I’ve been trying to follow up on a previous post about the “divorce industry” in Oklahoma Territory (1889 – 1907), but I keep getting sidetracked by odd search results and unexpectedly engaging-but-off-topic tangents. I’m finally admitting that my ADHD (Abstemiously Distracted History Dysfunction) has won, and figure I might as well share some of the results.
I’ve been looking into the “divorce industry” in Oklahoma Territory (1889 – 1907), and I spend more time than seems reasonable searching online newspaper archives for terms like “divorce” or “Oklahoma.” I’m not sure this makes me a crack researcher, but it has certainly led me down some weird paths.
Pick any topic – ANY topic – and start scratching at it. Something fascinating will almost always unfold… and yet leave you with a congress of unknowns, smirking and smug like Alice’s cat.
There are folks you expect to write all fancy. Poets, for example. Certain flavors of novelists. Artsy musician types. George Will.
Education bloggers, not so much.
The great profusion of children's books protracts the imbecility of childhood. They arrest the understanding, instead of advancing it. They give forwardness without strength. They hinder the mind from making vigorous shoots, teach it to stoop when it should soar, and contract when it should expand...
Here’s the number one reason governments and religions and parents and schools ban whatever they ban: it’s nearly impossible to maintain the illusion you’re doing someone a huge favor by keeping them locked under the staircase once they’ve visited Hogwarts – even by proxy. The power to question is the power to overcome.
South Carolina was upset that the North allowed so much discussion of things which threatened their way of life and went against their beliefs. They listed as one of their central reasons for trying to break the country their collective outrage that other states weren’t doing enough to stifle debate.
Their little white feelings were hurt and their dominant role in the world inconvenienced. Poor things.
Historical documents of a personal nature can be difficult - especially for students - because tone is everything. Overlook a little flirting, or sarcasm, or other emoticon-deficient vibe, and you can misread a source completely. Mrs. Chesnut is kind enough to write on both levels simultaneously - the obvious, smiling appreciation for a friend’s long-awaited offspring, and - unless I’m projecting - a little wry commentary as well.
It might even be cruel.
Mary Boykin Chesnut was a Southern lady in the purest tradition, well-educated and well-bred. Her husband was the son of a successful plantation owner and an upwardly mobile politico himself.
Women in such circumstances were expected to be well-educated, but not given much opportunity to use their fancy brains. In retrospect, it might have been kinder to either keep them as ignorant as possible or let them do stuff - but such were the mores of the day. So she read, she observed, and she wrote. Lots.