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Home > Document Library > Women and the Family > The Natural and Civil History of Vermont

The Natural and Civil History of Vermont

Samuel Williams

[The superiority of the American family, in contrast with the European. — TGW]


Another custom, which everything tends to introduce in a new country, is early marriage. Trained up to a regular industry and economy, the young people grow up to maturity in all the vigor of health, and bloom of natural beauty. Not enervated by idleness, weakened by luxury, or corrupted by debauchery, the inclinations of nature are directed towards their proper objects at an early period; and assume the direction, which nature and society designed they should have. The ease with which a family may be maintained, and the wishes of parents to see their children settled in ways of virtue, reputation, and felicity, are circumstances which also strongly invite to an early settlement in life. The virtuous affections are not corrupted nor retarded by the pride of families, the ambition of ostentation, or the idle notions of useless and dangerous distinctions, under the name of honor and titles. Neither parents nor children have any other prospects, than what are founded upon industry, economy, and virtue.

Where every circumstance thus concurs to promote early marriages, the practice becomes universal, and it generally takes place, as soon as the laws of society suppose the young people of sufficient age and discretion to transact the business of life.

It is not necessary to enumerate the many advantages that arise from the custom of early marriages. They comprehend all the society can receive from this source; from the preservation, to the increase of the human race. Everything useful and beneficial to man, seems to be connected with obedience to the laws of his nature: And where the state of society coincides with the laws of nature, the inclinations, the duties, and the happiness of individuals resolve themselves into customs and habits favorable, in the highest degree, to society. In no case is this more apparent, than in the customs of nations respecting marriage. When wealth, or the imaginary honor of families, is the great object, marriage becomes a matter of trade, pride, and form; in which affection, virtue, and happiness are not consulted; from which the parties derive no felicity, and society receives no advantage. But where nature leads the way, all the lovely train of virtues, domestic happiness, and the greatest of all public benefits, a rapid population, are found to be the fruit.

[From Charles S. Hyneman and Donald S. Lutz, ed., American Political Writing during the Founding Era (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1983), 2:952-53.]


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