Marriage in Early 19th Century Us

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Diary, and Letters from a Marriage, is a look into the lives of Henry and Mary Lee. They were a well off family living in Boston in early 19th century. The selections written by Mary and Henry, give a glimpse of their marriage and lives through a reverse of wealth, a loss of a child and time spent apart while Henry goes to India to regain their wealth. Henry’s trip is extended because of the war of 1812, and we can see Mary’s attitude change of the distant relationship and her roles as a wife. Throughout history wives have had many different roles in the family. Today women are encourage to have careers outside of the house hold and have equal responsibility of raising their children as the father. In early American history the husband and wife would work side by side to get things done to survive. In the case for Mary Lee’s time, they had a much different role. In the early 19th century the wife’s job was to educate the children and take care of the house and create a sanctuary for her husband. Mary viewed her role in the family differently than the social norms. She wanted to work while her husband was away. Mary also wanted other women to be educated.

Mary Lee lived in a time where marriage was becoming more about mutual love and not just for family or economical reasons. Wives were expected to remain at home and take care and support her husband. This was also a time where mothers were still been given the responsibility of republican motherhood. This meant that the mother’s role was to raise new republicans to ensure the future of the young United States. This was the societal norm of women but Mary was living in a much different world.

Mary’s world has been shaped by her life, it was the early 19th century and her views were already liberally different, she thought that women should be educated. She shared her view with her sister, Hannah Lowell, when she wrote, “I think it will certainly be best to leave them [your children]; you cannot think of...
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