My Beautiful Wickedness

Doing the Nasty in Colonial America
June 30, 2007, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


So many people are coming to this one on Google that I thought I’d add some citations in case they are moved to go read more about this subject.

Lots of historians write about sex. Richard Godbeer’s Sexual Revolution in Early America
is as good as any place to start (and better than most). He also has written a number of shorter articles on non-procreative sex that you can find in the William and Mary Quarterly. Merrill Smith’s Sex and Sexuality in Early America — a collection of articles, good for a short sampling — is also good, though it doesn’t aim to be a narrative history but rather a bunch of case studies. I also think highly of the work of Sharon Block, whose book
Rape and Sexual Power in Early America is really terrific. Block and Kathleen Brown edited an entire volume of William and Mary Quarterly in January 2003 and the authors of those articles are now coming out with great and relevant books. You might also want to look for anything by Martha Hodes, Jennifer Spears, or Kirsten Fischer — excellent authors with excellent books and articles that concern themselves with how sexual and racial hierarchy is built up together in imperial settings like colonial America and the early US South. Finally, I’d be amiss if I let you get away without a mention of Clare Lyons book about sex in colonial Philadelpia, titled
Sex among the Rabble: An Intimate History of Gender and Power in the Age of Revolution, Philadelphia, 1780-1830
. The premarital pregnancy stuff I talk about is condensed from a classic in the field by Daniel Scott Smith and Michael Hindus, “Premarital Pregnancy in America, 1640-1971: An Overview and Interpretation,” _Journal of Interdisciplinary History_ 5 (1974-5). The general text in the field that covers a lot of ground, but in my mind is interpretively sort of out of date, is John d’Emilio and Estelle Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. Likewise, while I like Stephanie Coontz, _The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families 1600-1900, it was written twenty years ago and some of what she wrote then has been modified by the findings of the more recent works listed above. Hope this helps.

This one is for Nick, who appears to be incapable of asking easy questions. (That is, of course, a good thing. Any other historian who wants to jump in on this, feel free…I haven’t even touched on the whole trans-Atlantic dimension of this…)

Nick writes:

“I have a very curious nature, and I have a nagging history question today, a question about women in the revolutionary era. Why were there way more prostitutes in colonial America than today? From everything I’ve read, they were ubiquitous back then (like in some towns, the vast majority of women). Are we actually way more puritanical now than we were then?”

First, prostitutes were never the vast majority of women in colonial America. Women is a pretty big category, encompassing married, widowed, single women — black, white, Indian women — rich and poor and middling women. If we restrict ourselves to white women (just temporarily), the vast majority of white women followed the standard marriage and kids route, then as now. Most black women did not own themselves and thus could not sell themselves. And Indian women’s use of sexual exchange was really different in its meaning (depending on who and when you’re talking about) than Anglo prostitution. Also, the total colonial population was a tiny fraction of today’s mainland US population, so as a matter of numbers, it would be very unlikely that there are more prostitutes then than now. So, with that misconception cleared up, let’s talk about sex in colonial America…

Yes, strange as it may seem, American society is much more sexually uptight than it was in the 18th century, the pornification of everything notwithstanding. Colonial Americans were a sexually open bunch — they cracked dirty jokes, they played sexual pranks, they sang outrageously ribald songs, they drew scandalous cartoons, and they masturbated in the churchyard when they thought the sermon was boring. They spied on each other through the cracks in the cabin walls, they had sex in haylofts, and they told everybody they knew when they got laid. There was no expectation of privacy. Even the Puritans, who are usually thought of as the world’s greatest prudes, believed that sex was a positive good within marriage and that sexual satisfaction was pleasing in the eyes of God. So this was a lusty bunch of folks, well-lubricated with alcohol, cider, and small beer…

There. There’s one straightforward answer. Now, about prostitution…

The motives for regulating sexual behavior were different from colony to colony, so it’s hard to speak generally about sexual policing. Some colonies spent a lot of energy policing interracial sex — trying to keep the line bright between owners and the owned. Other colonies were far more concerned about offenses to social order and supporting the patriarchal household head’s right to control the bodies and labor of his dependents. All colonies and localities cared about sexual relationships in which live birth resulted, as they wanted fathers to acknowledge paternity and support the infant/mother pair until the child was old enough to be weaned and be bound out (OR marry, if possible) — the motive there is to avoid putting a mother/child on the pauper rolls, which was a public charge. Ownership of one’s body and the right to sell one’s labor (including sexual labor) is a property issue that is connected with a lot of other things, including race, the law of coverture, and the changing nature of scientific inquiry. So it’s a really complicated thing to try to break out one small piece of the non-marital sex puzzle when maybe it would be easier to understand if we approached it more holistically. Stick with me and you’ll learn something, though we’re not going to take the HOV lane.

Generally speaking, colonial Americans divided sexual acts into procreative and nonprocreative activity. They were always more down on nonprocreative sex. Beastiality was always out — there was still an imprecise understanding of reproduction and a fear of the creation of “abominable” half-human monsters, as well as the violation of someone else’s chattel (a cow, horse, sheep, or dog that didn’t belong to the penetrator). Repeated acts of sodomy that became public knowledge, violated other social boundaries (like when an elite man buggered an unwilling servant boy and the boy’s parents got into the act), or betokened an ongoing “unnatural” partnership (two men living together and not motivating themselves to find wives) would be punished, but not nearly as frequently or as harshly as you might think. Tribadic activity or female “sporting” is rarely mentioned in colonial court records and was always given the stinkeye when it came to public notice. Public masturbation — especially in the churchlot, the courthouse steps, or other places where it was meant to give offense to the dignity of the activities that occurred in that location — was out. Transgendered performance — especially men wearing women’s clothing, but even to a lesser extent women passing for men — violated social order by pretending to be something that you weren’t. (But there are those that argue that you’d have been in similar trouble for counterfeiting a cross-class appearance…)

So, let’s think about procreative (heterosexual, penetrative, penis in or near vagina) sex. Sex between married people, of course, was presumed good and sexual capacity was considered vital to being legally married. If a man contracted marriage but could not achieve or maintain an erection, for example, that was cause for a separation in Massachusetts Bay Colony. And if a woman was barren, that was not necessarily “her fault” — it could indicate that her husband was a bad lover, as it was commonly believed that women needed to climax to “catch” a baby.

Premarital sex, though…that’s a can of worms. There’s a lot of different ideas about women and premarital sex in colonial America, depending on where one was geographically, one’s social class and race, what’s one’s relationship was to one’s partner, etc. According to one early study of sexuality in New England, it was not all that uncommon for couples to be expecting babies when they married — premarital sex between partners who had declared their intention to marry, while not exactly embraced by society, was also not stigmatized. That’s what happened when bundling got a little hot and heavy. In southern colonies, however, free white girls’ sexual “purity” was a badge of white male honor in a slaveholding society, with sexual activity heavily stigmatized and associated with the lower sort and/or indentured servitude. (The enduring association is found, for example, in the word “slut” — which is another word for a dirty kitchen menial.) Sexual access to enslaved women was presumed a part of a master’s ownership of their bodies. The strong presumption of coercion makes a consideration of sex between white indentured serving women or enslaved black women and their masters something different than prostitution.

So, why does it seem like there’s so many whores in colonial America? I’ve got some ideas.

1) Social conditions. Endemic warfare in the 18th c created displaced refugees (mostly women and kids) who contributed to urban overcrowding (people are living 9-12 persons per room). The economy tanked in mid-century and the gap between rich and poor got much wider, especially in coastal cities. These port towns had a lot of women without any regular source of income (as their husbands might be sailors in the China trade, gone for two years at a time). And there weren’t a whole lot of jobs for women outside of services related to one’s domestic skills — laundry, keeping boarders, baking bread, making beer, sewing buttons, upholstering or tending bar or maybe offering a dame’s school. So, lacking other means of keeping themselves alive and generating extra income, women might find what we’d now call a sugar daddy to help pay the bills. Or a woman might honestly not know if her husband was alive or coming back — self-divorce being common — and “take up” with another man. Or she might sell a bit on the side, to make rent, without any intention of pursuing sex as a trade. None of these things would have been considered particularly whorish at the time. Our standards have changed and we’d be inclined to categorize all of these behaviors as prostitution.

2. Young women could be accused of bawdry (gossip and slander being major sports in colonial America) without a shred of evidence and slurs against sexual chastity were common — as they both shamed the girl and they shamed the father, who was not exercising appropriate patriarchal control over his daughter’s body. Many girls were called whores (by other women, mostly) or accused of being “poxy” or “crusted” (yeah…euuuuuuuuww….the affidavits on these things are graphic), but the charges mostly were groundless.

3. According to a landmark study by Sharon Block, elite men often could manipulate the appearance of willingness (or at least resigned consent) that transformed what we would now consider rape into something less than a prosecutable offense. In a society where sex-talk was frequent and rape carried a capital punishment, male jurors were reluctant to kill a man for fucking unless there was some sort of exceptional inappropriateness (like targeting and gravely injuring a very young girl). So many of our records imply, on their face, that women were selling sex when — if you look closer at the social contexts within which these events happen — the sex was forcibly taken and then some money offered as a belated extra-legal reparation (which then might have been taken by the woman who was making the best of a bad situation).

4. Much of our information about sex comes through court records. So historians write about what they can find in primary documents. The emphasis on legally transgressive sex reflects source bias rather than some sort of numerical predominance of sex-for-hire.

Does any of this help? Ask me follow-up questions and I’ll clarify.

20 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wow. I’m impressed by your knowledge! Brava!

You are awesome!

I didn’t mean to say “most women in colonial America were prostitutes,” but that “in some towns most women were prostitutes.”

That Wild West show Deadwood springs to mind. In Deadwood, except for two or three, all the women are prostitutes. I know this is HBO, this is fiction, but there is probably some truth in it regarding these frontier trading towns.

But what is most prominent in my mind is David McCullough’s 1776, where New York City was so prostitute-ridden during the war that it scared the generals. They had a tough time getting the Continental Army organized because the soldiers were always holed up in brothels or running off with “women of ill repute.” You couldn’t go far in NYC without seeing (or being solicited by) prostitutes. And they … *gasp* spoke to the Continental officers before being spoken to! Unthinkable!! General Washington was scandalized. And they had trouble getting soldiers to leave the women and form up. The attitude seemed to be, whoring is fine, in fact it’s expected, but this was out of hand.

But even though prostitutes seemed to be disabling the Army’s ability to organize, there was never a round-up or significant enforcement against the women. There seemed to be a WAY more libertarian attitude back then.

Today, streetwalkers are immediately jailed, brothels strictly prosecuted, and if an American soldier in Iraq were found with an Iraqi woman, policy is to quickly court-martial them for disobeying a direct order.

I am torn on how I feel about living in a society with ubiquitous prostitution. On the one hand, I see how that may be very bad for a lot of women. On the other hand, that might make a lot of men’s lives a lot less depressing and less needing of anti-depressants. And my libido says “AWESOME!”


Comment by Nick Dupree

NYC is an atypical place and, like the other big Middle Colonies city Philadelphia, was probably always more libertine in its sexual attitudes due to its religious heterodoxy, the circulation of people through its ports (the population turned over every 14 months), its nature as a port city, and its dire poverty. Visitors noted an uncharacteristically booming sex trade from at least the 1700s to the 1830s — if you haven’t read Tim Gilfoyle’s City of Eros, Patricia Cline Cohen’s Murder of Helen Jewett, or George Chauncey’s Gay New York, you should pick them up for a longitudinal view of the city’s enduring sexualized nature.

However, I’ll remind you that NYC during wartime was a highly unusual circumstance. The Continental Army at its inception (and for well into the war) relied nearly entirely on local populations to provide quartering — which was lodging, provisioning, beer, laundry, medical care — basically, everything that a wife would have supplied had to be either provided by the wife who traveled along (and there were many women who “followed” and most of them were not prostitutes, but wives, moms, and sisters) or by a “substitute wife”. So, for guys who could afford to lodge themselves in the comfort of a tavern rather than living in a crappy tent, they could be “friends with benefits” and remain in good morale. This was not as bad a thing as Washington believed it to be, though he did see the unruliness of the city (he hated cities, like many of his class in Augustan America, contrasting them to the “virtuous” farms and plantations where white men could be independent…think Jefferson’s yeomen farmers) as symptomatic of the potential uncooperativeness of his men. Washington’s insistence that women were contrary to the good order and discipline of troops (which he continued throughout his career, with near disasterous results at Valley Forge — he didn’t want extra mouths to feed, but he probably could have used the nurses) was one of his blind spots as a general. Historians like John Shy and Bill Shade have concluded that one of the significant advantages enjoyed by the British Army was that they had more women to nurse, cook, and do what women’s historians call “reproductive labor.” (In other words, they were doing the domestic work to a greater degree, thus leaving the soldiers free to fight with clean, repaired uniforms, hot food, experienced nursing care when they got sick, and higher morale.) I don’t want to boil everything down to the booty factor — that would be silly — but I would note that the Patriot Army tended to do better when it had strong civilian support, short supply lines, and a larger contingent of women directly supporting its activities. (I’m thinking particularly of Sarah Franklin Bache and Esther Reed’s network of “Ladies Associations” fundraising, making shirts, and provisioning the army. Washington didn’t want this help either, but they wound up payrolling the Continental Army through their efforts.)

I’d also suggest that there was what historians would refer to as a “gender frontier” at work. Washington was a Virginian who had been to the Caribbean. Any woman not accompanied by a male relation in public (a woman “strolling”) would have been perceived by him to be “a woman of business,” even if (or maybe especially if, considering his experiences with slave marketing women in the Caribbean) the business that the woman was really pursuing was selling sweetmeats or laces out of a handbasket. You can’t be a streetvendor and wait to be addressed by customers if your life depends on how much you sell. His class and race background is key to analyzing why he reacted as he did.

Finally, you’ve got to ask yourself…How big is the city government and how many constables did it have? How big is the jail? Who pays for the inmate’s stay? What’s the purpose of incarceration and how often is it used in colonial America? (Not much. You were more likely to be whipped, shamed — for sexual offenses, that would consist of being wrapped in a white cloth with a white wand in your hand, stood on the church steps, and asked to beg forgiveness of those who entered the church past you — branded, or fined.) What’s a crime in colonial America (violent offenses against the person, thefts of property, and offenses against social order) and who exactly is the harmed party? Are women considered independent legal actors under colonial law? (Remember, married women are legally one with their husbands, so it would be their husbands who would be liable for their wife’s disorderly behavior or who would be suffering from the “loss” of their property interest in their wives’ bodies…and if the girl is under 18, she’s her father’s to control — speaking in generalities, again…)

Comment by bridgett

That’s very interesting. I didn’t realize Washington was so biased.

Comment by Nick Dupree

We’re all biased and see through the lens of our own experiences. Washington was a man of his station, region, and era; he expected distance and deference from people he saw as his lessers, he was comfortable with owning people (which gives a fellow a different view of social relations than you or I might have), and he worked hard to affect a self-controlled gentlemanly performance. (He had a very hot temper, especially as a young man, and had to struggle not to blow up in public — so he instead adopted a clipped speech and posture that some mistook for aloofness.

Comment by bridgett

Bridgett, did women make up an unusually high proportion of the population in colonial cities? I ask because in the cities of northern/central Europe, in the middle ages and into the early modern period, it wasn’t unusual for 60% of the residents to be women. There were so many more economic opportunities for them in cities than in the countryside that they tended to congregate there.

Comment by nm

Most of the population in colonial cities were kids under the age of ten. It’s estimated that roughly 70% of the European-derived population at the time of the Revolution was under 16. (I find that astonishing, even knowing what I do about mortality…) Conditions change so much from decade to decade and region to region — not to mention that the census and tax rolls suck at capturing the presence of women — that it’s hard to really figure out who is where when.

For example, 17th century Boston was pretty sex-equal due to chain migration, but 17th c Jamestown was highly male-predominant because of the tobacco boom. In the late 17th and early 18th century, however, Boston becomes a refuge for dislocated women and children, a home for sailors’ wives when their husbands are away, where widows and single women can find work — so there are somewhat more women living in “irregular” (hate that term) households in which no adult male was routinely present, maybe as high as 55-60%. Meanwhile, in the Chesapeake, sex ratios normalized and extended families formed. In the recent studies I’ve read, it looks like men have a slight edge in places like Philly and NYC, at least towards the mid-18th century.
Women of color usually outnumbered men of color in colonial cities, both as freedwomen and as enslaved workers.

Since nearly the entire in-migrant population (free and forced) lived within 100 miles of the Atlantic Ocean in 1760 — we always think about the American colonies as being huge because they look so large, but the maps lie, as most of the land claimed was not under British control whatsoever — one could get to the towns fairly readily. However, conditions of labor scarcity prevailed in most places and white girls could find work as “helps” pretty easily in their own localities — either doing day work like assisting with weaving or living in as an extra set of female hands. The whole “going abroad to work” was part of a larger pattern of how one showed off one’s huswifely skills and gained greater social connections in one’s neighborhood. Anyhow, I’m thinking that the economic lure of cities might not have been so great. They were far less economically well-developed than their European counterparts…as in “90% of the people own 3% of the stuff” grade poverty. So economic opportunity? Maybe not so much.

Comment by bridgett

Whereas in most of Europe, until the 16th century guilds kept almost all the artisinal work concentrated in cities and their suburbs. I think I remember that you didn’t get 50% of textiles produced in exurban/rural areas until the early 18th century. By that time the local life cycle service pattern had taken hold there, too. Also, while even more shocking mortality patterns prevailed in Europe, so many in-migrants went back to their villages to marry (or, perhaps, off to the village of the spouse they had met while working in the city) that urban birth rates and numbers of children were relatively low.

So medieval European cities were heavily female, with female guilds, lots of respectable roles for women in retail work of various kinds, and all sorts of innovative accommodations to female spiritual organizations. I wonder whether it would have been as easy to get European women to migrate to the Americas if the same situation had held for another couple of centuries.

Comment by nm

Always proofread … that shift in textile production didn’t happen until the early 18th century.

Comment by nm

I fixed the bobble. Never know when some industrious plagiarist will be Googling around and need accurate information to cut and paste.

Textile production in the American colonies was very slow to develop and keeps shifting back and forth between who is producing cloth and why. In the Chesapeake, it’s part of the diversification of production that accompanied the mass importation of slaves/fall in tobacco prices/declining fertility of lands. A master could save money by increasing home production and he/she wanted to keep slaves laboring in off-points in the agricultural cycle. In New England, spinning wheels and looms don’t really show up in any quantity until after Metacom’s War in the late 1670s. I seem to recall that the Middle Colonies (and maybe New England too) the early weavers were mainly male– but I’d have to go look that up. In the southernmost colonies, only NC and backcountry SC really have much in the way of domestic textile production. The booming imports market throughout the 18th century made it more cost-effective to buy cloth from English manufacturers. Much of the cloth coastal Americans wore came from the new factories of England — and nearly all the cloth used in the Indian trade was imported, as the quality of domestic goods was not sufficiently high to attract trade among discerning Indian buyers. Colonial home production was used for diapering, hangings, and other rough “country made” cloth, but only for clothing yardgoods in remote trans-Appalachian areas. The adoption of spinning/weaving and home production as an political protest — import substitution that came with boycotts — meant that Patriot women had to get their wheels and reels and looms out of the loft where they had been gathering dust. There’s a resurgence of textile knowledge and necessity, a blip maybe from 1780-1820 or so. In the post-Revolutionary period, there was actually a trade in “countrymade” where sometimes women would weave, trade their cloth for credit or goods including machine-made cloth of finer weave, and the homemade cloth itself would be circulated to the southern states to clothe slaves — who, with the cotton boom, now could be employed much more profitably as agricultural workers, leading to a deemphasis on textile production among female slaves.

Comment by bridgett

In New England, spinning wheels and looms don’t really show up in any quantity until after Metacom’s War in the late 1670s.

But you find distaffs/spindles, right? Tell me you do. Because otherwise … the mind boggles. Spinning was the female occupation in Europe before the introduction of jennies and such. All women did textile work of some kind, whenever their hands weren’t otherwise full. (Even elite women did embroidery and fancy sewing, but most women spun.) Weaving was largely a male occupation (the looms mostly in use required tremendous arm strength), but women provided the thread. Good heavens, the chant during the Peasants’ Revolt was “When Adam delved and Eva span, who was then the gentleman?” And, of course, the generic self-supporting, not needing to marry woman was a spinster. It was that basic. What did New England women do during down time, then?

Comment by nm

Naw, there were spindles, but a lot of places outside of New England didn’t raise sheep, so there wasn’t a lot of wool to process. There was also flax processing stuff — retting tubs, breaking paddles, etc. — so in the places that didn’t raise sheep, they made a coarse linen. Some have said, though, that the textile import trade (coupled with the 1-2 punch of the transatlantic print revolution/Great Awakening) gave middling women just enough leisure to boost their literacy rate.

Not much down time with a family in which 10 children were average and 7-8 of those would live to adulthood. Lactating, baking, sewing, mending, livestock tending, cheese, beer, gardening, herbs, foraging, preserving, soapmaking, laundry, nursing…that’s why they could use the girl “helps”!

Comment by bridgett

Oh, sure, but back in the old country they’d do all that plus the spinning, too. 🙂 Plus they didn’t have as many surviving duaghters to help out. I like the use of leisure for literacy, though. I wondered whether that might be the case.

Did colonial women make beer, or just ale? In Europe it was ale, and when hops and beer came in the men completely took over and women lost a valuable source of income.

Comment by nm

Middling wives made small beer (wheat bran and molasses based — I guess it’s technically an ale? not sure) with low alcohol. It was the big breakfast drink and children and servants commonly drank it instead of milk. If one grew apples, and many did, then the wife or elder sons would press cider. Both of these were considered countryfied/hick drinks. Townies would have had the opportunity to buy malted beverages from a brewhouse owned by a male brewer, along with strong beer. Indentures to these breweries, though, indicate that both husband and wife in these family businesses were involved in the “mysteries and secrets” of brewing. I’d suppose, given the nature of early American artisanal production) that women were also brewing the malted and hopped beverages. (Certainly the widows don’t let the death of their husbands slow them down.)

Because of the Caribbean connections to the sugar/molasses trade, rum was plentiful and cheap, so if you wanted to get your buzz on at a tavern in a city (and in a place like 18th century Philly, there was a tavern for every 40 persons in the city), you bought rum punch — rum and water and some fruit juice — and shared the bowl around with all of your equally poor buddies. The Navigation Acts and related bills worked to discourage the domestic production of things like hops (which England wanted to export). The Pennsylvania Provincial Council of the 1740s put a tariff on imported hops and that’s when people in the Middle Colonies started growing them. (Roughly corresponding with that influx of German migration that I talked about in another post.) The domestic manufacture of beer on any large scale, however, didn’t really take off outside Philly and New York until late in the colonial era.

Comment by bridgett

I have another history question: why did people stop bathing after Rome fell? Breakdown in sanitation after “barbarian” tribes conquered Europe allowed plagues to fester and spread.

The Jews were the only people in Europe who still bathed routinely (being bound by halacha to ritually immerse, especially the women). As a result, during the Black Death, Jews, while still effected, got the plague at a lower rate than the rest. So, people concluded, the Jews were obviously responsible for the plague, they must be poisoning us or something, so we herd them all into the nearest synagogue and burn them alive. (I got this from Rabbi Ken Spiro, who has Jewish history mp3s online).

But I digress. My question is this: why was there such a dramatic break from Roman hygiene? The elaborate and incredibly advanced Roman baths were either mothballed or destroyed entirely, and people bathed very infrequently. Why? Was it that their newfound Christian fundamentalism made everyone phobic of nudity?

Comment by Nick Dupree

Hey I found this:

The Straight Dope: Is good personal hygiene a recent invention?

“In the wake of the plague, though, Europeans decided baths were dangerous. Hot water allowed toxins to penetrate the skin–better to keep the pores caulked with healthy grime. A grossed-out Muslim in the Arabian Nights suggested that once Christians were doused with baptismal water they felt entitled to avoid bathing for the rest of their lives. Personal grooming, such as it was, focused entirely on appearances. People washed their faces and hands sometimes but refused to immerse their entire bodies except on doctors’ orders. The rich drenched themselves with perfume to conceal odor. Lice and fleas were universal, etiquette requiring merely that one refrain from scratching conspicuously in public. People were used to a baseline level of putridity; to attract attention, you had to really reek.”


Comment by Nick Dupree

1) people did not stop bathing after Rome “fell”
1a) unless you mean the Eastern Roman Empire, which fell in 1485, and it’s true that at some point after that, in some parts of Europe, people bathed less than they had before, but there’s no causative effect
2) Jews were not the only people in Europe to bathe during the middle ages or even the early modern period
3) Jews tended to die of the plague in the same proportion as their Christian and/or Muslim neighbors
4) I’m busy today, but I’ll try to post a follow-up comment to Bridgett’s follow-up post later on
5) just because something is on the internet, even on an mp3, that doesn’t make it correct

Comment by nm

[…] of marriage, but heaven help you if you indulged pre or extra-maritally. But by the 18th century, Americans had come a long way. In fact, by many standards, we’re actually more puritanical than we were then. At that […]

Pingback by sex, secrets and the “p” word (power/polyamory, you choose) | Speaking of...

How about married sex? What was married sex like in the colonies when there was no expectation of privacy?

Comment by Colonial Curious

How about married sex? What was married sex like in the colonies when there was no expectation of privacy? How did colonial children understand pregnancy and procreation?

Comment by Colonial Curious

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