Complete Schedule

Title

Love and Courtship in Colonial America: A Look into the Late Colonial Romance of Philip Vickers Fithian and Elizabeth Beatty, 1773-1774

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

Courtship--United States--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775; Fithian, Philip Vickers, 1747-1776;

Abstract

“I assure you, Madam, so strong is the Esteem I have for that dear Girl, which certainly I shall ever retain, that neither, Place, nor Time, nor any Alteration in my Condition of Life, will blot it out,” wrote Philip Vickers Fithian in a letter to his beloved Elizabeth Beatty, more often referred to as Laura. This dramatic declaration of love demonstrates how men of the day used their words and literary prowess to woo the woman of their choice.

While Fithian’s journal has traditionally been used to examine the everyday life of a plantation of the Old Dominion, I used the journal as a means to understand courtship practices of the late eighteenth century. Courtship is a fascinating aspect of relationship history, and is rarely examined in its own right. Scholars generally examine courtship as it leads to marriage or examine its power dynamic, but the romantic elements are rarely examined in their own right. Through careful examination of Fithian’s journal, letters from John and Abigail Adams, as well as poems from Robert Boling to Anne Miller, I believe I am filling a gap in the scholarship and examining a neglected part of the history of gender and sexuality. The sources reveal that in this time period men and women -- though more often than not it was men -- used poignant words to win over their intended and eventually marry them. This research only scratches the surface of an exciting facet of history I look forward to exploring more in the future.

Start Date

4-4-2017 1:00 PM

End Date

4-4-2017 4:30 PM

Faculty Advisor

Trudy Eden

Department

Department of History

Comments

Location: Maucker Union Presidential Room

Embargo Date

6-4-2017

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Apr 4th, 1:00 PM Apr 4th, 4:30 PM

Love and Courtship in Colonial America: A Look into the Late Colonial Romance of Philip Vickers Fithian and Elizabeth Beatty, 1773-1774

“I assure you, Madam, so strong is the Esteem I have for that dear Girl, which certainly I shall ever retain, that neither, Place, nor Time, nor any Alteration in my Condition of Life, will blot it out,” wrote Philip Vickers Fithian in a letter to his beloved Elizabeth Beatty, more often referred to as Laura. This dramatic declaration of love demonstrates how men of the day used their words and literary prowess to woo the woman of their choice.

While Fithian’s journal has traditionally been used to examine the everyday life of a plantation of the Old Dominion, I used the journal as a means to understand courtship practices of the late eighteenth century. Courtship is a fascinating aspect of relationship history, and is rarely examined in its own right. Scholars generally examine courtship as it leads to marriage or examine its power dynamic, but the romantic elements are rarely examined in their own right. Through careful examination of Fithian’s journal, letters from John and Abigail Adams, as well as poems from Robert Boling to Anne Miller, I believe I am filling a gap in the scholarship and examining a neglected part of the history of gender and sexuality. The sources reveal that in this time period men and women -- though more often than not it was men -- used poignant words to win over their intended and eventually marry them. This research only scratches the surface of an exciting facet of history I look forward to exploring more in the future.