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Age Of Marriage In 19th Century.


Loquacious Lurker

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Hi.

I've been accused of rampant presentism in this particular area. Well. Okay.

I've heard all the arguments condeming JS for marrying a girl who was, for all practical purposes, a girl. What exactly are the proofs that a fourteen-year-old was considered a woman? Are there any sort of "smoking gun" passages that are contemporaneous that would point to its being, if not widely practised, at least considered unremarkable?

In reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennett marries at sixteen. The novel was published in 1813. Also, I think Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of a thirteen year old who marries in one of her books.

Any other references in popular literature of the time that you know of?

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If the age of consent was 10 or 12 years old in most states at the time (and I believe it was), then the question is answered and there is nothing eyeraising about JS "marrying" a 14 year old. To raise eyes at it (the age) is presentism in this case.

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This is probably too late (I believe this was published in the 1930â??s), but hereâ??s a passage from â??By the Shores of Silver Lakeâ? by Laura Ingalls. She was born in 1867, so perhaps thereâ??s a bit of credence despite the late publishing date (emphasis mine).

"You must excuse the way I look," she said. "My girl was married yesterday, and here come the threshers this morning, and this wash to do. I been hustling since before sun-up, and here's the day's work hardly started and my girl not here any more to help me."

"Do you mean Lizzie got married?" Lena asked.

"Yes, Lizzie got married yesterday," Lizzie's mother said proudly. "Her pa says thirteen's pretty young, but she's got her a good man and I say it's better to settle down young. I was married young myself."

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Hi.

I've been accused of rampant presentism in this particular area. Well. Okay.

I've heard all the arguments condeming JS for marrying a girl who was, for all practical purposes, a girl. What exactly are the proofs that a fourteen-year-old was considered a woman? Are there any sort of "smoking gun" passages that are contemporaneous that would point to its being, if not widely practised, at least considered unremarkable?

In reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennett marries at sixteen. The novel was published in 1813. Also, I think Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of a thirteen year old who marries in one of her books.

Any other references in popular literature of the time that you know of?

I believe that lydia bennet was 'not yet 16' when she married, making her 15 actually (and eliza bennet was ashamed to tell her age since she wasn't yet married at 21-an old maid).

Scarlet of Gone with the Wind was also entertaining marriage proposals at the age of 16 to men both her age and also much older.

Though the book was not written until the 1930's but it portrays the late 1800's ideas of propriety so it could be seen as evidence in this matter.

:P

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I believe that lydia bennet was 'not yet 16' when she married, making her 15 actually (and eliza bennet was ashamed to tell her age since she wasn't yet married at 21-an old maid).

I wonder if a talk in a singles ward had that tidbit of information, how well it would go over.

:P

PacMan

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Any other references in popular literature of the time that you know of?

I think you are getting off on the wrong foot here.

From what I can ascertain, in very few pre-20th century marriages in Europe or North America,

was the relationship of man and wife an equal one. That is to say, the man almost always had

the power and the woman almost always had to submit to his power. In rare cases this was not so,

and increasingly, in places like Scandinavia, Holland, England and America, the marital relationship

became more balanced generally.

But the modern notion, of one marriage partner NOT exercising unwarrented power over the other,

is mostly a recent development, evolving out of institutions such as English Common Law and the

United States' Constitution -- not to mention the development of technologies and education beneficial

to women.

One woman might be physically and mentally developed at the age of 16, so that she is pretty much

the same as her 18 year old contemporaries. Another, at age 16 might fit in better with 14 year olds.

The key issue here is the problem of overwhelming power being exercised by the husband (in this

case, Joseph Smith, Jr.) over a girl not yet mentally developed to the point of being able to make a

rational and informed choice regarding her marriage and her role in that marriage -- (not to mention

her not being physically developed to the point of bearing children, or emotionally developed to the

point of having healthy intimate physical relations with a man).

The same problem exists to this very day, in fundamentalist polygamous societies, where the "elders"

decide which very young girl will be married to which older, vastly more experienced and powerful

husband. Free agency is obliterated in such forced arrangements, and I think most of us will say

that is simply wrong.

Did the 14-year old girl have the development of mind and discernment necessary to make a reasoned

choice, in her "marriage" being sealed (and very likely consumated) with Smith? Did she exercise any

degree of free agency in the arrangement? Was it a good idea? Was it necessary? Was it God's will?

My opinion, on all counts, is "no!" -- and therefore we have every right to criticise Smith (regardless of

the fact that some other 14 year olds were also taken into marriages in that era).

Uncle Dale

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The key issue here is the problem of overwhelming power being exercised by the husband (in this

case, Joseph Smith, Jr.) over a girl not yet mentally developed to the point of being able to make a

rational and informed choice regarding her marriage and her role in that marriage -- (not to mention

her not being physically developed to the point of bearing children, or emotionally developed to the

point of having healthy intimate physical relations with a man).

This presupposes 4 things; which takes the wind from the sails of the argument; namely:

1) That the girl or girls in question were not "mentally developed enough." Do we have evidence that these girls weren't?

2) That the girl or girls in question were not "physically developed to the point of bearing children."

3) That the girl of girls in question were not "emotionally developed" enough to have healthy intimate physical relations with a man.

4) That Joseph Smith unequivocally had intimate relations with one who misses any of these critera, thus villianizing him.

Again, these presuppositions are matters of opinion, conjecture, speculation, and not established fact. Thus, the argument must fall with them, or be heavily substantiated.

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Hi.

I've been accused of rampant presentism in this particular area. Well. Okay.

I've heard all the arguments condeming JS for marrying a girl who was, for all practical purposes, a girl. What exactly are the proofs that a fourteen-year-old was considered a woman? Are there any sort of "smoking gun" passages that are contemporaneous that would point to its being, if not widely practised, at least considered unremarkable?

In reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennett marries at sixteen. The novel was published in 1813. Also, I think Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of a thirteen year old who marries in one of her books.

Any other references in popular literature of the time that you know of?

My grandmother and great-grandmother married at 13...1884 and 1910. Very common in the south...back then. Today I would kill anyone who looks at my daughter before 18.

Pa Pa :P

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This presupposes 4 things; which takes the wind from the sails of the argument; namely:

1) That the girl or girls in question were not "mentally developed enough." Do we have evidence that these girls weren't?

2) That the girl or girls in question were not "physically developed to the point of bearing children."

3) That the girl of girls in question were not "emotionally developed" enough to have healthy intimate physical relations with a man.

4) That Joseph Smith unequivocally had intimate relations with one who misses any of these critera, thus villianizing him.

Again, these presuppositions are matters of opinion, conjecture, speculation, and not established fact. Thus, the argument must fall with them, or be heavily substantiated.

And Mormons wonder why others tend to see them as exercising a Cult Mentality --- !!!

What will it take, for our God-given reason and discernment to prevail in such tragic cases?

Were the God of Israel to speak from the Heavens with a Voice of Thunder, commanding:

"Thus saith the Lord your God, these things are an abomination in my sight and a great

wickedness among my people! Abstain from such iniquity!," I seriously believe that the LDS

would refuse to obey. ----- And so would the deluded followers of Warren Jeffs.

For, the carnal appetites of the "Lord's Anointed" at Nauvoo are never to be questioned, never to

be criticised, and never to be condemned.

For shame!

Dale R. Broadhurst

web host

OliverCowdery.com, etc.

.

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What will it take, for our God-given reason and discernment to prevail in such tragic cases?

I agree that the way JS presented these marriage/sealing purposals was not good, however I do believe he did it the same way to the older women as to the younger women. We can agree that it was inappropriate way to verse a marriage purposal and disagree that he did it for the right/wrong reasons.

Either way though, I don't see this as showing that the 14 year old wasn't physically, emotionally or mentally of an appropriate age to marry.

I think the only thing we could know is that at first she wasn't wanting to get married (which would show she might not have felt ready).

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And Mormons wonder why others tend to see them as exercising a Cult Mentality --- !!!

What will it take, for our God-given reason and discernment to prevail in such tragic cases?

Were the God of Israel to speak from the Heavens with a Voice of Thunder, commanding:

"Thus saith the Lord your God, these things are an abomination in my sight and a great

wickedness among my people! Abstain from such iniquity!," I seriously believe that the LDS

would refuse to obey. ----- And so would the deluded followers of Warren Jeffs.

For, the carnal appetites of the "Lord's Anointed" at Nauvoo are never to be questioned, never to

be criticised, and never to be condemned.

For shame!

Dale R. Broadhurst

You might try answering the questions instead of bloviating off on some misdirection about how we shouldn't question your pronouncements.

LDS are often criticized - improperly, I might add - for uncritical acceptance of what their leaders say and do. The fact that we are discussing this on this thread should give the lie to that.

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What will it take, for our God-given reason and discernment to prevail in such tragic cases?

Evidence to support that such was a 'tragic case' and not being expected to form judgements based on emotionality and opinion alone.

:P

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we have every right to criticise Smith (regardless of the fact that some other 14 year olds were also taken into marriages in that era).

Assuming for a moment you are correct, what on earth good does it do to 'rightly criticize' people engaging in common accepted practice of the day?

Shall we discount the US constitution because X% of the founders owned slaves? Is Shakespeare dustbin-bound because Juliet was of a similar young age? Do we cast away the old testament, with all it's criticizeable rules about stoning, and eye-for-an-eye, and women being property, and bizzare sexual customs (of which polygamy is also one). Am I duty bound to refuse to honor my WWII-era father, who never came to grips with women entering the workforce?

I'm just wondering what the practical effects or consequenses are to this "right to criticise"...

HSR

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Assuming for a moment you are correct, what on earth good does it do to 'rightly criticize' people engaging in common accepted practice of the day?

I understand that persecutions of mormorns was a commonly accepted practice in the early 1800s. I also have it on good authority that the "extermination order" was not only issued by an elected official, but was never struck down by the judiciary.

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the "extermination order" was not only issued by an elected official, but was

never struck down by the judiciary.

And how much longer must we wait for the LDS First Presidency to "strike down" this

ungodly message, delivered to the assembled Saints from the podium, by an earlier

First Presidency, and published by Joseph Smith, Jr. on the Church's Far West press? ---

We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men

in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour,

we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity.

The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives.

And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them

a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their

blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the

seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the

other shall be utterly destroyed. -- Remember it then all MEN.

http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/rigd1838.htm

UD

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I am an Enlish major, so here is a list of books that talks about that:

Armadale, (in which a sixteen year old is busy trying to marry a 25 year old, of whom her parents approve)

Emma

Little Women

Jane Eyre (in which the heroine is not much older than the master of the house's little daughter, which master she marries)

Wuthuring heights, same deal. they're pretty much children.

Sister Carrie, who at 17 starts living with a man who is in his mid-twenties and there is nothing uncommon with that.

The Count of monte Cristo, in which there are several young women who marry young

The Scarlett Letter, in which the heroine is about 17 and has been married and is with child from another man.

Frankenstein, in which the creator's new bride is a teenager, he is a few years older.

You have to remember as well, that the mother of Christ married at about 14.

the criminal ammendment act of 1885 raised the age of consent to 16, from age 12!!!! people were getting married very young, women especially because they couldn't work at very much other than prostitution.

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I understand that persecutions of mormorns was a commonly accepted practice in the early 1800s. I also have it on good authority that the "extermination order" was not only issued by an elected official, but was never struck down by the judiciary.

Oh, I don't know how commonly accepted it was, but again, for sake of arguement, let's say you are correct. Again, please tell me what practical effects or consequenses should ensue? Should I demand reparations from Missouri? Lobby for a trade embargo? Hunt up the descendants of the Carthage mob and throw cabbages at them?

Nobody is telling me what the point is. I mean, I get the part about "Just because everyone did it doesn't make it right". Is someone trying to claim "Mormons did it, therefore mormonism isn't true"? Again, please explain how this pertains to mormons only, and not the OT, or Shakespeare, or medical science before the understanding that women weren't born crazy, etc.

It seems to me, God can still be God, even though His "chosen people" fled Egypt and didn't embrace concepts like women's sufferage, and the benefits of a diverse workplace.

HSR

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And Mormons wonder why others tend to see them as exercising a Cult Mentality --- !!!

What will it take, for our God-given reason and discernment to prevail in such tragic cases?

Were the God of Israel to speak from the Heavens with a Voice of Thunder, commanding:

"Thus saith the Lord your God, these things are an abomination in my sight and a great

wickedness among my people! Abstain from such iniquity!," I seriously believe that the LDS

would refuse to obey. ----- And so would the deluded followers of Warren Jeffs.

For, the carnal appetites of the "Lord's Anointed" at Nauvoo are never to be questioned, never to

be criticised, and never to be condemned.

For shame!

Dale R. Broadhurst

web host

OliverCowdery.com, etc.

.

This completely sidesteps the issue. You've jumped to conclusions, I pointed it out. you can rail, and say I exhibit a "cult" mentality, but frankly, that's taking things a bit too far, Dale.

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please explain how this pertains to mormons only...

OK -- I will.

The LDS profess that proxy sealings are perfectly valid -- therefore, even if JS foresaw his coming

assassination (as has been argued in this particular case), there was no need for him to rush into

marrying the child before she reached a healthy child-bearing maturity. The marriage might have

been "sealed" even after she was 16 or 17, and he was "beyond the veil."

But, more importantly, this is a "Mormon" issue, because we have "God's Mouthpiece on Earth," and

the "Holder of the keys to the final dispensation" using his tremendous position of power and

influence among the Saints, to pull a young girl into a relationship in no way appropriate for her.

And those who on this Message Board argue that it WAS appropriate, are no better in my eyes than

hireling "Short Creek" lawyers, who refuse to acknowledge that the "Lord's Anointed" can do wrong.

It is also a "Mormon" issue because of the example it set for William Smith, Apostle (?) of Jesus Christ,

Patriarch (?) of the One True Church, --- and polygamous pedophile extraordinaire.

Argue with me, if you will, about Bill Smith's hankering for "young stuff" and his sordid carrer, both

during and after his more famous brother's death --- but we can agree upon one thing, I think, and

that is the "Prophet" Bill Smith used his self-asserted divine authority as a lure for under-age females

into his bed, and that in those instances he certainly cited the "revelations" and practices of his late

brother as his justification --- just as Warren Jeffs might be doing this very day, were he not caught

and held for trial for similar crimes.

There are many righteous principles taught by Joseph Smith, Jr. , for which today's LDS might be

proud to hold up his name to the nations. There are numerous gospel teachings they might quote

from his lips and pen, which need to be re-stated in our modern world, and in which Jesus Christ

will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Latter Day Saints in their gospel preaching.

But, to defend Joseph Smith, Jr. at every turn of the historical page, no matter what, is the sort

of thing we "outsiders" might expect of cult members, and not from the discerning followers of Jesus.

Uncle Dale

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And how much longer must we wait for the LDS First Presidency to "strike down" this

ungodly message, delivered to the assembled Saints from the podium, by an earlier

First Presidency, and published by Joseph Smith, Jr. on the Church's Far West press? ---

UD

Dale, will you note that the threat and warning was conditional?

The mobbers who come upon us shall face a war of extermination.

Joseph's statement was heavily qualified and very specific.

It is very different than the general extermination order that turned American citizens into legitimate targets for mob violence and lawlessness simply because of their religious beleifs.

Joseph spoke against those who would deny others their civil rights through violence. That's a far cry from making an entire class of people a legitimate target for rape and murder and for stripping them of their civil rights without due process.

You may be well spoken, but your sophistry is rather thin and your bigotry transparent.

If these things were spoken against anybody but Mormons, you'd be out in full howl, baying at the moon.

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You may be well spoken, but your sophistry is rather thin and your bigotry transparent.

Well then, as one brother bigot to another, allow me to ask just one question:

Does the LDS First Presidency still support this 1838 Message, and do they still reserve the right

to determine for themselves exactly what constitutes "a mob" confronting them in our modern world --

whether that "mob" be the county constables of 1838 serving court summons, the federal troops of

Johnson's Army marching upon Great Salt Lake City in 1857, or the Government marshalls arresting

Utah law-breakers in 1885?

If so, then perhaps you Mormons missed your chance -- and you should have gone ahead and

"exterminated" the rest of us "mobbers" when you still had your muskets in your hands and your

Bowie knives unsheathed at Far West.

Your First Presidency said "we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own

families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed. " Evidently God did not stand

with them in that bloody threat of 1838 -- for that was not the outcome, was it?

Uncle Dale --

Whose Broadhurst ancestral relatives had their homes at Gallitan burned by Lyman Wight in 1838.

http://sidneyrigdon.com/PICS/gallatin.jpg

.

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Interesting that when we discuss presentism as applied to Joseph Smith's time, that Dale refuses even to acknowledge the validity of such a discussion, and instead pontificates from his high and mighty moral pedestal as to how his enlightened sense of right and wrong is applicable to all ages. Anti-Mormon pompousness in its true colors.

Pulling William Smith into the discussion and validating his actions based on Dale's moral judgment of Joseph Smith is absurd. Anything can be twisted by the unscrupulous; that Dale uses it to justify his attack on the character of Joseph is shallow indeed.

Perhaps a more valid group comparison would be of those comprising the rabid anti-Mormon characters we are all familiar with. Dale, your pronouncements smack familiarly of such luminaries as Decker and Keller; are you going to address the questions directly, or continue dodging with your misplaced moral judgments?

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are you going to address the questions directly...

Ask one.

UD

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