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More general info on marriage
The Virginia Colony, settled by many younger sons of landed and titled Englishmen, and the rest of the South, with similar colonists, tended to carry on many upper-class ideals. Land being the English basis of wealth, it was common to decentralize onto large estates where the master was virtually undisputed, and at the same time to make political unions joining land-holding families. Throughout the South, the very few women available for much of the early years meant they had ample opportunities for extramarital relationships and could expect to survive discovery because they would surely be welcomed by the new man if rejected by the old.
New England, on the other hand, was more urban, with the population settled in small towns around the church. The population came from urban centers in England and vigorously espoused the newer ideas of Protestantism. In this view the role of the family was central. The family became a miniature commonwealth, headed by the husband, and responsible for bringing up godly souls. On a larger scale the community had the same responsibility to police individual and corporate behavior. Solitary living was forbidden in many areas, forcing all members of society into close quarters where they were subject to scrutiny by their peers. Privacy as we know it was not held important, especially if its violation discovered some moral hazard to the community. Witnesses in court repeatedly recount peeping through walls, listening at doors, and even tearing boards up and doors off hinges to afford a better view of illicit behavior.
Most New Englanders during the early period made their living by farming, which accounts for some dichotomy between the theoretic ideals of the urban centers of England and the reality of New England life, which accepted sex openly, if within prescribed bounds. At least one man was prosecuted for publicly masturbating outside a church on Sunday. The prosecution was for masturbation, not violation of the Sabbath or public display. SOURCE: The Writer's Guide, Everyday Life in Colonial America From 1607 - 1783. Dale Taylor. Weiter's Digest Books (1997) p 124
CONTINUE ON TO EARLY AMERICA SEX, MARRIAGE, CHILDREN, GAYS, LESBIANS, BOYS AS GIRLS, ABORTION, BREECHING, FAMILY AND OTHER MYTHS. PART 5