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“Lonely Colonist Seeks Wife: The forgotten History of America’s First Mail Order Brides Marcia Zug.

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Presentation on theme: "“Lonely Colonist Seeks Wife: The forgotten History of America’s First Mail Order Brides Marcia Zug."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Lonely Colonist Seeks Wife: The forgotten History of America’s First Mail Order Brides Marcia Zug

2 Jamestown Brides Threats to success of colony – Unmarried men not interested in settling, wanted to acquire wealth & return home Reversed immigration – men living in Powhatan’s village Perceived as a security threat Lord Bacon, Founding member of the Virginia Company – Actively recruited & provided incentives for women (1612) 90 women arrived (1613) 50 women arrived 1691 passed a law to prohibit white-Indian marriages

3 “Founding Mothers” Vs. White Slave Recruits “received…upon good recommendation” – Poor, but not desperate – No prostitutes, criminals or beggars – Chosen to immigrate – Colonists had to pay pounds of tobacco to the Virginia Company of London Incentives: – Petticoats, caps, apron, two pairs of shoes, six pairs sheets – Free transport, free good and shelter until they married – Promise to be married to freemen and those capable of support – Granted married households first servants

4 Scarcity of women 1620’s 6:1 1630’s 3:1 Women enjoyed increased legal and social position relative to their non-colonial sisters Breach of Promise, while normally not allowed in England, women had more leeway intially in Virginia Choice of marriage

5 Feme Covert England – Feme Covert – Could not hold property in their own name – Could not alter, dispose of property without husbands consent (even their own inheritance) – Could not make wills of appoint executors without their husbands agreement – All moveable property became their husbands with marriage

6 Chesapeake women/relaxed coverture MD, VA, SC Virginia House of Burgesses, petition July 31, 1619 – Request that parcels of land be allotted for males and their wives Question of equal distribution More dower & inheritance rights – Executrixes of late husbands estates – Frequently provided more than 1/3 share of estate as required under dower law – Femme-sole trader – married women obtained this status Right to sue, conduct business, be sued, enter into contracts, sell real property and have power of attorney in absence of husbands

7 Filles Du Roi/ The Kings Daughters New France Male colony, 75% reversed migration (1600s) Married native women – matrilocal Early 1600s encouraged white-Indian marriage – Fostered assimilation – Creation of French citizens – 1627 incentive to naturalize converted native women, could go to France and acquire property with rights of inheritance without any request or declaration to become naturalized – Dowry fund of several thousand livres to provide dowries for prospective native brides

8 Policy Change Intermarriage perceived as security threat – Filles du roi – recruited to save the colony matchmaking program (800) women – Ages 12-25, healthy, suitable for procreation – Free and marragiable – Voluntary immigration/poor and orphaned, educated – demoiselles or aristocratic women volunteered Incentives: – Fee transport, when married provided a sgnificant dowry (50 livres, 100 livres, 600 livres) – Cost of transportation, recruitment and dowry 12, ,000 livres – 82% pre-marital agreements stipulating material terms of the marriage – Could refuse a suitor and chose who they married – 4% chose never to marry – Indentured servants sometimes allowed to break contract in order to mary

9 Coutume du Paris French legal system used to protect womens rights Imported to New France In absence of a contract, all of the married couples assets, earning and debt were held jointly Marital contracts: women reserved some or all of the dowry & personal proterty

10 Louisiana’s Pelican Girls &Casket Girls Colonial population decline Men absorbed into native nations 1701 founder of colony, Iberville requested Brides: – Casket girls believed to be a myth – Pelican Girls (20)1704 Voluntary immigration Lied to about conditions & prospects/forced to stay Married against their will – 1713 Forced/coerced immigration “corrections girls” Prostitutes and criminals


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