• Navigating “the Ocean of Matrimony:” Marital Expectations and Experiences in Virginia, 1779-1835

      Martin, Morag; Ireland, Owen S.; Alison Parker; Stocking, Richard J.; The College at Brockport (2017-05-12)
      Though historians continue to add important insight on marital expectations and experiences in early national Virginia, a more encompassing examination is necessary. This thesis examines marriage in three interconnected ways to augment the growing study of marital beliefs and realities. First, sermons, hymns, published religious literature, church minutes, and circular letters describe what Protestant Virginia clergy wrote about matrimony. Second, letters, journals, published books, and newspapers illustrate what lay Virginians expected from marriage. Finally, letters, diaries, autobiographies, and secondary sources offer a glimpse into the everyday experiences of spouses in the Old Dominion. Taken together, this study concludes that from 1779 to 1835, Virginians struggled to reconcile the companionate ideal with the traditional patriarchal marriage model.