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Breaking the Bonds
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About the Author

Merril D. Smith is the editor of Sex and Sexuality in Early America and Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830. She lives in National Park, New Jersey.

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"In Breaking The Bonds, Merril Smith establishes the ambitious goal of determining 'what kind of problems arose in troubled marriages' and of analyzing 'how men and women coped with marital discord.' ... To accomplish this, Smith studied hundreds of divorce petitions, other legal documents, newspapers, almshouse dockets, and prescriptive literature. She concludes that, as in the present day, married couples fought and parted over sex, money, and abuse." --Pennsylvania History "A richly textured study... With an eye to cross-class and cross-race representation, Smith utilizes diverse sources, including memoirs and diaries, correspondence, probate records, newspaper advertisements, depositions and petitions for divorce, and various moral reform and social regulatory organization records... A brave attempt to write a description of 'the development of the Puritan concept of spirtiual growth.' ... Gracefully written... provides specific new insights into a too-neglected area of early republican domestic politics." --William and Mary Quarterly

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