Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America

Charity and Sylvia A Same Sex Marriage in Early America Conventional wisdom holds that same sex marriage is a purely modern innovation a concept born of an overtly modern lifestyle that was unheard of in nineteenth century America But as Rachel Hope Cleve

  • Title: Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America
  • Author: Rachel Hope Cleves
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 311
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Conventional wisdom holds that same sex marriage is a purely modern innovation, a concept born of an overtly modern lifestyle that was unheard of in nineteenth century America But as Rachel Hope Cleves demonstrates in this eye opening book, same sex marriage is hardly new.Born in 1777, Charity Bryant was raised in Massachusetts A brilliant and strong willed woman with aConventional wisdom holds that same sex marriage is a purely modern innovation, a concept born of an overtly modern lifestyle that was unheard of in nineteenth century America But as Rachel Hope Cleves demonstrates in this eye opening book, same sex marriage is hardly new.Born in 1777, Charity Bryant was raised in Massachusetts A brilliant and strong willed woman with a clear attraction for her own sex, Charity found herself banished from her family home at age twenty She spent the next decade of her life traveling throughout Massachusetts, working as a teacher, making intimate female friends, and becoming the subject of gossip wherever she lived At age twenty nine, still defiantly single, Charity visited friends in Weybridge, Vermont There she met a pious and studious young woman named Sylvia Drake The two soon became so inseparable that Charity decided to rent rooms in Weybridge In 1809, they moved into their own home together, and over the years, came to be recognized, essentially, as a married couple Revered by their community, Charity and Sylvia operated a tailor shop employing many local women, served as guiding lights within their church, and participated in raising their many nieces and nephews.Charity and Sylvia is the intimate history of their extraordinary forty four year union Drawing on an array of original documents including diaries, letters, and poetry, Cleves traces their lives in sharp detail Providing an illuminating glimpse into a relationship that turns conventional notions of same sex marriage on their head, and reveals early America to be a place both diverse and accommodating than modern society might imagine, Charity and Sylvia is a significant contribution to our limited knowledge of LGBT history in early America.

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      311 Rachel Hope Cleves
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      Posted by:Rachel Hope Cleves
      Published :2019-04-20T04:40:48+00:00

    2 thoughts on “Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America

    1. Rachel Hope Cleves Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America book, this is one of the most wanted Rachel Hope Cleves author readers around the world.

    2. Meticulous use of primary sources and explanation for interpretation make this book a standout. Cleves digs deeper into the open family secret that William Cullen Bryant's aunt Charity Bryant lived for forty years in small town Vermont in what was recognized by the community as a marriage to Sylvia Drake. Cleves analyzes the trove of letters and account books to show that the pair used the early 19th century vocabulary of heterosexual marriage, and that by being pillars of the Congregational chu [...]

    3. Thanks to Net Galley and Oxford University Press for an Advance Reading Copy.Author Rachel Hope Cleves has done an outstanding job of documenting the story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, two women who during the early years of the nineteenth century, decided to live together as "husband and wife". What makes the story fascinating is the fact that these women were not shunned but rather embraced by the community and most of their extended family. Working as tailors (not just sewing but cutti [...]

    4. These days, it hardly merits more than a passing remark: two women establish a house and business together and spend the next 30 years working, loving, and living side-by-side as spouses. But in early 19th century America, it hardly seems possible. Yet this is just what Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake did in 1800s New England. Were they truly wife and wife? And if so, how did they manage to pull it off? Cleves, a professor of history, takes on the study of these questions by analyzing the family [...]

    5. Lovingly and exhaustively researched and cited, Cleves gives you enough background on this early American same-sex couple to adequately explain the idea of the "open closet" and make it something you can take onboard and move forward with while you read the rest of this book. Charity and Sylvia's relationship is laid bare in as much detail as is available, and contextualized extensively. This makes it what it should be; real almost to banality - not in any negative way, but as the author points [...]

    6. Charity and Sylvia is a well-written and engaging book about the timely topic of same-sex marriage in the United States and the timeless concepts of marriage, family, religion, work, and women. Charity and Sylvia explores the open same-sex relationship of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake between 1807 and 1851. Rachel Hope Cleves investigates how Charity and Sylvia met, how their relationship was a marriage, and how these two women were able to live openly as husband and wife without persecution f [...]

    7. Full disclosure: I had the pleasure of interviewing the author for a podcast. Both Rachel Hope Cleves and the book are exceptionally articulate, engaging and conscientious. This is a biography I couldn't put down, as page-turning as a suspense novel. It's very rich in personal and historical detail and presents portraits of these two women and the worlds they inhabited that you are very unlikely to find anywhere else. There's was indeed a marriage and it lasted 44 years. It's also an intriguing [...]

    8. ARC borrowed from a friend.Brilliant work. Cleves is not only an excellent researcher, she is a great historian whose careful consideration and presentation of the historical and cultural context surrounding Charity and Sylvia gives the reader a richer understanding of New England in the period following the Revolution. We forget sometimes how nuanced the past can be. Cleves presents a whole story, giving various options or possibilities when the evidence is unclear instead of enforcing a partic [...]

    9. Well-researched and extensively documented. The subject matter necessitates a good deal of "reading between the lines", as it were, but the author does a good job of explaining when she's doing that, and why, and going over all possible interpretations where multiple possibilities exist. My only complaint was that the end product was honestly a little dull, but if nothing else, that underscores the fact that these were ordinary people living ordinary lives except for a few (obviously very import [...]

    10. While the writing didn't flow very well at all, this was filled with interesting facts. Now I know all about the premarital sex habits, pleading guilty to fornication for child support, romantic friendships, & intimate same sex relationship of post Revolutionary America. For all the changes, somethings never change.

    11. I created the following Book Club Discussion Questions for this book:1. What did you know about social mores in the early 19th century before reading this book? What did you learn?2. What were the consequences of homosexuality during this time period? How did these consequences affect each of the women? How was Charity’s experience different from Sylvia’s, and why?3. Why do you think Charity and Sylvia were more able to live a life together in Vermont than Charity and other lovers were in Ma [...]

    12. Reading history books, especially ones like this about the everyday lives of a few people, really makes me want a time machine. The only glimpse we get into their lives is through their writings that survived, and Charity asked a lot of her friends and family to destroy her letters, so there's not always a lot to go on. I want to go back in time and observe them from behind a tree or something. Pretend to be a turn-of-the-19th-century lady and become friends with them. But time travel is impossi [...]

    13. This was an incredibly interesting read, although for those readers who do not enjoy reading a fairly academic text, I would advise against it. With an astoundingly well-cited notes section (one of my complaints about this book would be the use of endnotes over footnotes, because I hate having to flip back and forth for them), and a fairly balanced narrative, Cleves' description of this 18th and 19th century same-sex marriage is enthralling. My one complaint regarding the text would be that occa [...]

    14. Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America was a book I received through Good Reads First Reads contest. I was at first suspicious of this book because I rarely read non-fiction, but since this has a number of factors that interest me I decided to jump and read it. I'M SO HAPPY I DID.I am a feminist (uh oh I brought out the f-word) and this book was PERFECT for not only my feminist side but also my gay rights side as well. It was EXTREMELY interesting to see how well these two wome [...]

    15. a fascinating social/micro history; impressive scholarly research that makes many larger points out of often little surviving evidence; Cleves also draws on an impressive amount of scholarship in a variety of fields, to say nothing of her understanding of euphemisms and innuendo that are long out of use and would mean little to most readers; Cleves' writing is also very accessible and at times expertly craftedThe biggest downsides to the book are Charity and Sylvia and Cleves' evidence. These we [...]

    16. I adored this book. The historian's research is impeccable and the poetic interpretations deeply insightful. It was an absolute joy to read and I truly learned so much.

    17. Seems fitting I just read this and finished it yesterday. It's the interesting story of two women who set up a household together in the early 1800s in Vermont. They were essentially married and the historian makes a good case for that on every dimension.I'm not a big fan of biographies. I find them rather tedious to read. I don't like when they veer too much into fictionalizing with saying what people were thinking and feeling, etc. And I also don't like when there's a lot of quote, quote, quot [...]

    18. 4.5 stars. A great, painstakingly researched history. I wouldn't call it dry, because while reading it, I was riveted; I could picture Charity writing, I could picture the two of them and their friends and families working on their house. I loved how well the author situated Charity and Sylvia's in the context of their time and place.The book was written in a very academic style, however, wherein the author made sure to reiterate her argument throughout, that Charity and Sylvia's relationship wa [...]

    19. This is a fascinating story of two remarkable women who dared to forge an unlikely but successful "marriage" in a world where this was seemingly impossible. Ms Cleves has done an excellent job of researching the entwined lives of Charity and Sylvia. She presents them not only in the context of their respective complicated families, but in the social, economic, and religious dynamics of the post-revolutionary era. I thoroughly enjoyed the tale and not only learned much about these two intrepid an [...]

    20. Una precisa e attenta ricostruzione con fonti e documenti della vita di Charity Bryant e Sylvia Drake nell'America di frontiera del principio del 18° secolo. Una vita di coppia vissuta come un matrimonio sotto gli occhi dei concittadini ed accettata in virtu' della funzione sociale delle due brave sarte e del loro impegno a favore della comunità. Un documento e una ricostruzione storica molto interessante anche se frammentata nella narrazione che spesso va avanti e indietro nel tempo seguendo [...]

    21. Concept of same-sex marriage aside, this is one of the best history books I've ever read. First, it's a wonderful look at day-to-day life after the Revolution: economics, relationships of all sorts, sex, sickness, cooking, childbirth, chores, death. Second, how do you write a book about a subject that is explicitly omitted in the written record? The use of correspondence saying "everything but" is fascinating, as is the idea of the "open secret" in early America. There's also plenty of tales of [...]

    22. Very readable but clearly rigorously researched, a too rare combination! I gained a renewed appreciation for the feminist and LGBQ gains of the last 200 years. Would have loved the author to have more material, especially Charity's letters and Sylvia's diaries. It's hard to read how much Sylvia was tormented by the idea that her marriage was sinful. I was left wondering how I'd find them if I met them. Religion was so central to their self conception, and the brief anecdote of Charity scolding t [...]

    23. 4.5 stars, rounded up. This is a finely researched book -- with some excellent delving into the queer-coded dialogue of the 1700s/1800s (whether it be in literature, poetry, or even the writing of letters) -- that sheds light on a little known lesbian couple that lived together for decades in Vermont. Though at times the writing can be a bit dry and tedious, the subject matter and Cleves' thorough research and observations more than make up for the rest of the book's shortcomings. This book prov [...]

    24. History done rightThe story of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake -- members of the founding generation and friends, lovers and partners in business and life -- has finally been told right. Although the author has to do some reading between the lines, I believe her conclusions are dead on. The author also does a wonderful job of putting the lives and the relationship between Charity and Sylvia in their proper context. And the author should be praised for writing in a clear and precise manner. My on [...]

    25. 3.5 stars. Details the lives and relationship of Charity and Sylvia, who had a socially (if not legally) recognized marriage in the early 1800s, showing how their families and town accepted them. For some, like Sylvia's mother, it wasn't easy. For others, it was just a fact. I would have liked a bit more of a flowing narrative - it hopped and skipped over decades and then returned to the timeline and repeated itself quite a lot. That was annoying. I felt there was also a lot of guessing at meani [...]

    26. Cleves does a good job of presenting different theories and then supporting them with primary sources taken from the women's journals and letters. I enjoy how she analyzed these and explained the historical differences of how they would interpret something then compared to now. I also liked how Cleves explained the importance of why this history matters now. I'm a believer in the saying that if we don't study the past that we're doomed to repeat it. Any progress made by marginalized groups of pe [...]

    27. I read and enjoyed this during June, LGBT recognition month. Found the idea of 2 women living together after the Revolutionary War of interest. Storyline was good. Author had researched well her biography of the two women and had used footnotes extensively in an unobtrusive manner.Listened online via AAUW and Adobe Connect to interview with the author. She provided a great deal of her efforts to research the storyline and the interview was more like a college lecture. Informative but not a discu [...]

    28. I wanted to read this book after reading reviews. I understand that the book was written from an academic study, and is quite a fascinating reconstruction of the lives and challenges of non-comformist women in small communities in America during these times.There remains the dryness of academic research - but the story of the women balances this out. As a hybrid between biography and social history, it is not as engaging as other books - but an enjoyable and satisfying experience to read.

    29. A history book that reads more like a novel. This book shows the hard lives that Charity and Sylvia had to go through through letters they wrote, letters that were written about them, and rumors of their character in early America. This book has inspired me to write letters to my friends even if I see them everyday. It also shows the love that women can have for each other that extends past friendship and how they handled hiding what they truly felt for one another from the rest of the world.

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