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Families in Crisis in the Old SouthDivorce, Slavery, and the Law$
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Loren Schweninger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807835692

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807837504_schweninger

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Insanity, Alcoholism, Abandonment, and Abuse

Insanity, Alcoholism, Abandonment, and Abuse

(p.32) 3 Insanity, Alcoholism, Abandonment, and Abuse
Families in Crisis in the Old South

Loren Schweninger

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the complaints filed by white women concerning the four grounds for divorce and separation besides adultery: insanity, alcoholism, abandonment, and domestic abuse. In June 1854, Lydia Rawdon filed for divorce after declaring her husband Isaac Rawdon insane and having him institutionalized. This case illustrates the ravaging effects of insanity offered by wives petitioning for divorce. After examining the Isaac and Lydia Rawdon case, the chapter examines the implementation of laws that establish alcoholism as a cause for divorce or separation. It then describes the struggles faced by women who were deserted or abandoned by their husbands and the laws prescribing the length of time required before they can file for a divorce or separation suit. Finally, the chapter discusses another valid ground for divorce and separation: the violent behavior of husbands against their wives.

Keywords:   alcoholism, abandonment, domestic abuse, Lydia Rawdon, divorce, Isaac Rawdon, insanity, separation, violent behavior

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