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(Hannah Powell married William Drew in November 1776.) Farm obligations were less pressing than during the summer.
A couple issued verbal invitations to family and friends, who gathered in the morning at the minister’s home or in the bride’s parlor; few weddings occurred in churches.
Courting gave women power; it was their decision whether to accept or reject a suitor. “You know I have never with all my faults betrayed one symptom of vanity, but now if you should discover a little spice of it can you Wonder—just at this moment are at my entire disposal two of the Very Smartest Beaux this country can boast of—what think you of G & B both at my feet at one. The choice of a husband was very important since, once made, only death could undo a marriage. It meant leaving childhood behind, taking on adult responsibilities, and forming a new family.
There is much speculation going on as to the preference I shall give & tho I do not intend to practice one Coquettish air as you are pleased to call my little innocent gaieties yet for my own amusement do I intend to leave these speculating geniuss to their own conjectures for some time at least till I have made up my mind as to the time—for you must know I know I mean make one Surprize do for all by being married off hand—believe me it is impossible for me to think too long on the subject lest I should in truth be whimsical.” (Eliza Ambler to Mildred Smith, February 1785.)“It has ever been my wish to keep my Daughters single ‘till they were old enough to form a proper judgment of Mankind; well knowing that a Woman’s happiness depends entirely on the Husband she is united to; it is a step that requires more deliberation than girls generally take, or even Mothers seem to think necessary; the risk tho always great, is doubled when they marry very young; it is impossible for them to know each others disposition; for at sixteen and nineteen we think everybody perfect that we take a fancy to . With the rise of the affectionate family, arranged marriages became a thing of the past.
But as a parent I never took any Liberty with a child but to dissuade where I thought I had reason to do so; but in no instance Whatever to persuade.