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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: 06 July 2022

Wholly Unfit for the Marriage Condition

Wholly Unfit for the Marriage Condition

Parton v. Hervey and Struggles over Age of Consent Laws

(p.77) Three Wholly Unfit for the Marriage Condition
American Child Bride

Nicholas L. Syrett

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter revisits the laws documented in the first chapter and demonstrates that even though they prohibited marriage below certain ages, many children continued to marry, often extralegally. When parents objected to these marriages, as in the case of Susan Hervey to the marriage of her daughter Sarah to Thomas Parton, they may have done so not because their children were too young for marriage (reflecting the growth of age consciousness), but because such a marriage would deprive parents of the labor of their children. When judges decided the cases brought by aggrieved parents, they almost always upheld the marriages so as not to create single, non-virginal girls, some of whom might be pregnant. They also wanted to hold men to the promises they had made to the state regarding the permanence of marriage.

Keywords:   Age of consent, Parton v. Hervey, Susan Hervey, Sarah Parton, Thomas Parton, Age consciousness, Child labor, Pregnancy, Marriage law

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