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American Child BrideA History of Minors and Marriage in the United States$
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Nicholas L. Syrett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469629537

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469629537.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 23 May 2022

The Child Was to Be His Wife

The Child Was to Be His Wife

Patterns of Youthful Marriage in Antebellum America

(p.39) Two The Child Was to Be His Wife
American Child Bride

Nicholas L. Syrett

University of North Carolina Press

Using the marriage of Abel Stearns and Arcadia Bandini as a prism, this chapter demonstrates that youthful marriage was remarkably common in antebellum America, though more so in the South and the West than in the industrializing Northeast, which was more influenced by new ideas of age consciousness. In the South, slaves and wealthy whites both married at young ages, the former because they also worked as children. In the West demographc patterns meant that men outnumbered women in a variety of locations, leading to youthful ages of first marriage for Indian girls, Californianas and New Mexicanas, travelers on the Overland Trail, and girls who chose polygamous Mormon marriages in the new territory of Utah. In all cases youthful marriage was rarely seen as strange and most who entered such marriages probably did so for reasons unrelated to the age of one of the spouses.

Keywords:   Marriage of minors, Abel Stearns, Arcadia Bandini, Slave marriage, Demography, The West, The Northeast, The South, Overland Trail, Mormon marriage

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