Marriage: Definition and usage in American Studies 2000, Fordham University, Spring 2008

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== mahhwage, n. ==

1.The condition of being a husband or wife; the relation between persons married to each other; matrimony. The term is now sometimes used with reference to long-term relationships between partners of the same sex.

2000 N. COTT Public Vows. (52) They intended to keep the marriage bargain static: sexual fidelity was required; a man who deserted or cruelly abused his wife was not a "husband"; a wife who absconded or failed to serve a man's needs was not a "wife."

2007. G. HENDLER AND B. BURGETT Keywords for American Cultural Studies. (155) Even as a national lesbian and gay movement has promoted gay marriage, U.S. voters and government officials have moved furiously to prevent it.

2. in marriage: in or into wedlock, to give, conjoin, join, take in, as husband or wife, a vow or contract of marriage.

1835. A. TOCQUEVILLE Democracy in America. (691) They [Americans] regard marriage as a contract which, though onerous, must nevertheless be strictly honored in all its clauses because they have all been known beforehand and people have enjoyed the complete freedom not to bind themselves to anything at all.

2000 N. COTT Public Vows. (11) Everyone spoke of the marriage contract... The man and woman consented to marry, but public authorities set the terms of the marriage, so that it brought predictable rewards and duties...neither could break the terms set without offending the larger community, the law, and the state, as much as offending the parter.

2007. G. HENDLER AND B. BURGETT Keywords for American Cultural Studies. (153) The unwritten spousal contract, most visible in nuptial vows and suits for divorce or separation, assigned economic support and physical protection to men.

2a. marriage as a democratic contract

2000 N. COTT Public Vows.(21)Marriage had several levels of political relevance, as the prime metaphor for consentual union and voluntary allegiance, as the necessary school of affection and as the foundation of national morality." (22) "monogamy, in contrast, stood for government of consent, moderation and political liberty.

3. a system understood to exist in some cultures, religious groups, etc., by which each of the men in a small community is regarded as married to each of the women. PLURAL [polygamy]

2000. N. COTT Public Vows. (72) Joseph Smith, leader of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, had received a revelation mandating "plural marriage" in 1843 when the group lived in Illinois, but it was kept secret.

2007. G. HENDLER AND B. BURGETT Keywords for American Cultural Studies. (155) Thus federal law has only rarely intervened positively to define marriage or to prohibit particular kinds of marriage between free people. The first of these interventions occurred in 1862, when Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act prohibiting polygamy in the U.S. territories.

4. A wedding ceremony; wedding festivities.

2000 N. COTT Public Vows. (35) Slave weddings frequently became plantation events where the pair went through a makeshift ceremony or "jumped the broomstick," and Christian slaves were even granted their wish to have a minister officiate, sometimes.

2000. N. COTT Public Vows (31) Proper ceremonies did not become at all popular until after 1750. In longer-settled and more populous areas, festive weddings at home became an emblem of rank and wealth by the Revolutionary era, while common folks still married by making reciprocal promises (sometimes posting public notices called banns beforehand, indicating that a marriage was to take place so possible objections could be raised) and proceeding to live together.

5. In phrases denoting the means or custom by which a spouse is acquired, as marriage by choice, marriage by love, marriage by arrangement.

5.a. Marriage by choice

1835. A. TOCQUEVILLE Democracy in America. (691-2) When, on the other hand, each person always chooses his companion for himself without any external constrictions or control, normally only similarity in tastes and ideas brings a man and a woman together and this similarity holds and keeps them by each other’s side. (692) In the first place, I suggest that, if domestic nations grant women the right of choosing their husbands freely, they are careful to educate their understanding in advance and to give their will the necessary strength for such a choice.

2000. N. COTT Public Vows (10) "The agreement of the parties, the essence of every rational contract, is indispensably required," Wilson said in lectures delivered in 1792. He saw mutual consent as the hallmark of marriage--more basic than cohabitation.

5.b. Marriage by love

See example : [[1]] For further reading : [[2]]

1782. J.H. CREVECOEUR Letters from an American Farmer. (53) When I contemplate my wife, by my fireside [...] I cannot describe the various emotions of love, of gratitude, of conscious pride, which thrill in my heart and often overflow in involuntary tears.

1863. DOUGLASS The Heroic Slave. (219) On reaching Canada and getting over the excitement of making my escape, sir, my thoughts turned to my poor wife, who had well deserved my love by her virtuous fidelity and undying affection for me. I could not bear the thought of leaving her in her cruel jaws of slavery without making an effort to rescue her.

2000. N. COTT Public Vows. (151) Only through some "mysterious attraction" that "just happens" were two young people supposed to find each other, they reported; the townfolk seemed "to regard romance in marriage as something which, like their religion, must be believed in to hold society together".

5.c. Marriage by arrangement

2000. N.COTT Public Vows. (152) An arranged marriage represented coercion--whether brokered by a Jewish matchmaker or a Japanese go-between, it seemed as un-American as Mormon polygamy.

6. A person viewed as a prospective husband or wife, engagement

1999. DE BEAUMONT Marie, or Slavery in the United States. (18) In the United States, when two people realize that they suit each other, they promise to become united to each other, and are what is called engaged; it is a sort of unsolemnized betrothal, and has no other binding force than their own sworn word.

7. An intimate union; a merging or blending of two things [sex]

1999. DE BEAUMONT Marie or Slavery in the United States (64): The American man avoids all vexation by not marrying. He chooses among the colored woman and gives her a sort of dowry. The young girl is honored by this union

2000. N. COTT Public Vows. (31) Marriage frequently followed upon a sexual relationship between a man and a woman providing fruitful, rather than preceding it: pregnancy or childbirth was the signal for a couple to consider themselves married.

2000. N. COTT Public Vows. (150) New media such as movies and graphic advertising infused the notion of consent in marriage with the awareness of the magnetizing power of sex.

2000. N. COTT Public Vows. (225) Sexual love has even more of a halo, because we assume that an individual's full subjectivity blossoms in the circle of its intimacy.

2007. G. HENDLER AND B. BURGETT Keywords for American Cultural Studies. (153) In exchange, women's duties included sexual intercourse, childbirth, housework, and childrearing.

8. (An act of) industrial or commercial union; a merger.

1835. A. TOCQUEVILLE Democracy in America. (691) In aristocratic countries, marriage aims rather to unite property than individual persons.

1999. DE BEAUMONT Marie or Slavery in the United States (14): In Europe, all is dirt and corruption! Women there stoop to sell themselves and the men are stupid enough to buy them. When a young girl marries, she does not seek a tender soul with which hers may unite, she does not ask for a support to her weakness: she marries diamonds, a title, freedom. Not that she is heartless; she may have loved once, but her beloved was not sufficiently rich. They haggled over her the man could not throw in a carriage with his price; the bargain fell through. Then, they tell the young girl love is all foolishness; she believes it and corrects her mistaken notions; she marries a rich idiot. Such is not the life of a woman in America. Here marriage is not a business, nor is love a commodity. Two beings are not condemned to love or to hate each other because they are united; they join because they love each other. (this is the traveler's mistaken conception of American marriage, which Ludovic later corrects) (20) When he wishes to marry, he is undertaking a business affair not a love affair (36) Money is the god of the United States, as glory is the god of France and love that of Italy.

1999. W. JOHNSON Soul by Soul (200): [...] the practice of making take their owners' last names or possessive tags by which slaves were commonly identified (Ford's boy or Richardson's Lucy, for instance) were markers of the extent to which slaveholders' identities were merged with those of their slaves.