It was proposed to the Board that some small handsome present should be sent by these people to each king or Chief of the five nations, and accordingly it was Resolved, that a fine Laced Stroudwater matchcoat and a fine white shirt should be provided for each of the Chiefs, & sent by these now going ; Which being interpreted to them, they Expressed a great satisfaction in it, and offered their service Gladly to be the bearers of it. It was then proposed what presents should be provided for these people in return of theirs, & being agreed on to the value of £—, they were ordered to be Delivered. (p. 549) DOCUMENT 27 John Lawson, in his History of North Carolina published in 1714 describes the Christian inhabitants of the North Carolina “backcountry.” How does he differentiate between the industry and work of the male and female colonists in this region? … As for those of our own Country in Carolina, some of the Men are very laborious, and make great Improvements in their Way; but I dare hardly give ’em that Character in general.
The Easy way of living in that plentiful Country, makes a great many Planters very negligent, which, were they otherwise, that Colony might now have been in a far better Condition than it is, (as to Trade, and other Advantages) which an universal Industry would have led them into. The Women are the most industrious Sex in that Place, and, by their good Housewifry, make a great deal of Cloath of their own Cotton, Wool and Flax; some of them keeping their Families (though large) very decently apparel’d, both with Linnens and Woollens, so that they have no occasion to run into the Merchant’s Debt, or lay their Money out on Stores for Cloathing. The Christian Natives of Carolina are a straight, clean-limb’d People; the Children being seldom or never troubled with Rickets, or those other Distempers, that the Europeans are visited withal. ‘Tis next to a Miracle, to see one of them deform’d in Body.
The Vicinity of the Sun makes Impression on the Men, who labour out of doors, or use the Water.
As for those Women, that do not expose themselves to the Weather, they are often very fair, and generally as well featur’d, as you shall see any where, and have very brisk charming Eyes, which sets them off to Advantage.
They marry very young; some at Thirteen or Fourteen; and She that stays till Twenty, is reckon’d a stale Maid; which is a very indifferent Character in that warm Country.
The Women are very fruitful; most Houses being full of Little Ones.
It has been observ’d, that Women long marry’d, and without Children, in other Places, have remov’d to Carolina, and become joyful Mothers.
They have very easy Travail in their Child-bearing, in which they are so happy, as seldom to miscarry.
Both Sexes are generally spare of Body, and not Cholerick, nor easily cast down at Disappointments and Losses, seldom immoderately grieving at Misfortunes, unless for the Loss of their nearest Relations and Friends, which seems to make a more than ordinary Impression upon them.
Many of the Women are very handy in Canoes, and will manage them with great Dexterity and Skill, which they become accustomed to in this watry Country.
They are ready to help their Husbands in any servile Work, as Planting, when the Season of the Weather requires Expedition; Pride seldom banishing good Housewifry.
The Girls are not bred up to the Wheel, and Sewing only; but the Dairy and affairs of the House they are very well acquainted withal; so that you shall see them, whilst very young, manage their Business with a great deal of Conduct and Alacrity.
The Children of both Sexes are very docile, and learn any thing with a great deal of Ease and Method; and those that have the Advantages of Education, write good Hands, and prove good Accountants, which is most coveted, and indeed most necessary in these Parts.
The young Men are commonly of a bashful, sober Behaviour; few proving Prodigals, to consume what the Industry of their Parents has left them, but commonly improve it.
The marrying so young, carries a double Advantage with it, and that is, that the Parents see their Children provided for in Marriage, and the young married People are taught by their Parents, how to get their Living; for their Admonitions make great Impressions on their Children.
I had heard (before I knew this new World) that the Natives of America were a short-liv’d People, which, by all the Observations I could ever make, proves quite contrary; for those who are born here, and in other Colonies, live to as great Ages as any of the Europeans, the Climate being free from Consumptions, which Distemper, fatal to England, they are Strangers to.
And as the Country becomes more clear’d of Wood, it still becomes more healthful to the Inhabitants, and less addicted to the Ague; which is incident to most new Comers into America from Europe, yet not mortal.
A gentle Emetick seldom misses of driving it away, but if it is not too troublesome, ’tis better to let the Seasoning have its own course, in which case, the Party is commonly free from it ever after, and very healthful. Source: John Lawson, The History of North Carolina, p. 85-86. DOCUMENT 28 In 1715, Lydia George consented to become the third wife of the Reverend Cotton Mather.
A wealthy and astute women, she had a prenuptial contract drawn up that afforded her the following protections.
Over the course of her stormy marriage with the Massachusett minister, he made entries in his diary that implied that she was prone to hysterical fits that would have tested the patience of a saint and even caused him to question her sanity; unfortunately, Lydia did not keep a diary so we never hear her side of their marital disputes.
How might we interprete these same unflattering passages written by her husband in light of what we know to have been the unstated context in which Lydia’s supposed outbursts of insanity or demonic possessions occurred? [terms of prenuptial contract, 1715] …from and after the Consummation of the said Marriage, she, the said Lydia by herself, or with the assistance of such meet person or persons whom She shal appoint, shall and may from time to time and at all times during her Coverture, manage, impower and employ as she shall think fit, all the Lands, Tenements, money goods, Chattels or other Estate whatsoever which of right is belonging, appertaining or payable unto her, and to take, Receive and dispose to her own use all the Issues, profits, benefits and Incomes thence to be made or Raised without any Lett hindrance or denyall of the said Cotton Mather. … [secret notebook entry, 1719] The Consort, in whom I flattered myself with the View and hopes of an uncommon Enjoyment, has dismally confirmed it unto me, that our Idols must prove our Sorrows. Now and then, in some of the former Years, I observed and suffered grievous Outbreakings of her proud Passions; but I quickly overcame them, with my victorious Love, and in the Methods of Meekness and Goodness….I do not know, that I have to this Day spoke one impatient or unbecoming Word unto her; tho’ my Provocations have been unspeakable; and, it may be, few Men in the World, would have born them as I have done.
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