Is Divorce a Northern Thing
J.D.B De Bow printed one of the most widely circulated southern agricultural chronicles of the 1800’s; the purpose of the journal was to bolster the South and the region’s economy. In one article printed in January 1858, entitled “Northern Morals,” De Bow claimed the higher rate of divorce in northern states was due to poor character, loose morals, and weak faith. Indiana’s 19th century divorce laws were infamous for their leniency towards women; however, De Bow overlooks the loose legality surrounding divorce and claims it was northern culture, which lead to the end of so many marriages.
. Just 6 years before De Bow published this article, Fredrick Douglass’s “A Former Slave Exposes Hypocrisy” is published nationally and receives a great amount of attention, placing a dark cloud over southern slave owners. De Bow strongly supported the South and was most likely sensitive to attacks on southern character. Many southerners’ took offense to questions surrounding the morality of slavery and began attacking northern character in general. Laying the foundation for the stereotypical well mannered, religious, class conscious antebellum South, writers and public figures such as J.D.B De Bow published harsh attacks on northern culture compared to idyllic expressions of the gentile antebellum South, lessening the bad press swirling around the slave debate. The Civil War was not inevitable at this point; but the feud between North and South was gaining more momentum, fueled by articles such as J.D.B De Bow’s “Northern Morality.”
- Frederick Douglass, "A Former Slaves Exposes Hypocrisy," The Fredrick Douglas Papers 1 (1852): 359-388.
- Timothy Cumin, "Women and the Law in Early 19th-Century Indiana,", Conner Prairie Museum, http://https://www.connerprairie.org/Learn-And-Do/Indiana-History/America-1800-1860/ Women-And-The-Law-In-Early-19th-Century.aspx (accessed April 28, 2010).
- J.D.B De Bow, De Bow Review (De Bow, 1858).
- Dictionary of American Biography Base Set, s.v. "J.D.B De Bow," http://galenet.galegroup.com.libproxy.furman.edu/servlet/BioRC (accessed April 28, 2010).