Join me for the first of two parts–For Sale: WIFE. Victorian American Newspapers of the mid- to late-nineteenth century (and early 20th century) illustrate the extinct custom of wife selling and wife trading. The newspaper article featured in this blog post showcases this antiquated approach to marriage (and wives as chattel–literally, a man’s property) as part of a greater, overarching problem of crumbling morality.
The more I study historic details of America’s past, the more I realize I don’t know–such as the common practice of suing for breach of contract when a young swain’s courtship derails and no marriage results. I was fascinated by newspaper accounts of settlements upon jilted brides, the dollar amounts sued for, common beliefs of the time period about courtship in general. Who knew courtship in nineteenth century America was such a legal risk?