The Sedgwicks in Love: Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage in the Early Republic

The Sedgwicks in Love: Courtship, Engagement, and Marriage in the Early Republic

by Timothy Kenslea
     
 

"On a spring day in 1774, in western Massachusetts' Berkshire County, Pamela Dwight and Theodore Sedgwick were married. Theodore - destined to become one of the Federalist party's leaders in the U.S. Congress in the 1790s and later an influential judge on Massachusetts' highest court - was almost twenty-eight, and three years a widower. Pamela, not quite twenty-one,…  See more details below

Overview

"On a spring day in 1774, in western Massachusetts' Berkshire County, Pamela Dwight and Theodore Sedgwick were married. Theodore - destined to become one of the Federalist party's leaders in the U.S. Congress in the 1790s and later an influential judge on Massachusetts' highest court - was almost twenty-eight, and three years a widower. Pamela, not quite twenty-one, was marrying Theodore Sedgwick over the clearly stated objections of her widowed mother. In the course of her thirty-three-year marriage to Theodore, Pamela gave birth to ten children, seven of whom - four sons and three daughters - survived to adulthood. All but one of them would marry. The courtships, engagements, and marriages of the sons and daughters of Theodore and Pamela are the subject of this book." "Timothy Kenslea's account of Sedgwicks in and out of love begins with Theodore and Pamela's marriage, characterized by Theodore's long absences and Pamela's depression and mental illness. Kenslea looks, as well, at the courtships and marriages of their three oldest children, Eliza, Frances, and Theodore, and Theodore Sedgwick's third marriage to Penelope Russell, barely a year after the 1807 death of Pamela. These complex sets of relationships illuminate, among other things, the changing perceptions of the parental role in matchmaking, the vulnerability of wives abused by husbands, and the tenuous financial situation of widows in the early republic." Kenslea turns next to the Boston-based courtships of Harry and Robert Sedgwick. The brothers courted "the friendlies," a group of young women who taught them some important lessons, including the difficulties of navigating the subtle rules of social etiquette among the Boston elite. Harry meets his future wife, Jane Minot, among the friendlies, and the two commence a long-distance seven-month engagement at the end of 1816. Their voluminous correspondence, subject of the final third of this volume, reveals a young couple working out for themselves a

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It was an era when arranged marriages, especially among the wealthy, was giving way to the choices of young hearts. Kenslea's nonfiction narrative account of the role of marriage choices in this brave new world is an American incursion into Jane Austen territory, whose classic novels examined the tension between money and love in matchmaking during a similar period in England." --Boston Globe

"Timothy Kenslea...craft[s] a lively portrait of a complicated family falling into and out of love... Jane Austen would approve."--Northeastern University Magazine

"The mortar that gives structure and depth to Kenslea's mosaic is his deep sympathy for, and reading in, the era's social, political, and artistic culture. . . . He has breathed life into it in this learned, sympathetic, and wisely unsentimental book about how men and women once practiced love."--Boston College Magazine

"[Kenslea's] careful study of the private lives of two generations of Sedgwick men and women helps support ideas advanced by previous scholars about changing family relations in the early American republic."--New England Quarterly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584654940
Publisher:
Northeastern University Press
Publication date:
10/07/2005
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Thomas H. O'Connor
"Timothy Kenslea's work on the Sedgwick family of Berkshire County offers a sophisticated analysis of how American marriages changed during the post-Revolutionary generation. By focusing on the long courtship of Harry Sedgwick and Janet Minot, Kenslea provides an absorbing account of how members of the new generation constructed their own ideals of marriage, and prepared themselves for a more affectionate type of personal relationship."

Meet the Author

TIMOTHY KENSLEA has been a history teacher in Massachusetts high schools for a dozen years, first at Norwell High School and now at Needham High School. He graduated from Yale University, earned master's and doctoral degrees in history at Boston College, and worked for many years as an editor of high school and college textbooks.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >