A Judgement For Solomon : The D ' Hauteville Case

1194 WordsNov 12, 20175 Pages
In A Judgement for Solomon: The d’Hauteville Case and Legal Experience in Antebellum America, Grossberg outlines the complex legal experiences of the d’Hauteville family and the effect their experiences have on Antebellum America. On August 22, 1837, Ellen Sears and Paul Daniel Gonzalve Grand d’Hauteville were married and moved to Switzerland. By the winter of 1838, Ellen became pregnant and pleaded with Gonzalve to let her return to America to give birth to her child. Eventually, Gonzalve gave in and let Ellen leave; however, after giving birth, Ellen refused to return to Switzerland, citing cruel treatment from Gonzalve as her reason for staying away. Later, Ellen realized it was an informal separation that she sought. However, soon the…show more content…
Therefore, the emergence of divisive new ideas indicated a progressive movement towards greater maternal rights was underway. Analyzing the case of Abigail and Asa Bailey aids in understanding this drastic change in public opinion. In 1792, Abigail Bailey was quickly granted a divorce from Asa Bailey. However, Abigail waited twenty-two years to file this petition for divorce, as Asa first had an affair just three years after their marriage in 1770. It is interesting to compare Abigail’s case to Ellen’s because in both cases, each woman repeatedly cites her hesitation to take legal action because of what she believes to be her duty to her husband. However, what is considered cruel enough to justify breaking that duty and separating from their husbands drastically differs. Abigail waited through multiple affairs and the sexual assault of her own daughter before beginning the legal process. Meanwhile, Ellen sought legal action after what she cited to be mental cruelty. In just half a century, a major shift in public opinion occurred. The question then arises: what caused this shift to occur? Grossberg noted the rise of the independent penny press and the effect it had on public opinion. Before the advent of the penny press, there was the sixpenny press. This was largely restricted to upper-class

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