: English The History of Marriage as an Institution

07-01-2012, 10:33 PM
The History of Marriage as an Institution
by Larry R. Peterson, Ph.D.
1997, Larry R. Peterson

Virtually all scholars agree that we have witnessed a major transition in the meaning of marriage in the years from 1600 to 1995. In 1600, marriage for almost all Europeans and Europeans in America was primarily an economic arrangement negotiated between families in which family considerations of status, future economic stability, and prosperity were the most important considerations in selecting a potential spouse. By 1995, most Americans consider the primary purpose of marriage to be a commitment to emotional and psychological support between two individuals.
Here are hisorical notations about some of the dramatic changes in the legal structure of marriage in Western Europe and the United States.

From the 5th to the 14th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church conducted special ceremonies to bless same-sex unions which were almost identical for those to bless heterosexual unions. At the very least, these were spiritual, if not sexual, unions.

In 1076, Pope Alexander II issued a decree prohibiting marriages between couples who were more closely related than 6th cousins.

In the 16th century, servants and day laborers were not allowed to marry in Bavaria and Austria unless they had the permission of local
political authorities. This law was not finally abolished in Austria until 1921.

From the 1690s to the 1870s, wife sale was common in rural and small-town England. To divorce his wife, a husband could present her with a rope around her neck in a public sale to another man.

Marriage was strictly a civil and not an ecclesiastical ceremony for the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay until 1686.

The Pilgrims outlawed courtship of a daughter or a female servant unless consent was first obtained from parents or master.

Until 1662, there was no penalty for interracial marriages in any of the British colonies in North America. In 1662, Virginia doubled the fine for fornication between interracial couples. In 1664, Maryland became the first colony to ban interracial marriages. By 1750, all southern colonies, plus Massachusetts and Pennsylvania outlawed interracial marriages.

Under English common law, and in all American colonies and states until the middle of the 19th century, married women had no legal standing. They could not own property, sign contracts, or legally control any wages they might earn.

In 1848, New York became the first state to pass a Married Womans Property Act, guaranteeing the right of married women to own property.

Throughout most of the 19th century, the minimum age of consent for sexual intercourse in most American states was 10 years. In Delaware it was only 7 years.

As late as 1930, twelve states allowed boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 12 to marry (with parental consent).
As late as 1940, married women were not allowed to make a legal contract in twelve states.

In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia.

As a result of the decision, Virginia and fifteen other states had their anti-miscegenation laws declared unconstitutional. Those states were: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

In the fifteen years prior to the decision, fourteen states had repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. Those fourteen states were: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

In 1978, New York became the first state to outlaw rape in marriage. By 1990, only a total of ten states outlawed rape in marriage. In thirty-six states rape in marriage was a crime only in certain circumstances. In four states, rape in marriage was never a crime.

These examples, and there are more, clearly document that marriage has not been an unchanging institution with unchanging definitions of who can marry and under what circumstances. Those who claim otherwise distort the historical record.


For the opening paragraphs:
Edward Shorter, The Making of the Modern Family, (New York: Basic Books, 1975); Carl N. Degler, At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980); Michael Mitterauer and Reinhard Sieder, The European Family: Patriarchy to Partnership from the Middle Ages to the Present (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982); Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg, Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life, (New York: MacMillan, 1988); John DEmilio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, (New York: Harper & Row, 1988).
John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, (New York: Villard Books, 1994).
Jack Goody, The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983) pp. 136-138.
Mitterauer and Sieder, p. 123.
John R. Gillis, For Better, For Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the Present, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985) pp. 211-217.
Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth Century New England. rev. ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1966) p. 32.
John Demos, A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970) p. 154.
DEmilio and Freedman, pp. 34-36.
Sara M. Evans, Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America, (New York: Free Press, 1989), p. 22.
Evans, p. 94.
Morton Keller, Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America. (Cambridge, MA.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1977), p. 465.
Mintz and Kellogg, p. 126.
Degler, p. 333.
Loving v. Virginia, 388 US 1, 18 L ed 2d, United States Supreme Court Reports, October Term, 1966, Lawyers Edition, Second Series, Volume 18 (Rochester, N.Y.: Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Company, 1968) p.1014n.
Jane Sherron De Hart and Linda K. Kerber, Gender and The New Womens History, in Linda K. Kerber and Jane Sherron De Hart, eds. Womens America: Refocusing the Past, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) p. 13.

07-01-2012, 10:44 PM
The Crazy-Quilt of Our Age of Consent Laws

by Jonathan Dolhenty, Ph.D.

Copyright 1998 by The Center for Applied Philosophy, Sixes, Oregon.
Originally appeared on The Radical Academy website and reproduced with permission.
Dr. Dolhenty is executive director of The Center for Applied Philosophy.

Few people seem to be aware of the crazy-quilt of our laws regarding the age of consent for sexual activity. Even fewer people seem to know anything about the historical background of the consent laws.

The common law, from which America gets much of its precedents in the legal field, set the age of consent at age ten. In other words, participating in sexual activity with someone above the age of ten did not result in the crime of "statutory" rape or child molesting. The activity may have come under other statutory or informal social regulations, but anyone over the age of ten could consent to a sexual activity.

During the latter part of the last century and the early part of the present one, attitudes towards sexual activity began to change in America and so did attitudes toward the age of consent. California
was one of the first states to raise the age of consent. It raised it from ten to fourteen in 1889 and then from fourteen to sixteen in 1897. Then, in 1913, California again raised it from sixteen to eighteen.

A number of other states then joined the bandwagon and raised the age of consent including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New York, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Tennessee went the furthest: under Tennessee law, it was a felony to have sex with any woman under twenty-one.

Under the new statutes the age of the male made no difference. If two sixteen year olds got involved in sexual activity, the boy was guilty of rape and the girl was officially an innocent victim. It was legally the same regardless of whether she was, in fact, an innocent victim or a
willing and eager partner in "crime." The laws made teenage sex a serious crime&emdash;for the males. It was a crime to take a woman's chastity, even if she gave it away. It was age discrimination
at its best.

The age of consent laws have never made any sense. The variances among the individual states is enormous and what would pass as a willing, consensual sexual encounter in one state is a serious crime with severe penalties in another.

When I was a police officer, I was involved in a situation that illustrates the problem. The state in which I worked had the age of consent at eighteen. While I and another officer were on patrol one
Friday night, we made a pass through one of the local parks. We spotted an automobile parked in the middle of one of the single lanes that roamed throughout the park. The car, in fact, was blocking the roadway. We got out of the patrol car and approached the offending vehicle. We peered through the windows and spotted a couple in the back seat, naked as jay birds, engaged in a sexual act. We tapped our flashlights on the back window, scaring the devil out of the occupants.

We managed to convince the couple to get some clothes on and step out of the car. Since the couple looked rather young, we demanded some identification. The driver licenses they produced showed that they were from the next town, the boy was seventeen years old and the girl was eighteen. The girl was of legal age, and could give consent to the activity. The boy was underage, technically a "child," and could not give legal consent.

In an interesting twist on a common situation, the boy was the "victim" in this case and the girl could be charged with anything from "statutory" rape to child molesting. She would be a sex offender and
be so marked for the rest of her life. She would have to register as a sex offender with the police department of any city she moved to throughout the state. In short, her life would be miserable. This would be so even though they both were in the same class in high school and had a boy-friend-girl-friend relationship.

Neither the other police officer nor I could see ourselves branding this girl as a rapist or child molester. The boy had been a willing "victim" even though the law said he couldn't give consent. Had they been married, which they could have been under the law, the act they were
engaging in would have been none of the police's business (except for the fact they were doing it in a public place). The boy could legally quit school (the age of consent for that was sixteen). The boy could legally enter the Marine Corps and defend his country in time of war (the age for that was seventeen with parental approval). He could, in short, have died for his country, but he was a "child" as far as the law was concerned and could not legally engage in sexual activity.

So what did we do? My fellow officer and I gave the couple a traditional lecture on the dangers of what they were doing and particularly doing it in what constituted a public place. We put into
them what "fear of hell" we could and let them go home. That was the sensible thing to do.

The information in this article and the graphs is assumed to be accurate as of 1995. The sources used to obtain the information are:

The World Almanac, 1995;

Lawrence M. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History (BasicBooks, 1993);

Peter McWilliams, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do (Prelude Press, 1993).

Look at the age of consent for the state of New Mexico in the chart on the left below. 13! Does this mean the kids who live in New Mexico are much more mature and intelligent than the kids in the other states of our nation?

I wonder why the kids in some states are considered mature enough to make decisions but in other states they are not? If a kid goes from Wisconsin to New Mexico, does he or she get "instant" maturity? If a boy or girl goes from New Mexico to Wisconsin, do they "instantly"
become immature?

Does any of this make sense?

The graph at the right below gives the ages at which people can get married in the United States.

There are some interesting things one finds in analyzing the graph:

The boys and girls in California must be smarter and more mature than other kids in the country since they can get married at any age with parental consent.

The kids in Hawaii must be considered more mature than other kids in the nation since they can get married at 16 without parental consent. Notice that a girl in Massachusetts can get married at 12 with parental consent and in New Hampshire at age 13. But in New Hampshire, she can't consent to sexual activity until she is 18. Does this mean she can't consent to sex even though she is married under the age of 18?

In Mississippi, the boy must be 17 and the girl 15 to get married with parental consent. Isn't this age discrimination in violation of the civil rights laws?

EDITOR NOTE: The following chart appeared with the original article and is presented here for completeness. However, the most accurate information on the various ages of sexual consent are at

http://www.ageofconsent.com/images/aocgraph1.gif http://www.ageofconsent.com/images/aocgraph2.gif

07-01-2012, 10:45 PM
ALLAH reward you goodness my brother ABOHOBALLAH for thies essay about the way of marriage in the Europian's communities and American's community,thanks my brother ...