November 12, 2013

TEEN LIFE WAY BACK WHEN: The Foundation of Domestic Happiness

In 1898, what did men believe was the foundation of domestic happiness"?  Here is one man's opinion (from Western Womanhood.  A Journal Devoted to the Interests of Women.  Fargo, North Dakota):

I am dumbfounded at the first reference to the dictionary that is beside me, wherein I find an expression that makes me weep over the opinions of the old as well as the present time.  I find:  The foundation of domestic happiness is faith in the virtue of woman.” (Hare.)  I am pained to think that Mr. Hare was forced to make woman’s virtue the sole ingredient of a foundation so imposing as that of domestic happiness.  Being a man, I blush with shame that one of my own kindred should thus be compelled to make our record.  “Domestic happiness” that boon to which the weary traveler returns after his day’s work is done; to have it rest upon one-half of human life, and that half, so far as virtue is referred in the definition, the absolute slave of man, for there is no legal redress during coverture*, for the abuse of woman’s sexual organs, not even if the man bring to her person the most infectious of diseases.  By O.W.L.  Feb. 1898, Vol IV, No. 8, pg 4.

*Coverture is the legal term whereby upon marriage, a husband and wife were said to have acquired unity of person that resulted in the husband having numerous rights over the property of his wife and in the wife being deprived of her power to enter into contracts or to bring lawsuits as an independent person (

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