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Warring for AmericaCultural Contests in the Era of 1812$
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Nicole Eustace and Fredrika J. Teute

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631516

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631516.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. 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 September 2021

“Hindoo Marriage” and National Sovereignty in the Early-Nineteenth-Century United States

“Hindoo Marriage” and National Sovereignty in the Early-Nineteenth-Century United States

(p.445) “Hindoo Marriage” and National Sovereignty in the Early-Nineteenth-Century United States
Warring for America

Brian Connolly

University of North Carolina Press

This essay explored the concept of sovereignty in relation both to the legal definition of marriage within the emergent field of private international law and representations of “Hindoo” marriage in the early nineteenth century. I argue that in establishing national sovereignty the United States, paradoxically, had to give up a bit of sovereignty in order to be recognized as a sovereign nation. This was apparent in legal writings on marriage, wherein influential jurists like Joseph Story argued that a marriage legally recognized in one country was valid everywhere, even if it violated the domestic laws of a new nation. In order to deal with this paradox the cultural apparatus – in this case, print culture – worked to supplement the law. Missionary writings on supposedly “Hindoo” marriages and marital relations such as sati, child marriage, and infanticide supplemented the law by marking these kinds of relations, which would potentially have been legal in the US, as outside the logic of liberal democracy.

Keywords:   marriage, kinship, Hindoo marriage, Joseph Story, sati, child marriage, print culture, international law, national sovereignty

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