Divorce : An American Tradition

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Nearly 50 per cent of all American marriages today end in divorce, yet few people realise that the contemporary divorce rate is the culmination of a long-term historical trend initiated by the Puritan settlers shortly after arrival in the American colonies. This study argues that one of the reasons for the rising divorce rate in America is the American propensity for rejecting an unpleasant situation in the hope of finding more appealing circumstances elsewhere - hence the movement westward, to cite one example. The book begins with the Puritan idea of marriage as a civil affair, thus more easily terminated than marriage within the Church. The colonial period covers a number of major themes, dealing with English law and divorce practices. A chapter is devoted to divorce in the American West, where more liberal divorce rules applied, and another to the unsuccessful attempt to create uniform national divorce laws in the early 20th century. There is discussion of Reno as a "divorce mill" for the wealthy and of the growing societal pressures which raised the divorce rate. The post-1945 chapter deals with more of these increasing pressures, including the women's movement, that have accelerated the divorce rate. The book also discusses the tie between divorce and American attitudes and concludes that divorce is an American tradition of long standing that is unlikely to alter drastically in the near future.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 275 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 680.39g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195061233
  • 9780195061239

About Glenda Riley

About the Author: Glenda Gates Riley is Bracker Professor of American History at Ball State University. Among her many publications are Inventing the American Woman, Women and Indians on the Frontier and The Female Frontier.show more

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