Publication Date

Spring 2010


College of Arts and Sciences



Primary Subject Area

History, United States


One may understand the significance of courtship and marriage practices in seventeenth and eighteenth-century America by examining the religious motivations drawn from Anglican and Puritan spirituality. Firsthand accounts, period literature, and scholarly works on early American culture work together to render images of religious experiences in Virginia and New England. The spiritual and material significance of marriage to an individual, that person’s family, and the community made the attainment of marriage the fulfillment of duty. The need to preserve society, the skills acquired through education, the family context of courtship, and conduct of wedding ceremonies reflected the conviction that entering marriage was an act of Christian service.