impending disaster,or even simply as a means of bringing the soul nearerto God, were also agencies in the social welfare ofthe early colonists and did much to keep alive communityspirit and co-operation. Turning again to Sewall,we find him recording a number of such special days:

“Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, 1688.Have a day of Prayer at our House; One principalreason as to particular, about my going for England.Mr. Willard pray’d and preach’d excellently....Intermission. Mr. Allen pray’d, andthen Mr. Moodey, both very well, then 3d-7thverses of the 86th Ps., sung Cambridge Short Tune,which I set...."[198]
“Febr. 12. I pray’dGod to accept me in keeping a privat day of Prayerwith Fasting for That and other Important Matters:... Perfect what is lacking in my Faith,and in the faith of my dear Yokefellow.Convert my children; especially Samuel and Hanah;Provide Rest and Settlement for Hanah; RecoverMary, Save Judity, Elisabeth and Joseph:Requite the Labour of Love of my Kinswoman, JaneTappin, Give her health, find out Rest for her.Make David a man after thy own heart, Let Susanlive and be baptised with the Holy Ghost, andwith fire...."[199]

“Third-day, Augt.13, 1695. We have a Fast kept in our new

In New England Thanksgiving and Christmas were observedat first only to a very slight extent, and not atall with the regularity and ceremony common to-day.In the South, Christmas was celebrated without failwith much the same customs as those known in “MerrieOld England”; but among the earlier Puritansa large number frowned upon such special days as incliningtoward Episcopal and Popish ceremonials, and many aChristmas passed with scarcely a notice. Bradfordin his so-called Log-Book gives us this descriptionof such lack of observance of the day:

“The day called Christmas Day ye Govr cal’dthem out to worke (as was used) but ye moste of thisnew company excused themselves, and said yt went againsttheir consciences to work on yt day. So ye Govrtould them that if they made it mater of conscience,he would spare them till they were better informed.So he led away ye rest and left them; but when theycame home at noon from their work he found them inye street at play openly, some pitching ye bar, andsome at stool-ball and such like sports. So hewent to them and took away their implements and touldthem it was against his conscience that they shouldplay and others work.”

And Sewall doubtless would have agreed with “yeGovr”; for he notes:

“Dec. 25, 1717.Snowy Cold Weather; Shops open as could be for
the Storm; Hay, woodand all sorts of provisions brought to

“Dec. 25, Friday, 1685.Carts come to Town and shops open as is usual.Some somehow observe the day; but are vexed I believethat the body of the people profane it, and blessedbe God no authority yet to Compell them to keepit."[202]

“Tuesday, Decr.25, 1722-3. Shops are open, and Carts came to
Town with Wood, Hoop-Poles,Hay & as at other Times; being a
pleasant day, the streetwas fill’d with Carts and Horses."[203]

“Midweek, Decr.25, 1718-9. Shops are open, Hay, Hoop-poles,
Wood, fa*ggots, Charcole,Meat brought to Town."[204]

Nearly a century later all that Judge Pynchon recordsis:

“Fryday, December25, 1778. Christmas. Cold continued."[205]

“Monday, December 25, 1780.Christmas, and rainy. Dined at Mr. Wetmore’s(his daughter’s home) with Mr. Goodale and family,John and Patty. Mr. Barnard and Prince atchurch; the music good, and Dr. Steward’svoice above all."[206]

All that Sewall has to say about Thanksgiving is:“Thorsday, Novr. 25. Public Thanksgiving,"[207]and again: “1714. Novr. 25. Thanks-givingday; very cold, but not so sharp as yesterday.My wife was sick, fain to keep the Chamber and notbe at Diner.”

VIII. Social Restrictions

Many of the restraints imposed by Puritan lawmakersupon the ordinary hospitality and cordial overturesof citizens seem ridiculous to a modern reader; butperhaps the “fathers in Israel” consideredsuch strictness essential for the preservation ofthe saints. Josselyn travelling in New Englandin 1638, observed in his New England’s Raretiestheir customs rather keenly, criticized rather severelysome of their views, and commended just as heartilysome of their virtues. “They that are membersof their churches have the sacraments administeredto them, the rest that are out of the pale as theyphrase it are denied it. Many hundred souls therebe amongst them grown up to men and women’sestate that were never christened.... There aremany strange women too, (in Solomon’s sense),more the pity; when a woman hath lost her chastityshe hath no more to lose. There are many sincereand religious people amongst them.... They havestore of children and are well accommodated with servants;many hands make light work, many hands make a fullfraught, but many mouths eat up all, as some old plantershave experienced.”

Approximately a century later the keen-eyed SarahKnight visited New Haven, and commented in her Journalupon the growing laxity of rules and customs amongthe people of the quaint old town:

“They are governed by the samelaws as we in Boston (or little differing), throughoutthis whole colony of Connecticut ... but a littletoo much independent in their principles, and, as Ihave been told, were formerly in their zeal veryrigid in their administrations towards such astheir laws made offenders, even to a harmlesskiss or innocent merriment among young people....They generally marry very young: the malesoftener, as I am told, under twenty than above:they generally make public weddings, and havea way something singular (as they say) in some of them,viz., just before joining hands the bride-groomquits the place, who is soon followed by thebridesmen, and as it were dragged back to duty—­beingthe reverse to the former practice among us, tosteal mistress bride....
“They (the country women) generallystand after they come in a great while speechless,and sometimes don’t say a word till they areasked what they want, which I impute to the awe theystand in of the merchants, who they are constantlyalmost indebted to; and must take that they bringwithout liberty to choose for themselves; butthey serve them as well, making the merchants staylong enough for their pay....”

But even as late as 1780 Samuel Peters states in hisGeneral History of Connecticut that he foundthe restrictions in Connecticut so severe that hewas forced to state that “dancing, fishing, hunting,skating, and riding in sleighs on the ice are allthe amusem*nts allowed in this colony.”

In Massachusetts for many years in the seventeenthcentury a wife, in the absence of her husband, wasnot allowed to lodge men even if they were close relatives.Naturally such an absurd law was the source of muchbickering on the part of magistrates, and many werethe amusing tilts when a wife was not permitted toremain with her father, but had to be sent home toher husband, or a brother was compelled to leave hisown sister’s house. Of course, we may turnsuccessfully to Sewall’s Diary for anexample: “Mid-week, May 12, 1714. Wentto Brewster’s. The Anchor in the Plain;... took Joseph Brewster for our guide, and went toTown. Essay’d to be quarter’d at Mr.Knight’s, but he not being at home, his wiferefused us."[208] When a judge, himself, was refusedordinary hospitality, we may surmise that the lawwas rather strictly followed. But many otherrules of the day seem just as ridiculous to a modernreader. As Weeden in his Economic and SocialHistory of New England says of restrictions in1650:

“No one could run on the Sabbathday, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, exceptreverently to and from meeting. No one shouldtravel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house,cut hair, or shave on the Sabbath day. Nowoman should kiss her child on the Sabbath orfasting day. Whoever brought cards into the dominionpaid a fine of L5. No one could make mincedpies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrumentof music, except the drum, trumpet, and jews-harp.
“None under 21 years, nor anynot previously accustomed to it, shall take tobaccowithout a physician’s certificate. No oneshall take it publicly in the street, or the fields,or the woods, except on a journey of at leastten miles, or at dinner. Nor shall any onetake it in any house in his own town with more thanone person taking it at the same time."[209]

We must not, however, reach the conclusion that lifein old New England was a dreary void as far as pleasureswere concerned. Under the discussion of homelife we have seen that there were barn-raisings, log-rollingcontests, quilting and paring bees, and numerous otherforms of community efforts in which considerable levitywas countenanced. Earle’s Home Lifein Colonial Days copies an account written in 1757,picturing another form of entertainment yet popularin the rural districts:

“Made a husking Entertainm’t. Possiblythis leafe may last a Century and fall into the handsof some inquisitive Person for whose Entertainm’tI will inform him that now there is a Custom amongstus of making an Entertainm’t at husking of IndianCorn where to all the neighboring Swains are invitedand after the Corn is finished they like the Hottentotsgive three Cheers or huzza’s, but cannot carryin the husks without a Rhum bottle; they feign greatExertion but do nothing till Rhum enlivens them, whenall is done in a trice, then after a hearty Meal about10 at Night they go to their pastimes."[210]

IX. Dutch Social Life

In New York, among the Dutch, social pleasures were,of course, much less restricted; indeed their communitylife had the pleasant familiarity of one large family.Mrs. Grant in her Memoirs of an American Ladypictures the almost sylvan scene in the quaint oldtown, and the quiet domestic happiness so evidenton every hand:

“Every house had its garden, well, and a littlegreen behind; before every door a tree was planted,rendered interesting by being co-eval with some belovedmember of the family; many of their trees were of aprodigious size and extraordinary beauty, but withoutregularity, every one planting the kind that bestpleased with him, or which he thought would affordthe most agreeable shade to the open portion at hisdoor, which was surrounded by seats, and ascendedby a few steps. It was in these that each domesticgroup was seated in summer evenings to enjoy the balmytwilight or the serenely clear moon light. Eachfamily had a cow, fed in a common pasture at the endof the town. In the evening the herd returnedall together ... with their tinkling bells ... alongthe wide and grassy street to their wonted shelteringtrees, to be milked at their master’s doors.Nothing could be more pleasing to a simple and benevolentmind than to see thus, at one view, all the inhabitantsof the town, which contained not one very rich orvery poor, very knowing, or very ignorant, very rude,or very polished, individual; to see all these childrenof nature enjoying in easy indolence or social intercourse,

‘The cool, the fragrant,and the dusky hour,’

clothed in the plainest habits, and with minds asundisguised and artless.... At one door wereyoung matrons, at another the elders of the people,at a third the youths and maidens, gaily chatting orsinging together while the children played round thetrees."[211]

With little learning save the knowledge of how toenjoy life, under no necessity of pretending to enjoya false culture, conforming to no false values andartificialities, these simple-hearted people went theirquiet round of daily duties, took a normal amountof pleasure, and in their old-fashioned way, probablylived more than any modern devotee of the Wall Streetthey knew so well. Madam Knight in her Journalcomments upon them in this fashion: “Their

diversion in the winter is riding sleighs about threeor four miles out of town, where they have houses ofentertainment at a place called the Bowery, and somego to friends’ houses, who handsomely treatthem. Mr. Burroughs carried his spouse and daughterand myself out to one Madam Dowes, a gentlewoman thatlived at a farm house, who gave us a handsome entertainmentof five or six dishes, and choice beer and metheglincider, etc., all of which she said was the produceof her farm. I believe we met fifty or sixty sleighs;they fly with great swiftness, and some are so furiousthat they will turn out of the path for none excepta loaded cart. Nor do they spare for any diversionthe place affords, and sociable to a degree, theirtables being as free to their neighbors as to themselves.”

And Mrs. Grant has this to say of their love of childrenand flowers—­probably the most normal lovesin the human soul: “Not only the trainingof children, but of plants, such as needed peculiarcare or skill to rear them, was the female province....I have so often beheld, both in town and country,a respectable mistress of a family going out to hergarden, in an April morning, with her great calash,her little painted basket of seeds, and her rake overher shoulder to her garden labors.... A womanin very easy circ*mstances and abundantly gentle inform and manner would sow and plant and rake incessantly.These fair gardners were also great florists."[212]

Doubtless the whole world has heard of that otherDutch love—­for good things on the table.This epicurean trait perhaps has been exaggerated;Mrs. Grant herself had her doubts at first; but she,like most visitors, soon realized that a Dutchman’s“tea” was a fair banquet. Hear againher own words:

“They were exceedinglysocial, and visited each other frequently,
besides the regularassembling together in their porches every

“If you went to spend a day anywhere,you were received in a manner we should thinkvery cold. No one rose to welcome you; no onewondered you had not come sooner, or apologized forany deficiency in your entertainment. Dinner,which was very early, was served exactly in thesame manner as if there were only the family.The house was so exquisitely neat and well regulatedthat you could not surprise these people; theysaw each other so often and so easily that intimatesmade no difference. Of strangers they wereshy; not by any means of want of hospitality, but froma consciousness that people who had little tovalue themselves on but their knowledge of themodes and ceremonies of polished life dislikedtheir sincerity and despised their simplicity....
“Tea was served in at a veryearly hour. And here it was that the distinctionshown to strangers commenced. Tea here was a perfectregale, being served up with various sorts ofcakes unknown to us, cold pastry, and great quantitiesof sweet meats and preserved fruits of variouskinds, and plates of hickory and other nuts readycracked. In all manner of confectionery and pastrythese people excelled."[213]

To the Puritan this manner of living evidently seemedungodly, and perhaps the citizens of New Amsterdamwere a trifle lax not only in their appetite for thethings of this world, but also in their indifferencetoward the Sabbath. As Madam Knight observes inher Journal: “There are also Dutchand divers conventicles, as they call them, viz.,Baptist, Quaker, etc. They are not strictin keeping the Sabbath, as in Boston and other placeswhere I had been, but seemed to deal with exactnessas far as I see or deal with.”

But the kindly sociableness of these Dutch preventedany decidedly vicious tendency among them, and wentfar toward making amends for any real or supposedlaxity in religious principles. Even as children,this social nature was consciously trained among them,and so closely did the little ones become attachedto one another that marriage meant not at all theabrupt change and departure from former ways that itis rather commonly considered to mean to-day.Says Mrs. Grant:

“The children of the town were all divided intocompanies, as they called them, from five or six yearsof age, till they became marriageable. How thesecompanies first originated or what were their exactregulations, I cannot say; though I belonging to nineoccasionally mixed with several, yet always as a stranger,notwithstanding that I spoke their current languagefluently. Every company contained as many boysas girls. But I do not know that there was anylimited number; only this I recollect, that a boyand girl of each company, who were older, cleverer,or had some other pre-eminence above the rest, werecalled heads of the company, and, as such, were obeyedby the others.... Each company, at a certaintime of the year, went in a body to gather a particularkind of berries, to the hill. It was a sort ofannual festival, attended with religious punctuality....Every child was permitted to entertain the whole companyon its birthday, and once besides, during the winterand spring. The master and mistress of the familyalways were bound to go from home on these occasions,while some old domestic was left to attend and watchover them, with an ample provision of tea, chocolate,preserved and dried fruits, nuts and cakes of variouskinds, to which was added cider, or a syllabub....The consequence of these exclusive and early intimacieswas that, grown up, it was reckoned a sort of apostacyto marry out of one’s company, and indeed itdid not often happen. The girls, from the exampleof their mothers, rather than any compulsion, veryearly became notable and industrious, being constantlyemployed in knitting stockings and making clothesfor the family and slaves; they even made all the boys’clothes."[214]

Childhood in New England meant, as we have seen, agood deal of down-right hard toil; in Virginia, forthe better class child, it meant much dressing indainty clothes, and much care about manners and etiquette;but the Dutch childhood and even young manhood andwomanhood meant an unusual amount of carefree, whole-hearted,simple pleasure. There were picnics in the summer,nut gatherings in the Autumn, and skating and sleighingin the winter.

“In spring eight or ten of onecompany, young men and maidens, would set outtogether in a canoe on a kind of rural excursion....They went without attendants.... They arrivedgenerally by nine or ten o’clock....The breakfast, a very regular and cheerful one,occupied an hour or two; the young men then setout to fish or perhaps to shoot birds, and the maidenssat busily down to their work.... After thesultry hours had been thus employed, the boysbrought their tribute from the river.... Afterdinner they all set out together to gather wild strawberries,or whatever fruit was in season; for it was accounteda reproach to come home empty-handed....”
“The young parties, or some timesthe elder ones, who set out on this woodlandexcursion had no fixed destination, ... when theywere tired of going on the ordinary road, theyturned into the bush, and wherever they saw aninhabited spot ... they went into it with allthe ease of intimacy.... The good people, notin the least surprised at this intrusion, verycalmly opened the reserved apartments....After sharing with each other their food, dancingor any other amusem*nt that struck their fancy succeeded.They sauntered about the bounds in the evening,and returned by moonlight....”
“In winter the river ... formedthe principal road through the country, and wasthe scene of all these amusem*nts of skating and sledgeraces common to the north of Europe. They usedin great parties to visit their friends at adistance, and having an excellent and heartybreed of horses, flew from place to place overthe snow or ice in these sledges with incredible rapidity,stopping a little while at every house they cameto, where they were always well received, whetheracquainted with the owners or not. The nightnever impeded these travellers, for the atmospherewas so pure and serene, and the snow so reflectedthe moon and starlight, that the nights exceededthe days in beauty."[215]

All this meant so much more for the growth of normalchildren and the creation of a cheerful people thandid the Puritan attendance at executions and funerals.Those quaint old-time Dutch probably did not lovechildren any more dearly than did the New Englanders;but they undoubtedly made more display of it thandid the Puritans. “Orphans were never neglected....You never entered a house without meeting children.Maidens, bachelors, and childless married people alladopted orphans, and all treated them as if they weretheir own."[216]

Since we have mentioned such subjects as funeralsand orphans, perhaps it would not be out of placeto notice the peculiar funeral customs among the Dutch.Even a burial was not so dreary an affair with them.The following bill of 1763, found among the Schuylerpapers, gives a hint of the manner in which the servicewas conducted, and perhaps explains why the womenscarcely ever attended the funeral in the “deadroom,” as it was called, but remained in an upperroom, where they could at least hear what was said,if they could not “partake” of the occasion.

“Tobacco 2.
Fonda for Pipes 14s.
2 casks wine 69 gal. 11.
12 yds. Cloath 6.
2 barrels strong beer 3.
To spice from Dr. Stringer
To the porters 2s.
12 yds. Bombazine 5. 17s.
2 Tammise 1.
1 Barcelona handkerchief 10s.
2 pr. black chamios Gloves
6 yds. crape
5 ells Black Shalloon

Paid Mr. Benson his fee for opinion onwill L9."[217a]

Certainly the custom of making the funeral as pleasantas possible for the visitors had not passed away evenas late as the days of the Revolution; for duringthat war Tench Tilghman wrote the following descriptionof a burial service attended by him in New York City:“This morning I attended the funeral of oldMr. Doer.... This was something in a stile newto me. The Corpse was carried to the Grave andinterred with out any funeral Ceremony, the Clergyattended. We then returned to the home of theDeceased where we found many tables set out with Bottles,cool Tankards, Candles, Pipes & Tobacco. The Companysat themselves down and lighted their Pipes and handedthe Bottles & Tankards pretty briskly. Some ofthem I think rather too much so. I fancy theundertakers had borrowed all the silver plate of theneighborhood. Tankards and Candle Sticks wereall silver plated."[217b]

X. British Social Influences

With the increase of the English population New Yorkbegan to depart from its normal, quiet round of sociallife, and entered into far more flashy, but far lesshealthful forms of pleasure. There was wealthin the old city before the British flocked to it,and withal an atmosphere of plenty and peaceful enjoymentof life. The description of the Schuyler residence,“The Flatts,” presented in Grant’sMemoirs, probably indicates at its best thehome life of the wealthier natives, and gives hintsof a wholesome existence which, while not showy, wasfull of comfort:

“It was a large brick house oftwo, or rather three stories (for there wereexcellent attics), besides a sunk story.... Thelower floor had two spacious rooms, ... on thefirst there were three rooms, and in the upperone, four. Through the middle of the housewas a very wide passage, with opposite front and backdoors, which in summer admitted a stream of airpeculiarly grateful to the languid senses.It was furnished with chairs and pictures likea summer parlor.... There was at the side a largeportico, with a few steps leading up to it, andfloored like a room; it was open at the sidesand had seats all round. Above was ... aslight wooden roof, painted like an awning, or a coveringof lattice work, over which a transplanted wildvine spread its luxuriant leaves....”
“At the back of the large housewas a smaller and lower one, so joined to itas to make the form of a cross. There one or twolower and smaller rooms below, and the same numberabove, afforded a refuge to the family duringthe rigors of winter, when the spacious summerrooms would have been intolerably cold, and thesmoke of prodigious wood fires would have sullied theelegantly clean furniture."[218]

But before 1760, as indicated above, the English elementin New York was making itself felt, and a curiousmingling of gaiety and economy began to be noticeable.William Smith, writing in his History of the Provinceof New York, in 1757, points this out:

“In the city of New York, throughour intercourse with the Europeans, we followthe London fashions; though, by the time we adoptthem, they become disused in England. Our affluenceduring the late war introduced a degree of luxuryin tables, dress, and furniture, with which wewere before unacquainted. But still we arenot so gay a people as our neighbors in Boston andseveral of the Southern colonies. The Dutchcounties, in some measure, follow the exampleof New York, but still retain many modes peculiarto the Hollanders.”
“New York is one of the mostsocial places on the continent. The mencollect themselves into weekly evening clubs.The ladies in winter are frequently entertainedeither at concerts of music or assemblies, andmake a very good appearance. They are comely anddress well....”
“Tinctured with the Dutch education,they manage their families with becoming parsimony,good providence, and singular neatness. Thepractice of extravagant gaming, common to the fashionablepart of the fair sex in some places, is a vicewith which my country women cannot justly becharged. There is nothing they so generallyneglect as reading, and indeed all the arts for theimprovement of the mind—­in which, Iconfess we have set them the example. Theyare modest, temperate, and charitable, naturally sprightly,sensible, and good-humored; and, by the helps of amore elevated education, would possess all theaccomplishments desirable in the sex.”

With the coming of the Revolution, and the consequentinvasion of the city by the British, New York becamefar more gay than ever before; but even then the nativeDutch conservativeness so restrained social affairsthat Philadelphia was more brilliant. When, however,the capital of the national government was locatedin New York then indeed did the city shine. Foreignersspoke with astonishment at the display of luxury anddown-right extravagance. Brissot de Warville,for example, writing in 1788, declared: “Ifthere is a town on the American continent where Englishluxury displays its follies, it is New York.”And James Pintard, after attending a New Year levee,given by Mrs. Washington, wrote his sister: “Youwill see no such formal bows at the Court of St. James.”If we may judge by the dress of ladies attending suchgatherings, as one described in the New York Gazetteof May 15, 1789, we may safely conclude that expensewas not spared in the upper classes of society.Hear some descriptions:

“A plain celestial blue satinwith a white satin petticoat. On the necka very large Italian gauze handkerchief with whitesatin stripes. The head-dress was a puffof gauze in the form of a globe on a foundationof white satin, having a double wing in largeplaits, with a wreath of roses twined about it.The hair was dressed with detached curls, foureach side of the neck and a floating chignonbehind.”
“Another was a periot made ofgray Indian taffetas with dark stripes of thesame color with two collars, one white, one yellowwith blue silk fringe, having a reverse trimmedin the same manner. Under the periot wasa yellow corset of cross blue stripes. Aroundthe bosom of the periot was a frill of white vandykedgauze of the same form covered with black gauze whichhangs in streamers down her back. Her hairbehind is a large braid with a monstrous crookedcomb.”

We cannot say that the society of the new capitalwas notable for its intellect or for the intellectualturn of its activities. John Adams’ daughterdeclared that it was “quite enough dissipated,”and indeed costly dress, card playing, and dancingseem to have received an undue amount of society’sattention. The Philadelphia belle, Miss Franks,wrote home: “Here you enter a room witha formal set courtesy, and after the ‘How-dos’things are finished, all a dead calm until cards areintroduced when you see pleasure dancing in the eyesof all the matrons, and they seem to gain new life;the maidens decline for the pleasure of making love.Here it is always leap year. For my part I amused to another style of behavior.” And,continues Miss Franks: “They (the Philadelphiagirls) have more cleverness in the turn of the eyethan those of New York in their whole composition.”But blunt, old Governor Livingston, on the other hand,wrote his daughter Kitty that “the Philadelphiaflirts are equally famous for their want of modestyand want of patriotism in their over-complacence tored coats, who would not conquer the men of the country,but everywhere they have taken the women almost withouta trial—­damm them."[219]

But there can be no doubt that the whirl of life wasa little too giddy in New York, during the last yearsof the eighteenth century; and that, as a visitingFrenchman declared: “Luxury is already formingin this city, a very dangerous class of men, namely,the bachelors, the extravagance of the women makesthem dread marriage."[220] As mentioned above, therewas much card playing among the women, and on the thenfashionable John Street married women sometimes lostas high as $400 in a single evening of gambling.To some of the older men who had suffered the hardshipsof war that the new nation might be born, such frivolityand extravagance seemed almost a crime, and doubtlessthese veterans would have agreed with Governor Livingstonwhen he complained: “My principal Secretaryof State, who is one of my daughters, has gone toNew York to shake her heels at the balls and assembliesof a metropolis which might be better employed, morestudious of taxes than of instituting expensive diversions."[221]

XI. Causes of Display and Frivolity

What else could be expected, for the time being atleast? For, the war over, the people naturallyreacted from the dreary period of hardships and suspenseto a period of luxury and enjoyment. Moreover,here was a new nation, and the citizens of the capitalfelt impelled to uphold the dignity of the new commonwealthby some display of riches, brilliance, and power.Then, too, the first President of the young nationwas not nigg*rdly in dress or expenditure, and hiscontemporaries felt, naturally enough, that they mustmeet him at least half way. Washington apparentlywas a believer in dignified appearances, and therewas frequently a wealth of livery attending his coach.A story went the round, no doubt in an exaggeratedform, that shows perhaps too much punctiliousnesson the part of the Father of His Country:

“The night before the famous white chargerswere to be used they were covered with a white paste,swathed in body clothes, and put to sleep on cleanstraw. In the morning this paste was rubbed in,and the horses brushed until their coats shone.The hoofs were then blacked and polished, the mouthswashed, and their teeth picked. It is relatedthat after this grooming the master of the stableswas accustomed to flick over their coats a clean muslinhandkerchief, and if this revealed a speck of dustthe stable man was punished."[222]

Perhaps Washington himself rather enjoyed the statelinessand a certain aloofness in his position; but to MarthaWashington, used to the freedom of social minglingon the Virginia plantation, the conditions were undoubtedlyirksome. “I lead,” she wrote, “avery dull life and know nothing that passes in thetown. I never go to any public place—­indeedI think I am more like a state prisoner than anythingelse, there is a certain bound set for me which Imust not depart from and as I cannot doe as I likeI am obstinate and stay home a great deal.”To some of the more democratic patriots all this dignityand formality and display were rather disgusting,and some did not hesitate to express themselves inrather sarcastic language about the customs. Forinstance, gruff old Senator Maclay of Pennsylvania,who was not a lover of Washington anyway, recordedin his Journal his impressions of one of thePresident’s decidedly formal dinners:

“First was the soup; fish roastedand boiled; meats, gammon (smoked ham), fowls,etc. This was the dinner. The middleof the table was garnished in the usual tastyway, with small images, artificial flowers, etc.The dessert was first apple-pies, pudding, etc.,then iced creams, jellies, etc., then water-melons,musk-melons, apples, peaches, nuts.... The Presidentand Mrs. Washington sat opposite each other in themiddle of the table; the two secretaries, oneat each end....
“It was the most solemn dinnerever I sat at. Not a health drank, scarcea word said until the cloth was taken away. Thenthe President, filling a glass of wine, with greatformality drank to the health of every individualby name around the table. Everybody imitatedhim and changed glasses and such a buzz of ‘health,sir,’ and ‘health, madam,’ and ‘thankyou, sir,’ and ‘thank you, madam’never had I heard before.... The ladies sat agood while and the bottles passed about; but therewas a dead silence almost. Mrs. Washingtonat last withdrew with the ladies.
“I expected the men would nowbegin but the same stillness remained. He(the President) now and then said a sentence or twoon some common subject and what he said was notamiss. Mr. Jay tried to make a laugh bymentioning the duch*ess of Devonshire leavingno stone unturned to carry Fox’s election.There was a Mr. Smith who mentioned how Homerdescribed AEneas leaving his wife and carryinghis father out of flaming Troy. He had heardsomebody (I suppose) witty on the occasion; butif he had ever read it he would have said Virgil.The President kept a fork in his hand, when thecloth was taken away, I thought for the purposeof picking nuts. He ate no nuts, however, butplayed with the fork, striking on the edge ofthe table with it. We did not sit long afterthe ladies retired. The President rose, wentup-stairs to drink coffee; the company followed.I took my hat and came home.”

After all, it was well that our first President andhis lady were believers in a reasonable amount offormality and dignity. They established a formof social etiquette and an insistence on certain principlesof high-bred procedure genuinely needed in a countrythe tendency of which was toward a crude display ofraw, hail-fellow-well-met democracy. With anAndrew Jackson type of man as its first President,our country would soon have been the laughing stockof nations, and could never have gained that prestigewhich neither wealth nor power can bring, but whichis obtained only through evidences of genuine civilizationand culture. As Wharton says in her MarthaWashington: “An executive mansion presidedover by a man and woman who combined with the mostardent patriotism a dignity, elegance, and moderationthat would have graced the court of any Old Worldsovereign, saved the social functions of the new nationfrom the crudeness and bald simplicity of extremerepublicanism, as well as from the luxury and excessthat often mark the sudden elevation to power andplace of those who have spent their early years inobscurity."[223]

Even after the removal of the capital from New Yorkthe city was still the scene of unabated gaiety.Elizabeth Southgate, who became the wife of WalterBowne, mayor of the metropolis, left among her lettersthe following bits of helpful description of the citypastimes and fashionable life: “Last nightwe were at the play—­’The Way to GetMarried.’ Mr. Hodgkinson in Tangen

is inimitable. Mrs. Johnson, a sweet, interestingactress, in Julia, and Jefferson, a great comicplayer, were all that were particularly pleasing....I have been to two of the gardens: Columbia,near the Battery—­a most romantic, beautifulplace—­’tis enclosed in a circularform and little rooms and boxes all around—­withtables and chairs—­these full of company....They have a fine orchestra, and have concerts heresometimes.... We went on to the Battery—­thisis a large promonade by the shore of the North River—­veryextensive; rows and clusters of trees in every part,and a large walk along the shore, almost over thewater.... Here too, they have music playing onthe water in boats of a moonlight night. Lastnight we went to a garden a little out of town—­MountVernon Garden. This, too, is surrounded by boxesof the same kind, with a walk on top of them—­youcan see the gardens all below—­but ’tisa summer play-house—­pit and boxes, stageand all, but open on top.”

XII. Society in Philadelphia

As has been indicated, New York was not the only centerof brilliant social activity in colonial America.Philadelphia laid claim to having even more charmingsociety and vastly more “exclusive” socialfunctions, and it is undoubtedly true that for someyears before the war, and even after New York becamethe capital, Philadelphia “set the social pace.”And, when the capital was removed to the Quaker City,there was indeed a brilliance in society that wouldhave compared not unfavorably with the best in Englandduring the same years. Unfortunately few magazinearticles or books picturing the life in the city atthat time remain; but from diaries, journals, andletters we may gain many a hint. Before and duringthe Revolution there were at Philadelphia numerouswealthy Tory families, who loved the lighter sideof life, and when the town was occupied by the Britishthese pro-British citizens offered a welcome bothextended and expensive. As Wharton says in herThrough Colonial Doorways:

“The Quaker City had, at the pleasure of herconqueror, doffed her sober drab and appeared in festalarray.... The best that the city afforded wasat the disposal of the enemy, who seem to have spenttheir days in feasting and merry-making, while Washingtonand his army endured all the hardships of the severewinter of 1777-8 upon the bleak hill-sides of ValleyForge. Dancing assemblies, theatrical entertainments,and various gaieties marked the advent of the Britishin Philadelphia, all of which formed a fitting preludeto the full-blown glories of the Meschianza, whichburst upon the admiring inhabitants on that last-centuryMay day."[224]

This, however, was not a sudden outburst of recklessjoy on the part of the Philadelphians; for long beforethe coming of Howe the wealthier families had givensocial functions that delighted and astonished foreignvisitors. We are sure that as early as 1738 dancingwas taught by Theobald Hackett, who offered to instructin “all sorts of fashionable English and Frenchdances, after the newest and politest manner practicedin London, Dublin, and Paris, and to give to youngladies, gentlemen, and children, the most gracefulcarriage in dancing and genteel behaviour in companythat can possibly be given by any dancing master,whatever.”

Before the middle of the eighteenth century balls,or “dancing assemblies” had become popularin Philadelphia, and, being sanctioned by no lessauthority than the Governor himself, were frequentedby the best families of the city. In a letterby an influential clergyman, Richard Peters, we findthis reference to such fashionable meetings: “Bythe Governor’s encouragement there has beena very handsome assembly once a fortnight at AndrewHamilton’s house and stores, which are tenantedby Mr. Inglis (and) make a set of rooms for such apurpose and consist of eight ladies and as many gentlemen,one half appearing every Assembly Night.”There were a good many strict rules regulating theconduct of these balls, among them being one thatevery meeting should begin promptly at six and closeat twelve. The method of obtaining admissionis indicated in the following notice from the PennsylvaniaJournal of 1771: “The Assembly willbe opened this evening, and as the receiving moneyat the door has been found extremely inconvenient,the managers think it necessary to give the publicnotice that no person will be admitted without a ticketfrom the directors which (through the applicationof a subscriber) may be had of either of the managers.”

As card-playing was one of the leading pastimes ofthe day, rooms were set aside at these dancing assembliesfor those who preferred “brag” and otherfashionable games with cards. But far the greaternumber preferred to dance, and to those who did, thevarious figures and steps were seemingly a ratherserious matter, not to be looked upon as a source ofmere amusem*nt. The Marquis de Chastellux hasleft us a description of one of these assemblies attendedby him during the Revolution, and, if his words aretrue, such affairs called for rather concentratedattention:

“A manager or master of ceremonies presidesat these methodical amusem*nts; he presents to thegentlemen and ladies dancers billets folded up containingeach a number; thus, fate decided the male or femalepartner for the whole evening. All the dancesare previously arranged and the dancers are calledin their turns. These dances, like the toastswe drink at table, have some relation to politics;one is called the Success of the Campaign, anotherthe Defeat of Burgoyne, and a third Clinton’sRetreat.... Colonel Mitchell was formerly themanager, but when I saw him he had descended fromthe magistracy and danced like a private citizen.He is said to have exercised his office with greatseverity, and it is told of him that a young lady whowas figuring in a country dance, having forgottenher turn by conversing with a friend, was thus addressedby him, ’Give over, miss, mind what you are about.Do you think you come here for your pleasure?’”

XIII. The Beauty of Philadelphia Women

Any investigator of early American social life maydepend on Abigail Adams for spicy, keen observationsand interesting information. Her letters picturehappily the activities of Philadelphia society duringthe last decade of the eighteenth century. Forinstance, she writes in 1790: “On Fridaylast I went to the drawing room, being the first ofmy appearance in public. The room became fullbefore I left it, and the circle very brilliant.How could it be otherwise when the dazzling Mrs. Binghamand her beautiful sisters were there: the MissesAllen, and the Misses Chew; in short a constellationof beauties? If I were to accept one-half theinvitations I receive I should spend a very dissipatedwinter. Even Saturday evening is not excepted,and I refused an invitation of that kind for thisevening. I have been to one assembly. Thedancing was very good; the company the best; the Presidentand Madam, the Vice-President and Madam, Ministersof State and their Madames, etc.”

The mention of Mrs. Bingham leads us to some noticeof her and her environment, as an aid to our perceptionof the real culture and brilliance found in the highersocial circles of colonial Philadelphia and New York.One of the most beautiful women of the day, Mrs. Bingham,added to a good education, the advantage of much travelabroad, and a lengthy visit at the Court of LouisXVI. Her beauty and elegance were the talk ofParis, The Hague, and London, and Mrs. Adams’comment from London voiced the general foreign sentimentabout her: “She is coming quite into fashionhere, and is very much admired. The hair-dresserwho dresses us on court days inquired ... whether... we knew the lady so much talked of here from America—­Mrs.Bingham. He had heard of her ... and at lastspeaking of Miss Hamilton he said with a twirl ofhis comb, ’Well, it does not signify, but theAmerican ladies do beat the English all to nothing.’”

An English traveller, Wansey, visited her in her Philadelphiahome, and wrote: “I dined this day withMrs. Bingham.... I found a magnificent houseand gardens in the best English style, with elegantand even superb furniture. The chairs of thedrawing room were from Seddons in London, of the newesttaste—­the backs in the form of a lyre withfestoons of crimson and yellow silk; the curtains ofthe room a festoon of the same; the carpet one ofMoore’s most expensive patterns. The roomwas papered in the French taste, after the the styleof the Vatican at Rome.”

Such a woman was, of course, destined to be a socialleader, and while her popularity was at its height,she introduced many a foreign custom or fad to thesomewhat unsophisticated society of America. Oneof these was that of having a servant announce repeatedlythe name of the visitor as he progressed from theoutside door to the drawing room, and this in itselfcaused considerable ridiculous comment and sometimesembarrassing blunders on the part of Americans ignorantof foreign etiquette. One man, hearing his namethus called a number of times while he was takingoff his overcoat, bawled out repeatedly, “Coming,coming,” until at length, his patience gone,he shouted, “Coming, just as soon as I can getmy great-coat off!”

The beauty and brilliance of Philadelphia were notwithout honor at home, and this recognition of localtalent caused some rather spiteful comparisons tobe made with the New York belles. Rebecca Franks,to whom we have referred several times, declared:“Few New York ladies know how to entertain companyin their own houses, unless they introduce the cardtable.... I don’t know a woman or girl thatcan chat above half an hour and that on the form ofa cap, the color of a ribbon, or the set of a hoop,stay, or gapun. I will do our ladies, that isin Philadelphia, the justice to say they have morecleverness in the turn of an eye than the New Yorkgirls have in their whole composition. With whatease have I seen a Chew, a Penn, Oswald, Allen, anda thousand other entertain a large circle of bothsexes and the conversation, without aid of cards,not flagg or seem in the least strained or stupid.”

XIV. Social Functions

While the beauty of the Philadelphia women was notable—­theDuke Rochefoucauld-Liancourt declared that it wasimpossible to meet with what is called a plain woman—­thelavish use of wealth was no less noticeable.The equipage, the drawing room, the very kitchens ofsome homes were so extravagantly furnished that foreignvisitors marvelled at the display. Indeed, somespiteful people of the day declared that the Binghamhome was so gaudy and so filled with evidence of wealththat it lacked a great deal of being comfortable.The trappings of the horses, the furnishings of thefamily coaches, the livery of the footmen, drivers,and attendants apparently were equal to those possessedby the most aristocratic in London and Paris.

Probably one of the most brilliant social occasionswas the annual celebration of Washington’s birthday,and while the first President was in Philadelphia,he was, of course, always present at the ball, andmade no effort to conceal his pleasure and gratitudefor this mark of esteem. The entire day was givenover to pomp and ceremony. According to a descriptionby Miss Chambers, “The morning of the ‘twenty-second’was ushered in by the discharge of heavy artillery.The whole city was in commotion, making arrangementsto demonstrate their attachment to our beloved President.The Masonic, Cincinnati, and military orders unitedin doing him honor.” In describing the hall,she says: “The seats were arranged likethose of an amphitheatre, and cords were stretchedon each side of the room, about three feet from thefloor, to preserve sufficient space for the dances.We were not long seated when General Washington enteredand bowed to the ladies as he passed round the room....The dancing soon after commenced."[225]

There can be little doubt that Mrs. Washington enjoyedher stay in Philadelphia far more than the periodspent in New York. In Philadelphia there wasa very noticeable atmosphere of hospitality and easyfriendliness; here too were many Southern visitorsand Southern customs; for in those days of difficulttravel Philadelphia seemed much nearer to Virginiathan did New York. Even with such a congenialenvironment Martha Washington, with her innate domesticity,was constantly thinking of life at Mount Vernon, andin the midst of festivities and assemblies of genuinediplomatic import, would stop to write to her nieceat home such a thoroughly housewifely message as:“I do not know what keys you have—­itis highly necessary that the beds and bed clothes ofall kinds should be aired, if you have the keys Ibeg you will make Caroline put all the things of everykind out to air and brush and clean all the placesand rooms that they were in.”

But Mrs. Washington was not alone in Philadelphiain this domestic tendency; many of those women whodazzled both Americans and foreigners with their beautyand social graces were most careful housekeepers, andeven expert at weaving and sewing. Sarah Bache,for example, might please at a ball, but the nextmorning might find her industriously working at thespinning wheel. We find her writing her father,Ben Franklin, in 1790: “If I was to mentionto you the prices of the common necessaries of life,it would astonish you. I should tell you thatI had seven tablecloths of my own spinning.”Again, she shrewdly requests her father in Paris tosend her various articles of dress which are entirelytoo expensive in America, but the old gentleman’sanswer seems still more shrewd, especially when weremember what a delightful time he was just then havingwith several sprightly French dames: “Iwas charmed with the account you gave me of your industry,the tablecloths of your own spinning, and so on; butthe latter part of the paragraph that you had sentfor linen from France ... and you sending for ... laceand feathers, disgusted me as much as if you had putsalt into my strawberries. The spinning, I see,is laid aside, and you are to be dressed for the ball!You seem not to know, my dear daughter, that of allthe dear things in this world idleness is the dearest,except mischief.”

Her declaration in her letter that “there wasnever so much pleasure and dressing going on”is corroborated by the statement of an officer writingto General Wayne: “It is all gaiety, andfrom what I can observe, every lady endeavors to outdothe other in splendor and show.... The mannerof entertaining in this place has likewise undergoneits change. You cannot conceive anything moreelegant than the present taste. You can hardlydine at a table but they present you with three courses,and each of them in the most elegant manner.”

XV. Theatrical Performances

The dinners and balls seem to have been expensiveenough, but another demand for expenditure, especiallyin items of dress, arose from the constantly increasingpopularity of the theatre. In Philadelphia thefirst regular theatre season began in 1754, and fromthis time forth the stage seems to have filled animportant part in the activities of society.We find that Washington attended such performancesat the early South Street Theatre, and was especiallypleased with a comedy called The Young Quaker;or the Fair Philadelphian by O’Keefe, a sketchthat was followed by a pantomimic ballet, a musicalpiece called The Children in the Wood, a recitationof Goldsmith’s Epilogue in the characterof Harlequin, and a “grand finale” by someadventuresome actor who made a leap through a barrelof fire! Truly vaudeville began early in America.

Mrs. Adams from staid old Massachusetts, where theatricalperformances were not received cordially for manya year, wrote from Philadelphia in 1791: “Themanagers of the theatre have been very polite to meand my family. I have been to one play, and hereagain we have been treated with much politeness.The actors came and informed us that a box was preparedfor us.... The house is equal to most of the theatreswe meet with out of France.... The actors didtheir best; the ’School for Scandal’ wasthe play. I missed the divine Farran, but uponthe whole it was very well performed.”

The first theatrical performance given in New Yorkis said to have been acted in a barn by English officersand shocked beyond all measure the honest Dutch citizenswhose lives hitherto had gone along so peacefullywithout such ungodly spectacles. As Humphreyswrites in her Catherine Schuyler, “Greatwas the scandal in the church and among the burghers.Their indictment was searching.... Moreover, theypainted their faces which was against God and nature....They had degraded manhood by assuming female habits."[226]

But in most sections of the Middle Colonies, as wellas in Virginia and South Carolina, the colonists tookvery readily to the theatre, and in both Pennsylvaniaand Virginia, where the curtain generally rose at sixo’clock, such crowds attended that the fashionablefolk commonly sent their negroes ahead to hold theseats against all comers. Williamsburg, Virginia,had a good play house as early as 1716; Charlestonjust a little later, and Annapolis had regular performancesin 1752. Baltimore first opened the theatre in1782, and did the thing “in the fine style,”by presenting Shakespeare’s King Richard.Society doubtless tingled with excitement when thatfirst theatrical notice appeared in the Baltimorepapers.

Will Open, This Evening, being the 15th of January...

* * * * *

to which will be added a FARCE,

* * * * *

“Boxes: One Dollar:Pit Five Shillings: Galleries 9d. Doors tobe
open at Half-past Four, and will begin at Sixo’clock.

“No persons can be admittedwithout Tickets, which may be had at
the coffee House in Baltimore, and at Lindlay’sCoffee House on

“No Persons will on anypretence be admitted behind the Scenes.”

This last sentence was indeed a necessary one; forduring the earlier days of the American theatre manyin the audience frequently invaded the stage, eitherto congratulate the actors or to express in fisticcombat their disgust over the play or the acting.It was not uncommon, too, for eggs to be thrown fromthe gallery, and both this and the rushing upon thestage was expressly forbidden at length by the authoritiesof several towns. Every class in colonial daysseems to have found its own peculiar way of enjoyingitself, whether by fascinating through beauty andbrilliance the supposedly sophisticated French dukes,or by pelting barn-storming actors with eggs and othermissiles.

The limits of one volume force us to omit many aninteresting social feature of colonial days, especiallyof the cities. How much might be said of thetavern life of New York City and the vicinity, howmuch of those famous resorts, Vauxhall and Ranelagh,where many a device to arouse the wonder of the fashionableguests was invented and constructed! Then, too,much might be related about the popular “fishdinners” of New York and Annapolis, the horseraces in Virginia and Maryland, the militia paradesand pageants at Charleston. But sufficient hasbeen offered to prove that the prevalent idea of adreary atmosphere that lasted throughout the entirecolonial period is false; certainly during the eighteenthcentury at least, the average American colonist obtainedas much pleasure out of life as the rushing, ever-busyAmerican of our own day.

XVI. Strange Customs in Louisiana

It should be noted that most of these pleasures werein the main healthful and normal, and, in the eyesof the Anglo-Saxon colonists at least, made a mostcommendable contrast to the recreations indulged inby the French colonists of Louisiana. There canbe but little doubt that during the last years ofthe eighteenth century moral conditions in this farsouthern colony might have been far better. AlthoughLouis XIV, the Grand Monarch, had been dead practicallya century, he had left as a heritage a passion forpleasure and merry-making that was causing the Frenchnobility to revel in profligacy and vice. It mustbe admitted that many of the French colonists in Americawere apt pupils of their European relatives, whilethe Creole population, born of at least an unmoralunion, was, to say the least, in no wise a hindranceto pleasures of a rather lax character. Then,too, there was the negro, or more accurately the mulatto,who if he or, again more accurately, she hadany moral scruples, had little opportunity as a slaveor servant to exercise them.

The settlers of Louisiana had an active trade withthe West Indies, and a percentage of the populationwas composed of West Indians, a people then notoriousfor their lack of moral restraint. The traderstravelling between Louisiana and these islands werefrequently unprincipled ruffians, and their companionson shore were commonly sharpers, desperadoes, pirates,and criminals steeped in vice. Tiring of the rawlife of the sea or sometimes fleeing from justice innorthern cities, such men looked to New Orleans forthat peculiar type of free and easy civilization whichmost pleased their nature. Hence, although somebetter class families of culture and refinement residedin the city, there was but little in common, sociallyat least, between it and such centers as Philadelphia,New York, and Boston. As a sea-port looking tothose eighteenth century fens of wickedness, the WestIndies; as a river port toward which traders, trappers,and planters of the Mississippi Valley looked as aresort for relieving themselves of accumulated thirstand passion; as the home of mixed races, some of whichwere but a few decades removed from savagery; thiscity could not avoid its reputation for lax principles,and free-and-easy vice.

Berquin-Duvallon, writing in 1803, gave what he doubtlessconsidered an accurate picture of social conditionsduring that year, and, although this is a little laterthan the period covered in our study, still it ishardly likely that conditions were much better twentyyears earlier; if anything, they were probably muchworse. Of one famous class of Louisiana womenhe has this to say: “The Creoles of Louisianaare blond rather than brunette. The women ofthis country who may be included among the numberof those whom nature has especially favored, have askin which without being of extreme whiteness, is stillbeautiful enough to constitute one of their charms;and features which although not very regular, forman agreeable whole; a very pretty throat; a staturethat indicates strength and health; and (a peculiarand distinguishing feature) lively eyes full of expression,as well as a magnificent head of hair."[227]

Such women, as well as the negro and mulatto girls,were an ever present temptation to men whose passionhad never known restraint. Thus Berquin-Duvallondeclares that concubinage was far more common thanmarriage: “The rarity of marriage must necessarilybe attributed to the causes we have already assigned,to that state of celibacy, to that monkish life, thetaste for which is extending here more and more amongthe men. In witness of what I advance on thismatter, one single observation will suffice, as follows:For the two and one-half years that I have been inthis colony not thirty marriages at all notable haveoccurred in New Orleans and for ten leagues about it.And in this district there are at least six hundredwhite girls of virtuous estate, of marriageable age,between fourteen and twenty-five or thirty years.”

This early observer receives abundant corroborationfrom other travellers of the day. Paul Alliott,drawing a contrast between New Orleans and St. Louis,another city with a considerable number of Frenchinhabitants, says: “The inhabitants of thecity of St. Louis, like those old time simple andunited patriarchs, do not live at all in debaucheryas do a part of those of New Orleans. Marriageis honored there, and the children resulting fromit share the inheritance of their parents withoutany quarrelling."[228] But, says Berquin-Duvallon,among a large percentage of the colonists about NewOrleans, “their taste for women extends moreparticularly to those of color, whom they prefer tothe white women, because such women demand fewer ofthose annoying attentions which contradict their tastefor independence. A great number, accordingly,prefer to live in concubinage rather than to marry.They find in that the double advantage of being servedwith the most scrupulous exactness, and in case ofdiscontent or unfaithfulness, of changing their housekeeper(this is the honorable name given to that sort ofwoman).” Of course, such a scheme of lifewas not especially conducive to happiness among whitewomen, and, although as Alliott declares, the whitemen “have generally much more regard for (negrogirls) in their domestic economy than they do for theirlegitimate wives.... the (white) women show the greatestcontempt and aversion for that sort of women.”

When moral conditions could shock an eighteenth centuryFrenchman they must have been exceptionally bad; butthe customs of the New Orleans men were entirely toounprincipled for Berquin-Duvallon and various otherFrench investigators. “Not far from thetaverns are obscene bawdy houses and dirty smokinghouses where the father on one side, and the son onthe other go, openly and without embarassment as wellas without shame, ... to revel and dance indiscriminatelyand for whole nights with a lot of men and women ofsaffron color or quite black, either free or slave.Will any one dare to deny this fact? I will onlydesignate, in support of my assertion (and to say nomore), the famous house of Coquet, located near thecenter of the city, where all that scum is to be seenpublicly, and that for several years."[229]

Naturally, as a matter of mere defense, the womenof pure white blood drew the color line very strictly,and would not knowingly mingle socially to the veryslightest degree with a person of mixed negro or Indianblood. Such severe distinctions led to embarrassingand even cruel incidents at social gatherings; andon many occasions, if cool-headed social leaders hadnot quickly ejected guests of tainted lineage, thereundoubtedly would have been bloodshed. Berquin-Duvallondescribes just such a scene: “The ladies’ball is a sanctuary where no woman dare approach ifshe has even a suspicion of mixed blood. Thepurest conduct, the most eminent virtues could not

lessen this strain in the eyes of the implacable ladies.One of the latter, married and known to have beenimplicated in various intrigues with men of the locality,one day entered one of those fine balls. ’Thereis a woman of mixed blood here,’ she cried haughtily.This rumor ran about the ballroom. In fact, twoyoung quadroon ladies were seen there, who were esteemedfor the excellent education which they had received,and much more for their honorable conduct. Theywere warned and obliged to disappear in haste beforea shameless woman, and their society would have beena real pollution for her.”

Perhaps, after all, little blame for such outburstscan be placed upon the white women of the day.Berquin-Duvallon recognized and admired their excellentquality and seems to have wondered why so many mencould prefer girls of color to these clean, healthy,and honorable ladies. Of them he says: “TheLouisiana women, and notably those born and residenton the plantations, have various estimable qualities.Respectful as girls, affectionate as wives, tenderas mothers, and careful as mistresses, possessingthoroughly the details of household economy, honest,reserved, proper—­in the van almost—­theyare in general, most excellent women.”But those of mixed blood or lower lineage, he remarks:“A tone of extravagance and show in excess ofone’s means is seen there in the dress of thewomen, in the elegance of their carriages, and intheir fine furniture.”

Indeed, this display in dress and equipage astoundedthe French. The sight of it in a city where Indians,negroes, and half-breeds mingled freely with whiteson street and in dive, where sanitary conditions werebeyond description, and where ignorance and slovenlinesswere too apparent to be overlooked, seems to haverather nettled Berquin-Duvallon, and he sometimesgrew rather heated in his descriptions of an unwarrantedluxury and extravagance equal to that of the capitalsof Europe. But now, “the women of the citydress tastefully, and their change of appearance inthis respect in a very short space of time is reallysurprising. Not three years ago, with lengthenedskirts, the upper part of their clothing being of onecolor, and the lower of another, and all the restof their dress in proportion; they were brave withmany ribbons and few jewels. Thus rigged out theywent everywhere, on their round of visits, to the ball,and to the theatre. To-day, such a costume seemsto them, and rightfully so, a masquerade. Therichest of embroidered muslins, cut in the lateststyles, and set off as transparencies over soft andbrilliant taffetas, with magnificent lace trimmings,and with embroidery and gold-embroidered spangles,are to-day fitted to and beautify well dressed womenand girls; and this is accompanied by rich earrings,necklaces, bracelets, rings, precious jewels, in finewith all that can relate to dress—­to thatimportant occupation of the fair sex.”

But beneath all this gaudy show of dress and wealththere was a shameful ignorance that seems to havedisgusted foreign visitors. There was so littleother pleasure in life for the women of this colony;their education was so limited that they could notpossibly have known the variety of intellectual pastimesthat made life so interesting for Eliza Pinckney,Mrs. Adams, and Catherine Schuyler. With surpriseBerquin-Duvallon noted that “there is no otherpublic institution fit for the education of the youthof this country than a simple school maintained bythe government. It is composed of about fiftychildren, nearly all from poor families. Reading,writing, and arithmetic are taught there in two languages,French and Spanish. There is also the house ofthe French nuns, who have some young girls as boarders,and who have a class for day students. Thereis also a boarding school for young Creole girls,which was established about fifteen months ago....The Creole women lacking in general the talents thatadorn education have no taste for music, drawing or,embroidery, but in revenge they have an extreme passionfor dancing and would pass all their days and nightsat it.”

There was indeed some attendance at theatres as thesource of amusem*nt; but of the sources of culturalpleasure there were certainly very few. To ourFrench friend it was genuinely disgusting, and he relievedhis feelings in the following summary of fault-finding:“Few good musicians are to be seen here.There is only one single portrait painter, whose talentis suited to the walk of life where he employs it.Finally, in a city inhabited by ten thousand souls,as is New Orleans, I record it as a fact that notten truly learned men can be found.... There isfound here neither ship-yard, colonial post, college,nor public nor private library. Neither is therea book store, and, for good reasons, for a booksellerwould die of hunger in the midst of his books.”

With little of an intellectual nature to divert them,with the temptations incident to slavery and mixedraces on every hand, with a heritage of rather laxideas concerning sexual morality, the men of the daytoo frequently found their chief pastimes in feedingthe appetites of the flesh, and too often the womenforgot and forgave. To Berquin-Duvallon it allseems very strange and very crude. “I cannotaccustom myself to those great mobs, or to the oldcustom of the men (on these gala occasions or better,orgies) of getting more than on edge with wine, sothat they get fuddled even before the ladies, andafterward act like drunken men in the presence of thosebeautiful ladies, who, far from being offended atit, appear on the contrary to be amused by it.”And out of it all, out of these conditions formingso vivid a contrast to the average life of Massachusettsand Pennsylvania, grew this final dark picture—­onethat could not have been tolerated in the Anglo-Saxoncolonies of the North: “The most remarkable,as well as the most pathetic result of that gangrenousirregularity in this city is the exposing of a numberof white babies (sad fruits of a clandestine excess)who are sacrificed from birth by their guilty mothersto a false honor after they have sacrificed theirtrue honor to their unbridled inclination for a luxurythat destroys them.”

Thus, we have had glimpses of social life, with itspleasures, throughout the colonies. Perhaps,it was a trifle too cautious in Massachusetts, a littlefearful lest the mere fact that a thing was pleasantmight make it sinful; perhaps in early New York itwas a little too physical, though generally innocent,smacking a little too much of rich, heavy foods anddrink; perhaps among the Virginians it echoed toooften with the bay of the fox hound and the click ofracing hoofs. But certainly in the latter halfof the eighteenth century whether in Massachusetts,the Middle Colonies, or Virginia and South Carolinasocial activities often showed a culture, refinementand general eclat which no young nation needbe ashamed of, and which, in fact, were far abovewhat might justly have been expected in a country solittle touched by the hand of civilized man.In the main, those were wholesome, sane days in theEnglish colonies, and life offered almost as pleasanta journey to most Americans as it does to-day.


[153] Tyler: England in America, p. 115,American Nation Series.

[154] The Jeffersonian System, p. 218, AmericanNation Series.

[155] Ibid., p. 115.

[156] Page 89.

[157] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 227.

[158] Ravenel: Elisa Pinckney, p. 13.

[159] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 166.

[160] Ravenel: E. Pinckney, p. 20.

[161] Pages 46-48.

[162] Ravenal: Eliza Pinckney, p. 49.

[163] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 56.

[164] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 186.

[165] Page 205.

[166] Vol. I, p. 116.

[167] Vol. I, p. 31.

[168] Vol. I, p. 143.

[169] Vol. I, p. 171.

[170] Vol. I, p, 191.

[171] Diary, p. 189.

[172] Diary, p. 289.

[173] Diary, p. 321.

[174] Diary, p. 119.

[175] Diary, p. 54.

[176] Diary, p. 121.

[177] Diary, p. 69.

[178] Vol. III, p. 43.

[179] Vol. III, p. 341.

[180] Vol. II, p. 367.

[181] Vol. III, p. 7.

[182] Vol. II, p. 14.

[183] Vol. II, p. 20.

[184] Vol. II, p. 32.

[185] Vol. I, p. 481.

[186] Vol. I, p. 202.

[187] Vol. I, p. 195.

[188] Vol. II, p. 175.

[189] Vol. III, p. 292.

[190] Andrews: Colonial Self-Government,p. 302, American Nation Series.

[191] Diary, Vol. II, p. 109.

[192] Diary, Vol. I, p. 125.

[193] Diary, Vol. II, p. 158.

[194] Diary, Vol. I, p. 145.

[195] Diary, Vol. III, p. 244.

[196] Diary, Vol. III, p. 341.

[197] Diary, Vol. III, p. 143.

[198] Diary, Vol. I, p. 228.

[199] Diary, Vol. II, p. 216.

[200] Diary, Vol. I, p. 410.

[201] Diary, Vol. I, p. 157.

[202] Diary, Vol. I, p. 355.

[203] Diary, Vol. III, p. 316.

[204] Diary, Vol. III, p. 394.

[205] Diary, p. 60.

[206] Diary, p. 81.

[207] Vol. I, p. 159.

[208] Vol. III, p. 1.

[209] Vol. I, p. 223.

[210] Page 136.

[211] Page 33.

[212] Memoirs, p. 29.

[213] Memoirs: p. 53.

[214] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 35.

[215] Grant: Memoirs of an American Lady,pp. 55-57.

[216] Grant: Memoirs, p. 62.

[217a], [217b] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler,p. 77.

[218] Page 83.

[219] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.214.

[220] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.213.

[221] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.215.

[222] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.209.

[223] Page 195.

[224] Page 24.

[225] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 230.

[226] Page 45.

[227] Robertson: Louisiana under Spain, France,and U.S., Vol. I, p. 70.

[228] Robertson: Vol. I, p. 85.

[229] Robertson, Vol. I, p. 216.



I. New England Weddings

Of course, practically every American novel dealingwith the colonial period—­or any other period,for that matter—­closes with a marriage anda hint that they lived happily ever afterwards.Did they indeed? To satisfy our curiosity aboutthis point let us examine those early customs thatdealt with courtship, marriage, punishment for offensesagainst the marriage law, and the general status ofwoman after marriage.

For many years a wedding among the Puritans was avery quiet affair totally unlike the ceremony in theSouth, where feasting, dancing, and merry-making werealmost always accompaniments. For informationabout the occasion in Massachusetts we may, of course,turn to the inevitable Judge Sewall. As a guesthe saw innumerable weddings; as a magistrate he performedmany; as one of the two principal participants he tookpart in several. He has left us a record of hisown frequent courtships, of how he was rejected oraccepted, and of his life after the acceptances; andfrom it all one may make a rather fair analysis notonly of the conventional methods and domestic mannersof New England but also of the character and spiritof the other sex during such trying occasions.The evidence shows that while a young woman was generallygiven her choice of accepting or declining, the suitor,before offering his attentions, first asked permissionto do so from her parents or guardians. Thus amarriage seldom occurred in which the parents or otherinterested parties were left in ignorance as to thedesign, or ignored in the deciding of the choice.

Sewall offers us sufficient proof on this point:“Decr. 7, 1719. Mr. Cooper asks my Consentfor Judith’s Company; which I freely grant him.”“Feria Secunda, Octobr. 13, 1729. JudgeDavenport comes to me between 10 and 11 a-clock inthe morning and speaks to me on behalf of Mr. AddingtonDavenport, his eldest Son, that he might have Libertyto Wait upon Jane Hirst [his kinswoman] now at myHouse in way of Courtship."[230] And it should benoted that the parents of the young man took a keeninterest in the matter, and showed genuine appreciationthat their son was permitted to court with the fullsanction of the lady’s parents. Thus Sewallrecords: “Decr. 11. I and my Wife visitMr. Stoddard. Madam Stoddard Thank’d mefor the Liberty I granted her Son [Mr. Cooper] towait on my daughter Judith. I returned the Complimentand Kindness."[231]

It might well be conjectured that to toy with a girl’saffections was a serious matter. If the youngman attempted without consent of the young woman’sparents or guardian to make love to her, the audaciousyouth could be hailed into court, where it might indeedgo hard with him. Thus the records of SuffolkCounty Court for 1676 show that “John Lorin stood’convict on his own confession of making loveto Mary Willis without her parents consent and afterbeing forwarned by them, L5."[232]

But the lover might have his revenge; for if a stubbornfather proved unreasonable and refused to give a causefor not allowing a courtship, the young man couldbring the older one into court, and there compel himto allow love to take its own way, or state excellentreasons for objecting. Thus, in 1646 “RichardTaylor complained to the general Court of Plymouththat he was prevented from marrying Ruth Wheildon byher father Gabriel; but when before the court Gabrielyielded and promised no longer to oppose the marriage."[233]

And then, if the young gallant (may we dare call aPuritan beau that?) after having captured the girl’sheart, failed to abide by his engagement, woe betidehim; for into the court he and her father might go,and the young gentleman might come forth lacking severalpounds in money, if not in flesh. The Massachusettscolony records show, for instance, that the court“orders that Joyce Bradwicke shall give untoAlex. Becke the some of xxs, for promiseing himmarriage wthout her frends consent, & nowe refuseingto pforme the same."[234] Again, the Plymouth colonyrecords as quoted by Howard, state that “RichardSiluester, in the behaife of his dautheter, and DinahSiluester in the behaife of herseife ’to recovertwenty pounds and costs from John Palmer, for acteingfraudulently against the said Dinah, in not pforminghis engagement to her in point of marriage.’”“In 1735, a woman was awarded two hundred poundsand costs at the expense of her betrothed, who, afterjilting her, had married another, although he had firstbeguiled her into deeding him a piece of land ‘worthL100.’”

Serious as was the matter of the mere courtship, thefact that the dowry or marriage portion had to beconsidered made the act of marriage even more serious.The devout elders, who taught devotion to heavenlythings and scorn of the things of this world, neverthelesshaggled and wrangled long and stubbornly over a fewpounds more or less. Judge Sewall seems to haveprided himself on the friendly spirit and expeditenesswith which he settled such a matter. “Oct.13, 1729. Judge Davenport comes to me between10 and 11 a-clock in the morning and speaks to me onbehalf of Mr. Addington Davenport, his eldest Son,that he might have Liberty to Wait upon Jane Hirstnow at my House in way of Courtship. He told mehe would deal by him as his eldest Son, and more thanso. Inten’d to build a House where hisuncle Addington dwelt, for him; and that he shouldhave his Pue in the Old Meeting-house.... He saidMadam Addington Would wait upon me."[235]

Not only was provision thus made for the future financialcondition of the wedded, but also the possibilityof the death of either party after the day of marriagewas kept in mind, and a sum to be paid in such anemergency agreed upon. For example, Sewall recordsafter the death of his daughter Mary: “Tuesday,Febr. 19, 1711-2.... Dine with Mr. Gerrish, sonGerrish [Mary’s Husband], Mrs. Anne. Discoursewith the Father about my Daughter Mary’s Portion.I stood for making L550 doe; because now twas in sixparts, the Land was not worth so much. He urg’dfor L600, at last would split the L50. Finally,Febr. 20, I agreed to charge the House-Rent, and Differencesof Money, and make it up L600."[236]

II. Judge Sewall’s Courtships

The Judge’s own accounts of his many courtshipsand three marriages give us rather surprising glimpsesof the spirit and independence of colonial women,who, as pictured in the average book on American history,are generally considered weak, meek, and yielding.His wooing of Madam Winthrop, for instance, was longand arduous and ended in failure. She would notagree to his proffered marriage settlement; she demandedthat he keep a coach, which he could not afford; sheeven declared that his wearing of a wig was a prerequisiteif he obtained her for a wife. Mrs. Winthrophad been through marriage before, and she evidentlyknew how to test the man before accepting. Notat all a clinging vine type of woman, she well knewhow to take care of herself, and her manner, therefore,of accepting his attentions is indeed significant.Under date of October 23 we find in his Diarythis brief note: “My dear wife is inter’d”;and on February 26, he writes: “This morningwondering in my mind whether to live a single or amarried life."[237]

Then come his friends, interested in his physicaland spiritual welfare, and realizing that it is notwell for man to live alone, they begin to urge uponhim the benefits of wedlock. “March 14,1717. Deacon Marion comes to me, visits withme a great while in the evening; after a great dealof discourse about his Courtship—­He told[me] the Olivers said they wish’d I would Courttheir Aunt. I said little, but said twas notfive Moneths since I buried my dear Wife. Hadsaid before ’twas hard to know whether bestto marry again or no; whom to marry...."[238] “July7, 1718.... At night, when all were gone to bed,Cousin Moodey went with me into the new Hall, readthe History of Rebeckah’s Courtship, and pray’dwith me respecting my Widowed Condition."[239]

Thus urged to it, the lonely Judge pays court to Mrs.Denison but she will not have him. Naturallyhe has little to say about the rejection; but evidently,with undiscouraged spirit, he soon turns elsewhereand with success; for under date of October 29, 1719,we come across this entry: “ThanksgivingDay: between 6 and 7 Brother Moody & I went toMrs. Tilley’s, and about 7 or 8 were marriedby Mr. J. Sewall, in the best room below stairs.Mr. Prince prayed the second time. Mr. Adams,the minister at Newington was there, Mr. Oliver andMr. Timothy Clark.... Sung the 12, 13, 14, 15and 16 verses of the 90th Psalm. Cousin S. Sewallset Low-Dutch tune in a very good key.... Distributedcake...."[240a]

But his happiness was short-lived; for in May of thenext year this wife died, and, without wasting timein sentimental repining, he was soon on the searchfor a new companion. In August he was callingon Madam Winthrop and approached the subject withconsiderable subtlety: “Spake to her, saying,my loving wife died so soon and suddenly, ’twashardly convenient for me to think of marrying again;however I came to this resolution, that I would notmake my court to any person without first consultingwith her."[240b] Two months later he said: “Atlast I pray’d that Catherine [Mrs. Winthrop]might be the person assign’d for me....She ... took it up in the way of denial, saying shecould not do it before she was asked."[241a]

But, as stated above, Madam Winthrop was rather capriciousand, in popular parlance, she “kept him guessing.”Thus, we read:

“Madam seem’d to harp upon the same string....Must take care of her children; could not leave thathouse and neighborhood where she had dwelt so long....I gave her a piece of Mr. Belcher’s cake andgingerbread wrapped up in a clean sheet of paper...."[241b]

“In the evening I visited Madam Winthrop, whotreated me with a great deal of courtesy; wine, marmalade.I gave her a News-Letter about the Thanks-giving...."[242]

Two days later: “Madam Winthrop’scountenance was much changed from what ’twason Monday. Look’d dark and lowering....Had some converse, but very cold and indifferent towhat ’twas before.... She sent Juno homewith me, with a good lantern...."[243a]

A week passed, and “in the evening I visitedMadam Winthrop, who treated me courteously, but notin clean linen as sometimes.... Juno came homewith me...."[243b]

Again, several days later, he seeks the charming widow,and finds her “out.” He goes in searchof her. Finding her, he remains a few minutes,then suggests going home. “...She found occasionto speak pretty earnestly about my keeping a coach:... She spake something of my needing a wig...."[244]

Two days later when calling: “...I roseup at 11 o’clock to come away, saying I wouldput on my coat, she offer’d not to help me.I pray’d her that Juno might light me home,she open’d the shutter, and said ’twaspretty light abroad: Juno was weary and gone tobed. So I came home by star-light as well asI could...."[245]

The Judge was persistent, however, and called again.“I asked Madam what fashioned neck-lace I shouldpresent her with; she said none at all"[246] Evidentlysuch coolness chilled the ardor of his devotion, andhe records but one more visit of a courting nature.“Give her the remnant of my almonds; she didnot eat of them as before; but laid them away....The fire was come to one short brand besides the block... at last it fell to pieces, and no recruit wasmade.” The judge took the hint. “Tookleave of her.... Treated me courteously....Told her she had enter’d the 4th year of widowhood....Her dress was not so clean as sometime it had been.Jehovah jireh."[247]

A little later he turned his attention toward a Mrs.Ruggles; but by this time the Judge was known as apersistent suitor, and one hard to discourage, andit would seem that Mrs. Ruggles gave him no opportunityto push the matter. At length, however, he foundhis heart’s desire in a Mrs. Gibbs and, judgingfrom his Diary, was exceedingly pleased withhis choice.

III. Liberty to Choose

It seems clear that the virgin, as well as the widow,was given considerable liberty in making up her ownmind as to the choice of a life mate, and any generalconclusions that colonial women were practically forcedinto uncongenial marriages by the command of parentshas no documentary evidence whatever. For instance,Eliza Pinckney wrote in reply to her father’sinquiry about her marriageable possibilities:

“As you propose Mr. L. to meI am sorry I can’t have Sentiments favourableenough to him to take time to think on the Subject,as your Indulgence to me will ever add weightto the duty that obliges me to consult that bestpleases you, for so much Generosity on your partclaims all my Obedience. But as I know ’tismy Happiness you consult, I must beg the favour ofyou to pay my compliments to the old Gentlemanfor his Generosity and favorable Sentiments ofme, and let him know my thoughts on the affairin such civil terms as you know much better than Ican dictate; and beg leave to say to you thatthe riches of Chili and Peru put together, ifhe had them could not purchase a sufficient Esteemfor him to make him my husband.
“As to the other Gentleman youmention, Mr. W., you know, sir, I have so slighta knowledge of him I can form no judgment, and a caseof such consequence requires the nicest distinctionof humours and Sentiments.
“But give me leave to assureyou, my dear Sir, that a single life is my onlyChoice;—­and if it were not as I am yet buteighteen hope you will put aside the thoughtsof my marrying yet these two or three years atleast.
“You are so good as to say youhave too great an opinion of my prudence to thinkI would entertain an indiscreet passion for any one,and I hope Heaven will direct me that I may never disappointyou...."[248]

Even timid, shrinking Betty Sewall, who as a childwas so troubled over her spiritual state, was notforced to accept an uncongenial mate; although, ofcourse, the old judge thought she must not remain inthe unnatural condition of a spinster. When shewas seventeen her first suitor appeared, with herfather’s permission, of course; for the Judgehad investigated the young man’s financial standing,and had found him worth at least L600. To preparethe girl for the ordeal, her father took her intohis study and read her the story of the mating of Adamand Eve, “as a soothing and alluring preparationfor the thought of matrimony.” But poorBetty, frightened out of her wits, fled as the hourfor the lover’s appearance neared, and hid ina coach in the stable. The Judge duly recordsthe incident: “Jany Fourth-day, at nightCapt. Tuthill comes to speak with Betty, whohid herself all alone in the coach for several hourstill he was gone, so that we sought at several houses,then at last came in of her self, and look’dvery wild."[249]

Necessarily, this suitor was dismissed, and a Mr.Hirst next appeared, but Betty could not consent tohis courtship, and the father mournfully notes thebelief that this second young man had “takenhis final leave.” A few days later, however,the Judge writes her as follows:

“Mr. Hirst waits upon you oncemore to see if you can bid him welcome.It ought to be seriously considered, that your drawingback from him after all that has passed betweenyou, will be to your Prejudice; and will tendto discourage persons of worth from making theirCourt to you. And you had need to consider whetheryou are able to bear his final Leaving of you,howsoever it may seem gratefull to you at present.When persons come toward us, we are apt to lookupon their Undesirable Circ*mstances mostly; and thereforeto shun them. But when persons retire from usfor good and all, we are in danger of lookingonly on that which is desirable in them to ourwoefull Disquiet.... I do not see but thatthe Match is well liked by judicious persons, and suchas are your Cordial Friends, and mine also.
“Yet notwithstanding, if youfind in yourself an imovable incurable Aversionfrom him, and cannot love, and honour, and obeyhim, I shall say no more, nor give you any furthertrouble in this matter. It had better beoff than on. So praying God to pardon us,and pity our Undeserving, and to direct and strengthenand settle you in making a right Judgment, andgiving a right Answer, I take leave, who, am,dear child, your loving father...."[250]

IV. The Banns and the Ceremony

After the formal engagement, when the dowry and contracthad been agreed upon and signed, the publishing ofthe banns occurred. Probably this custom wasgeneral throughout the colonies; indeed, the Churchof England required it in Virginia and South Carolina;the Catholics demanded it in Maryland; the Dutch inNew York and the Quakers in Pennsylvania sanctionedit. Sewall mentions the ceremony several times,and evidently looked upon it as a proper, if not arequired, procedure.

And who performed the marriage ceremony in those olddays? To-day most Americans look upon it as anoffice of the clergyman, although a few turn to acivil officer in this hour of need; but in the earlyyears of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Coloniesit is highly probable that only a magistrate was allowedto marry the contracting parties. Those firstAmerican Puritans had a fear of church ceremony, andfor some years conducted both weddings and funeralswithout the formal services of a preacher. ByJudge Sewall’s time, either clergyman or magistratemight perform the office; but all symptoms of formalityor worldly pomp were frowned upon, and the union wasmade generally with the utmost simplicity and quietness.We may turn again to the Judge’s Diary for briefpictures of the equally brief ceremony:

“Tuesday, 1688.Mr. Nath. Newgate Marries Mr. Lynds Daughter
before Mr. Ratcliff,with Church of England Ceremonies."[251]

“Thorsday, Oct.4th, 1688. About 5 P.M. Mr. Willard (thepastor)
married Mr. Samuel Danforthand Mrs. Hannah Alien."[252]

“Feb. 24, 1717-8.In the evening I married Joseph Marsh.... I
gave them a glass ofCanary.”

“Apr. 4, 1718....In the evening I married Chasling Warrick and
Esther Bates...."[253]

It seems that the Judge himself inclined toward theview that a wedding was essentially a civil, and notan ecclesiastical affair, and he even went so faras to introduce a rule having certain magistrates chosenfor the duty, but, unluckily, the preachers won thecontest and almost took this particular power awayfrom the civil officers. The Judge refers thusto the matter: “Nov. 4, 1692. Law passesfor Justices and Ministers Marrying Persons.By order of the Committee, I had drawn up a Bill forJustices and such others as the Assembly should appointto marry; but came new-drawn and thus alter’d

from the Deputies. It seems they count the respectof it too much to be left any longer with the Magistrate.And Salaries are not spoken of; as if one sort of Menmight live on the Aer...."[254] Apparently up to thisdate the magistrates had possessed rather a monopolyon the marriage market, and Sewall was justly worriedover this new turn in affairs. Betty, however,who had finally accepted Mr. Hirst, was married bya clergyman, as the following entry testifies:“Oct. 17, 1700.... In the following EveningMr. Grove Hirst and Elizabeth Sewall are married byMr. Cotton Mather."[255]

The nearest that the Puritans of the day seem to haveapproached earthly hilarity on such occasions wasin the serving of simple refreshments. Strangeto say, the pious Judge almost smacks his lips ashe records the delicacies served at one of the weddings:“Many of the Council went and wish’d Col.Fitch joy of his daughter Martha’s marriagewith Mr. James Allen. Had good Bride-Cake, goodWine, Burgundy and Canary, good Beer, Oranges, Pears."[256]Again, in recording the marriage of his daughter Judith,he notes that “we had our Cake and sack-posset.”Still again: “May 8th, 1712. At night,Dr. Increase Mather married Mr. Sam Gerrish, and Mrs.Sarah Coney; Dr. Cotton Mather pray’d last....Had Gloves, Sack-Posset, and Cake...."[257]

Of course, as time went on, the good people of Massachusettsbecame more worldly and three quarters of a centuryafter Sewall noted the above, some weddings had becomeso noisy that the godly of the old days might wellhave considered such affairs as riotous. For example,Judge Pynchon records on January 2, 1781: “Tuesday,... A smart firing is heard today. (Mr.Brooks is married to Miss Hathorne, a daughter of Mr.Estey), and was as loud, and the rejoicing near asgreat as on the marriage of Robt. Peas, celebratedlast year; the fiddling, dancing, etc., aboutequal in each."[258]

V. Matrimonial Restrictions

Necessarily, the laws dealing with wedlock were exceedinglystrict in all the colonies; for there were many recklessimmigrants to America, many of whom had left a badreputation in the old country and were not buildinga better one in the new. It was no uncommon thingfor men and women who were married in England to poseas unmarried in the colonies, and the charge of bigamyfrequently appears in the court records of the period.Sometimes the magistrates “punished” theman by sending him back to his wife in England, butthere seems to be no record of a similar form of punishmentfor a woman who had forgotten her distant spouse.Strange to say, there are instances of the fining,month by month, of unmarried couples living togetheras man and wife—­a device still imitatedby some of our city courts in dealing with inmatesof disorderly houses. All in all, the saintlyof those old days had good cause for believing thatthe devil was continuously seeking entrance into theirdomain.

Some of the laws seem unduly severe. Marriagewith cousins or other near relatives was frowned upon,and even the union of persons who were not consideredrespectable according to the community standard wasunlawful. Sewall notes his sentiments concerningthe marriage of close relatives:

“Dec. 25, 1691.... The marriageof Hana Owen with her Husband’s Brotheris declar’d null by the Court of Assistants.She commanded not to entertain him; enjoin’dto make a Confession at Braintrey before theCongregation on Lecture day, or Sabbath, pay Feesof Court, and prison, & to be dismiss’d...."[259]
“May 7, 1696. Col.Shrimpton marries his Son to his Wive’s Sistersdaughter, Elisabeth Richardson. All of the Councilin Town were invited to the Wedding, and manyothers. Only I was not spoken to. AsI was glad not to be there because the lawfullnessof the intermarrying of Cousin-Germans is doubted...."[260]

VI. Spinsters

It is a source of astonishment to a modern readerto find at what a youthful age girls of colonial daysbecame brides. Large numbers of women were weddedat sixteen, and if a girl remained home until hereighteenth birthday the Puritan parents began to losehope. There were comparatively few unmarriedpeople, and it would seem that bachelors and spinsterswere viewed with some suspicion. The fate of anold maid was indeed a sad one; for she must spendher days in the home of her parents or of her brothers,or eke out her board by keeping a dame’s school,and if she did not present a mournful countenancethe greater part of the populace was rather astonished.Note, for instance, the tone of surprise in this commenton an eighteenth century spinster of Boston:

“It is true, an old (orsuperannuated) maid in Boston is thought sucha curse, as nothing can exceed it (and looked on asa dismal spectacle); yet she, by her goodnature, gravity, and strict virtue, convincesall (so much as the fleering Beaus) that it isnot her necessity, but her choice, that keeps her aVirgin. She is now about thirty years (theage which they call a Thornback), yetshe never disguises herself, and talks as littleas she thinks of Love. She never reads any Playsor Romances, goes to no Balls, or Dancing-match,as they do who go (to such Fairs) in order tomeet with Chapmen. Her looks, her speech,her whole behaviour, are so very chaste, that but oneat Governor’s Island, where we went tobe merry at roasting a hog, going to kiss her,I thought she would have blushed to death.
“Our Damsel knowing this,her conversation is generally amongst the Women... so that I found it no easy matter to enjoy hercompany, for some of her time (save what was takenup in Needle-work and learning French, etc.)was spent in Religious Worship. She knewTime was a dressing-room for Eternity, and thereforereserves most of her hours for better uses than thoseof the Comb, the Toilet, and the Glass."[261]

VII. Separation and Divorce

It may be a matter of surprise to the ultra-modernthat there were not, in those days, more old maidsor women who hesitated long before entering into matrimony,for marriage was almost invariably for life.There were of course, some separations, and now andthen a divorce, but since unfaithfulness was practicallythe only reason that a court would consider, therewas but little opportunity for the exercise of thismodern legal form of freedom. Moreover, the magistratesruled that the guilty person might not remarry; butalthough they strove zealously in some sections toenforce this rule, the rougher members of societyeasily evaded it by moving into another colony.Sewall makes mention of applications for divorce;but when such a catastrophe seemed imminent in hisown family he opposed it strongly.

Let us examine this case, not for the purpose of impudentlystaring at the family skeleton in the good old Judge’scloset, but that we may see that wedlock was not always“one glad, sweet song,” even in Puritandays. His eldest son Samuel had such serious difficultieswith the woman whom he married that at length thecouple separated and lived apart for several years.The pious judge worried and fretted over the scandalfor a long while; but, of course, such affairs willhappen in even the best of families. The recordof the marriage runs as follows: “September15, 1702. Mr. Nehemiah Walter marries Mr. Sam.Sewall and Mrs. Rebekah Dudley.” EvidentlyMrs. Rebekah Dudley Sewall was not so meek as theaverage Puritan wife is generally pictured; for onFebruary 13, 1712, the judge noted: “Whenmy daughter alone, I ask’d her what might bethe cause of my Son’s Indisposition, are youso kindly affectioned one towards one another as youshould be? She answer’d I do my Duty.I said no more...."[262a]

Six days later the troubled father wrote: “Lecture-day,son S. Goes to Meeting, speaks to Mr. Walter.I also speak to him to dine. He could not; butsaid he would call before he went home. When hecame he discours’d largly with my son....Friends talk to them both, and so come together again."[262a]

Two days later: “Daughter Sewall callsand gives us a visit; I went out to carry my Lettersto Savil’s.... While I was absent, My Wifeand Daughter Sewall had very sharp discourse; Shewholly justified herself, and said, if it were notfor her, no Maid could be able to dwell at their house.At last Daughter Sewall burst out with Tears, and call’dfor the Calash. My wife relented also, and saidshe did not design to grieve her."[263]

Evidently affairs went from bad to worse, even tothe point where Sam ate his meals alone and probablyprepared them too; for the Judge at length notes inhis Diary: “I goe to Brooklin, meetmy daughter Sewall going to Roxbury with Hanah....Sam and I dined alone. Daughter return’dbefore I came away. I propounded to her that Mr.Walter (the pastor) might be desired to come to themand pray with them. She seemed not to like thenotion, said she knew not wherefore she should be call’dbefore a Minister.... I urg’d him as thefittest Moderator; the Govr. or I might be thoughtpartial. She pleaded her performance of Duty,and how much she had born...."[264]

It is apparent that the spirit of independence, ifnot of stubbornness, was strong in Mrs. Samuel, Jr.At length, what seems to have been the true motive,jealousy on the part of the husband, appears in therecord by the father, and from all the evidence Samuelmight well be jealous, as future events will show.To return to the Diary: “Sam andhis Wife dine here, go home together in the Calash.William Ilsly rode and pass’d by them.My son warn’d him not to lodge at his house;Daughter said she had as much to doe with the houseas he. Ilsly lodg’d there. Sam grewso ill on Satterday, that instead of going to Roxburyhe was fain between Meetings to take his Horse, andcome hither; to the surprise of his Mother who wasat home...."[265] A few days later: “Samis something better; yet full of pain; He told mewith Tears that these sorrows would bring him to hisGrave...."[266]

It appears that the daughter-in-law was, for the mostpart, silent but vigilant; for about five weeks afterthe above entry Judge Sewall records: “MySon Joseph and I visited my Son at Brooklin, sat withmy Daughter in the chamber some considerable time,Drank Cider, eat Apples. Daughter said nothingto us of her Grievances, nor we to her...."[267] Thelady, however, while she might control her tongue,could not control her pen, and just when harmony wason the point of being restored, a letter from hergave the affair a most serious backset. “SonSewall intended to go home on the Horse Tom brought,sent some of his Linen by him; but when I came toread his wive’s letter to me, his Mother wasvehemently against his going: and I was for considering....Visited Mr. Walter, staid long with him, read my daughtersLetters to her Husband and me; yet he still advis’dto his going home.... My wife can’t yetagree to my Son’s going home...."[268]

Sam seems to have remained at his father’s home.The matter was taken up by the parents, apparentlyin the hope that they with their greater wisdom mightbe able to bring about an understanding. “Wenta foot to Roxbury. Govr. Dudley was gonto his Mill. Staid till he came home. Iacquainted him what my Business was; He and Madam Dudleyboth reckon’d up the Offenses of my Son; andHe the Virtues of his Daughter. And alone, mention’dto me the hainous faults of my wife, who the very firstword ask’d my daughter why she married my Sonexcept she lov’d him? I saw no possibilityof my Son’s return; and therefore asked thathe would make some Proposals, and so left it...."[269]

Thus the months lengthened into years, and still thecouple were apart. Meanwhile the scandal wasincreased by the birth of a child to the wife.Samuel had left her on January 22, 1714, and did notreturn to her until March 3, 1718; apparently thechild was born during the summer of 1717. TheJudge, in sore straits, records on August 29, 1717;“Went, according, after a little waiting onsome Probat business to Govr. Dudley. Isaid my Son had all along insisted that Caution shouldbe given, that the infant lately born should not bechargeable to his Estate. Govr. Dudley noways came into it; but said ’twas best as ’twasno body knew whose ’twas [word illegible,] tobring it up."[270]

Whether or not the disgrace shortened the life ofMother Sewall we shall never know; but the fact isrecorded that she died on October 23, 1717. Therefollows a rather lengthy silence concerning Sam’saffairs, and at length on February 24, 1718, we notethe following good news: “My Son Sam Sewalland his Wife Sign and Seal the Writings in order tomy Son’s going home. Govr. Dudleyand I Witnesses, Mr. Sam Lynde took, the Acknowledgment.I drank to my Daughter in a Glass of Canary. Govr.Dudley took me into the Old Hall and gave me L100 inThree-pound Bills of Credit, new ones, for my Son,told me on Monday, he would perform all that he hadpromised to Mr. Walter. Sam agreed to go homenext Monday, his wife sending the Horse for him.Joseph pray’d with his Bror and me. Note.This was my Wedding Day. The Lord succeed andturn to good what we have been doing...."[271]

Is it not evident that at least in some instanceswomen in colonial days were not the meek and sweetlyhumble creatures so often described in history, fiction,and verse?

VIII. Marriage in Pennsylvania

If there was any approach toward laxness in the marriagelaws of the colonies, it may have been in Pennsylvania.Ben Franklin confesses very frankly that his wife’sformer husband had deserted her, and that no divorcehad been obtained. There was a decidedly indefiniterumor that the former spouse had died, and Ben consideredthis sufficient. The case was even more complicated,but perhaps Franklin thought that one ill cured another.As he states in his Autobiography:

“Our mutual affection was revived, but therewere no great objections to our union. The matchwas indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wifebeing said to be living in England; but this couldnot easily be prov’d, because of the distance,and tho’ there was a report of his death, itwas not certain. Then, tho’ it should betrue, he had left many debts, which his successormight be call’d upon to pay. We ventured,however, over all these difficulties, and I took herto wife Sept. 1st, 1730."[272]

Among the Quakers the marriage ceremony consistedsimply of the statement of a mutual pledge by thecontracting parties in the presence of the congregation,and, this being done, all went quietly about theirbusiness without ado or merry-making. The pledgerecited by the first husband of Dolly Madison wasdoubtless a typical one among the Friends of Pennsylvania:“’I, John Todd, do take thee, DorotheaPayne, to be my wedded wife, and promise, throughdivine assistance, to be unto thee a loving husband,until separated by death.’ The bride infainter tones echoed the vow, and then the certificateof marriage was read, and the register signed by anumber of witnesses...."[273]

Doubtless the courtship among these early Quakerswas brief and calm, but among the Moravians of thesame colony it was so brief as to amount to none atall. Hear Franklin’s description of themanner of choosing a wife in this curious sect:“I inquir’d concerning the Moravian marriages,whether the report was true that they were by lot.I was told that lots were us’d only in particularcases; that generally, when a young man found himselfdispos’d to marry, he inform’d the eldersof his class, who consulted the elder ladies thatgovern’d the young women. As these eldersof the different sexes were well acquainted with thetemper and dipositions of the respective pupils, theycould best judge what matches were suitable, and theirjudgments were generally acquiesc’d in; but,if, for example, it should happen that two or threeyoung women were found to be equally proper for theyoung man, the lot was then recurred to. I objected,if the matches are not made by the mutual choice ofthe parties, some of them may chance to be very unhappy.’And so they may,’ answer’d my informer,’if you let the parties chuse for themselves.’"[274]

We have seen that the Dutch of New York did let them“chuse for themselves,” even while theywere yet children. The forming of the childreninto companies, and the custom of marrying within aparticular company seemingly was an excellent plan;for it appears that as the years passed the childrengrew toward each other; they learned each other’slikes and dislikes; they had become true helpmateslong before the wedding. As Mrs. Grant observes:“Love, undiminished by any rival passion, andcherished by innocence and candor, was here fixed bythe power of early habit, and strengthened by similarityof education, tastes, and attachments. Inconstancy,or even indifference among married couples, was unheardof, even where there happened to be a considerabledisparity in point of intellect. The extreme affectionthey bore to their mutual offspring was a bond thatforever endeared them to each other. Marriagein this colony was always early, very often happy.When a man had a son, there was nothing to be expectedwith a daughter, but a well brought-up female slave,and the furniture of the best bedchamber...."[275]

IX. Marriage in the South

In colonial Virginia and South Carolina weddings wereseldom, if ever, performed by a magistrate; the publicsentiment created by the Church of England demandedthe offices of a clergyman. Far more was madeof a wedding in these Southern colonies than in NewEngland, and after the return from the church, theguests often made the great mansion shake with theirmerry-making. No aristocratic marriage would havebeen complete without dancing and hearty refreshments,and many a new match was made in celebrating a presentone.

The old story of how the earlier settlers purchasedtheir wives with from one hundred twenty to one hundredfifty pounds of tobacco per woman—­a poundof sotweed for a pound of flesh,—­is toowell known to need repetition here; suffice to sayit did not become a custom. Nor is there anyreason to believe that marriages thus brought aboutwere any less happy than those resulting from prolongedcourtships. These girls were strong, healthy,moral women from crowded England, and they came preparedto do their share toward making domestic life a success.American books of history have said much about theso-called indented women who promised for their shipfare from England to serve a certain number of monthsor years on the Virginia plantations; but the earlyrecords of the colonies really offer rather scant information.This was but natural; for such women had but littlein common with the ladies of the aristocratic circle,and there was no apparent reason for writing extensivelyabout them. But it should not be thought thatthey were always rough, uncouth, enslaved creatures.The great majority were decent women of the Englishrural class, able and willing to do hard work, butunable to find it in England. Many of them, afterserving their time, married into respectable families,and in some instances reared children who became menand women of considerable note. There can belittle doubt that while paying for their ship-farethey labored hard, and sometimes were forced to minglewith the negroes and the lowest class of white menin heavy toil. John Hammond, a Marylander, whohad great admiration for his adopted land, tried toignore this point, but the evidence is rather againsthim. Says he in his Leah and Rachel of1656:

“The Women are not (as reported) put into theground to worke, but occupie such domestique imploymentsand housewifery as in England, that is dressing victuals,righting up the house, milking, imployed about dayries,washing, sowing, etc., and both men and womenhave times of recreations, as much or more than inany part of the world besides, yet some wenches thatare nasty, beastly and not fit to be so imployed areput into the ground, for reason tells us, they mustnot at charge be transported, and then maintainedfor nothing.”

Of course among the lower rural classes not only ofthe South, but of the Middle Colonies, a wedding wasan occasion for much coarse joking, horse-play, andrough hilarity, such as bride-stealing, carousing,and hideous serenades with pans, kettles, and skilletlids. Especially was this the case among thefarming class of Connecticut, where the marriage festivitiesfrequently closed with damages both to person and toproperty.

X. Romance in Marriage

Perhaps to the modern woman the colonial marriage,with its fixed rules of courtship, the permissionto court, the signed contract and the dowry, seemsdecidedly commonplace and unromantic; but, after all,this is not a true conclusion. The colonistsloved as ardently as ever men and women have, andthey found as much joy, and doubtless of as lastinga kind, in the union, as we moderns find. Manybits of proof might be cited. Hear, for instance,how Benedict Arnold proposed to his beloved Peggy:

“Dear Madam: Twenty timeshave I taken up my pen to write to you, and asoften has my trembling hand refused to obey the dictatesof my heart—­a heart which, though calmand serene amidst the clashing of arms and allthe din and horrors of war, trembles with diffidenceand the fear of giving offence when it attempts toaddress you on a subject so important to his happiness.Dear Madam, your charms have lighted up a flamein my bosom which can never be extinguished;your heavenly image is too deeply impressed everto be effaced....
“On you alone my happiness depends,and will you doom me to languish in despair?Shall I expect no return to the most sincere,ardent, and disinterested passion? Do you feelno pity in your gentle bosom for the man whowould die to make you happy?...
“Consider before you doom meto misery, which I have not deserved but by lovingyou too extravgantly. Consult your own happiness,and if incompatible, forget there is so unhappya wretch; for may I perish if I would give youone moment’s inquietude to purchase thegreatest possible felicity to myself. Whatevermy fate is, my most ardent wish is for your happiness,and my latest breath will be to implore the blessingof heaven on the idol and only wish of my soul....”

And Alexander Hamilton wrote this of his “Betty”:“I suspect ... that if others knew the charmof my sweetheart as I do, I would have a great numberof competitors. I wish I could give you an ideaof her. You have no conception of how sweet agirl she is. It is only in my heart that herimage is truly drawn. She has a lovely form, andstill more lovely mind. She is all Goodness,the gentlest, the dearest, the tenderest of her sex—­Ah,Betsey, How I love her...."[276]

And let those who doubt that there was romance inthe wooing of the old days read the story of AgnesSurrage, the humble kitchen maid, who, while scrubbingthe tavern floor, attracted the attention of handsomeHarry Frankland, custom officer of Boston, scion ofa noble English family. With a suspiciously suddeninterest in her, he obtained permission from her parentsto have her educated, and for a number of years shewas given the best training and culture that moneycould purchase. Then, when she was twenty-four,Frankland wished to marry her; but his proud familywould not consent, and even threatened to disinherithim. The couple, in despair, defied all conventionalities,and Frankland took her to live with him at his Bostonresidence. Conservative Boston was properly scandalized—­somuch so that the lovers retired to a beautiful countryhome near the city, where for some time they livedin what the New Englanders considered ungodly happiness.Then the couple visited England, hoping that the elderFranklands would forgive, but the family snubbed thebeautiful American, and made life so unpleasant forher that young Frankland took her to Madrid. Finallyat Lisbon the crisis came; for in the terrors of thefamous earthquake he was injured and separated fromher, and in his misery he vowed that when he foundher, he would marry her in spite of all. Thishe did, and upon their return to Boston they werereceived as kindly as before they had been scornfullyrejected.

Mrs. Frankland became a prominent member of society,was even presented at Court, and for some years waslooked upon as one of the most lovable women residingin London. When in 1768 her husband died, shereturned to America, and made her home at Boston,where in Revolutionary days she suffered so greatlythrough her Tory inclinations that she fled once moreto England. What more pleasing romance could onewant? It has all the essentials of the old-fashionednovel of love and adventure.

XI. Feminine Independence

Certainly in the above instance we have once morean independence on the part of colonial woman certainlynot emphasized in the books on early American history.As Humphreys says in Catherine Schuyler:“The independence of the modern girl seems paleand ineffectual beside that of the daughters of theRevolution.” There is, for instance, thesaucy woman told of in Garden’s Anecdotesof the Revolutionary War: “Mrs. DanielHall, having obtained permission to pay a visit toher mother on John’s Island, was on the pointof embarking, when an officer, stepping forward, inthe most authoritative manner, demanded the key ofher trunk. ‘What do you expect to findthere?’ said the lady. ’I seek fortreason,’ was the reply. ’You maysave yourself the trouble of searching, then,’said Mrs. Hall; ’for you can find a plenty ofit at my tongue’s end.’”

The daughters of General Schuyler certainly showedindependence; for of the four, only one, Elisabeth,wife of Hamilton, was married with the father’sconsent, and in his home. Shortly after the battleof Saratoga the old warrior announced the marriageof his eldest daughter away from home, and showedhis chagrin in the following expression: “Carterand my eldest daughter ran off and were married onthe 23rd of July. Unacquainted with his familyconnections and situation in life, the matter wasexceedingly disagreeable, and I signified it to them.”Six years later, the charming Peggy eloped, when therewas no reason for it, with Steven Rensselaer, a manwho afterwards became a powerful leader in New Yorkcommercial and political movements. The thirdescapade, that of Cornelia, was still more romantic;for, having attended the wedding of Eliza Morton inNew Jersey, she met the bride’s brother and promptlyfell in love with him. Her father as promptlyrefused to sanction the match, and demanded that thegirl have nothing to do with the young man. Oneevening not long afterwards, as Humphreys describesit, two muffled figures appeared under Miss Cornelia’swindow. At a low whistle, the window softly opened,and a rope was thrown up. Attached to the ropewas a rope ladder, which, making fast, like a veritableheroine of romance the bride descended. Theywere driven to the river, where a boat was waitingto take them across. On the other side was thecoach-and-pair. They were then driven thirtymiles across country to Stockbridge, where an old

friend of the Morton family lived. The affairhad gone too far. The Judge sent for a neighboringminister, and the runaways were duly married.So flagrant a breach of the paternal authority wasnot to be hastily forgiven.... As in the caseof the other runaways, the youthful Mortons disappointedexpectation, by becoming important householders andtaking a prominent place in the social life of NewYork, where Washington Morton achieved some distinctionat the bar.[277]

It is evident that in affairs of love, if not in numerousother phases of life, colonial women had much libertyand if the liberty were denied them, took affairsinto their own hands, and generally attained theirheart’s desire.

XII. Matrimonial Advice

Through the letters of the day many hints have comedown to us of what colonial men and women deemed importantin matters of love and marriage. Thus, we findWashington writing Nelly Custis, warning her to bewareof how she played with the human heart—­especiallyher own. Women wrote many similar warnings forthe benefit of their friends or even for the benefitof themselves. Jane Turrell early in the eighteenthcentury went so far as to write down a set of rulesgoverning her own conduct in such affairs, and someof these have come down to us through her husband’sMemoir of her:

“I would admitthe addresses of no person who is not descended of
pious and credible parents.”

“Who has not thecharacter of a strict moralist, sober,
temperate, just andhonest.”

“Diligent in his business, andprudent in matters. Of a sweet and agreeabletemper; for if he be owner of all the former goodqualifications, and fails here, my life will bestill uncomfortable.”

Whether the first of these rules would have amountedto anything if she had suddenly been attracted bya man of whose ancestry she knew nothing, is doubtful;but the catalog of regulations shows at least thatthe girls of colonial days did some thinking for themselveson the subject of matrimony, and did not leave thematter to their elders to settle.

XIII. Matrimonial Irregularities

There is one rather unpleasant phase of the marriagequestion of colonial days that we may not in justiceomit, and that is the irregular marriage or unionand the punishment for it and for the violation ofthe marriage vow. No small amount of testimonyfrom diaries and records has come down to us to provethat such irregularities existed throughout all thecolonies. Indeed, the evidence indicates thatthis form of crime was a constant source of irritationto both magistrates and clergy.

The penalty for adultery in early Massachusetts waswhipping at the cart’s tail, branding, banishment,or even death. It is a common impression thatthe larger number of colonists were God-fearing peoplewho led upright, blameless lives, and this impressionis correct; few nations have ever had so high a percentageof men of lofty ideals. It is natural, therefore,that such people should be most severe in dealingwith those who dared to lower the high morality ofthe new commonwealths dedicated to righteousness.But even the Puritans and Cavaliers were merely human,and crime would enter in spite of all effortsto the contrary. Bold adventurers, disreputablespirits, men and women with little respect for thelaws of man or of God, crept into their midst; manyof the immigrants to the Middle and Southern Colonieswere refugees from the streets and prisons of London;some of the indented servants had but crude notionsof morality; sometimes, indeed, the Old Adam, suppressedfor generations, broke out in even the most respectableof godly families.

Both Sewall and Winthrop have left records of graveoffences and transgressions against social decency.About 1632 a law was passed in Massachusetts punishingadultery with death, and Winthrop notes that at the“court of assistants such an act was adoptedthough it could not at first be enforced."[278] In1643 he records:

“At this court of assistants one James Britton... and Mary Latham, a proper young woman about 18years of age ... were condemned to die for adultery,upon a law formerly made and published in print...."[279]

A year or two before this he records: “Anothercase fell out about Mr. Maverick of Nottles Island,who had been formerly fined L100 for giving entertainmentto Mr. Owen and one Hale’s wife who had escapedout of prison, where they had been put for notorioussuspicion of adultery.” The editor adds,“Sarah Hales, the wife of William Hales, wascensured for her miscarriage to be carried to thegallows with a rope about her neck, and to sit anhour upon the ladder; the rope’s end flung overthe gallows, and after to be banished."[280]

Some women in Massachusetts actually paid the penaltyof death. Then, too, as late as Sewall’sday we find mention of severe laws dealing with inter-marriageof relatives: “June 14, 1695: The Billagainst Incest was passed with the Deputies, fourand twenty Nos, and seven and twenty Yeas. TheMinisters gave in their Arguments yesterday, else ithad hardly gon, because several have married theirwives sisters, and the Deputies thought it hard topart them. ’Twas concluded on the otherhand, that not to part them, were to make the Law abortive,by begetting in people a conceipt that such Marriageswere not against the Law of God."[281]

The use of the death penalty for adultery seems, however,to have ceased before the days of Sewall’s Diary:for, though he often mentions the crime, he makesno mention of such a punishment. The custom ofexecution for far less heinous offences was prevalentin the seventeenth century, as any reader of Defoeand other writers of his day is well aware, and certainlythe American colonists cannot be blamed for exercisingthe severest laws against offenders of so seriousa nature against society. The execution of awoman was no unusual act anywhere in the world duringthe seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the Americansdid not hesitate to give the extreme penalty to femalecriminals. Sewall rather cold-bloodedly recordsa number of such executions and reveals absolutelyno spirit of protest.

“Thorsday, June8, 1693. Elisabeth Emerson of Haverhill and a
Negro Woman were executedafter Lecture, for murdering their
Infant children."[282]

“Monday, 7r, 11th....The Mother of a Bastard Child condemn’d for
murthering it...."[283]

“Sept. 25th, 1691.Elisabeth Clements of Haverhill is tried for
murdering her two femalebastard children...."[284]

“Friday, July10th, 1685.... Mr. Stoughton also told me of George
Car’s wife beingwith child by another Man, tells the Father,
Major Pike sends herdown to Prison. Is the Governour’s
Grandchild by his daughterCotton...."[285]

From the court records in Howard’s Historyof Matrimonial Institutions we learn: “’In1648 the Corte acquit Elisa Pennion of the capitalloffence charged upon her by 2 sevrall inditements foradultery,’ but sentence her to be ‘whiped’in Boston, and again at ’Linn wthin one month.’”“On a special verdict by the jury the assistantssentenced Elizabeth Hudson and Bethia Bulloine (Bullen)’married women and sisters,’ to ’beby the Marshall Generall ... on ye next lecture daypresently after the lecture carried to the Gallowes& there by ye Executioner set on the ladder & witha Roape about her neck to stand on the Gallowes anhalf houre & then brought ... to the market place &be seriously whipt wth tenn stripes or pay the Sumeof tenn pounds’ standing committed till thesentence be performed.’"[286]

When punishment by death came to be considered toosevere and when the crime seemed to deserve more thanwhipping, the guilty one was frequently given a markof disgrace by means of branding, so that for alltime any one might see and think upon the penalty forsuch a sin. All modern readers are familiar withthe Salem form—­the scarlet letter—­madeso famous by Hawthorne, a mark sometimes sewed uponthe bosom or the sleeve of the dress, sometimes burntinto the flesh of the breast. Howard, who hasmade such fruitful search in the history of marriage,presents several specimens of this strange kind ofpunishment:

“In 1639 in Plymouth a womanwas sentenced to ’be whipt at a cart tayle’through the streets, and to ’weare a badge uponher left sleeue during her aboad’ withinthe government. If found at any time abroadwithout the badge, she was to be ’burned in theface with a hott iron.’ Two yearslater a man and a woman for the same offence(adultery) were severely whipped ‘at the publikpost’ and condemned while in the colonyto wear the letters AD ’upon the outsideof their vppermost garment, in the most emenent placethereof.’"[287]
“The culprit is to be ’publicklyset on the Gallows in the Day Time, with a Ropeabout his or her Neck, for the Space of One Hour:and on his or her Return from the Gallows to the Gaol,shall be publickly whipped on his or her nakedBack, not exceeding Thirty Stripes, and shallstand committed to the Gaol of the County whereinconvicted, until he or she shall pay all Costsof Prosecution."[288]
“Mary Shaw the wife of BenjaminShaw, ... being presented for having a childin September last, about five Months after Marriage,appeared and owned the same.... Ordered that (she)... pay a fine of Forty Shillings.... Costs... standing committed."[289]
“Under the ‘seven monthsrule,’ the culpable parents were forced tohumble themselves before the whole congregation, orelse expose their innocent child to the dangerof eternal perdition."[290]

Many other examples of severe punishment to both husbandand wife because of the birth of a child before asufficient term of wedlock had passed might be presented,and, judging from the frequency of the notices andcomments on the subject, such social irregularitiesmust have been altogether too common. Probablyone of the reasons for this was the curious and certainlyoutrageous custom known as “bundling.”Irving mentions it in his Knickerbocker Historyof New York, but the custom was by no means limitedto the small Dutch colony. It was practiced inPennsylvania and Connecticut and about Cape Cod.Of all the immoral acts sanctioned by conventionalopinion of any time this was the worst.

The night following the drawing of the formal contractin which the dowry and other financial requirementswere adjusted, the couple were allowed to retire tothe same bed without, however, removing their clothes.There have been efforts to excuse or explain this acton the grounds that it was at first simply an innocentcustom allowed by a simple-minded people living undervery primitive conditions. Houses were small,there was but one living room, sometimes but one generalbedroom, poverty restricted the use of candles togenuine necessity, and the lovers had but little opportunityto meet alone. All this may have been true, butthe custom led to deplorable results. Where itoriginated is uncertain. The people of Connecticutinsisted that it was brought to them from Cape Codand from the Dutch of New York City, and, in return,the Dutch declared it began near Cape Cod. Theidea seems monstrous to us of to-day; but in colonialtimes it was looked upon with much leniency, and adulterybetween espoused persons was punished much more lightlythan the same crime between persons not engaged.

A peculiar phase of immorality among colonial womenof the South cannot well be ignored. As mentionedin earlier pages, there was naturally a rough elementamong the indented women imported into Virginia andSouth Carolina, and, strange to say, not a few ofthese women were attracted into sexual relations withthe negro slaves of the plantation. If theseslaves had been mulattoes instead of genuinely black,half-savage beings not long removed from Africa, orif the relation had been between an indented whiteman of low rank and a negro woman, there would nothave been so great cause for wonder; but we cannotaltogether agree with Bruce, who in his study, TheEconomic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century,says:

“It is no ground for surprise that in the seventeenthcentury there were instances of criminal intimacybetween white women and negroes. Many of theformer had only recently arrived from England, andwere, therefore, comparatively free from the raceprejudice that was so likely to develop upon closeassociation with the African for a great length oftime. The class of white women who were requiredto work in the fields belonged to the lowest rankin point of character. Not having been born inVirginia and not having thus acquired from birth arepugnance to association with the Africans upon afooting of social equality, they yielded to the temptationsof the situations in which they were placed. Theoffence, whether committed by a native or an importedwhite woman, was an act of personal degradation thatwas condemned by public sentiment with as much severityin the seventeenth century as at all subsequent periods...."[291]

Near the populous centers such relationships weresure to meet with swift punishment; but in the moreremote districts such a custom might exist for yearsand meant nothing less than profit to the master ofthe plantation; for the child of negro blood mighteasily be claimed as the slave son of a slave father.Bruce explains clearly the attitude of the betterclasses in Virginia toward this mixture of races:

“A certain degree of libertyin the sexual relations of the female servantswith the male, and even with their master, might havebeen expected, but there are numerous indications thatthe general sentiment of the Colony condemnedit, and sought by appropriate legislation torestrain and prevent it.”
“...If a woman gave birth toa bastard, the sheriff as soon as he learnedof the fact was required to arrest her, and whip heron the bare back until the blood came. Beingturned over to her master, she was compelledto pay two thousand pounds of tobacco, or toremain in his employment two years after the terminationof her indentures.”
“If the bastard child to whichthe female servant gave birth was the offspringof a negro father, she was whipped unless the usualfine was paid, and immediately upon the expirationof her term was sold by the wardens of the nearestchurch for a period of five years.... Thechild was bound out until his or her thirtieth yearhad been reached."[292]

The determined effort to prevent any such unions betweenblacks and whites may be seen in the Virginia lawof 1691 which declared that any white woman marryinga negro or mulatto, bond or free, should suffer perpetualbanishment. But at no time in the South was adulteryof any sort punished with such almost fiendish crueltyas in New England, except in one known instance whena Virginia woman was punished by being dragged throughthe water behind a swiftly moving boat.

The social evil is apparently as old as civilization,and no country seems able to escape its blightinginfluence. Even the Puritan colonies had to contendwith it. In 1638 Josselyn, writing of New Englandsaid: “There are many strange women too(in Solomon’s sense,"). Phoebe Kelly, themother of Madam Jumel, second wife of Aaron Burr, madeher living as a prostitute, and was at least twice(1772 and 1785) driven from disorderly resorts atProvidence, and for the second offense was imprisoned.Ben Franklin frequently speaks of such women and ofsuch haunts in Philadelphia, and, with characteristicindifference, makes no serious objection to them.All in all, in spite of strong hostile influence,such as Puritanism in New England, Quakerism in theMiddle Colonies, and the desire for untainted aristocraticblood in the South, the evil progressed nevertheless,and was found in practically every city throughoutthe colonies.

Among men there may not have been any more immoralitythan at present, but certainly there was much morefreedom of action along this line and apparently muchless shame over the revelations of lax living.Men prominent in public life were not infrequentlyaccused of intrigues with women, or even known tobe the fathers of illegitimate children; their wives,families and friends were aware of it, and yet, aswe look at the comments made at that day, such affairsseem to have been taken too much as a matter of course.Benjamin Franklin was the father of an illegitimateson, whom he brought into his home and whom his wifeconsented to rear. It was a matter of common talkthroughout Virginia that Jefferson had had at leastone son by a negro slave. Alexander Hamiltonat a time when his children were almost grown up wasconnected with a woman in a most wretched scandal,which, while provoking some rather violent talk, didnot create the storm that a similar irregularity onthe part of a great public man would now cause.Undoubtedly the women of colonial days were too lenientin their views concerning man’s weakness, andnaturally men took full advantage of such easy forgiveness.

XIV. Violent Speech and Action

In general, however, offenses of any other kind, evenof the most trivial nature, were given much more noticethan at present; indeed, wrong doers were draggedinto the lime-light for petty matters that we of to-daywould consider too insignificant or too private todeserve public attention. The English laws ofthe seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were exceedinglysevere; but where these failed to provide for irregularconduct, the American colonists readily created additionalstatutes. We have seen the legal attitude of earlyAmerica toward witchcraft; gossip, slander, tale-bearing,and rebellious speeches were coped with just as confidently.The last mentioned “crime,” rebelliousspeech, seems to have been rather common in later NewEngland where women frequently spoke against the authorityof the church. Their speech may not have beengenuinely rebellious but the watchful Puritans tookno chance in matters of possible heresy. Thus,Winthrop tells us: “The lady Moodye, awise and anciently religious woman, being taken withthe error of denying baptism to infants, was dealtwithal by many of the elders, and others, and admonishedby the church of Salem, ... but persisting still,and to avoid further trouble, etc., she removedto the Dutch against the advice of all her friends....She was after excommunicated."[293]

Sometimes, too, the supposedly meek character of thecolonial woman took a rather Amazonian turn, and thecourt records, diaries, and chronicles present caseafter case in which wives made life for their husbandsmore of a battle cry than one gladsome song.Surely the following citations prove that some colonialdames had opinions of their own and strong fists withwhich to back up their opinions:

“Joan, wife of Obadiah Millerof Taunton, was presented for ’beatingand reviling her husband, and egging her children tohealp her, bidding them knock him in the head,and wishing his victuals might choake him.’"[294a]
“In 1637 in Salem, ’WhereasDorothy the wyfe of John Talbie hath not onlybroak that peace & loue, wch ought to hauve beene bothbetwixt them, but also hath violentlie broke theking’s peace, by frequent laying handsupon hir husband to the danger of his Life....It is therefore ordered that for hir misdemeanor passed& for prvention of future evill.... that she shallbe bound & chained to some post where shee shallbe restrained of her libertye to goe abroad orcomminge to hir husband, till shee manefest somechange of hir course.... Only it is permittedthat shee shall come to the place of gods worshipp,to enjoy his ordenances.’"[294b]

Women also could appeal to the strong arm of the lawagainst the wrath of their loving husbands: “In1638 John Emerson of Scituate was tried before thegeneral court for abusing his wife; the same year forbeating his wife, Henry Seawall was sent for examinationbefore the court at Ipswich; and in 1663, EnsigneJohn Williams, of Barnstable, was fined by the Plymouthcourt for slandering his wife."[295]

Josselyn records that in New England in 1638, “Scoldsthey gag and set them at their doors for certain hours,for all comers and goers by to gaze at....”

In Virginia: “A wife convicted of slanderwas to be carried to the ducking stool to be duckedunless her husband would consent to pay the fine imposedby law for the offense.... Some years after (1646)a woman residing in Northampton was punished for defamationby being condemned to stand at the door of her parishchurch, during the singing of the psalm, with a gagin her mouth.... Deborah Heighram ... was, in1654, not only required to ask pardon of the personshe had slandered, but was mulcted to the extent oftwo thousand pounds of tobacco. Alice Spencer,for the same offence, was ordered to go to Mrs. FrancesYeardley’s house and beg forgiveness of her;whilst Edward Hall, who had also slandered Mrs. Yeardley,was compelled to pay five thousand pounds of tobaccofor the county’s use, and to acknowledge incourt that he had spoken falsely."[296]

The mere fact that a woman was a woman seems in nowise to have caused merciful discrimination amongearly colonists as to the manner of punishment.Apparently she was treated certainly not better andperhaps sometimes worse than the man if she committedan offense. In the matter of adultery she indeedfrequently received the penalty which her partnerin sin totally escaped. In short, chivalry wasnot allowed to interfere in the least with old-timejustice.


[230] Diary, Vol. III, p. 237, p. 396.

[231] Diary, Vol. III, p. 237.

[232] Howard: History of Matrimonial Institutions,p. 166.

[233] Howard: p. 163.

[234] Howard: p. 200.

[235] Diary, Vol. III, p. 396.

[236] Diary, Vol. II, p. 336.

[237] Vol. III, pp. 144, 165.

[238] Diary, Vol. III, p. 176.

[239] Diary, Vol. III, p. 180.

[240a], [240b] Diary, Vol. III, p. 232.

[241a], [241b] Diary, Vol. III, p. 262.

[242] Diary, Vol. III, p. 265.

[243a], [243b] Diary, Vol. III, p. 266.

[244] Diary, Vol. III, p. 269.

[245] Diary, Vol. III, p. 271.

[246] Vol. III, p. 274.

[247] Diary, Vol. III, p. 275.

[248] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 55.

[249] Diary, Vol. III, p. 491.

[250] Sewall’s: Letter-Book, Col.I, p. 213.

[251] Diary, Vol. I, p. 216.

[252] Diary, Vol. I, p. 228.

[253] Vol. III, p. 172.

[254] Diary, Vol. I, p. 368.

[255] Diary, Vol. II, p. 24.

[256] Diary, Vol. III, p. 364.

[257] Diary, Vol. II, p. 347.

[258] Diary, p. 82.

[259] Diary, Vol. I, p. 354.

[260] Diary, Vol. I, p. 424.

[261] Weeden: Economic, & Social History ofN. Eng., Vol. I, p. 299.

[262a], [262b] Vol. II, p. 371.

[263] Diary, Vol. II, p. 371.

[264] Vol. II, p. 400.

[265] Vol. II, p. 405.

[266] Vol. II, p. 406.

[267] Diary, Vol. III, p. 31.

[268] Diary, Vol. III, p. 40.

[269] Diary, Vol. III, p. 108.

[270] Diary, Vol. III, p. 137.

[271] Diary, Vol. III, p. 173.

[272] Writings, Vol. I, p. 310.

[273] Goodwin: Dolly Madison, p. 33.

[274] Smyth: Franklin, Vol. I, p.413.

[275] Memoirs of an American Lady, p. 53.

[276] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.185.

[277] Catherine Schuyler, p. 204.

[278] History of New England, Vol. I,p. 73.

[279] History of New England, Vol. II,p. 190.

[280] Winthrop: History of New England,Vol. II, p. 61.

[281] Diary, Vol. II, p. 407.

[282] Diary, Vol. I, p. 379.

[283] Diary, Vol. II, p. 288.

[284] Diary, Vol. I, p. 349.

[285] Diary, Vol. I, p, 87.

[286] P. 170.

[287] History of Matrimonial Institutions,Vol. II, p. 170.

[288] Ibid., p. 172.

[289] Ibid., p. 187.

[290] Ibid., p. 196.

[291] Vol. I, p. 111.

[292] Economic History of Virginia in the SeventeenthCentury, Vol. I. p. 34.

[293] History of New England, Vol. II,p. 148.

[294a], [294b] Howard: Matrimonial Inst.,Vol. II, p. 161.

[295] Ibid.

[296] Bruce: Institutional History, Vol.I, p. 51.



I. Religious Initiative

Throughout our entire study of colonial woman we haveseen many bits of record that hint or even plainlyprove that the feminine nature was no more willingin the old days constantly to play second fiddle thanin our own day. Anne Hutchinson and her kindhad brains, knew it, and were disposed to use theirintellect. Perceiving injustice in the prevailingorder of affairs, such women protested against it,and, when forced to do so, undertook those tasks andbattles which are popularly supposed to be outsidewoman’s sphere. Of Anne Hutchinson it hasbeen truthfully said: “The Massachusettsrecords say that Mrs. Anne Hutchinson was banishedon account of her revelations and excommunicated fora lie. They do not say that she was too brilliant,too ambitious, and too progressive for the ministersand magistrates of the colony, ... And whileit is only fair to the rulers of the colony to admitthat any element of disturbance or sedition, at thattime, was a menace to the welfare of the colony, andthat ... her voluble tongue was a dangerous one, itis certain that the ministers were jealous of her powerand feared her leadership."[297]

One of the earliest examples in colonial times ofwoman’s ignoring traditions and taking the initiativein dangerous work may be found in the daring invasionof Massachusetts by Quaker women to preach their belief.Sewall makes mention of seeing such strange missionariesin the land of the saints: “July 8, 1677.New Meeting House (the third, or South) Mane:In Sermon time there came in a female Quaker, in aCanvas Frock, her hair disshevelled and loose likea Periwigg, her face as black as ink, led by two otherQuakers, and two others followed. It occasionedthe greatest and most amazing uproar that I ever saw."[298]No doubt some of these female exhorters acted outlandishlyand caused genuine fear among the good Puritan eldersfor the safety of the colonies and the morals of theinhabitants.

Those were troubled times. Indeed, between AnneHutchinson and the Quakers, the Puritans of the daywere harassed to distraction. Mary Dyer, forexample, one of the followers of Anne Hutchinson, repeatedlydriven from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, returnedjust as often, even after being warned that if shecame back she would be executed. Once she wassentenced to death and was saved only by the intercessionof her husband; but, having returned, she was againsentenced, and this time put to death. The Quakerswere whipped, disfigured by having their ears andnose cut off, banished, or even put to death; but freshrecruits, especially women, adorned in “sackcloth and ashes” and doing “unseemly”things, constantly took the place of those who weremaimed or killed. Why they should so persistentlyhave invaded the Puritan territory has been a sourceof considerable questioning; but probably Fiske iscorrect when he says: “The reasons forthe persistent idea of the Quakers that they mustlive in Massachusetts was largely because, though tolerantof differences in doctrine, yet Quakerism had freeditself from Judaism as far as possible, while Puritanismwas steeped in Judaism. The former attemptedto separate church and state, while under the latterbelief the two were synonymous. Therefore, theQuaker considered it his mission to overthrow thePuritan theocracy, and thus we find them insistingon returning, though it meant death. It was asacred duty, and it is to the glory of religious libertythat they succeeded."[299]

II. Commercial Initiative

More might be said of the initiative spirit in religion,of at least a percentage of the colonial women, butthe statements above should be sufficient to provethat religious affairs were not wholly left to theguidance of men. And what of women’s originalityand daring in other fields of activity? The indicationsare that they even ventured, and that successfully,to dabble in the affairs of state. Sewall mentionsthat the women were even urged by the men to expostulatewith the governor about his plans for attending acertain meeting house at certain hours, and that after

the good sisters had thus paved the way a delegationof men went to his Excellency, and obtained a changein his plan. Thus, the women did the work, andthe men usurped the praise. Again, Lady Phips,wife of the governor, had the bravery to assume theresponsibility of signing a warrant liberating a prisoneraccused of witchcraft, and, though the jailer losthis position for obeying, the prisoner’s lifewas thus saved by the initiative of a woman.

That colonial women frequently attempted to make alivelihood by methods other than keeping a dame school,is shown in numerous diaries and records. Sewallrecords the failure of one of these attempts:“April 4, 1690.... This day Mrs. Avery’sShop ... shut by reason of Goods in them attached."[300]Women kept ordinaries and taverns, especially in NewEngland, and after 1760 a large number of the retaildry goods stores of Baltimore were owned and managedby women. We have noticed elsewhere Franklin’scomplimentary statement about the Philadelphia womanwho conducted her husband’s printing businessafter his death; and again in a letter to his wife,May 27, 1757, just before a trip to Europe, he writes:“Mr. Golden could not spare his Daughter, asshe helps him in the Postoffice, he having no Clerk."[301]Mrs. Franklin, herself, was a woman of considerablebusiness ability, and successfully ran her husband’sprinting and trading affairs during his prolonged absences.He sometimes mentions in his letters her transactionsamounting at various times to as much as L500.

The pay given to teachers of dame schools was so miserablylow that it is a marvel that the widows and elderlyspinsters who maintained these institutions couldkeep body and soul together on such fees. We knowthat Boston women sometimes taught for less than ashilling per day, while even those ladies who tookchildren from the South and the West Indies into theirhomes and both boarded and trained them dared notcharge much above the actual living expenses.Had not public sentiment been against it, doubtlessmany of these teachers would have engaged in the morelucrative work of keeping shops or inns.

In the South it seems to have been no uncommon thingfor women to manage large plantations and direct thelabor of scores of negroes and white workers.We have seen how Eliza Pinckney found a real interestin such work, and cared most successfully for herfather’s thousands of acres. A woman ofremarkable personality, executive ability, and mentalcapacity, she not only produced and traded accordingto the usual methods of planters, but experimentedin intensive farming, grafting, and improvement ofstock and seed with such success that her plantationswere models for the neighboring planters to admireand imitate.

When she was left in charge of the estate while herfather went about his army duties, she was but sixteenyears old, and yet her letters to him show not onlyher interest, but a remarkable grasp of both the theoreticaland the practical phases of agriculture.

“I wrote my father a very long letter ... onthe pains I had taken to bring the Indigo, Ginger,Cotton, Lucern, and Cassada to perfection, and hadgreater hopes from the Indigo....”

To her father: “The Cotton, Guiney cornand most of the Ginger planted here was cutt off bya frost.”

“I wrote you in former letters we had a finecrop of Indigo Seed upon the ground and since informedyou the frost took it before it was dry. I pickedout the best of it and had it planted but there isnot more than a hundred bushes of it come up, whichproves the more unlucky as you have sent a man tomake it.”

In a letter to a friend she indicates how busy sheis:

“In genl I rise at five o’clock in themorning, read till seven—­then take a walkin the garden or fields, see that the Servants areat their respective business, then to breakfast.The first hour after breakfast is spent in musick,the next is constantly employed in recolecting somethingI have learned, ... such as french and shorthand.After that I devote the rest of the time till I dressfor dinner, to our little Polly, and two black girls,who I teach to read.... The first hour afterdinner, as ... after breakfast, at musick, the restof the afternoon in needlework till candle light,and from that time to bed time read or write; ...Thursday, the whole day except what the necessary affairsof the family take up, is spent in writing, eitheron the business of the plantations or on letters tomy friends...."[302]

And yet this mere girl found time to devote to thegeneral conventional activities of women. Afterher marriage she seems to have gained her greatestpleasure from her devotion to her household; but, lefta widow at thirty-six, she once more was forced toundertake the management of a great plantation.The same executive genius again appeared, and an initiativecertainly surpassing that of her neighbors. Sheintroduced into South Carolina the cultivation ofIndigo, and through her foresight and efforts “itcontinued the chief highland staple of the countryfor more than thirty years.... Just before theRevolution the annual export amounted to the enormousquantity of one million, one hundred and seven thousand,six hundred and sixty pounds. When will ‘NewWoman’ do more for her country?"[303]

Martha Washington was another of the colonial womenwho showed not only tact but considerable talent inconducting personally the affairs of her large estatebetween the death of her first husband and her marriageto Washington, and when the General went on his prolongedabsences to direct the American army, she, with someaid from Lund Washington, attended with no small successto the Mount Vernon property.

III. Woman’s Legal Powers

Just how much legal power colonial women had is ratherdifficult to discover from the writings of the day;for each section had its own peculiar rules, and courtsand decisions in the various colonies, and sometimesin one colony, contradicted one another. Untilthe adoption of the Constitution the old English lawprevailed, and while unmarried women could make deeds,wills, and other business transactions, the wife’sidentity was largely merged into that of her husband.The colonial husband seems to have had considerableconfidence in his help-meet’s business ability,and not infrequently left all his property at hisdeath to her care and management. Thus, in 1793John Todd left to his widow, the future Dolly Madison,his entire estate:

“I give and devise all my estate, real and personal,to the Dear Wife of my Bosom, and first and only Womanupon whom my all and only affections were placed,Dolly Payne Todd, her heirs and assigns forever....Having a great opinion of the integrity and honoroubleconduct of Edward Burd and Edward Tilghman, Esquires,my dying request is that they will give such adviceand assistance to my dear Wife as they shall thinkprudent with respect to the management and disposalof my very small Estate.... I appoint my dearWife excutrix of this my will...."[304]

Samuel Peters, writing in his General History ofConnecticut, 1781, mentions this incident:“In 1740, Mrs. Cursette, an English lady, travellingfrom New York to Boston, was obliged to stay some daysat Hebron; where, seeing the church not finished,and the people suffering great persecutions, she toldthem to persevere in their good work, and she wouldsend them a present when she got to Boston. Soonafter her arrival there, Mrs. Cursette fell sick anddied. In her will she gave a legacy of L300 oldtenor ... to the church of England in Hebron; andappointed John Hanco*ck, Esq., and Nathaniel Glover,her executors. Glover was also her residuarylegatee. The will was obliged to be recordedin Windham county, because some of Mrs. Cursette’slands lay there. Glover sent the will by DeaconS.H. ——­ of Canterbury, orderinghim to get it recorded and keep it private, lest thelegacy should build up the church. The Deaconand Register were faithful to their trust, and keptGlover’s secret twenty-five years. At lengththe Deacon was taken ill, and his life was supposedin great danger.... The secret was disclosed.”

It is evident that the colonial woman, either as spinsteror as widow, was not without considerable legal powerin matters of property, and it is evident too thatshe now and then managed or disposed of such propertyin a manner displeasing to the other sex. As shownin the above incident of the church money, trickerywas now and then tried in an effort to set aside thewishes of a woman concerning her possessions; but,in the main, her decisions and bequests seem to havereceived as much respect from courts as those of themen.

A further instance of this feminine right to holdand manage property—­perhaps a little tooradical to be typical—­is to be found inthe career of the famous Margaret Brent of Maryland,the first woman in the world to demand a seat in theparliamentary body of a commonwealth. A womanof unusual intellect, decisiveness, and leadership,she came from England to Maryland in 1638, and quicklybecame known as the equal, if not the superior, ofany man in the colony for comprehension of the intricaciesof English law dealing with property and decedents.Her brothers, owners of great estates, recognizedher superiority and commonly allowed her to buy andsell for them and to sign herself “attorneyfor my brother.” Lord Calvert, the Governor,became her ardent admirer, perhaps her lover, andwhen he lay dying he called her to his bedside, andin the presence of witnesses, made perhaps the briefestwill in the history of law: “I make youmy sole executrix; take all and pay all.”From that hour her career as a business woman was astonishing.She collected all of Calvert’s rentals and otherincomes; she paid all his debts; she planted and harvestedon his estates; she even took charge of numerous stateaffairs of Maryland, collected and dispersed someportions of the colony’s money, and was in manyways the colonial executive.

Then came on January 21, 1648, her astounding demandfor a vote in the Maryland Assembly. LeonardCalvert, as Lord Baltimore’s attorney, had possesseda vote in the body; since Calvert had told her to takeall and pay all, he had granted her all powers hehad ever possessed; she therefore had succeeded himas Lord Baltimore’s attorney and was possessedof the attorneyship until Baltimore saw fit to appointanother; hence, as the attorney, she was entitled toa seat and a voice in the Assembly. Such washer reasoning, and when she walked into the Assemblyon that January day it was evident from the expressionon her face that she intended to be seated and tobe heard. She made a speech, moved many of theplanters so greatly that they were ready to grant herthe right; she cowed the very acting governor himself,as he sat on the speaker’s bench. But thatgovernor’s very fear of her rivalry made him,for once, active and determined; he had heard whispersthroughout the colony that she would make a betterexecutive than he; he suddenly thundered a decisive“No”; a brief recess was declared amidstthe ensuing confusion; and Margaret Brent went forthfor the first time in her life a defeated woman.Her power, however, was scarcely lessened, and herinfluence grew to such an extent that on several occasionsthe governor who had refused her a vote was obligedto humiliate himself and beg her aid in quieting orconvincing the citizens. The story of her lifeleads one to believe that many women, if opportunityhad offered, would have proved themselves just ascapable in business affairs as any woman executiveof our own times.

Many another example of feminine initiative mightbe cited. There was that serious, yet ridiculousscene of long ago when the women of Boston pinnedup their dresses, took off their shoes, and waded aboutin the mud and slush fortifying Boston Neck.Benjamin Tompson, a local poet, found the incidenta source of merriment in his New England Crisis,1675; but in a way it was a stern rebuke to the menwho looked on and laughed at the women’s franticeffort to wield mud plaster.

“A grand attempt someAmazonian Dames
Contrive whereby to glorifytheir names.
A ruff for Boston Neck ofmud and turfe,
Reaching from side to side,from surf to surf,
Their nimble hands spin uplike Christmas pyes,
Their pastry by degrees onhigh doth rise ...
The wheel at home counts inan holiday,
Since while the mistress workethit may play.
A tribe of female hands, butmanly hearts,
Forsake at home their pastrycrust and tarts,
To kneed the dirt, the samplersdown they hurl,
Their undulating silks theyclosely furl.
The pick-axe one as a commandressholds,
While t’other at herawk’ness gently scolds.
One puffs and sweats, theother mutters why
Can’t you promove yourwork so fast as I?
Some dig, some delve, andothers’ hands do feel
The little wagon’s weightwith single wheel.
And lest some fainting-fitsthe weak surprize,
They want no sack nor cakes,they are more wise...”

That simple-hearted, kindly French-American, St. Johnde Crevecoeur, has left us a description of the womenof Nantucket in his Letters from an American Farmer,1782, and if his account is trustworthy these womendisplayed business capacity that might put to shamemany a modern wife. Hear some extracts from hisstatement:

“As the sea excursions are oftenvery long, their wives in their absence are necessarilyobliged to transact business, to settle accounts,and, in short, to rule and provide for their families.These circ*mstances, being often repeated, givewomen the abilities as well as a taste for thatkind of superintendency to which, by their prudenceand good management, they seem to be in generalvery equal. This employment ripens their judgment,and justly entitles them to a rank superior tothat of other wives; ... The men at theirreturn, weary with the fatigues of the sea, ...cheerfully give their consent to every transactionthat has happened during their absence, and allis joy and peace. ’Wife, thee hastdone well,’ is the general approbation they receive,for their application and industry....”
“...But you must not imaginefrom this account that the Nantucket wives areturbulent, of high temper, and difficult to be ruled;on the contrary, the wives of Sherburn, in sodoing, comply only with the prevailing customof the island: the husbands, equally submissiveto the ancient and respectable manners of their country,submit, without ever suspecting that there can be anyimpropriety.... The richest person now inthe island owes all his present prosperity andsuccess to the ingenuity of his wife: ... forwhile he was performing his first cruises, she tradedwith pins and needles, and kept a school.Afterward she purchased more considerable articles,which she sold with so much judgment, that shelaid the foundation of a system of business, that shehas ever since prosecuted with equal dexterityand success....”

IV. Patriotic Initiative and Courage

It was in the dark days of the Revolution that thesestronger qualities of the feminine soul shone forth,and served most happily the struggling nation.Long years of Indian warfare and battling against astubborn wilderness had strengthened the spirit ofthe American woman, and when the men marched awayto defend the land their undaunted wives and daughtersbravely took up the masculine labors, tilling and reaping,directing the slaves, maintaining ship and factory,and supplying the armies with the necessities of life.The letters written by the women in that period revealan intelligent grasp of affairs and a strength ofspirit altogether admirable. Here was indeed acharming mingling of feminine grace, tenderness, sympathy,self-reliance, and common sense.

It required genuine courage to remain at home, oftenwith no masculine protection whatever, with the ever-presentdanger of Indian raids, and there, with the littleones, wait and wait, hearing news only at long intervals,fearing even to receive it then lest it announce thedeath of the loved ones. No telegraph, no railroad,no postal service, no newspaper might offer relief,only the letter brought by some friend, or the bitof news told by some passing traveller. It wasa time of agonizing anxiety. There were monthswhen the wife heard nothing; we have seen from theletters of Mrs. Adams that three months sometimesintervened between the letters from her husband.In 1774, when John Adams was at Philadelphia, sucha short distance from Boston, according to the modernconception, she wrote: “Five weeks havepassed and not one line have I received. I wouldrather give a dollar for a letter by the post, thoughthe consequences should be that I ate but one meala day these three weeks to come."[305]

Again, these women faced actual dangers; for theywere often near the firing line. John QuincyAdams says of his mother: “For the spaceof twelve months my mother with her infant childrendwelt, liable every hour of the day and the nightto be butchered in cold blood, or taken and carriedinto Boston as hostages. My mother lived in unintermitteddanger of being consumed with them all in a conflagrationkindled by a torch in the same hands which on the17th of June [1775] lighted the fires of Charlestown.I saw with my own eyes those fires, and heard Britannia’sthunders in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and witnessedthe tears of my mother and mingled them with my own.”

In 1777, so anxious was the mother for news of herhusband, that John Quincy became post-rider for herbetween Braintree and Boston, eleven miles,—­nota light or easy task for the nine-year-old boy, withthe unsettled roads and unsettled times. Eventhe President’s wife was for weeks at a timein imminent peril; for the British could have desirednothing better than to capture and hold as a hostagethe wife of the chief rebel. Washington himselfwas exceedingly anxious about her, and made frequentinquiry as to her welfare. She, however, wentabout her daily duties with the utmost calmness andin the hours of gravest danger showed almost a stubborndisregard of the perils about her. Washington’sfriend, Mason, wrote to him: “I sent myfamily many miles back in the country, and advisedMrs. Washington to do likewise, as a prudential movement.At first she said ‘No; I will not desert my post’;but she finally did so with reluctance, rode only afew miles, and, plucky little woman as she is, stayedaway only one night."[306]

During the first years of the war nervous dread mayhave composed the greater part of the suffering ofAmerican women, but during the later years genuinehardships, lack of food and clothing, physical catastrophesbefell these brave but silent helpers of the patriots.Especially was this true in the South, where the Britishoverran the country, destroyed homes, seized food,cattle, and horses, and left devastation to mark thetrail. In 1779 Mrs. Pinckney’s son wroteher that Provost, the British leader, had destroyedthe plantation home where the family treasure hadbeen stored, and that everything had been burned orstolen; but her reply had no wail of despair in it:“My Dear Tomm: I have just received yourletter with the account of my losses, and your almostruined fortunes by the enemy. A severe blow! butI feel not for myself, but for you.... Your Brother’stimely generous offer, to divide what little remainsto him among us, is worthy of him...."[307]

The financial distress of Mrs. Pinckney might be citedas typical of the fate of many aristocratic and wealthyfamilies of Virginia and South Carolina. Ownerof many thousands of acres and a multitude of slaves,she was reduced to such straits that she could notmeet ordinary debts. Shortly after the Revolutionshe wrote in reply to a request for payment of sucha bill: “I am sorry I am under a necessityto send this unaccompanied with the amount of my accountdue to you. It may seem strange that a singlewoman, accused of no crime, who had a fortune to livegenteely in any part of the world, that fortune tooin different kinds of property, and in four or fivedifferent parts of the country, should be in so shorta time so entirely deprived of it as not to be ableto pay a debt under 60 pound sterling, but such ismy singular case. After the many losses I havemet with for the last three or four desolating yearsfrom fire and plunder, both in country and town, Istill had some thing to subsist upon, but alas thehand of power has deprived me of the greatest partof that, and accident of the rest."[308]

It was indeed a day that called for the strongesttype of courage, and nobly did the women face thecrisis. In the South the wives and daughtersof patriots were forced to appear at balls given bythe invading forces, to entertain British officers,to act as hostesses to unbidden guests, and to actthe part pleasantly, lest the unscrupulous enemy wreakvengeance upon them and their possessions. Theconstant search on the part of the British for refugeesbrought these women moments when fear or even a second’shesitation would have proved disastrous. Oneevening Marion, the famous “Swamp-Fox,”came worn out to the home of Mrs. Horry, daughterof Eliza Pinckney, and so completely exhausted washe that he fell asleep in his chair while she waspreparing him a meal. Suddenly she heard the approachingBritish. She awakened him, told him to followthe path from her kitchen door to the river, swimto an island, and leave her to deceive the soldiers.She then met at the front door the British officerTarleton, who leisurely searched the house, ate thesupper prepared for Marion, and went away with severalof the family treasures and heirlooms. On anotheroccasion when Mrs. Pinckney and her grand-daughterwere sleeping in their plantation home, distant fromany neighbor, they were awakened by a beautiful girlwho rushed into the bedroom, crying, “Oh, Mrs.Pinckney, save me! The British are coming afterme.” With the utmost calmness the old ladyarose from her bed, placed the girl in her place, andcommanded, “Lie there, and no man will dare totrouble you.” She then met the pursuerswith such quiet scorn that they shrank away into thedarkness.

What brave stories could be told of other women—­MollyStark, Temperance Wicke, and a host of others.What man, soldier or statesman, could have writtenmore courageous words than these by Abigail Adams?“All domestic pleasures and enjoyments are absorbedin the great and important duty you owe your country,for our country is, as it were, a secondary god, andthe first and greatest parent. It is to be preferredto parents, wives, children, friends and all things,the gods only excepted, for if our country perishes,it is as impossible to save the individual, as topreserve one of the fingers of a mortified hand."[309]Mrs. Adams herself was literally in the midst of thewarfare, and there were days when she could scarcelyhave faced more danger if she had been a soldier inthe battle. Hear this bit of description fromher own pen: “I went to bed about twelve,and rose again a little after one. I could nomore sleep than if I had been in the engagement; therattling of the windows, the jar of the house, thecontinual roar of twenty-four pounders; and the burstingof shells give us such ideas, and realize a scene tous of which we could form scarcely any conception."[310]

Who can estimate the quiet aid such women gave thepatriots in those years of sore trial? Such wordsas Martha Washington’s: “I hope youwill all stand firm; I know George will,” orthe ringing language of Abigail Adams: “ThoughI have been called to sacrifice to my country, I canglory in my sacrifice and derive pleasure from my intimateconnexion with one who is esteemed worthy of the importanttrust devolved upon him”—­such wordscould but urge the fighting colonists to greater deedsof heroism. And many of the patriot husbands thoroughlyappreciated the silent courage of their wives.John Adams, thinking upon the years of hardships hiswife had so cheerfully undergone, how she had donea man’s work on the farm, had fed and clothedthe children, had kept the home intact, while he struggledfor the new nation, wrote her: “You arereally brave, my dear. You are a heroine and youhave reason to be, for the worst than can happen cando you no harm. A soul as pure, as benevolent,as virtuous, and pious as yours has nothing to fear,but everything to hope from the last of human evils.”

Mercy Warren, too, though she might ridicule the weaknessof her sex in Woman’s Trifling Need,cheerfully remained alone and unprotected while herhusband went forth to battle; she was even thoughtfulenough in those years of loneliness to keep a recordof the stirring times—­a record which wasafterwards embodied into her History of the Revolution.Catherine Schuyler was another of those brave spiritsthat faced unflinchingly the horrors of warfare.When a bride of but one week, she saw her husbandmarch away to the Indian war, and from girlhood toold age she was familiar with the meaning of carnage.Shortly after the Battle of Saratoga the entire countrywas aroused by the murder of Jane McCrea; women andchildren fled to the towns: refugees told of thecoming of a host of British, Tories, and Indians.The Schuyler home lay in the path of the enemy, andin the mansion were family treasures and heirloomsdear to her heart. She determined to save these,and back she hastened from town to country. Asshe pushed on, multitudes of refugees begged her toturn back; but no appeal, no warning moved her.It was mid-summer, and the fields were heavy withripe grain. Realizing that this meant food forthe invaders, she resolved to burn all. When shereached her home she commanded a negro to light torchesand descended with him to the flats where the greatfields of golden grain waved. The slave wenta little distance, but his courage deserted him.“Very well,” she exclaimed, “ifyou will not do it, I must do it myself.”And with that she ran into the midst of the wavingstalks, tossed the flaming torches here and there,and for a moment watched the flames sweep throughthe year’s harvest. Then, hurrying to thehouse, she gathered up her most valuable possessions,hastened away over the dangerous road, and reachedAlbany in safety.

Within a few hours Burgoyne and his officers weremaking merry in the great house, drinking the Schuylerwine, and on the following day the mansion was burnedto the ground. But fate played the British leadera curious trick; for within a few days Burgoyne foundhimself defeated and a guest in the Schuyler homeat Albany. “I expressed my regret,”he has testified, “at the event which had happenedand the reasons which had occasioned it. He [Schuyler]desired me to think no more about it; said the occasionjustified it, according to the rules and principlesof war, and he should have done the same."[311]

As Chastellux declared: “Burgoyne was extremelywell received by Mrs. Schuyler and her little family.He was lodged in the best apartment in the house.An excellent supper was served him in the evening,the honors of which were done with so much grace thathe was affected even to tears, and could not helpsaying with a deep sigh, ’Indeed, this is doingtoo much for a man who has ravished their lands andburnt their home."[312] Indeed, all through his stayin this house he and his staff of twenty were treatedwith the utmost courtesy by Catherine Schuyler.

But was not this characteristic of so many of thosebetter class colonial women? The inherent delicacy,refinement, and tact of those dames of long ago canbe equalled only by their courage, perseverance, andloyalty in the hour of disaster. Whether in waror in peace they could remain calm and self-possesed,and when given opportunity showed initiative powerfully equalling that of their more famous husbands.They could be valiant without losing refinement; theycould bid defiance to the enemy and yet retain allwomanliness.

Is it not evident that woman was charmingly feminine,even in colonial days? Did she not possess essentiallythe same strengths and weaknesses as she does to-day?In general, accepting creeds more devoutly than didthe men, as is still the case, often devouring greedilythose writings which she thought might add to hereducation, yet more closely attached to her home thanmost modern women, the colonial dame frequently representeda strange mingling of superstition, culture, and delicatesensibility. Possessing doubtless a more whole-heartedreverence for man’s ideas and opinions thandoes her modern sister, she seems to have kept heraspirations for a broader sphere of activity underrather severe restraint, and felt it her duty firstof all to make the home a refuge and a consolationfor the husband and father who returned in wearinessfrom his battle with the world.

She loved finery and adornment even as she does to-day;but under the influence of a burning patriotism shecould and did crush all such longings for the beautifulthings of this world. She had oftentimes genuinecapacity for initiative and leadership; but publicsentiment of the day induced her to stand modestlyin the back-ground and allow the father, husband,or son to do the more spectacular work of the world.Yet in the hour of peril she could bear unflinchinglytoil, hardships, and danger, and asked in return onlythe love and appreciation of husband and child.That she obtained such love and appreciation cannotbe doubted. From the yellow manuscripts and thefaded satins and brocades of those early days comesthe faint flavor of romances as pathetic or happyas any of our own times,—­quaint, old romancesthat tell of love and jealousy, happy unions or brokenhearts, triumph or defeat in the activities of a daythat is gone. Surely, the soul—­especiallythat of a woman—­changes but little in thepassing of the centuries.


[297] Brooks: Dames and Daughters of ColonialDays, p. 26.

[298] Diary, Vol. I, p. 43.

[299] Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America,Vol. I, p. 112.

[300] Diary, Vol. I, p. 317.

[301] Smyth: Writings of B. Franklin,Vol. III, p. 395.

[302] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, pp. 7,9, 30.

[303] Ravenel: E. Pinckney, p. 107.

[304] Graham: Dolly Madison, p. 46.

[305] Letters, p. 15.

[306] Wharton: Martha Washington, p. 90.

[307] Ravenel: Eliza Pinckney, p. 265.

[308] Ravenal: Eliza Pinckney, p. 301.

[309] Letters, p. 74.

[310] Letters, p. 9.

[311] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.159.

[312] Humphreys: Catherine Schuyler, p.162.


The following books will be found of exceptional interestand value to readers who may wish to look furtherinto the subject of woman’s life in early America.

Adams, A., Letters;
Adams, H., Memoir;
Adams, J., Writings;
Allen, Woman’s Part in Government;
Alsop, Character of the Province ofMaryland;
American Nation Series;
Andrews, Colonial Period;
Anthony, Past, Present and Future Statusof Woman;
Avery, History of United States;
Beach, Daughters of the Puritans;
Beard, Readings in American Government;
Beverly, History of Virginia;
Bliss, Side-Lights from the ColonialMeeting-House;
Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation;
Bradstreet, Several Poems Compiledwith Great Variety of Wit and
Brooks, Dames and Daughters of ColonialDays;
Brown, History of Maryland;
Brown, Mercy Warren;
Bruce, Economic Forces in Virginiain the Seventeenth Century;
Bruce, Institutional History of Virginiain 17th Century;
Buckingham, Reminiscences;
Byrd, Writings;
Cable, Strange, True Stories of Louisiana;
Cairns, Early American Writings;
Calef, More Wonders of the InvisibleWorld;
Campbell, Puritans in Holland, Englandand America;
Chastellux, Travels;
Coffin, Old Times in the Colonies;
Cooke, Virginia;
Crawford, Romantic Days in the EarlyRepublic;
Crevecoeur, Letters from an AmericanFarmer;
Drake, New England Legends;
Draper, American Education;
Duychinck, Cyclopedia of American Literature;
Earle, Child Life in Colonial Days,Colonial Days in Old New York,
Customs and Manners ofColonial Days, Home Life in Colonial Days,
Margaret Winthrop,Sabbath in Old New England;
Edward, Works;
Firth, Stuart Tracts;
Fisher, Men, Women and Manners in ColonialTimes;
Fiske, Colonial Documents of New York;Dutch and Quaker Colonies,
Old Virginia and Her Neighbors;
Fithian, Selections from Writings;
Franklin, Writings, ed. Smyth;
Freeze, Historic Homes and Spots inCambridge;
Garden, Anecdotes of the RevolutionaryWar;
Goodwin, Dolly Madison;
Grant, Memoirs of an American Lady;
Griswold, Prose Writings of America;
Hammond, Leah and Rachel;
Holliday, History of Southern Literature,Three Centuries of Southern
, Wit and Humorof Colonial Days;
Hooker, Way of the Churches of NewEngland;
Howard, History of Matrimonial Institutions;
Humphreys, Catherine Schuyler;
Hutchinson, History of MassachusettsBay Colony;
Jefferson, Writings, ed. Ford;
Johnson, Wonder Working Providenceof Zion’s Saviour in New England;
Josselyn, New England Rareties Discovered;
Knight, Journal;
Lawson, History of Carolina;
Maclay, Journal;
Masefield, Chronicles of the PilgrimFathers;
Mather, Diary, Essay for theRecording of Illustrious Providences,
Essay to do Good, MemorableProvidences, Wonders of the Invisible
; Narratives ofEarly Maryland;
Onderdonck, History of American Verse;Original Narratives of Early
American History
Otis, American Verse;
Peters, General History of Connecticut;

Prince, Annals of New England;
Pryor, Mother of Washington, and HerTimes;
Pynchon, Diary;
Ravenel, Eliza Pinckney;
Robertson, Louisiana under Spain, France,and United States;
Rowlandson, Narrative of Her Captivity;
Schrimacher, Modern Woman’s Rights;
Sewall, Diary;
Simons, Social Forces in American History;
Smith, History of the Province of NewYork;
Stith, History of the First Settlementof Virginia;
Turell, Memoirs;
Tompson, New England’s Crisis;
Tyler, American Literature in the ColonialPeriod;
Uurtonbaker, Virginia Under the Stuarts;
Vanderdonck, New Netherlands;
Van Rensselaer, Good Vrouw of Man-ha-ta;
Ward, Simple Cobbler;
Weeden, Economic and Social Historyof New England;
Welde, Short Story of the Rise, Wane,and Ruin of the Antinomians;
Wharton, Martha Washington;
Wharton, Through Colonial Doorways;
Wigglesworth, Day of Doom;
Williams, Ballads of the American Revolution;
Winthrop, History of New England;
Wright, Industrial Evolution of theUnited States;
Woolman, Diary.



Adams, Abigail, 66, 69, 72,79, 82, 92, 99, 100, 128, 131, 133, 134,
138, 140, 142,144, 148, 156, 164, 229, 235, 244, 303, 307, 308.

Adams, Hannah, 91, 92.

Adams, John, 80, 90, 303,308.

Adultery, 261, 278, 279, 280,281, 282, 284, 285.

Advice, Matrimonial, 277.

Affairs, Domestic, 150.

Alliott, Paul, 240.

American Museum, 108.

Amusem*nts, 200, 213 (seeRecreations).

Anecdotes of the RevolutionaryWar, 275.

Annals of New England,5, 108.

Antinomians, 41.

Architecture, 179, 217.

Arnold, Margaret, 145, 273.

Art, 184.

Attacks, Indian, 116.

Attendance at Church, 19,65.

Autobiography (Franklin),268.


Banns, 201, 258.

Baptism, 288.

Beauty of Philadelphia Women,229.

Bee, Husking, 208.

Berquin-Duvallon, 239, 240,242.

Beverly, 178.

Bible, 79.

Bibliography, 313.

Bigamy, 261.

Blue Laws, 208.

Boarding Schools, 87, 244.

Bowne, Eliza, 170.

Bradford, Governor, 6, 96.

Bradstreet, Anne, 98, 99.

Branding, 281, 282.

Breach of Promise, 249.

Brent, Margaret, 299.

British Social Customs, 217.

Buckingham’s Reminiscences,160, 161.

Bundling, 283.

Bunyan, John 4.

Business, Women in, 132, 147.

Byrd, William, 36, 102.


Calef, Robert, 56, 60.

Captivity of Mary Rowlandson,119.

Card-Playing, 192, 219, 221,228, 231.

Carolinas, 64, 65, 69, 74,79, 87, 105, 132, 174, 175, 183, 236, 246,
270, 284, 305.

Catholic Church, 69.

Causes of Display, 222.

Ceremony, Marriage, 258.

Chastellux, 164, 179, 181,228, 310.

Children, 24, 28, 29, 31,105, 114, 116, 122, 124, 126, 141, 165, 166,
206, 211, 213,214, 215, 270.

Christmas, 203, 204.

Church Attendance, 19, 65.

Church of England, 69.

Colonial Woman and Religion,3.

Comfort in Religion, 38.

Commercial Initiative, 293.

Concord, 8.

Connecticut, 90, 91, 154,272, 283.

Connecticut, General Historyof, 90.

Consent for Courtship, 248.

Conveniences, Lack of, 105.

Cooking, 106, 107.

Cooking Utensils, 108.

Co-operation, 177.

Cotton, John, 32, 34, 42,43.

Courtship, 136, 191, 221,247, 248, 251, 256, 269, 274, 276.

Courtship, Consent, for 248.

Courtship, Unlawful, 248.

Crevecoeur, St. John de, 301.

Curiosity, 190.

Custis, Nelly, 277.

Customs in Louisiana, 238.


Dame’s School, 71, 94,262, 294.

Dancing, 52, 74, 85, 88, 89,94, 183, 185, 193, 200, 207, 220, 227,
229, 232, 244,260, 271.

Day of Doom, 10, 11,15.

Day of Rest, 31.

Death, 115.

de Brahm, 66.

de Crevecoeur, St. John 301.

de Warville, Brissot, 183,219.

Diary, Fithian’s, 159.

Diary, Mother’s, 30.

Diary, Sewall’s, 14,15, 28, 57, 63, 71, 72, 115, 117, 125, 126, 129,
133, 139, 155,189, 190, 202, 203, 207, 265, 280.

Diary, Woolman’s, 40.

Display, Causes of, 222.

Divorce, 263.

Dolls as Models, 170.

Domestic Happiness, 179, 186,210, 211, 270, 272, 288.

Domestic Life, 136, 137.

Domestic Love, 96.

Domestic Pride, 111.

Domestic Toil, 105, 116, 233,272.

Dowry, 250.

Drama, 91, 92, 225, 234, 235.

Drawing, 74, 94.

Dress, 23, 33, 34, 89, 111,133, 138, 141, 142, 152, 153, 164, 167,
168, 185, 218,219, 220, 234, 243.

Dress, Regulation by Law,152, 153.

Dress, Ridicule of, 158, 171.

Dryden, John 4.

Dutch, 67, 69, 71, 72, 73,76, 154, 174, 196, 209, 218, 219, 270, 284,

Dyer, Mary, 292.


Education, 70, 84, 104, 116,124, 126, 128, 150, 175, 219, 244.

Educational Advantages, Lackof, 91, 92.

Edwards, Jonathan, 10, 1618, 19, 20, 98.

Essay to Do Good, 39.

Eternity of Hell Torments,16.

Etiquette, 74, 89, 225, 231.

Executions, 197, 279, 280.292.

Extravagance, 164, 183, 185,221, 223, 229, 232, 234, 243.


Feasts, Funeral, 196.

Feminine Independence, 275.

Fithian, Philip, 75, 159,179.

Foibles, Woman’s, 33.

Food, 106, 107, 139, 178,185, 211, 212, 216, 223, 260.

Fox, George, 40.

Franklin, Benjamin, 73, 74,85, 86, 101, 115, 132, 136, 138, 144, 147,
155, 166, 233,234, 268, 269, 286, 287, 294.

Franklin, Mrs., 85, 147.

Frills, Educational, 86.

Funeral, 193, 196, 197, 216.

Funeral Feasts, 196.

Funeral Gloves, 194, 196.

Funeral Rings, 194, 196.

Funeral Scarfs, 194, 196.

Furnishings, House, 106, 137,181, 218.


General History of Connecticut,90, 190, 207, 298.

Georgia, 65.

Gloves, Funeral, 194, 195.

Grant’s Memoirs ofan American Lady, 67, 68, 72, 83, 127, 209, 211,
213, 217, 270.


Hair Dressing, 162.

Hamilton, Alexander, 104,130, 134, 145, 287.

Hamilton, Elizabeth, 104,145, 273.

Hammond, John, 177, 271.

Happiness, Domestic, 143,144, 145, 179, 186, 210, 211, 270, 272, 288.

Hardships, 3, 6, 7, 8,115,117, 118, 303, 305, 306, 308.

Harvard, 79.

Heroism, 309.

History of MassachusettsBay Colony, 39, 42, 43.

History of New England,24, 48, 142, 198.

History of North Carolina,132.

History of Plymouth Plantation,6.

History of the DividingLine, 36.

History of the Provinceof New York, 218.

History of Virginia,178.

Home Life, 95, 124, 128, 132,133, 134, 136, 137, 140, 145, 149.

Hoop Petticoats, 161.

Hospitality, 174, 182, 186,188, 213, 215.

House Furnishings, 106, 137,181, 218.

Huguenots, 65.

Husking Bee, 208.

Hutchinson, Anne, 39, 4&,41, 42, 43, 57, 291, 292.

Hutchinson, Margaret, 162.


Ignorance, 70, 76, 78, 94,244.

Illustrious Providences,26, 27.

Indented Servants, 271, 279,284.

Independence, Feminine, 275.

Indian Attacks, 116.

Inherited Nervousness, 28.

Initiative, 85, 147, 291,293, 303.

Inquisitiveness, 190.

Interest in Home, 136.

Irregular Marriage, 278.

Irving, Washington, 283.

Isolation, Southern, 174.


Jamestown, 5, 65, 174.

Jefferson, Thomas, 74, 75,138, 143, 287.

Johnson, Edward, 7, 8.

Jonson, Ben, 4.

Josselyn, John, 49, 205, 286,289.

Journal, Fox’s,40.

Journal, Knight’s,206, 210, 212.

Journal, Winthrop’s,34.


Kidnapping, 122.

Knickerbocker History,283.

Knight, Sarah, 154, 206, 210,212.


Laws, 278, 286, 288, 289,297.

Laws, Blue, 208.

Laws, Marriage, 260.

Laws, Regulation of Dressby, 152, 153.

Lawson, John, 132.

Leah and Rachel, 177.

Lecture Day, 201.

Legal Powers of Women, 297.

Letters, 187, 273, 277.

Letters from an AmericanFarmer, 301.

Letters of Abigail Adams,67.

Liberty to Choose in Marriage,255.

Life, Domestic, 136, 137,139.

Life of Cotton Mother,124.

Louisiana, 69, 183, 238.

Love, Domestic, 96-102, 273.

Luxury, 176, 211, 212, 217,218, 219, 229, 232, 234.


Madison, Dolly, 168, 269,297.

Marriage, 247, 286.

Marriage Advice, 277.

Marriage Ceremony, 258.

Marriage Irregularities, 278.

Marriage, Liberty to Choosein, 255.

Marriage Restrictions, 260,279.

Marriage, Romance in, 272.

Maryland, 69, 174.

Mather, Cotton, 10, 16, 21,30, 39, 50, 51, 53, 56, 58, 88, 115, 124.

Mather, Increase, 26, 27,52, 55.

Mather, Samuel, 124.

McKean, Sally, 170.

Mechanical Aids in Education,90.

Memoirs of an AmericanLady, 67, 68, 209, 217.

Memoirs of Hannah Adams,91, 92.

Memorable Providences,21.

Memorial of the PresentDeplorable State, 117.

Men’s Dress, 167.

Meschianza, 168, 227.

Methodists, 65, 68.

Milton, John, 4.

Morals, 238.

Moravians, 87, 269.

More Wonders of the InvisibleWorld, 56, 60.

Mothers, Tributes to, 129.

Music, 34, 35, 74, 85, 86,88, 94, 179, 184, 193, 219, 244, 296.


Negroes, 105, 240, 241, 284.

Nervousness, 22, 25, 28.

New England History andGeneral Register, 59.

New England’s Crisis,301.

New England Rareties Discovered,49, 205.

New York, 64, 67, 68, 69,71, 72, 76, 94, 107, 127, 154, 167, 174, 209,
216, 217, 221,246, 270, 284.

Norwood, Henry, 3.


Orphans’ Court, 77.


Parental Training, 124.

Patriotic Initiative, 303.

Pennsylvania, 64, 78, 87,88, 109, 236, 268.

Pennsylvania Packet,109.

Peters, Samuel, 90, 190, 207,298.

Petticoats, Hoop, 161.

Philadelphia, 167, 168, 226,229, 230, 235, 286, 294.

Pinckney, Eliza, 65, 69, 80,102, 126, 134, 145, 164, 175, 181, 182,
184, 244, 255,295, 305.

Pintard, James, 220.

Plymouth, 5, 6, 71, 79.

Politics, 143, 144, 293, 299.

Prayers for the Sick, 201.

Presbyterians, 65.

Pride, Domestic, 111.

Prince, Thomas, 5.

Privations, 114, 115, 149(see Hardships).

Progress of Dulness,172.

Public Affairs, Women in,142.

Punishment, 247, 248, 261,278, 282, 285, 286, 289, 292.

Pynchon, Judge, 192, 193,260.


Quakers, 40, 68, 268, 292,293.


Raillery at Dress, 158.

Rebellion, Female, 41.

Recreation, 91, 178, 189,193, 200, 207, 213, 220, 222, 225, 226, 232,
234, 235, 237,260, 263, 270, 272.

Religion, 3, 10, 63, 100,115, 189, 212, 293, 298.

Religion, Comfort in, 38.

Religious Initiative, 291.

Remarkable Providences,55.

Reminiscences, Buckingham’s,160, 161.

Restrictions, Marriage, 260.

Restrictions, Social, 205.

Ridicule of Dress, 158, 171.

Rings, Funeral, 194, 196.

Romance, Marriage, 272.

Rowlandson, Mary, 119.

Rowson, Susanna, 87.


Sabbath, 31-33, 65.

Salem Witchcraft, 41, 47-63.

Scarf, Funeral, 194, 196.

Scarlet Letter, 281.

School, Boarding, 87, 244.

Schuyler, Catherine, 73, 91,106, 110, 115, 134, 145, 244, 309, 310.

Seminary, Female, 87, 94,166.

Separations, 263.

Servant, Indented, 271, 279,284.

Sewall, Samuel, 14, 15, 28,57, 71, 72, 96, 115, 117, 124, 125, 126,
129, 133, 138,147, 152, 155, 189, 190, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 207,
247, 250, 251,256, 258, 263, 265, 279, 280, 293, 294.

Sewing, 93, 110.

Shakespeare, 4, 5.

Short Story of the Rise,Wane, and Ruin of the Antinomians, 47.

Simple Cobbler, 158.

Sinners in the Hands ofan Angry God, 18.

Size of Family, 114.

Slaves, 65, 105, 110, 112,175, 245, 284.

Smith, John, 4, 64.

Smith, William, 218.

Social Customs, British, 217.

Social Life, 113, 174, 181,189, 209, 219, 225, 226, 231, 232, 235,
236, 237, 238,270.

Social Restrictions, 205.

Southern Dress, 153.

Southern Hospitality, 174.

Southern Isolation, 174.

Southgate, Elizabeth, 225.

Speech, Violent, 287.

Special Social Days, 201.

Sphere, Woman’s 142.

Spinsters, 262.

Spirit of Woman, 3.

Splendor in Southern Home,179.

St. Cecilia Society, 184.

Surrage, Agnes, 274.


Temple, Charlotte,87.

Thanksgiving, 203, 205.

Theatre, 234, 235 (see Drama).

Thompson, Benjamin, 301.

Toil, Domestic, 105, 107,108, 111, 113, 116, 135, 136, 150.

Training, Parental, 124.

Travel, 187.

Travels, Chastellux,164.

Trials, 197.

Tributes to Mothers, 129.

Trumbull, John, 171.

Turell, Jane, 82, 130, 134,145, 277.


Unlawful Courtship, 240.

Utensils, Cooking, 108.


Violent Speech, 287.

Virginia, 64, 68, 69, 71,74, 77, 79, 94, 105, 166, 167, 174, 176, 183,
236, 246, 270,271, 289, 305.

Voyage to Virginia,3.


Ward, Nathaniel, 158.

Warren, Mercy, 67, 69, 79,83, 100, 101, 134, 145, 309.

Washington, George, 96, 101,104, 139, 165, 167, 175, 183, 186, 187,
222, 223, 232,235, 277, 297.

Washington, Martha, 67, 80,101, 104, 112, 134, 135, 140, 141, 164,
165, 169, 183,186, 187, 188, 220, 223, 225, 233, 297, 304, 308.

Weddings, 247, 286.

Welde, Thomas, 46.

Wesleys, 65.

Whitefield, George, 65.

Why Saints in Glory willRejoice to see the Torments of the Damned,

Wigglesworth, Michael, 10.

Williams, Roger, 34.

Winthrop, John, 23, 24, 26,34, 37, 39, 44, 48, 88, 96, 142, 145,
198, 279, 288.

Winthrop, Margaret, 9, 39,97, 134.

Witchcraft, 41, 47-63, 294.

Woman’s Trifling Needs,309.

Women in Politics, 293, 299.

Wonders of the InvisibleWorld, 21, 50, 51, 56, 58.

Wonder-Working Providence,7.

Woolman, John, 40.

Work, Domestic, 105, 107,108, 111, 113, 114, 116, 135, 136, 150.

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