Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mormonism Q&A

This was in the Chronicle this morning, and I thought I'd pass it on in case people had questions about the basic tenets of Mormonism. This article is a question and answer session between one of the church leaders and a Chronicle reporter, and covers most of the basics.

Claire and I will be researching a bit more into the actual history of the religion, so if you come up with any more questions, post them and we'll try and find the answers!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Writing Mormon History

If you're interested in the minefield that is Mormon history, check out these recent articles from the Journal of American History:

and the reviewed author responds:


As you have hopefully figured out, class, I have enabled you to post on the blog. I'm not sure how this works, exactly, but I have full confidence in your computer abilities to figure it out. I thought it would be a good idea to create some guidelines:

1. When posting a long entry, make sure you break it up into manageable chunks. Also, edit yourself so that your writings are to the point rather than stream-of-consciousness. There's a place for James Joyce, however that place is not on our blog.

2. Ask each other questions and respond to each others' comments!

3. You don't have to be finished with the reading in order to post/comment. Since the reading from here on out is primarily books, you are welcome to post a question or thought even if you haven't finished the reading.

4. The discussion leaders for the week will be in charge of posting whatever they want before class. This might include discussion questions, links to an article, whatever.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Marriage and Slavery

Cait and Brenda hit on the conundrum in the overlap of woman's rights and abolitionism.

If you have white women in the North beginning to see marriage as an unequal relationship just as slavery is an unequal relationship, why do abolitionists persist (before and after the Civil War) on having freed people marry?

One historian (Kristen Hoganson) wrote an article about this, showing that while white women wanted equal marriages for themselves, they had different expectations for black men and women after slavery.

When the woman's rights movement and antislavery movement collided on issues of marriage, how did this play out?

Both Stanley and Cott note how activists of both groups (sometimes the same people) addressed marriage in regards to different issues (control over one's sexuality, the right to contract, the ability to consent, self-ownership, how to "civilize" freed people, etc.). What were the arguments of woman's rights activists? What were the arguments of antislavery supporters? Did they contradict each other?

What was the white southern view of marriage, slavery, and contract? What happened to this perspective after the Civil War?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A note on Angelina Grimke's "Letters"

To give you some context about the primary sources in this week's reading:

Angelina Grimke was born into a slaveholding family in South Carolina. In her teenage years, she moved to Philadelphia to live with her much older sister, Sarah Grimke, who had become a Quaker. Angelina also joined the Quakers, but she left faith when she married a non-Quaker (the abolitionist Theodore Weld) in 1838.

In the early 1830s, as more northern whites became "radical" abolitionists who favored immediate emancipation. In 1834, in Ohio, a group of radical abolitionist seminary students withdrew from Lane Seminary in Cincinnati. The leader of the group was none other than Theodore Weld, Angelina's future husband. The president of Lane Seminary, Lyman Beecher (father of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catharine Beecher), was humiliated; his daughter Catharine was infuriated.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Angelina Grimke had achieved some fame for publishing two books: one addressing southern women and the other addressing northern women on the need for ladies to adopt the abolitionist platform. In the mid-1830s, she and her sister two women went on a lecture tour in New York City, and in various towns in New England, and they became notorious. They were the subjects of a "pastoral letter" written by Congregationalist church leaders advising local ministers of the dangers of having women speak in front of mixed-sex audiences.

Since radical abolitionists were frequently accused of having no "family values" (can you guess why?), the presence of these two women on the lecture circuit frustrated some abolitionists who felt that the Grimkes distracted from the primary cause of the movement - ending slavery.

Catharine Beecher had had enough. Frustrated with the Lane Rebels abandonment of her father's school, and seeing the Grimkes' behavior as highly unladylike, she penned a book of letters directed to Angelina Grimke. She had met Angelina once, briefly, in the 1820s. In Beecher's book, she made two points. First she complained about the brutality and unmanliness of "immediate abolitionists" who she felt demonstrated values antithetical to Christianity. Secondly, Beecher pointed out that white women had no place talking about political questions like slavery. Beecher supported gradual emancipation and plans to send freed blacks to Africa.

The response, written by Angelina with her sister Sarah's help and the editorial advice of her now-fiance, Theodore Weld, is your reading this week. You are reading two of the last three letters in which Grimke directly addressed "the woman question," as the woman's rights issue was called in the 19C. The rest of Grimke's book addresses slavery specifically - you can skim through the chapter titles if you want.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Next week's reading

For Wed. Sept. 26:
Cott reading is from Public Vows
Stanley reading is on E-Reserve at Fondren
Angelina Grimke letters: follow the link on the blog, and scroll down to the bottom of the book. The two letters that we're reading for next week are "The Sphere of Woman and Man as Moral Beings the Same," and "Human Rights Not Founded on Sex."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Paper #1

Here's a thread for you to ask me and your classmates about potential paper topics.

In the paper, I'd like you to take an issue that we've discussed or that interests you concerning marriage, and using the assigned readings as well as additional books and articles, trace how different historians have approached the topic.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Revolution for Marriage?

For this week, we're reading three pieces:
1) "Review: On Citizenship" - This book review gives the broad context for citizenship and marriage
2) Jan Lewis, "The Republican Wife: Viritue and Seduction in the Early Republic"
3) Linda Kerber, "'No Political Relation to the State:' Conflicting Obligations in the Revolutionary Era."

All of them look at the place of marriage and women in particular when it comes to politics and citizenship. Lewis and Kerber both examine the late 1700s and early 1800s. They are interested in marriage and its political meaning, but they give a different reading than Nancy Cott's first chapter (go back and remind yourself if you've forgotten.)

There are also a lot of legal and political terms in these readings. What are liberalism, republicanism, ascriptive Americanism, consent, and contract? What do these things have to do with marriage? What do these ideas have to do with the American Revolution and the early Republic?

*Also: start to think about what topic you might want to consider for your first paper. The paper will be a historiography paper, asking you to consider how different historians have interpreted a particular topic. If you want to test out an idea on the blog, please do so! I'll make a post for ideas and comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


This is probably the most discussed person and court case of early Virginia, especially for women's historians. The story has been in multiple books, multiple articles, and is a standard part of talking about gender in colonial America.

What do you think about Kathy Brown's interpretation?

Do you think that it's a good thing, historically speaking, to use such a unique case to draw broader conclusions about English society?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Too Many Men?

In reference to our discussion last week, I saw this in Sunday's Times:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Marriage in Colonial Contexts

For our class on Sept. 12, we're reading selections from two books from Early America:

Ramon Gutierrez's When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846

Kathleen Brown's Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia

These historians will give us perspective on Spanish-Catholic ideals of marriage and English-Anglican ideas of marriage in the Early Modern period (1500s-1600s).

Then, they look at how these conceptions of marriage shift and transform when they are carried into a colonial context - in the case of Gutierrez it's New Spain, or modern-day New Mexico, for Brown, it's colonial Virginia.

If we talked about marriage in broad terms last week, let's look at these readings as case studies of two distinctive understandings of marriage. Think about how Nancy Cott and Hendrik Hartog's ideas play out in real life.

**What are the legal cultures at work here?
**How does religion shape in each context?
**What are the gender roles assigned to "husband" and "wife" in these cases?
**Why do both authors use "power" in their subtitles? (an unfair question since you haven't read all of the books, but make an educated guess.)
**How does race affect gender and marriage?
**Can you see the kernels of the monogamy/political liberty/consent VS. polygamy/despotism/coercion that Cott identifies developing in the 1700s?

Remember to be a good historian and to collect evidence (examples) to support your argument.