Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Morag Martin

First Reader

Owen S. Ireland

Second Reader

Alison Parker

Abstract

Though historians continue to add important insight on marital expectations and experiences in early national Virginia, a more encompassing examination is necessary. This thesis examines marriage in three interconnected ways to augment the growing study of marital beliefs and realities. First, sermons, hymns, published religious literature, church minutes, and circular letters describe what Protestant Virginia clergy wrote about matrimony. Second, letters, journals, published books, and newspapers illustrate what lay Virginians expected from marriage. Finally, letters, diaries, autobiographies, and secondary sources offer a glimpse into the everyday experiences of spouses in the Old Dominion. Taken together, this study concludes that from 1779 to 1835, Virginians struggled to reconcile the companionate ideal with the traditional patriarchal marriage model.