Alexandria Historical Review Issue 1, Volume 1 Spring 2017
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Alexandria Historical Review A Publication of the History Students of Patrick Henry College Volume 1 – Issue 1 – Spring, 2017
Mark Van Matre
Dr. Douglas Favelo
Dr. Robert Spinney
Future submissions: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Henry College Purcellville, VA www.phc.edu Alexandria Historical Review, Page 2
Table of Contents Letter From the Editor ......................................................................... 4 Stan Crocker
No Room for Father ............................................................................... 5 Johanna Christophel
Sacred Meals in the Early Church ......................................................24 Rosalie Blacklock
They Call Them the Stuttering Masses .............................................41 Bethany Horvat
Hamilton and Angelica: Flirting with Family ...................................56 Becca Samelson
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Letter from an Editor Welcome to the first edition of the Alexandria Historical Review! The editing team is excited to present the work of fellow students in history. Each paper delves into original research based on primary and secondary source documentation, adding to historical scholarship. We hope you enjoy these papers as students strive for excellence in their field and showcase their work. Johanna Christophel traces a shift in parental roles and authority structures from the Puritans to the antebellum era in American history. While many scholars have written about women’s roles in that time period, Christophel focuses on the experiences and roles of fathers. She writes with a deep understanding of the nuances of each era of history as well as overall trends in fathers’ experiences. Rosalie Blacklock writes to show the significance of sacred meals in the early Christian church. Two meals, the Eucharist and agape, played surprisingly important roles in the life of the church, affecting matters such as persecution, fellowship, unity, and dogma. Blacklock presents thorough research on the topic along with insightful analysis on the impact of sacred meals in the early church. Bethany Horvat writes to shed light on a little-known but important part of the world, Moldova. Problems with history, ethnicity, and language have created a crisis of identity in Moldova, a crisis that must be resolved for it to prosper. With a fresh perspective, Horvat employs penetrating insight into the gravity of the contemporary situation while providing historical context. Becca Samelson explores the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and his sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler Church. Angelica performed a unique role in Hamilton’s life, pushing him toward greatness and political ambition. The siblings-in-law also wrote flirtatiously to each other. By pouring over letters to and from Hamilton, Samelson provides insight into the nature and significance of the relationship between Hamilton and Angelica. Stan Crocker, Editor in Chief of the Alexandria Historical Review
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No Room for Father: The Shift in Paternal Authority in Antebellum America Johanna Christophel From the New England Puritans to the Era of Republican Motherhood to the Cult of Domesticity, much ink has been spilled over the role of mothers in antebellum American history. The other half of the story, the complementary and simultaneous role of fathers, has received comparatively little attention. Nonetheless, American fathers played an important, pivotal role in the lives of their families. Social, economic, and religious forces all shaped the paternal experience in antebellum America. Fathers did not live in a bubble. Their lives and relationships with their wives and children were both directly and indirectly affected by the culture around them. Through the lens of paternal authority, this paper will attempt to answer the question, how has the role of fathers change throughout American history? Specifically, it will test the hypothesis that the power of paternal authority gradually decreased in the antebellum era from the Puritans through early industrialization. This hypothesis is informed by the expanding role of mothers in American history—both inside and outside of the home. More to Be Loved than to Be Feared: The Puritans Social teleology is the foundational key for understanding the role of Puritan fathers in their homes and their broader cultural context. Throughout the New England colonies, the Puritans believed that they were living in a religiously teleological society, composed of teleological families. Together, as a community, they were headed somewhere specific. Fathers played a pivotal role in these units. Puritans believed the fathers—as the heads of society and their families—guided and directed them through the world. Fathers were expected to employ their authority in order to maintain well-ordered families. With few other Puritan writers or academics, Puritan preachers and theologians offer the greatest written insight into the daily family life of their time. As Cotton Mather explained, “Well-ordered families naturally produce a good order in other societies. When families are under an ill discipline, all other societies [will be] ill disciplined.”1 Mather further described families as “the 1Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Academie Books, 1986), 74.
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Nurseries of all Societies.”2 According to James Fitch, familial structure directly impacts society, for “such as families are, such at last the church and commonwealth must be.”3 Within these well-ordered families, Puritans believed that each of their roles was distinctly teleological. Men and women fulfilled their vocations through “the domestic calling of the husband and father, and the entire calling of the wife and mother.”4 As a means to achieving familial order, Puritan families were based on a hierarchy of authority. The father resided at the top, accountable for what happened within his family. As William Perkins wrote, “The husband is he which hath authority over the wife, they twaine being but one flesh, he is also the head over the wife.”5 Thus, William Gouge could require his wife to refer to him as “Master so-and-so” in front of their children and guests.6 This title was to reinforce the father’s position as the head of the household. At the same time, the Puritan father’s authority was not designed to be a tyrannical headship. In line with their Reformed theology, the Puritans rejected medieval Catholic doctrines about women. The theologians of the Medieval Era taught that women were mentally and physically weaker than men, more prone to sin, and always naturally subject to some man—be that their father, brother, or husband.7 Rejecting this idea, Puritans believed that men and women were morally equal in God’s eyes. As they embraced the moral equality of the genders, the Puritans believed there was no reason for excessive harshness on the part of the father exercising his authority. Instead, they adopted Luther and Calvin’s doctrines of familial structure. Thus, they accepted Calvin’s position that husbands were to “rule as to be the head… of his wife,” as the woman “[yielded] modestly to his demands.”8 Likewise, they 2 Cotton Mather, A Family well-ordered, Evans Early American Imprint Collection (Ann Arbor, MI: Text Creation Partnership, 2005).
3 Ryken, 74.
4 J I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, U.S. Trade Paperback. (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994), 272.
5 Ryken, 75.
6 Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 270.
7 J. I. Packer, Among God’s Giants: Aspects of Puritan Christianity (Eastbourne England: Kingsway Publications, 1991), 342-343.
8 Ryken, 75.
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agreed with Luther that “a wife is indeed to live according to the direction of her husband; what he bids and commands is to be done.”9 As Benjamin Wadsworth ultimately deduced, a good husband will “make his government of [his wife] as easy and gentle as possible, and strive more to be loved than to be feared.”10 In his studies of Puritan paternal headship, J. I. Packer identifies four Puritan arguments for this hierarchy. First, within Puritan theology, man was made first— woman as his helper. Second, woman was the first human in transgression. God thus decreed husbands would rule over their wives. Third, man is the head over whom the wife is to obey, as the church obeys Christ as described by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11:3. Fourth and finally, the Puritans appealed to nature. They pointed to the then-contemporary cultural consensus of paternal hierarchy as justification for their familial structures.11 Throughout their theology, the Puritans closely aligned themselves with the Geneva Bible’s notes on Genesis 17:23: “Masters in their houses ought to be as preachers to their families…that from the highest to the lowest, they may obey the will of God.”12 Fathers were the pastors of their families, thus adopting a religious as well as pragmatic authority role. Although the Puritans clung to a paternal hierarchy, mothers and fathers experienced extensive parental egalitarianism in practice. While the husband’s authority was emphasized, “his wife was no mere cipher and shared with her husband in the material and spiritual care of those in their house, for all of whom they regarded themselves as accountable to God.”13 Puritan fathers thus shared their authority with their wives so that, as William Gouge explained, “in general the government of the family…belongeth to the husband and wife and both.”14 William Perkins described wives as associates to their husbands, the chief rulers of their households. The wife shared “not only in office and authority, but also in advice and counsel unto him.”15
9 Ryken, 75.
10 Ibid., 76.
11 Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 267.
12 Ibid., 356.
13 E. Braund, “Daily Life Among the Puritans,” in The Puritan Papers, ed. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 157.
14 Ryken, 78.
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Essentially, while women were subordinate to their husbands in the familial command structure, they nonetheless played an important, pivotal role in the pastoring, shepherding, and raising of their families. Parental egalitarianism extended to disciplinary roles, as both mothers and fathers were involved in punishing belligerent offspring. While American history saw a shift towards exclusively maternal discipline in the nineteenth century, Puritan fathers nonetheless played a significant role in their families. Cotton Mather offers a number of recommendations in his diary: The first Chastisement, which I inflict for an ordinary Fault, is, to lett the Child see and hear me in an Astonishment, and hardly be able to beleeve that the Child could do so base a Thing, but beleeving that they will never do it again. I would never come, to give a child a Blow; except in Case of Obstinacy: or some gross Enormity. To be chased for a while out of my Presence, I would make to be look’d upon, as the sorest Punishment in the Family… The slavish way of Education, carried on with raving and kicking and scourging (in Schools as well as Families,) tis abominable; and a dreadful Judgment of God upon the World (italics Mather’s).16 From the centrality of their religion flowed the Puritan idea of covenantal fatherhood. Children did not belong to their families, per se. Rather, mothers and fathers were mere stewards of their children’s souls. As Deodat Lawson wrote, “The children born in our families are born unto God.”17 Paternal stewardship caused men to take their fatherhood very seriously. Thus, fathers were legally required to ensure their children were educated. Puritans were expected to engage in either “some honest lawful calling, labor or employment, either in husbandry, or some other trade profitable for themselves and the commonwealth.”18 While educational and economic preparedness were critical, addressing children’s sinfulness was central. As Benjamin Wadsworth wrote, “children should not be left to themselves, to a loose end, to do as they please…, not being fit to govern 16 Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England, Revised ed. (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966), 105.
17 Ryken, 78.
18 Ibid., 79-80.
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themselves.”19 The Puritans’ theological foundations informed their beliefs about children’s natures. As staunch Calvinists, the Puritans clung to a strict doctrine of original sin and total depravity. All people—including their young, seemingly innocent children—are innately sinful. Thus, Puritans believed they needed to direct and guide their children toward righteousness, since they certainly would not get there on their own. John Robinson explained that the “fruit of natural corruption and root of actual rebellion against God and man must be destroyed, and no manner of way nourished…. For the beating and keeping down of this stubbornness parents must provide…that children’s wills and willfulness be restrained and repressed.”20 This role fell particularly to the fathers as the spiritual head of the Puritan household. Fathers were seen as possessing an “inalienable” responsibility for the spiritual well-being of their families.21 The idea of paternal spiritual authority significantly influenced the way that Puritan pastors interacted with the families in their congregations. While modern pastors often attempt to reach men through their wives and children, Puritan pastors practiced exactly the opposite.22 The fathers, as the heads of their families, were duty-bound to ensure that they and their entire households attended public worship each week.23 These “households” did not consist exclusively of the parents and their children. Rather, fathers were seen as having authority—and thereby spiritual responsibility—over their servants and anyone else dwelling in their house as well. After Sunday’s public worship was concluded, the family’s Sabbath observance continued in their own homes. Sundays were to be a complete Lord’s Day time of rest. Fathers returned home with their families and spent the afternoon instructing their children and servants. Frequently, they required household members to reiterate and discuss some aspect of the sermon they found particularly salient. Fathers also often spent the afternoon repeating the sermon to their children based on the notes they had taken during the morning service.24 John Rowe habitually practiced
19 Ryken, 82.
20 Ibid., 82.
21 Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 242.
23 Braund, 158.
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this with his family. After this oration, he took his household back to church for the afternoon public worship. Following the service, the Rowe family returned home, and the children repeated what they had learned.25 While Sunday public worship was a central part of Puritan culture, fathers took their authority and responsibility to guide private family worship times no less seriously. Fathers were the pastors of their families. Thus, every member of the household—from servants to guests to children—gathered every morning and evening for a family worship service. This time of spiritual formation featured prayer, Bible readings, and commentary from the father. Families also occasionally sang through the Psalms.26 Like most eras of American history, the Puritans acknowledged that mothers played a uniquely influential role in the moral formation of a child’s early years. Nonetheless, the father’s authoritative role as the spiritual head of the household required that he be primarily—and ultimately—responsible for catechizing his children and teaching them Christianity.27 Samuel Sewall, a New England Puritan, wrote in his diary about an interaction with his son Sam: Sabbath, Jan. 12. Richard Dummer, a flourishing youth of 9 years old, dies of the Small Pocks. I tell Sam. of it and what need he had to prepare for Death, and therefore to endeavor really to pray when he said over the Lord’s Prayer: He seem’d not much to burst out into a bitter Cry, and when I askt what was the matter and he could speak, he burst out into a bitter Cry and said he was afraid he should die. I pray’d with him, and read Scriptures comforting against death, as, O death where is thy sting, &c. All things yours. Life and Immorality brought to light by Christ, &c. ‘Twas at noon.28 Inculcating the Gospel into their children was the central purpose of Puritan paternal authority. Overall, Puritan fathers attempted to govern and direct their families in a loving and servant-hearted but firm manner toward teleological ends.
25 Braund, 158.
27 Packer, A Quest for Godliness, 270-71.
26 Ibid., 158-159.
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Shifting Tides: The Revolutionary War Era As the new, emerging nation shifted and adjusted to the needs and demands of a changing world, paternal authority evolved as well. Prior to the nineteenth century, fathers—not mothers—handled the vast majority of family correspondence and directed baptisms, weddings, and funerals.29 This reflected the widespread American belief that fathers were the authoritative heads of their homes. While this perception was not overthrown during the Revolutionary period, it was nonetheless changed and reinterpreted. The political ideas of the American Founding trickled down into Americans’ conception of paternal authority structures. Enlightenment religious, political, and economic ideas largely rejected social hierarchies in favor of a new individualism. For example, John Locke contended that men are naturally equal to each other in power, rank, dominion, and sovereignty.30 In his groundbreaking pamphlet Common Sense, Thomas Paine argued that all men, being born originally equal, had no right to set up perpetual degrees of family honor and preference.31 John Adams wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson that “artificial aristocracy can never last.”32 At its core, independent individualism helped trigger the ideological shift in paternal authority that occurred in the wake of the American War for Independence. As they pushed for political revolution and reform, many eighteenth-century political theory writers framed political authority issues in terms of family relationships. They began to view dominating patriarchal authority as “a threat not only to the emergent republican social order, but to the well-being of particular families.”33 The divine right of kings was historically linked to paternal authority, grounded in Adam’s natural dominion over his children. However, many Enlightenment thinkers 29 Jack C. Westman, ed., Parenthood in America: Undervalued, Underpaid, under Siege (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), 185-186. 30 John Locke, “Second Treatise of Government,” in Classics of Moral and Political Theory, 5th ed., ed. Michael L. Morgan (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 2011), 713. 31 Thomas Paine, Common Sense (Philadelphia: W. & T. Bradford, 1776), 40, accessed April 19, 2017, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/147/147-h/147-h.htm. 32 John Adams, “Letters to Samuel Adams, October 18, 1790; and to Thomas Jefferson, November 15, 1813; April 19, 1817,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1:187-96. 33 Stephen M. Frank, Life with Father: Parenthood and Masculinity in the Nineteenth-Century American North, Gender Relations in the American Experience (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 15. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 11
that eventually influenced American independence rejected this idea. In his Second Treatise of Government, John Locke began to deconstruct the Divine Right of Kings theory. Locke argued that Adam lacked a natural right to paternal authority, thereby undermining the fundamental foundation of the divine right of kings.34 Composed in the late seventeenth century, Locke’s philosophy arrived in the United States in time to impact political thought during the Revolutionary War. For Americans, Locke’s writings helped to crystalize the threatening link between paternal authority and kingly rule. Tyrants threatened liberty, and implacable fathers imperiled their wives’ and children’s happiness.35 As the seventeenth century moved into the eighteenth century, the Calvinistic family hierarchies of the Puritans began to fade. In part, this was triggered by the waning authority of the church and the community. Fathers had long represented these two institutions within their families, so as institutional authority waned so did the fathers’.36 Thus, by the opening years of the nineteenth century hierarchical, Puritanical paternal authority structures were being replaced by an increasing emphasis on mutuality, companionship, and personal happiness.37 Society during this era began to be less hierarchal and became based more on personal freedom. Paternal authority structures followed suit. The decline of paternal authority was accompanied by the rise of the philosophy of Republican Motherhood. As the United States began to establish itself as new republic, Americans began to believe that mothers would be the primary shapers of the nation’s future leaders. The Puritans had recognized women’s unique role in influencing the moral development of young children, but it was not until the Revolutionary War Era that this recognition began to change the way people thought about fathers’ authority.38 Americans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century believed that the hand that rocked the cradle ruled the world. As Benjamin Rush wrote in his Thoughts upon Female Education, “let the ladies of a country be educated properly, and they will not only make and administer its laws, but form its man
34 Locke, 712. 35 Ibid.
36 Shawn Johansen, Family Men: Middle-Class Fatherhood in Early Industrializing America (New York: Routledge, 2001), 85.
37 Robert L. Griswold, Fatherhood in America: A History (New York: BasicBooks, 1993), 11. 38 Ibid., 12.
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ners and character.”39 For Rush—and many other Americans—mothers’ roles became paramount: “A principal share of the instruction of children naturally devolves upon the women. It becomes us therefore to prepare them, by a suitable education, for the discharge of this most important duty of mothers.”40 Judith Sargent Murray defended the era of Republican Motherhood on a foundational philosophical level in On the Equality of the Sexes, her treatise in defense of the rights of women. According to Murray, women were perfectly qualified to fulfill their role in the new republic, for men’s and women’s “minds are by nature equal…. From the commencement of time to the present day, there hath been as many females, as males, who, by the mere force of natural powers, have merited the crown of applause; who, thus unassisted, have seized the wreath of fame” (italics Murray’s).41 Abigail Adams further articulated this ideology when she wrote, “If we mean to have heroes, statesmen, and philosophers, we should have learned women.”42 The maternal hand not only ruled the world, but it was beginning to have increasing authority in the home—to the marginal downfall of traditional patriarchal structures. Changing economic realities both strengthened and reduced paternal authority within the American family. Over millennia, fathers had long protected their authority by maintaining control over inheritance. However, as a more commercially-oriented economy began to emerge in the era of industrialization, farmland became less significant.43 The object of fathers’ control became less important, and their authority waned with it. This reduction in American paternal authority during the early industrializing period may have led European visitors like Ann Bishop to note that “the short period which they can spend in the bosom of their families must be an enjoyment and relaxation to them; therefore, in the absence of any statements to the contrary, it is but right to suppose that they are affectionate husbands and 39 Benjamin Rush, “Thoughts upon Female Education,” in Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents, 4th ed., ed. Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016), 147.
40 Rush, 147.
41 Judith Sargent Murray, “On the Equality of the Sexes,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 16301865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1:181-183. 42 Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents, 4th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2016), 121.
43 Johansen, 85.
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fathers.”44 Early-nineteenth-century industrialization’s removal of fathers from the home may have given them a stronger relationship with their children, as their time at home became more cherished and important. Economic changes also worked to fathers’ direct advantage. Fathers were the sole breadwinners, a role oftentimes fulfilled outside of the home. Thus, they controlled the family’s economic resources.45 To this end, fathers frequently found that the one way they could exert control over their children was by controlling their access to education. Many children had to convince their fathers that pursuing certain educational activities would be beneficial and worth the resource allocation.46 Era of Reform: The Early Nineteenth Century The Second Great Awakening left an indelible mark on paternal authority structures in the United States. Evolving theologies of sin and salvation played a dramatic role in reshaping how Americans thought about fathers. By the late eighteenth century, American Enlightenment rationalism began to influence the church. The dawn of the Second Great Awakening unleashed this influence full force. Within this paradigm, American Christians began to rethink their views of children; children were “religiously reevaluated.”47 In contrast to the Puritan era, children were no longer considered “infant fiends” whose wills needed to be crushed, controlled, and directed by authoritative fathers.48 Instead, Protestants of all denominations began to question strictly-interpreted Calvinist theories of human depravity. Nathaniel William Taylor, a Congregationalist theologian at Yale, argued that there is a distinction between “a disposition or tendency to sin which is prior to all sin and a sinful disposition,” contending that sinfulness was a human choice, not a human reality from birth (italics Taylor’s).49 For Taylor, “not a human being does or can become thus 44 Frank F. Furstenburg Jr., “Industrialization and the American Family: A Look Backward,” American Sociological Review 31, no. 3 (June 1966): 326-37, accessed April 22, 2017, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090821. 45 Johansen, 100. 46 Ibid., 103-104.
47 Griswold, 11.
49 Nathaniel William Taylor, “Concio ad Clerum: A Sermon Delivered in the chapel of Yale College, September 10, 1828,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1 : 255.
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sinful or depraved but by his own choice;” men corrupt their own natures exclusively through their own choices.50 Charles Grandison Finney, the famous New School Presbyterian revivalist, popularized similar ideas, arguing that the lack of innate sinfulness made human perfection possible on earth.51 Rather than focus on the child’s sin, theologians began to focus on his redeemability.52 This reframed the role of fathers. In this new theological mindset, fathers were responsible for shaping their malleable, innocent children. Children’s characters did not need to be broken. Rather, “rearing children was a process of nurture and growth, not a battle between righteousness and depravity.”53 Theologian and parenting advisor Horace Bushnell wrote in 1847 that parents could nurture their children in such a way that the Christian life and spirit of the parents shall flow into the mind of the child, to blend with his incipient and half-formed exercises; that they shall thus beget their own good within him, their thoughts, opinions, faith and love, which are to become a little more, and yet a little more, his own separate exercise, but still the same in character.54 Parents could form an organic connection with their children, allowing parental faith and morality to flow into their morally-neutral children.55 There would be no breaking of children’s wills; Americans no longer saw this as necessary. As educational techniques evolved in the decades just prior to the Civil War, the authoritative role of fathers as educators shifted as well. In the Puritan era and the Revolutionary War era, fathers were the parents primarily responsible for ensuring their children were educated. During the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, public school
50 Taylor, 262, 264.
51 Charles Grandison Finney, “Lectures on Revivals of Religion,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1 :277.
52 Frank, 16.
53 Griswold, 23. 54 Horace Bushnell, “Christian Nurture,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1 : 463.
55 Ibid., 461.
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emerged as a viable—and popular—alternative. Thus, the formal education of children began to shift out of the family and into public schools. As a result, fathers were no longer responsible for guiding and directing the education of their children. The educational sphere was yet another aspect of family life that was previously governed by the father but eroded as the nineteenth century progressed.56 The reform movement triggered by the Second Great Awakening had dramatic implications for paternal authority structures. The hodgepodge of antebellum reform efforts was united by certain common themes. The advice of experts began to be viewed as necessary to proper child rearing. Scientific language was appropriated and applied to parenting. Thus, “motherhood was increasingly seen as a science, fatherhood as a seldom-discussed art.”57 Expertise empowered the mother but made the father increasingly irrelevant as an authority figure in his own home. As a result, fathers were not seen as sufficient to handle and punish their unruly children without the intervening help of a juvenile court system.58 The conception of the mother as an angel in the home reduced paternal authority and legitimacy. During this period, mothers were upheld as the moral exemplars of society. They were untouched by the sullying world of business and politics and could maintain their moral virtue as a result. Thus, women began to be seen as the parent primarily responsible for inculcating religious and civic values into their children.59 Catharine Beecher, a Second Great Awakening reformer and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sister, argued in her 1841 work A Treatise on Domestic Economy: In matters pertaining to the education of their children, in the selection and support of a clergyman, in all benevolent enterprises, and in all questions relating to morals or manners, they [women] have a superior influence. In such concerns, it would be impossible to carry a point, contrary to their judgment and feelings; while an enterprise, sustained by them, will seldom fail of success…. The formation of the moral and intellectual character of the young man is committed mainly to the female hand….Let the women of a country be made virtuous and intelligent, and the men will certainly be the same.60
56 Bushnell, 31.
57 Griswold, 32.
59 Johansen, 85.
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Antebellum reformers dichotomized parental roles, creating a system in which mothers were the primary caregivers and childrearers but fathers were tasked with primarily and increasingly external roles. Fathers were to be almost exclusively breadwinners outside of the home.61 At most, the father’s moral authority was reduced to modeling positive “genuine Christian” behavior for their children to emulate.62 The best strategy for men to follow was to cultivate maternal love and reinforce maternal authority.63 By this point in the history of paternal authority, the Puritan conception of men’s leadership as the spiritual heads of their homes had long since passed from American intellectual thought. In part, it may have died as Enlightenment and Transcendentalist conceptions of a morally-neutral tabula rasa began to more fully permeate the American psyche. Lydia Maria Child, a nineteenth-century child-advice expert, exemplifies this shift in a story in her 1831 text The Mother’s Book. In Child’s tale, a father disagrees with his wife on an issue related to the rearing of their daughter. Nonetheless, the father defers, saying, “I will never interfere with your management; and much as it went against my feelings, I entirely approve of what you have done.”64 While Child’s tale was fictionalized, the text’s popularity nonetheless demonstrates that this kind of interaction was not considered anomalous by her readers. Perhaps the most startling impact of new ideas about maternal and paternal roles was the judicial shift they triggered. American divorce cases had long been governed and guided by the common law tradition derived from an Anglo-Saxon legal heritage. This tradition generally gave fathers custody of their children in divorce proceedings. As mothers began to be seen as the moral authority in the home, jurists began to evolve from this common law doctrine. Some courts said that the father’s right to custody was presumptive but not absolute. This presumptive standard could be overcome if there was evidence that the child’s interests were better served by 60 Catharine Beecher, “A Treatise on Domestic Economy,” in The American Intellectual Tradition: 16301865, 7th ed., ed. David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 1 : 342343.
61 Griswold, 33.
62 Frank, 31.
63 Ibid., 37. 64 Ibid., 38.
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the mother.65 For example, in Jennette Prather’s divorce case against her adulterous husband, the judge granted her custody of her infant daughter, despite his belief that fathers are children’s “natural guardian, invested by God and the law of the country with reasonable power over them.”66 During this same era, some courts and state legislatures pushed the legal reasoning even further, altogether abandoning the idea of presumptive paternal custody. They instead determined that mothers and fathers possessed equal rights over their children. With this paradigm, custody decisions ought to be grounded in the best interests of the child as the overwhelming standard. In the 1830s, both New York and Massachusetts revised their state divorce laws, placing parents on equal footing. The Massachusetts statute stated that “the rights of parents to their children, in the absence of misconduct, are equal and the happiness and welfare of the child are to determine its care and custody.”67 In the 1840s, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that even if the father’s reputation was “as stainless as crystal,” the “interest of the child may imperatively demand the denial of the father’s right [to custody].”68 Practically, this shift in jurisprudence had dramatic, real-world implications for divorce cases. By the end of the nineteenth century, the majority of custody awards in divorce cases went to women.69 While a reduction in paternal authority was certainly the intellectual milieu of America just prior to the Civil War, fathers retained certain aspects of familial authority. Observing the United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that the husband remained the “natural head of conjugal association” who maintained the right to direct his spouse.70 However, this tension between reformist ideas and actual paternal practice created a paradox of parental power.71 There were shreds of paternal authority remaining, but the position of fathers had been substantially
65 Griswold, 30.
66 Michael Grossberg, “Who Gets the Child? Custody, Guardianship, and the Rise of a Judicial Patriarchy in Nineteenth-Century America,” 235-260, Feminist Studies 9, no. 2 (1983): 235-60. doi:10.2307/3177489, 240.
67 Grossberg, 241.
68 Ibid., 245.
70 Frank, 38.
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eroded in the years following the American Revolution. Conservative backlash attempted to restore paternal authority in the home. Surveying the state of new-found maternal authority, theologians John S.C. Abbott and Theodore Dwight Jr. warned parents that paternal neglect was “one of the most abundant sources of domestic sorrow.”72 In an era of industrialization, men were chided for neglecting their children for the sake of business and politics.73 America was no longer populated by yeoman farmers. Instead, commercialization demanded that fathers work outside of the home in order to serve as breadwinners for their families. Fathers were gone from their families more frequently than they had been before in American history. With this absence, there were concerns of paternal abandonment and—thus—calls for a restoration of paternal roles and authority. While there was widespread conservative concern about the reduction of paternal authority, fathers maintained at least three important roles inside of the home for themselves to exercise authority. First, fathers largely took charge of meal times. William Alcott, an antebellum reformer and distant relative of the famous author Louisa May Alcott, was a writer in his own right. He took up a pen to offer recommendations to fathers for how to guide and direct their children. For example, Alcott recommended that fathers take advantage of the morning meal to announce the family’s plan for the day. Likewise, evening meals should be employed as an opportunity to lead the family in reviewing the day’s activities. Ideally, fathers could retake an aspect of educational authority in this setting. Alcott recommended to his reader that fathers could convert the dinner table into a seminar table whose educational benefits could “surpass the whole course of instruction at our common schools.”74 Secondly, fathers maintained a small, limited role in parental discipline. In the antebellum reform years, mothers became primarily responsible for disciplining their children in their earliest years. In the earliest part of the nineteenth century, fathers nonetheless still got involved in the wort, most incorrigible cases of their older children.75 This, ultimately, was perhaps the biggest way that father could maintain their authority. Through corporal punishment, fathers could control their households as long as they were bigger and stronger than their sons and daughters.76
72 Frank, 29.
74 Ibid., 32.
75 Ibid., 33.
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However, by mid-century, this position vanished almost entirely. Fathers were encouraged to completely abandon their authoritarian position in the family in order to establish more “tender ties” with their children.77 Third and finally, husbands maintained aspects of their paternal authority by writing advisory letters to their wives, while in absentia on business trips. Many middle class fathers were frequently absent from their homes, but they nonetheless made attempts to maintain a role in the guiding and directing of their families, thereby reaffirming their domestic authority. Steamboat captain Christopher Pearce wrote to his wife while trading on the Ohio River that “relative to the government of our children I shall be pleased to assist you, and hope soon to be so situated as to do so.”78 William Swain wrote to his wife in his absence, taking the time to recommend that she familiarize herself with books on teething and the effects of different food and style of dress on children.79 Pearce and Swain’s letters indicate that some middle class American men and women may have believed that moral authority in the home was not exclusive to a single parent. Rather, it could be shared between both the mother and the father to create a healthy, balanced home life. Overall, the decades immediately preceding the Civil War saw paternal hierarchies and authority structures erode in favor of more affectionate family relationships. As the Calvinist theology that dominated the Puritan era began to fade, the theology of the Second Great Awakening took its place. The doctrine of total depravity fell from popularity, replaced by a more charitable view of human nature—specifically children’s nature. Thus, “hierarchy and order, the watchwords of older forms of paternal dominance, gave way to a growing emphasis on mutuality, companionship, and personal happiness.”80 As a result, fathers living in this new social order were forced to reevaluate their relationship with their children. Affection—rather than discipline—became more central to paternal authority. With the rise of maternal roles, Americans began to believe that fathers—to be effective—should become more like their wives in their parenting methodologies. Men should be their chil
76 Johansen, 98.
77 Frank, 33.
78 Johansen, 89.
79 Ibid., 90.
80 Griswold, 11.
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dren’s friends and companions. Patriarchal authority should be reduced.81 Reformist proponents of the new mindset understood that fathers would likely be opposed to this new paternal framework. Thus, they spun this change by saying that friendly relations would not “undermine paternal authority, but rather bolster control by creating an incentive for obedience.”82 Whether or not this worked effectively could be seen by studying paternal authority structures in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and during the entirety of the Gilded Age, a timeframe outside of the scope of this paper. Conclusion In the approximately two-hundred years between the Puritans and the antebellum reform era, there was a near-total role reversal in paternal authority structures. Puritan mothers were seen as the helper to the father, reinforcing his role as the spiritual head of the household. Fathers held important, authoritative roles in their families. The covenantal religious and political identity of Puritan families guided the father’s position as the head of his household, as fathers were the chief authority in theological and educational endeavors. As the Revolutionary War’s political ideology spread throughout society, Americans began to rethink and reevaluate the idea of paternal authority. Patriarchy was linked to tyrants. The nexus of familial influence and authority shifted to the mother’s essential role. Within the family, mothers became the inculcators of republican values, and fathers’ roles were correspondingly reduced. By the mid-nineteenth century, American fathers and mothers had almost entirely switched places from the Puritan beginnings. Mothers became the moral authority in the home, and fathers were to support her role. It is unfortunate that the rise of mothers as a legitimate authority in the home came at the downfall of fathers’ roles. Rather than the pursuit of a happy medium, balanced parental roles were disregarded in the laudable pursuit of women’s rights. Whereas mothers had previously been the fathers’ helpmeets, antebellum fathers became—in the Puritans’ words— the mother’s associate and counsel in raising her children.
81 Frank, 34.
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Adams, John. “Letters to Samuel Adams, October 18, 1790; and to Thomas Jefferson, November 15, 1813; April 19, 1817.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 187-96. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Beecher, Catharine. “A Treatise on Domestic Economy.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 340-353. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Braund, E. “Daily Life among the Puritans.” In The Puritan Papers, edited by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer. Vol. 1, 1. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing. 2001. Bushnell, Horace. “Christian Nurture.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 454-463. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. DuBois, Ellen Carol, and Lynn Dumenil. Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin, 2016. Finney, Charles Grandison. “Lectures on Revivals of Religion.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 267277. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Frank, Stephen M. Life with Father: Parenthood and Masculinity in the Nineteenth-Century American North. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Furstenburg, Frank F. Jr. “Industrialization and the American Family: A Look Backward.” American Sociological Review 31, no. 3 (June 1966): 326-37. Accessed April 22, 2017. http://www. jstor.org/stable/2090821. Griswold, Robert L. Fatherhood in America: A History. New York: BasicBooks, 1993. Grossberg, Michael. “Who Gets the Child? Custody, Guardianship, and the Rise of a Judicial Patriarchy in Nineteenth-Century America.” Feminist Studies 9, no. 2 (1983): 235-60. doi:10.2307/3177489. Johansen, Shawn. Family Men: Middle-Class Fatherhood in Early Industrializing America. Underlining ed. New York: Routledge, 2001. Locke, John, ed. “Second Treatise of Government.” In Classics of Moral and Political Theory. 5th ed, edited by Michael L. Morgan, 709-76. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co., 2011. Mather, Cotton. A Family well-ordered. Evans Early American Imprint Collection. Ann Arbor, MI: Text Creation Partnership, 2005. Morgan, Edmund S. The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth Century New England. Revised ed. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966. Murray, Judith Sargent. “On the Equality of the Sexes.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 179-186. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Packer, J. I. Among God’s Giants: Aspects of Puritan Christianity. Eastbourne, England: Kingsway Publications, 1991. ________. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life. U.S. Trade Pbk. ed.
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Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994. Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. Philadelphia: W. & T. Bradford, 1776. Accessed April 19, 2017. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/147/147-h/147-h.htm. Rush, Benjamin. “Thoughts upon Female Education.” In Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. 4th ed, edited by Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil, 145-47. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. Ryken, Leland. Worldly Saints: the Puritans as They Really Were. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. Taylor, Nathaniel William. “Concio ad Clerum: A Sermon Delivered in the Chapel of Yale College, September 10, 1828.” In The American Intellectual Tradition: 1630-1865. 7th ed, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. Vol. 1, 252-266. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Westman, Jack C. Parenthood in America: Undervalued, Underpaid, under Siege. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
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Sacred Meals in the Early Church Rosalie Blacklock
During the first three centuries A.D., the sacred rite of table fellowship played a crucial role in the development and survival of Christianity. From the persecuted Church’s devotion to clandestine Eucharists to the Apostle Paul’s heated criticism of Corinthian table etiquette, early Christian behavior manifested a remarkable concern for eating in common. But the meal’s influence extended well beyond the table: whereas pagan Romans leveled fantastic allegations against ritual diners, Christian authorities regulated and even forbade certain Christian feasts. In order to account for the extraordinary role of bread and wine in Church history, it is necessary to explore the culture surrounding communal meals in the Roman Empire. Due to the social and theological significance of table fellowship in the ancient world, the sacred rite of the meal supplied a setting for Christians to decide questions fundamental to the identity and success of their faith. Weekly meetings of the early Church provided the occasion for Christian ritual meals. As attested by Paul’s repeated mention of house churches, early believers gathered in homes, hosted by householders who served as patrons of the church.1 Justin Martyr explained the order of service that had formed by the second century in his Apologia I. According to the Martyr, Christians chose to meet on Sunday because of its significance as the first day of Creation week and, especially, as the time of Christ’s resurrection.2 On the appointed day, Christians would gather to read sacred writings of the Apostles and Prophets, listen to a sermon, and offer prayers. Pliny’s Letter to Trajan mentions that the Christians also sang responsive hymns to Christ and recited a moral code, apparently the Ten Commandments, on a fixed day.3 Finally, the Christians would reverently share a meal, sending deacons to carry food to absent members. Since St. Justin also mentions a collection for the sick and needy at a later point in the service, this delivery could not have been mere charity. The Christian supper held a theological purpose rather than a physical one; in 1 Dennis Edwin Smith, From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 177.
2 Justin Martyr, Apologia I 67.822.
3 Pliny the Younger, Epistulae 10.96.
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the Martyr’s words, “we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink.”4 It was from this position of spiritual importance that the sacred meal would exert its influence over the Church. Although the Church Fathers offer parallel descriptions of the Christian Sunday service, two different meal traditions emerge from their writings: the Eucharist and the agape. Christians called the former rite eucharista – the Greek word for “thanksgiving” – because they viewed the Lord’s Supper as a joyous occasion to recognize God’s salvific grace.5 St. Justin identifies the meal of his Apologia as a Eucharist, and describes its theology in addition to its place in the service. St. Justin’s explanation is familiar to orthodox Christians: he traces the rite back to Christ’s command at the Last Supper to eat bread and wine “for my memorial,” noting its symbolism for the Body and Blood of Christ.6 Apparently, the Eucharist had acquired its permanent form by the second century. Early documents also give evidence of a lesser-known counterpart to the Lord’s Supper known as the agape. Named from the Greek word for brotherly affection, the Christian “Love-Feast” consisted of a full meal, often including fish in addition to bread and wine.7 The Christian author Tertullian called the agape “an act of religious service,” but stipulated that its purpose was merely to “satisf[y] the cravings of hunger.”8 Rather than fulfilling a divine command, then, the agape provided the simple pleasures of food and fellowship to believers.9 Each type of ritual meal would have its own effect on the Christian community. While the agape and the Eucharist were similar in form, the distinction between them is noteworthy. Some historians have speculated that the two rites began as one, developing their separate identities over the course of time.10 If correct, this theory might challenge certain cherished ecclesiastical beliefs; for example, if
4 Justin Martyr, Apologia I 66.818.
5 Valeriy A. Alikin, The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering: Origin, Development and Content of the Christian Gathering in the First to Third Centuries (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 8; Eugene LaVerdiere, The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1996), 1.
6 Justin Martyr, Apologia I 66.819.
7 R. Lee Cole, Love-Feasts: A History of the Christian Agape (London: C.H. Kelley, 1916), 61-62.
8 Tertullian, Apologia 39.47
9 Cole, 11. 10 Ibid., 14.
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the Eucharist had evolved from a common fellowship meal, the Christian tradition of tracing Communion back to the Last Supper would appear to be a misrepresentation. However, in Love-Feasts: A History of the Christian Agape, Richard Cole suggests instead that while the two meals frequently occurred in tandem, the earliest Christians nevertheless considered the agape and the Eucharist to be distinct from each other. Cole explains that it was natural for believers to meet together for meals, and on those occasions it was also convenient to hold the Eucharist; hence the rites’ proximity in the service.11 The evidence from early Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian supports Cole’s claim, since these writers assign different theological meanings to the two meals. Thus from the beginning, Christians probably treated the Eucharist and the agape as separate despite their similarity. This distinction could account for why the Eucharist has survived the test of time while the agape vanishes from history by the eighth century. Although both meals were important, the Eucharist possessed a theological function that rendered it indispensable to Christians. Ancient sources establish that both types of ritual meals were essential to life in the early Church. The book of Acts relates that the believers in Jerusalem made a daily practice of breaking bread together in their homes, and Jude’s epistle mentions Christian “Love-Feasts” as a familiar occurrence (Acts 2:46, Jude 1:12 ESV). Paul’s epistles repeatedly discuss questions about dining, including proper table manners, religious dietary restrictions, and the permissibility of eating meat from pagan sacrifices (1 Cor. 11, Col. 2:16, 1 Cor. 8). Such issues would have arisen naturally in the Church as a consequence of holding frequent meals together.12 In fact, food historian Dennis Edwin Smith posits that the Christians’ regular meetings occurred entirely around the supper table, since this arrangement was common at Roman social gatherings.13 If Smith is correct, then the agape, while inferior to the Eucharist in theological weight, would have composed the backbone of Christian fellowship. The third-century Passion of St. Perpetua provides a vivid picture of the importance of the agape to the morale of Christian martyrs: given a choice of their last meal before being thrown into an arena of wild animals, Perpetua and her companions choose to hold one final “Love-Feast” together in prison.14 Whereas the agape fortified
11 Cole, 14-15.
12 Smith, 177.
13 Ibid., 179.
14 The Passions of Ss. Perpetua and Felicity, 5.4.9004. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 26
the Christians’ hearts and minds, the Eucharist fostered their souls; the persecuted Church persistently found ways to hold the Lord’s Supper, adjusting the hours of their meetings in order to dodge Roman laws against nighttime rituals.15 The Eucharist and agape emerge from these examples as a mainstay of both friendship and spiritual support for a devout and vulnerable people, whose community began around the table. While the affirmation and theology connected with the agape and the Eucharist ensured their prominence within the Christian community, popular culture added another layer of import to the sacred feasts. Banquets were the primary social institution of the Roman Empire, for the Ancients defined class boundaries, expressed ethical obligations, and sought festive joy in common meals.16 Customary banquet forms in the Mediterranean included feasts at pagan sacrifices, Jewish religious festivals, and Greco-Roman dinner-parties called Symposia. Christians would obviously have spurned the pagan orgies, and Jewish banquet practices had largely aligned with the Greco-Roman model by the time of Christianity; thus, church gatherings followed the pattern of the Symposium. Roman Symposia frequently took place in the context of the Collegium, a highly popular form of club whose purpose could be religious, political, or commercial.17 Although banquets were the focal point of the Collegium, these associations also provided privileges in return for monthly membership dues. One standard benefit was the guarantee of a decent burial, a common concern in the ancient world for citizens of the lower class.18 When Christians adopted the Symposium model, they also imitated the practice of providing funeral insurance for members of their community.19 Many of Christianity’s earliest converts must have previously belonged to Collegia, yet their objections to pagan religious observances would have forced them to give up club membership.20 A Christian society, centering on a common meal and providing social security for its members, may be understood as a substitute for the Collegium. Thus, the Christian feast’s re 15 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 278.
16 Smith, 9-12.
17 Ibid., 134, 171.
18 Ibid., 96; Cole, 25-27; Alikin, 6
19 Cole, 31.
20 Ibid., 32-33.
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semblance to the Greco-Roman banquet allowed the Church to meet the social and financial needs of pagan converts. Apparently, the Eucharist and the agape fulfilled a fundamental desire in the souls of the early Christians for worship, fellowship, and encouragement. Amplified in significance by the cultural norms of the day, sacred feasts also secured key social benefits for the Christian community. Yet these rites gave rise to challenges and dangers for the early Church, as well. The most obvious threat was persecution: Roman pagans developed a special hatred for the Christian rites, targeting communicants with arrest and execution. Curiously, the Romans justified this harassment with extravagant claims that the Christian “feasts” were in fact atrocious orgies. A horrific crackdown followed such allegations in AD 177, when Imperial authorities variously burned, crucified, and threw to wild beasts forty-eight Christians in Lyons.21 The Martyrs of Lyons died bravely denying charges of cannibalism, but Roman vitriol against the Church’s rituals often intimidated weaker believers. In Pliny’s second-century report, Christians confess under torture to holding a weekly meeting and a meal together, but allege that their food was “ordinary and innocent” and claim to have ended the practice after an imperial ban on secret societies.22 Even as they supported the Christian community from within, Church food rituals served as bait for hostile Romans. The Roman pagans’ peculiar bent for attacking Christian dining practices calls for further investigation. Intriguingly, Roman accounts of the notorious Christian gatherings bear a twisted germ of the truth. In a third-century polemic against Christianity, a Roman lawyer named Minicius Felix gives a grisly report of Christians dining on a baby and passing around its blood and limbs.23 While preposterous, Felix’s description in fact evokes the symbolism behind the Eucharistic elements as the Body and Blood of Christ. Felix next launches into a grotesque sketch of a “banquet” at which Christians commit incest in the darkness.24 This second account appears to interpret the agape based on an overly explicit understanding of the Christians’ term “Love-Feast.” Apparently, the Christians’ own strange claims about their rituals, admittedly full of graphic symbolism, were eliciting revulsion from 21 W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of a Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965), 1-22.
22 Pliny, Epistulae 10.96; Daniel J. Sheerin, The Eucharist (Wilmington, Del: M. Glazier, 1986), 31.
23 Sheerin, 29 24 Ibid., 30.
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puzzled Romans. Yet the question still remains why meals in particular triggered such vehement reactions. The Martyrs of Lyons narrative offers some clues into the pagans’ motives when it describes the trials of the believers: the Romans treat the Christians’ ‘Thyestean feasts’ and ‘Oedipian intercourse’ as a direct affront against the pagan gods. For example, immediately after a Christian named Attalus insists on the innocence of the Christian rites, a Roman interrogator asks him “what name God has.” Correspondingly, a slave-girl named Biblias replies to a charge of atheism by denying that Christians are cannibals.25 Finally, the author of the account explains that the Romans hope to “avenge their gods” by punishing the Christians’ crimes. The connection that the Romans drew between aberrant meal practices and atheism lay in their culture, which infused all meals with a religious character.26 The ancients made no distinction between a “religious” and a “secular” meal; club banquets, dinner parties, and sacrificial feasts all included libations and prayers.27 A culture that placed such religious significance in the act of dining would have viewed the fictitious sins occurring at the Christian banquets as religious crimes of the highest order. Naturally, defection from the state cult of paganism also translated into political treason in the Roman mind.28 Therefore, Roman cultural sensibilities are the key to understanding their puzzling obsession with the Christian ritual meals. Because of the religious element in Mediterranean banquet practices, the Eucharist and agape fundamentally clashed with the values of the Roman state. Yet while outsiders’ attacks on the Christian meal rituals were formidable, disputes within the Christian community posed a peril of their own. Indeed, the early Church Fathers demonstrated at least as much concern for the Christians’ treatment of the Eucharist and agape as for the Romans’ view of the Christian rites. Although the pagans’ outlandish accusations against the Church were clearly unfounded, a profusion of homilies, letters, and Church council records gives evidence of pettier abuses that actually occurred at the Christian banquets. Gluttony was a common fault at the agape: St. Clement of Alexandria devoted a chapter of his book Pedagogus to admonishing Christians against treating the Love-Feast as an occasion for “pots 25 The Letter of the Churches of Vienna and Lyons to the Churches of Asia and Phrygia Including the Story of the Blessed Blandina, in Eusebius, History of the Church 5.1.
26 Smith, 84.
27 Ibid., 6; Andrew Brian McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 47.
28 Sheerin, 24.
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and pouring of sauce… drink and delicacies” and neglecting to share brotherly affection.29 In Homily on 1 Corinthians, St. Chrysostom adds that the custom of the agape became corrupt in Corinth because it engendered social divisions.30 Analogously, controversial Eucharist celebrations elicited stern warnings from the clergy. For example, in the third century, St. Cyprian of Carthage sent a lengthy and passionate rebuke to a congregation in Africa for using water rather than wine in the Lord’s Supper. Nicknamed “Aquarians,” these sectarians had feared that the smell of alcohol on their breath would signal to the Romans that they had participated in the forbidden Christian rite. Whereas the Aquarians sought to avoid concrete dangers, other sects propagated strange Eucharist practices based on doctrinal misunderstandings. For example, a branch of Galatian Christians known as “Artotyrites” insisted on using bread and cheese rather than wine for the elements, on the grounds that they must follow the Old Testament tradition of offering the first-fruits of both grain and flock to God.31 The Church Fathers’ heated response to these unorthodox practices stemmed from theological concerns: the meaning of the Lord’s Supper must be preserved through faithful adherence to the rite that He prescribed. In his epistle to the Aquarians, St. Cyprian explains that only a scrupulous commemoration of Christ’s passion qualifies as a “true and full sacrifice in the Church to God the Father.”32 From the perspective of early Church leaders, abuses of the sacred meal rites threatened to undermine Christian ethics and doctrine. Just as cultural values drove the Romans’ misunderstandings of the Eucharist, societal norms lay behind many of the Church’s internal meal controversies. A profusion of Roman satires on banquet practices indicates that gluttony and luxury were a recurrent problem at dinners in the ancient world.33 For instance, in Dinner of Trimalchio, the first-century satirist Gaius Petronius describes guests enjoying extravagant dishes, reclining on luxurious cushions, and overeating at a rich man’s house party.34 Apparently, the early Christians who overindulged in “drink and delicacies” at church were simply aligning with a widespread cultural tendency. Similarly, the
29 St. Clement of Alexandria, Pedagogus 2.1.1306.
30 St. John Chrysostom, Homily XXVII on 1 Corinthians 1.143.
31 McGowan, 95.
32 St. Cyprian, Epistle LXII: to Caecilius, on the Sacrament of the Cup of the Lord 14.2694.
33 Smith, 259.
34 Petronius, Satyricon.
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social disputes that arose at the Corinthian church meetings reflected a banquet ethos infused with class-consciousness. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reprimands the believers for creating interpersonal divisions at meals: When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? (1 Cor. 11:20-22) The precise offense that occasioned Paul’s rebuke is obscure to the modern reader, but the Corinthians’ actions become discernible in the context of Symposium customs. Serving sizes, seating arrangements, and food quality were all powerful social symbols in the Roman world; in particular, equality of portions symbolized similar rank among the diners.35 This concern for equal servings could create conflict whenever dinner-guests brought and consumed their own food, a common practice in antiquity. The philosopher Xenophon gives evidence for such divisions in ancient Greece, relating an anecdote about “a common dinner-party, where some of the company would present themselves with a small, and others with a large supply of viands.” Xenophon humorously explains that his old master Socrates dismayed the gluttonous guests by forcing them to pool their portions and divide the food equally.36 Paul’s description of the inharmonious meeting in Corinth parallels Xenophon’s story; his reference to individual, disproportionate meals reveals that the Christians were bringing their own dinners to the weekly assembly and consuming them privately.37 As Xenophon’s story demonstrates, requiring the congregants to share equally would have provoked indignation from those who contributed more. The cultural prejudices associated with this custom transformed the Corinthian gathering from a celebration of brotherly love into a hotbed of social friction. Another cultural concern that caused considerable confusion in the early Church was the question of sacrificial meat. Pagan sacrifices, which were central to the Greco-Roman religion, concluded with a meal designed to dispose of the edible portion of the victim.38 Since practical considerations often made it impossible to
35 McGowan, 48.
36 Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.14.
37 Cole, 19-20.
38 Smith, 68.
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consume the entire animal at once, leftover sacred meat would frequently end up being sold in the marketplace.39 Yet many Christians worried that consuming idol meat would compromise their faith. In some cases, Christians considered themselves religiously bound to boycott the pagan sacrificial meat; Pliny’s letter to Trajan mentions that “a buyer was hardly to be found” for “food from the sacrifices” due to the large population of Christians in the province of Bithynia.40 This issue so troubled the first-century Church in Corinth that the Apostle Paul devoted a large portion of an epistle to providing meticulous instructions regarding the proper attitude toward sacrificial meat. Paul instructed the concerned Corinthians to “eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience,” provided that they remain sensitive to the scruples of other believers (1 Corinthians 10:25-29). In spite of Paul’s reassurances, however, unease over pagan sacrificial associations remained among Christians at least until the time of St. Augustine of Hippo. In AD 397, Augustine wrote that his mentor St. Ambrose forbade food offerings to saints in church because “anniversary funeral solemnities did much resemble the superstition of the Gentiles.”41 These early records reveal that Christians brought the common sensitivities, temptations, and expectations of their culture to dinner with them. Magnified in power by spiritual and cultural concerns, the various pressures on meal practices converged to influence the ecclesiastical development of Christianity. A negative aspect of this development was the disappearance of the agape, which began to fall out of favor during the second and third centuries.42 Persecution provided at least one reason for early Christians to discontinue the feast, whose offensiveness to the Romans was a major liability to the Church.43 But the deciding factor in the elimination of the agape was most likely the objectionable behavior it engendered among the congregants themselves. In addition to delivering sermons and exhortations against gluttony, Christian leaders soon took practical steps to cleanse the church of disorderly revelry by restricting the consumption of food at church. In 364, the Council of Laodicea issued a proclamation against celebrating Love-Feasts
39 Smith, 75.
41 St. Augustine, Confessions 6.2.
42 Schaff, 473.
43 Henry C. Sheldon, History of the Christian Church (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1988), 278.
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or spreading banquet-couches within church precincts.44 Thirty years later, the Third Council of Carthage added specific prohibitions against clergy eating in church. The last official mention of the agape occurred at the Trullan Council of AD 692, which made holding Love-Feasts in the church punishable by excommunication.45 In the face of ecclesiastical deterrence, the agape soon dropped out of history, a victim to cultural embarrassment. Although subject to many of the same pressures as the agape, the Eucharist met with a different fate. Whereas the Christian leaders had dealt with the LoveFeast controversies simply by forbidding the rite, they were loath to omit the Body and Blood of Christ from Christian worship. Instead, Church Fathers reacted to Roman accusations and heretical Eucharist practices by composing rational defenses of orthodoxy. For example, Ignatius of Antioch responded to Christians who neglected to celebrate the Lord’s Supper by pointing out that their “strange doctrine” failed to recognize the “flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ.”46 In the process of correcting misconceptions about the Eucharist, the Church Fathers themselves developed a more theologically complex view of the rite. The earliest Christian writers often portrayed the Lord’s Supper as a simple sacrifice of thanksgiving: in AD 95, Clement of Rome described the sharing of Christ’s Body and Blood as a summation and fulfillment of the Old Testament offerings.47 Over the course of the third century, however, the Church Fathers came to identify the Eucharist closely with the physical Body and Blood of Christ.48 In c. AD 250, St. Cyprian argued that since the wine and water of the Eucharist represent Christ’s Blood and His people respectively, not to mingle the two was literally to “disassociate” believers from Christ.49 Thus, although social squabbles killed the agape, they inspired the Church Fathers to define and develop Christian doctrine in an effort to preserve the Lord’s Supper. As the leaders of the Church fretted over the theology of aberrant meal practices, they also transformed the Church’s institutional character by increasing super
44 Council of Laodicea, Canons XXVII-XXVIII.
45 Cole, 123-124.
46 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6.
47 Willy Rordorf, The Eucharist of the Early Christians (New York: Pueblo Pub. Co, 1978), 31.
48 Joseph Cullen Ayer, A Source Book for Ancient Church History: From the Apostolic Age to the Close of the Conciliar Period (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 231.
49 St. Cyprian, 13.2688.
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vision over the communicants.50 Ignatius of Antioch supplies the earliest evidence for this regulation in his second-century Letter to the Smyrnaeans, which stipulates that a bishop must preside over a Eucharist or agape to render it valid.51 While Ignatius probably aimed merely to safeguard the holy rites from vulgar abuses, his letter signaled an increase in clerical power. A century later, St. Hippolytus implied that the agape was firmly within priestly jurisdiction when he declared that “deacons may pronounce the benediction and thanksgiving at the love-feasts when a bishop is not present.”52 During the same period, Tertullian wrote that communicants would take the Eucharist “from the hand of none but the presidents,” demonstrating that the clergy had acquired exclusive control over the Lord’s Supper.53 The rising concerns over ritual meals encouraged Christian authorities to develop a clearer codification for Church hierarchy.54 Although initially unintended, the ascendancy of the bishop was a monumental consequence of the Church’s meal disputes. Evidently, the cultural climate of early Christianity wrought massive effects on sacred meals and, by extension, on the life of the early Church. Working within the ancient banquet model, Christians used their Eucharists and agapes to create community. While cultural sensibilities inevitably linked the feasts with various dangers and disputes, Christians’ responses to these difficulties successfully stabilized the Church. Yet before the Christians could rally around the table, they faced the fundamental problem of cultural differences within their own organization. Christ’s Great Commission had issued a challenge unimaginably daunting in the ancient world: the command to share Christianity across cultural boundaries (Matt. 28:19). The early believers’ cultural distaste for Christ’s universalism quickly came to light during the Apostolic period, as Church leaders argued heatedly whether to integrate Gentile converts into the community of Jewish Christians. Since the Eucharist and agape were the seat of Christian fellowship, these early discussions naturally hinged on dining practices. Thus, the Church’s ability to utilize fellowship meals during the formative years of Christianity would depend on overcoming the cultural hurdle of racial bias at the table.
50 Cole, 79.
51 St. Ignatius, 8.
52 St. Hippolytus, Heads of the Canons 35.
53 Tertullian, De Corona Militis 3.388.
54 Ayer, 137, 231.
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The issue of Jewish and Gentile table relations surfaced during the first century in the Syrian city of Antioch, a major cosmopolitan center where many ethnic groups and religions converged.55 According to Acts 15, controversy in Antioch began soon after the Apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas extended Christian fellowship to Gentile believers in the city during a missionary visit. Luke explains that certain Judeans soon unsettled the nascent community by telling the believers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). To settle the crucial question of the Gentiles’ relationship to Jewish law, the Apostles called a conference in Jerusalem. There, persuaded by remarkable reports of the Gentiles’ spiritual progress, the Church authorities concluded that Paul’s accommodating policy toward the Gentiles was correct: in Paul’s words, “when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised… they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (Gal. 2:7, 9). By removing the yoke of circumcision from Antioch, the Jerusalem conference accomplished an important development in the relations between Jewish and Gentile believers. While the controversy in Acts 15 clearly centered on whether Gentile proselytes to Christianity had to become practicing Jews, the Jerusalem authorities’ subsequent message to Antioch indicates that circumcision was merely ancillary to the issue of dining practices. After endorsing Paul’s inclusive missionary approach, the Christian leaders sent a letter to the Antioch that absolved Gentiles from all directives of the Jewish law except to “abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality” (Acts 15:29). Curiously, this letter makes no mention of circumcision; in fact, three of its four points address dietary standards. Since the conference members intended their message to settle the controversy in Antioch, it appears that table fellowship lay beneath the surface of the debate over Gentile membership in the Christian community.56 The Jews’ decision to frame this dispute in terms of circumcision is puzzling to the outsider, but the connection between table etiquette and circumcision was clear in ancient Palestine. Since the foundation of Israel, circumcision had represented the Jewish identity and adherence to the law of the Torah. Over the centuries, the Torah’s food regulations rose in significance; in particular, Jews placed special importance 55 Michelle Slee, The Church in Antioch in the First Century CE: Communion and Conflict (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003), 2. 56 Matthias Klinghardt and Hal Taussig. Mahl und Religiöse Identität im Frühen Christentum [Meals and Religious Identity in Early Christianity] (Tübingen: Francke, 2012), 227. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 35
on the rules against eating pork or meat that had been sacrificed to idols. The Apocryphal story of the Maccabean revolt demonstrates that by the Intertestamental period, these dietary principles had come to symbolize Jewish nationalism.57 According to First Maccabees, conflict between the Jews and Antiochus first arose when certain devout Jews abstained from the Hellenist King Antiochus’ unclean food (1 Macc. 1:63); Second Maccabees lauds the martyr Eleazar, who chose death to avoid eating pork (2 Macc. 6:18). Just as circumcision was the symbol of Judaism, pure eating was the mark of a practicing Jew.58 Requiring Gentile believers to undergo circumcision meant forcing them to become Jews, and obedience to Jewish food laws would have been the most tangible reflection of this change in identity.59 Thus, the strong emphasis on dietary purity within Jewish culture caused first-century Christians to equate eating practices with ethnic identity. The Judeans who demanded Gentile circumcision evidently desired to impose their dietary laws on Gentile believers, but Luke’s report leaves their motivation obscure. However, Paul’s account of the Jerusalem conference’s aftermath reveals that the Judeans had wished to prevent practicing Jews from sharing meals with Gentiles who did not follow the Torah.60 At a reunion in Antioch, the Apostle Peter “drew back and separated himself ” from the Gentiles at dinner because he “fear[ed] the circumcision party,” bitterly disappointing Paul with his concession to the separatist Judeans (Gal. 2:12-14). Paul’s story illustrates that while certain Jews were willing to allow Gentile believers to share in the Christian faith to a degree, they balked at the idea of multiethnic meals.61 The Jews’ rationale for imposing this restriction might seem puzzling; however, the idiosyncrasies of Palestinian meal culture illuminate their scruples. By the first century, the Jews’ objections to eating food from pagan sacrifices had grown to bloated proportions. For instance, because of the Greek practice of pouring out libations to the gods, Jews refused to partake of all Gentile wine.62 In fact, while the Torah did not prohibit multiethnic meals in principle, the Jews’
57 Smith, 164.
58 Gillian Feeley-Harnik, The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994), 19.
59 Slee, 35.
60 Smith, 181.
61 Slee, 31. 62 Smith, 180.
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rigorous interpretation of their own dietary laws effectively precluded them from eating with Gentiles in order to avoid inevitable associations with impure food.63 By the time of Paul, separatism at the table had become a point of pride among the Palestinian Jews, a way to distinguish themselves from the Gentiles who had infiltrated their homeland.64 Apparently, the “circumcision party” viewed multiethnic meals as a threat to Jewish autonomy. Of all the cultural obstacles that early Christianity faced, the ancient boundary of Jewish dietary laws proved the most formidable, for it threatened to choke out Church fellowship at its root. Yet for Paul, bringing Gentiles and Jews to the same table was not only crucial to maintaining the community, but also essential to the message of the Gospel.65 Indeed, Paul called Peter’s lapse into separatism “not in step with the truth of the gospel” and responded by “oppos[ing] him to his face” (Gal. 2:11, 14). Paul’s commitment to including the Gentiles traced back to his conviction that faith in Christ had supplanted the necessity of obedience to the Jewish Law. To Paul, the abolition of ethnic boundaries was a necessary corollary to the doctrine of justification by faith: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (Rom. 3:28-31).66 The friction over meals in the first-century Church issued from the fundamental discrepancy between Paul’s interpretation of the Gospel and the culture in which he preached. As the story of Antioch demonstrates, Christians would work through the question of Gentile fellowship in the context of the Eucharist and agape. The immediate results of the dispute at Antioch are unclear in Paul’s account, for he omits to report the other Christians’ reactions to his public disagreement with Peter. Luke mentions that Paul set out on another missionary tour soon afterwards, possibly implying that the Apostle left Syria in defeat.67 Yet whatever the local outcome of the Antioch controversy, Paul’s inclusive approach would become dominant in the
63 Slee, 18.
64 Smith, 181.
65 Ibid., 216.
66 Slee, 47.
67 Ibid., 45.
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rapidly spreading Christian community.68 The Apostle Peter himself took an important step toward Paul’s position after experiencing a revelation in which a voice from heaven explained that God had made ritually impure animals clean (Acts 10:15). Peter concluded from this vision that “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean,” baptizing a household of Gentiles in Caesarea shortly thereafter (Acts 10:28-48). One historian infers from the first-century Didache that even the Christians in Antioch quickly came around to Paul’s position: this mysterious list of ecclesiastical guidelines appears to give instructions for incorporating Gentiles in Syria into Christian communion.69 After facing dispute and opposition, the movement to invite Gentiles to the table of believers won. In spite of rocky setbacks, the early Church’s decision to include believers of all ethnicities infused Christianity with a new and vital power.70 It seems likely that if the new faith had been confined to devout, law-observant Jews, it could easily have remained within Palestine in relative obscurity among the many sub-sects of Judaism. Yet operating under Paul’s philosophy, the Church was able to draw proselytes from any of the ethnic groups that populated the Roman Empire.71 Naturally, the “Gentiles” of whom Paul so often wrote comprised an important part of this pool. Another key group of converts were the “Hellenists,” or Diasporic Jews who had assimilated to Greek culture. Although the Hellenists tried to maintain some elements of the Jewish tradition, their pure Judaic brethren frequently denigrated them on account of their Greek ways.72 Diasporic Jews demonstrated a noticeable openness toward the Gospel message: as Christianity spread through urban centers, cities with a high Hellenic population Christianized the most quickly.73 Christianity probably succeeded among the Hellenists because it allowed these displaced Jews to maintain and respect both elements of their hybrid cultural background, providing them
68 Slee, 163.
69 Ibid., 52.
70 Feeley-Harnik, 55.
71 Ibid., 138.
72 Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), 58. 73 Rodney Stark, Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christianity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2006), 79. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 38
with a religious community in which they did not face marginalization.74 By making peace between Greek and Jewish cultures, the early believers set Christianity on a trajectory to success. Historians and sociologists alike have noted the importance of Christian universalism to the spread of the faith throughout the Roman Empire. Yet abstract concepts are helpless to transform a society on their own; Christians needed to act out universalism in order to reap its benefits. As the Biblical accounts indicate, early believers’ questions about cultural identity, class standing, and relationships between ethnic groups all came to a head at the Lord’s Table. Paul provided the answer to this dispute in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Paul’s statement is striking even today, but set against ancient norms, it was radical enough to threaten to divide the Church. Providentially, the early Christians chose to embrace Paul’s message in the course of their early discussions on table fellowship. By sharing the Eucharist and agape with people of all ethnic backgrounds, the Christians began to practice universalism in a tangible way. From explaining social squabbles to illuminating theological debates, ancient supper traditions and sensibilities provide an indispensable context for understanding the controversies and consequences of religious meals in the early Church. Although they differed in function and importance, both the Eucharist and the agape left permanent theological and institutional marks on Christianity. While each of these contributions remains noteworthy, sacred meals in the early Church left their greatest legacy of all by challenging believers to act upon Christ’s universal ideal. Successfully adjusting their attitudes and actions to conform to this radical principle of universality during the formative years of Christianity, Christians invested their faith with a power that could propel it across the ancient world.
Bibliography Alikin, Valeriy A. The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering: Origin, Development and Con
74 Stark, Cities of God, 128.
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tent of the Christian Gathering in the First to Third Centuries. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Ayer, Joseph Cullen. A Source Book for Ancient Church History: From the Apostolic Age to the Close of the Conciliar Period. New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913. Cole, R. Lee. Love-Feasts: A History of the Christian Agape. London: C.H. Kelley, 1916. Feeley-Harnik, Gillian. The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994. Frend, W. H. C. Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of a Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus. Oxford: Blackwell, 1965. Klinghardt, Matthias, and Hal Taussig. Mahl und Religiöse Identität im Frühen Christentum [Meals and Religious Identity in Early Christianity]. Tübingen: Francke, 2012. LaVerdiere, Eugene. The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1996. McGowan, Andrew Brian. Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. Rordorf, Willy. The Eucharist of the Early Christians. New York: Pueblo Pub. Co, 1978. Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996. Sheerin, Daniel J. The Eucharist. Wilmington, Del: M. Glazier, 1986. Sheldon, Henry C. History of the Christian Church. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1988. Slee, Michelle. The Church in Antioch in the First Century CE: Communion and Conflict. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2003. Smith, Dennis Edwin. From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003. Stark, Rodney. Cities of God: The Real Story of How Christinity Became an Urban Movement and Conquered Rome. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2006. – – – The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996.
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They Call Them the Stuttering Masses Bethany Horvat The story goes like this: there was once a Romanian prince named Dragos who set out in the early 14th century on what would become a very fateful hunting trip. His travels brought him into territory hitherto untraversed by man, and he and his party soon crossed paths with an aurochs. In an effort to kill the wild ox, Prince Dragos sent his dogs in to attack. The aurochs defensively gored the prince’s beloved dog, Molda. The saddened prince named the stream after his dog and took the ox’s head as his personal crest. He then established a principality in this newly discovered land, and to this day the nation bears on its crest the head of the menacing ox. This is the legend of the origin of Moldova.1 When trying to define Moldovan identity, it would be easier to accept the fiction over truth and move on. The Moldovan people have been quarrelling for centuries over the origin of their society, and many lives have been lost in the quest to establish one coherent identity.2 A very young independent state, Moldova declared independence in 1991. Moldovan history is a confusing and extremely tumultuous tale of a lost people desperately fighting for an origin to call their own. Moldova has been the rope in an incessant tug-of-war game between Russia and Romania. The identity crisis that has resulted is stunning. The havoc wreaked by centuries of propaganda and disorientation seems nearly irreversible. If the Moldovan people are ever to rest secure in the knowledge of who they are, it will not be at any time in the near future. If the Western world were to better understand its Eastern neighbors, then perhaps the cause would not have to be as hopeless as it may seem. This paper will trace the history of Moldova in order to provide the context of the greater identity questions. It will then discuss at some length the people groups within Moldova and how the variation contributes to the problem of identity. The main points of conflict in the Moldovan identity crisis will then be discussed in order to highlight problem areas that greatly need addressed in the international sphere. 1 Charles King, The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture, Studies of Nationalities (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2000), 13. 2 The terms “Moldovan people” and/or “Moldovans” is also a point of contention and debate. For the sake of clarity, this paper will use the terms to refer to individuals affiliated with that nation by citizenship and/or birth, whose lineage is tied to the area presently making up the nation of Moldova.
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The name of the territory making up today’s Moldovan state changed over time. Prior to 1812, the territory does not appear to have had any official designation. Sources refer to it as a territory or province of the kingdom that ruled over it, or simply as “Bessarabian territory” in reference to the land that would eventually become Bessarabia. It was not officially called Bessarabia until Russian acquisition of Moldavian and Bessarabian territory in 1812 with the Treaty of Bucharest.3 Bessarabia would eventually be known as Moldova upon declaration of independence in 1991. Accordingly, the territory of interest will herein be referred to as Bessarabia when discussing history prior to 1991, and as Moldova post-1991. In reference to any broadly applicable analysis of Moldovan identity or people as a whole (i.e. not confined to any specific time-period, but integral to the nation and/or people-group), the terms herein used will simply be “Moldova” or “Moldovan” in an attempt to minimize ambiguity. The landscape and cultural description of Moldova can be deceiving. The mountainous terrain is accented with river valleys and flowing streams, making for pleasant climate that sustains a profitable wine industry.4 Yet, as peaceful and picturesque as it may sound, Moldova is certainly no tourist destination. It is in fact the most economically devastated country in Eastern Europe.5 Still wearing the grave clothes of Soviet subjugation, no other country in the small Eastern European states is as Communist as Moldova.6 Indeed, as will be herein discussed, Russian involvement throughout the history of Moldova is a major contributing factor to identity confusion. Human trafficking is endemic, and the government is less than concerned about it. In fact, the U.S. Department of State’s 2015 Trafficking in Person’s Report shockingly asserts that the country’s judicial system is indeed “complicit” in the exploitation of Moldovan citizens.7 The citizens are torn as to which government they swear allegiance, resulting in an extremely hostile and uncertain environment. 3 Britannica Academic, s.v. “Bessarabia,” accessed May 15, 2016, http://academic.eb.com.ezproxy.phc.edu/ EBchecked/topic/63021/Bessarabia. 4 James Minahan, Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998), 182-183. 5 Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012), 316.
7 Department of State, “2015 Trafficking in Persons Report,” July 27, 2015, accessed May 15, 2016, http:// www.state.gov/documents/organization/243560.pdf, 247. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 42
This question of nationality, and even of ethnicity, affects religious affiliation as well. The majority of Moldovans subscribe to Romanian Orthodoxy, as opposed to Russian Orthodoxy – the other dominant religious sect. Still, the issue of religious institutions and their power in Moldova is yet another huge point of conflict in this extremely torn little nation. When and how did all of this exhausting commotion commence? The legend of Prince Dragos has some truth to it in that it establishes the generally understood Romanian origin of the Moldovan nation. As such, it has of course been used in the past as proof of Romanian claim to Moldovan land and people.8 As is true regarding most questions in the Intermarium, Romanian origin is hotly debated; however, it will be the stance taken in this paper. As some have aptly pointed out, the Moldovan people share their language, culture, religion, and historical origin with the Romanian people, making it more than reasonable to conclude that Moldovans are a Romanian people.9 The Romanian background of the Moldovan nation traces back to Latin people and Bessi Slavs who established Bessarabia in the seventh century.10 It is thought that perhaps this was a Dacian province as early as the second century.11 In any event, by the fourteenth century there would have been Magyar, Tatar, Cumin, and Wallachs inhabiting Bessarabian lands.12 It is understood that Bessarabia was likely founded by a Wallachian prince in the fourteenth century, thus solidifying Romanian roots.13 Thus Wallachia initially laid claim to the land, followed by Moldavia in the fifteenth century. Then in the sixteenth century, Moldavia was conquered by the Ottomans who then ruled over the Bessarabian territory into the early nineteenth century. The impact of the Ottomans on the Bessarabian people was profound, lasting in some ways into the present-day. Their influence is especially visible among the
8 King, 13.
9 Jeff Chinn, “Moldovans: Searching for Identity,” Problems of Post Communism 44, no. 3 (1997): 43, accessed May 15, 2016, http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=31c98063-c763- 473d-8feb3d31b1b06b57%40sessionmgr103&vid=0&hid=123&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d #AN=9705155182&db=aph. 10 Minahan, 183. 11 Britannica, “Bessarabia.”
12 King, 13.
13 Ibid., 14.
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minority Gagauz group in Moldova. The Gagauz represent approximately four-percent of the Moldovan population, and the Turkish language is spoken among them in two different dialects within country: Bulgar Gagauzi and Maritime Gagauzi.14 Here is evidence of confusion even within the same ethnic groups. The country of Moldova is extremely small, and the Gagauz population represents a slight minority within the boundaries of this tiny state. Yet, still there is a linguistic wall standing even between this tiny minority group. Generally speaking, the Gagauz identify with Turkish culture, though their ethnicity is unknown and thought to perhaps be Bulgarian.15 The majority of them certainly consider themselves to be Turkic. This is evident in how they identify their own language. Most of them will say that they speak Turkish, or sometimes türkçä, though they distinguish this from both Ottoman and Gagauz languages.16 Thus, adding to the identity confusion within Moldova and its small territories is the stubborn refusal among some of the groups to acknowledge their own roots. These are a people who are oftentimes bigoted against their very race, and because they identify with another culture on a closer level, they actively practice a damaging self-denial that eschews all reason and historical evidence. One striking way in which the Gagauz separate themselves from the Turks is their religious affiliation. Though profoundly impacted by Turkish culture, the Gagauz have not embraced Turkish religion, but have remained staunchly Orthodox Christians.17 In fact, even under Russian subjugation in the mid-nineteenth century, the Gagauz were not swayed away from their own religious practices. Perhaps part of the reason that they have maintained their religion is again attributable to language barriers. Under Russian rule, the Gagauz were refused access to clergy that spoke their language.18 This of course presented profound problems for both clergy and parishioners. The clergy bemoaned the inability to understand parishioner confession and actually resented the Gagauz as an inferior people- group, and many of the people withdrew from worship services altogether.19 It was not until the early-twentieth
14 Minahan, 184.
16 Elizaveta N. Kvilinkova, “The Gagauz Language through the Prism of Gagauz Ethnic Identity,” Anthropology and Archeology of Eurasia 52, no. 1 (Summer 2013): 75, accessed 2/6/2016, http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=91834709&site=ehost-live.
17 Minahan, 184.
18 Kvilinkova, 76.
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century that civil unrest led to the appointment of clergy over groups of the same language.20 Adding to the confusion of culture and language under Ottoman rule was the placement of Greek princes (“Phanariots”) over the Bessarabian people in the early eighteenth century. Up to this point, the Ottoman Empire had ruled as suzerain over the Bessarabian territory. This all changed when an uprising in 1711 compelled the Ottoman sultan to appoint Phanariots over the Bessarabians. This effectively removed the province’s self-rule, and intense Hellenization was initiated.21 The Phanariot system was woefully incompetent, and left Bessarabia in no better straits than it had found her. In fact, it perhaps left the small territory in a worse condition. At least under Ottoman rule, there was some manner of stability and loosely-regulated independence. Now not only had their autonomy been removed, but their culture and identity even more skewed, having Hellenistic features forced upon them. The confusion wrought by Ottoman occupation would have no comparison with that fashioned by subsequent Russian rule. The Russo-Turkish War, ending in 1812, would result in the annexation of Bessarabia by Russia with the Treaty of Bucharest. If having centuries of mixed ethnicities, language barriers, Turkish subjugation, and Greek Hellenization did not contribute enough identity confusion, Russia would impart any lacking elements. The territory annexed by Russia was an 86% Romanian-speaking population.22 This created a threat to the Russian Empire’s ability to retain their newly obtained province. A majority population of Romanian-speakers translated to a majority population of Romanian-sympathizers. Because of this, Russia began to create incentives for other ethnicities to swarm their new territory. Land was made available for colonization, resulting in an influx of Gagauz, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Russians, and Poles.23 Now the Bessarabian province had to adapt to a myriad of changes in their land which arguably exacerbated the already rampant identity crisis. The Bessarabians had a new power over them that was trying to erase everything that made them who they were. Additionally, they had new neighbors with whom they could not communicate as a result of culture and language barriers.
19 Kvilinkova, 77-78.
20 Ibid., 79.
21 King, 16-17.
22 Minahan, 186.
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Under Russian rule, the Bessarabian society remained extremely stunted in cultural growth.24 Ethnic Moldovans consisted of less than fifty percent of the population, and literacy among them at the close of the nineteenth century was a shocking six percent.25 Bessarabian territory remained under Russian rule until 1918 when it separated, seeking to reunite with Romania. It officially did so in 1920; however, the Soviet Union never recognized it. Thus, in 1940, Romania would cede Bessarabia back into Soviet possession. During World War II, there was another brief period when Bessarabia was back under Romanian control. This did not last long, however, and Russia soon took control, splitting Bessarabia into Ukrainian and Moldavian territory. It would not be until 1991 that Bessarabia would declare itself the independent state of Republica Moldova. There are two regions of Moldova that merit specific mention, as they are extremely influential contributors to the identity crisis within the state’s borders. The first of the two areas is Transnistria, located just east of the Dniester River, bordering Ukraine. Transnistria declared itself independent from Moldova on September 2, 1990. At the time, the movement for Moldovan solidarity was underway, to result in the institution of the independent Republic of Moldova the following year. The inhabitants of the Transdniester region were concerned that Moldovan independence would quickly turn into a movement to reunite with Romania.26 This was certainly not an unlikely conclusion given the historical ties between the Romanian and Moldovan people. Naturally, Transnistria’s decision to leave did not bode well with the Moldovan government, and a two year war would ensue. Ultimately, Transnistria was granted a level of autonomy wherein they are officially a territory within Moldova that rules itself as though it were its own state. The Russian population in Moldova is primarily represented in Transnistria, which would explain the vehement Russian nationalism east of the Dniester River. It is in this area that one will find the majority of Moldovan citizens desiring to be again politically adjoined to Russia. The second autonomous section of Moldova is Gagauzia, which has already briefly been discussed. This small area was granted autonomy from Russia in 1994.
24 King, 23.
25 Ibid. (Note: This figure applies to ethnic Moldovans only. Bessarabians as a whole had an illiteracy rate of 15.6% according to this source). 26 Natalia Cojocaru, “Nationalism and Identity in Transnistria,” Innovation: The European Journal of Social Sciences 19, no. 3/4 (September 2006): 1, accessed 2/6/2016, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=76497842&site=ehost-live. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 46
It is understood that if Moldova decides to become a part of Greater Romania, Gagauzia has the authority to decide for itself whether to join with Romania or to part ways.27 The retention of Gagauzian territory is helpful for Moldovan economy given its prosperous wine industry.28 It is, like Transnistria, officially a territory of Moldova that has been permitted to act as though it were independent in most respects. Like Transnistria, the Gagauz are in large part Russian sympathizers. Thus, there was much development in Moldova during and in the aftermath of Ottoman and Russian occupations; however, it was not an advancing development. Things changed, but nothing improved. If anything, Moldovan identity simply became more muddled and indistinguishable. By the time Moldova declared its independence, she was home to a number of various ethnicities, some of whom identified as other ethnicities because of familiarity with the language and culture that surrounded them. According to World Fact Book statistics, the ethnic groups within Moldova are broken down as follows: Moldovan 75.8%, Ukrainian 8.4%, Russian 5.9%, Gagauz 4.4%, Romanian 2.2%, Bulgarian 1.9%, other 1%, unspecified 0.4%.29 Typically, the Moldovan statistic includes ethnic Romanians. Here they are split up into two separate categories. Thus, those figures are perhaps debatable. Either way, Moldovans represent the majority ethnicity in the small state. Ukrainians are generally found in urban areas and in the Transnistrian area of Moldova.30 Generally speaking, they are Russian sympathizers, joining with ethnic Russians in declaring Transnistrian independence in 1990. There is also a small percentage of Rom (Gypsy) inhabitants of Moldova. These make up the majority of the Muslim inhabitants, though, this is a minority religion in Moldova.31 Other minorities making up a very low percentage of Moldovan citizens are the Bulgarians, Jews, Belarussians, Germans, and Tatars.32 All of these cultural and linguistic variations grouped together form the very small and divided state of Moldova.
27 King, 219.
28 Minahan, 184.
29 Central Intelligence Agency, â€œEurope: Moldova,â€? The World Factbook, accessed May 14, 2016, https:// www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/md.html.
30 Minahan, 184.
31 Ibid., 185.
32 Ibid., 185-186.
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The people groups in Moldova can be broken down into three main nationalist groups: autonomist, integrationist, and secessionist.33 The autonomists consist of the minority Gagauz population, and their main point of contention is the integrationistsâ€™ desire to reunite with Romania.34 The integrationists are Romanian speakers who believe that Moldova should be a part of Romania due to their shared history and language.35 And finally, the secessionists are Ukrainian and Russian Slavs that live in the Transnistrian region who desire one of three things: complete autonomy, integration into Ukraine, or ideally, to become a part of Russia.36 The cohabitation of these three opposing groups has had an extremely detrimental impact on Moldovan unity. The failure of Moldovan government to rein in the secessionists has wreaked havoc on Moldovan identity as a whole.37 Though the secessionists are in the minority, they have the great power of Russia backing their intentions and propaganda.38 There is thus formidable power in the minority groups of Moldova, considering the great impact their movements have on the Romanian- speaking and sympathizing majority. Of interesting note is the discrepancy between the ethnic groups represented in Moldova and the languages spoken. The statistics for the multiple languages that are dominant in Moldovan society are as follows: Moldovan 58.8%, Romanian 16.4%, Russian 16%, Ukrainian 3.8%, Gagauz 3.1%, Bulgarian 1.1%, other 0.3%, unspecified 0.4%39 The percentages of Romanian and Moldovan add up to a figure nearly equal with the Moldovan population (75.8%). Because the Romanian and Moldovan languages are basically interchangeable, the percentage discrepancy between ethnicity and language spoken is likely a reflection of political affiliation. Each ethnicity within Moldovan boundaries chooses where their loyalty lies, and the language they choose to speak corresponds with the country to whom they would like to belong and/or the ethnicity with whom they identify. This conflict is reflected in
33 Chodakiewicz, 316.
34 Ibid., 317.
39 Central Intelligence Agency, â€œEurope: Moldova.â€?
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media publications that list on their cover whether the periodical is printed in Romanian or Moldovan, even though there is no true linguistic difference between the two.40 The only reason to list the two separately as though they were distinguishable is to cater to each political affiliation. The problem of language in Moldova is indeed profound. With the variation of ethnic identity and affiliation within the state’s borders, there exists a cultural disaster that is difficult to find adequate words to explain. Not only are there barriers presented by the inability to understand one another, but some barriers are self-constructed out of an absolute disdain for another ethnicity. As was seen with the Gagauz community, even if they speak the same language, they may refuse to acknowledge as much. A member of the Gagauz community may well say that they do not speak Gagauzian, but that they speak Turkish – thought these are simply two different terms for the same thing. As was briefly explained, this is also the case with the Moldovan language as well. The official language of Moldova is Moldovan; however, this is really simply synonymous with Romanian. Thus, there is much confusion among the Moldovan people as to which language to call their own. This language confusion is completely understandable considering the fluctuating nature of the language over the past century. In the early twentieth century, as part of expressing dissatisfaction with Russian rule, the Moldovans were pushing for the usage of the Latin alphabet over the Cyrillic.41 They were seeking separation from Russia in an attempt to join themselves to Romania. This was accomplished in 1918 with the creation of the Greater Romania – an extension of Bessarabia to include Transylvania and Bukovyna.42 Still, though the Romanians attempted to assimilate the newly added territory into their culture, they could not compete with the Soviet influence and continued subjugation.43 In 1939, Bessarabia would come back under Russian rule as part of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Intense Russification commenced, the language was again changed back to Russian, the alphabet returned to Cyrillic, and by 1989 there were nearly twice as many Russians in Moldova as 40 Vitalie Dogaru, “Not Finding a Common Tongue,” Transitions Online (9/6/2004): np, accessed May 14, 2016, http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.phc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=6df86358-eb2f-46cfaaa5- 96fec1f249d8%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN= 14669970&db=aph. 41 Oliver Schmidtke and Serhy Yekelchyk, eds., Europe’s Last Frontier? Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine between Russia and the European Union (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 81.
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there had been 1941.44 It is important to keep in mind what happened each time the language was changed from Russian to Romanian and back again. A change in the official language meant that everything from schools to roadside signs were changed, indeed even the very alphabet. This presents extremely distressing problems and questions for the Moldovan nation. Its people do not even know what language to speak, or if that language will still officially be in use in the future. For example, if a student had been taught in primary school during Russian rule, he would have studied in the Russian tongue using the Cyrillic alphabet. However, by the time this student reached graduate school, his studies would be in the Romanian tongue using the Latin alphabet. One can only imagine the insecurity and utter confusion that resulted. By the latter half of the twentieth century, many Moldovans had endured Soviet subjugation long enough. They were exhausted with the propaganda and the silencing of their native tongue. Based on the cultural and linguistic ties of their tongue to that of the Romanian people, many of the Moldovan elite found it reasonable to conclude that the official state language should be Romanian. The nationalist movement that they sparked centered on the problem of language in their country, and they were successful.45 Their campaign resulted in a key law in 1989 that changed the state language to Moldovan (i.e. Romanian).46 One key change that this law provided was the requirement that state officials speak both Russian and Moldovan. This was because the law permitted the citizen to choose which language they would like to use in official dealings. This was a new step forward, as it required the state official, not the citizen, to bear the burden of any linguistic problems.47 Previously, the ethnic majority had been required to speak the language of the minority. Now a much more reasonable and practical law was in place. Still, the battle was far from over. Russia had wreaked absolute mayhem on the Moldovan people by profoundly confusing their language. During the time that the Soviets enforced the Russian tongue as the official language of Moldova, Romanian was still being spoken in the home and in small rural schools.48 Thus, there were two
44 Schmidtke and Yekelchyk, 82.
45 Chinn, “Moldovans: Searching for Identity.”
48 Dogaru, “Not Finding a Common Tongue.”
46 Ibid. 47 Ibid.
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tongues being spoken in different spheres of life. This does not necessarily mean that the population was bilingual. However, it does mean that different members of the same ethnic group were speaking different languages depending upon geographical region and level of education. The result of Russia’s destructive policy was what linguists call “language skill loss.”49 That is to say, succinctly and bluntly, the Moldovans no longer knew their own language. They had lost the ability to correctly speak either Moldovan or Russian, consequently being referred to as the “stuttering masses.”50 After Romanian was declared the official state language, campaigns to educate Moldovans in the correct usage of their dialect were underway. As late as 2004, there were still media publications on correct usage of the Romanian language.51 To make matters worse, Russian was reintroduced as the “official language” of Moldova while Moldovan maintained its title as “state language,” in 2002.52 The difference between the two designations is not clear; however, what was evident to the Moldovan people was the elevation of Russian influence, which led to riots in the streets.53 Moreover, as a result of this new policy, the small autonomous regions within Moldova, Transnistria and Gagauzia, had completely lost incentive to use the Romanian language.54 The majority of Moldovans in those regions is partial to Russian affiliation, thus making it preferable to use the Russian language in all spheres of life when at all possible. The elevation of the Russian tongue to an official language enables them to completely ignore the Romanian language altogether. Each separate region has its own three state languages. In Gagauzia, the three state languages are Russian, Moldovan, and Gagauz. In Transnistria, the official languages are Russian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian. One can sense the absolute confusion that must reign in the streets of this very small state, and in its even smaller autonomous territories. Different groups speak whatever language makes them most comfortable. With a number of official languages recognized within the state border, mass confusion is palpable, and the “stuttering masses” desperately struggle for some sense of self- understanding.
49 Dogaru, “Not Finding a Common Tongue.”
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The problem of identity is glaring in Moldova’s educational sphere. The impact that changes in the official language has had on the population has been briefly discussed, as has the extremely troubling illiteracy rates. However, there is also a very real problem that the teachers in Moldova face as to how their own history should be taught. In the early 2000s, the Moldovan government proposed several initiatives to change the state history text. Initially, they were going to change it from History of the Romanians to History of Moldova; however, citizen protests halted usage of the new textbook.55 The next proposal was that of an Integrated History course which would replace History of the Romanians in favor of a more general history of the world that discussed all nationalities without focusing on any specific people group.56 This was not granted any more acceptance than the History of Moldova. The Moldovans, as majority nationality in the state, felt threatened by these new initiatives. They felt as though they were veiled attempts to eradicate Romanian history in favor of a Soviet approach to Moldovan history.57 Some teachers found it paramount that their students learn and embrace their Romanian heritage, while others believed that it would be more advantageous and unifying to encourage an identity grounded in state citizenship.58 The problem with the former is that it tends to ostracize members of minority groups within Moldova.59 One stark observation that has been gained from this data is that the teachers in Moldova are more concerned with teaching ethnic loyalty over a state allegiance.60 The likelihood that this is a sentiment unique to educational institutions is slim. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the majority of Moldovan citizens identify themselves historically, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically with Romania. The glaring question is whether or not this poses a problem for the future of Moldova’s statehood. As has been demonstrated, the problem of identity in Moldova is dizzying. 55 Elizabeth Anderson, “Backward, Forward, or Both?,” European Education 37, no. 3 (Fall 2005): 54, accessed February 6, 2016, http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=18753542&site=ehost-live.
58 Ibid., 55.
60 Ibid., 64.
59 Ibid., 53.
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Tracing and condensing the history of this small state is a daunting task. The majority of sources on the Intermarium are written by individuals who are ethnically affiliated with that area of the world. As is clearly seen with a brief case-study of Moldova, these are an extremely biased people. Thus, the sources are often in disagreement about what would typically be basic factual information. For this reason, the researcher herein defined and explained certain things that would generally require no explanation. For example, a brief definition of “Moldovan people” was necessary because it is a debated and controversial term. A stance had to be taken as to the origin of the people, because their Romanian roots are contested. That being said, a brief history of Moldova was outlined in order to provide a context in which to understand the devastating problem of national identity. Within the discussion of Moldova’s history, a brief explanation as to its small semi-autonomous territories was given. It was explained that these territories are at the forefront of the problem of identity. This is because they prefer to be joined with Russia, while the majority of Moldovans identify themselves with Romania. The extreme ethnic nationalism among these small subgroups often means they are loyal first to their ethnicity, and second to a foreign power (i.e. Russia). This of course causes a great deal of confusion, as is evident in the acceptance of at least five official/state languages within Moldovan borders: Russian, Ukrainian, Moldovan, Romanian, and Gagauzi. After the historical background was explained, the problem of identity was discussed, particularly as reflected in ethnic affiliation and the educational realm in Moldova. A number of Moldovan citizens identify as members of ethnicities that are not their own, thus causing a great deal of confusion. The years of national transiency and subjugation resulted in the heart-breaking reality of a people without a language. The “stuttering masses” are rendered unable to even speak their own language correctly, and the societal ramifications are devastating. In educational institutions, educators are torn as to what they should teach their students. Do they focus on their ethnic history, thus instilling in them the identity of their own subgroup, or do they teach them a national history in order to develop pride and unity? And if they choose the latter, then they must teach a history that is predominately Romanian, which is of course problematic for the minority groups in the nation. Thus, the problem of Moldovan identity has herein been portrayed chiefly as a direct result of historical insecurity coupled with intentionally inflicted confusion by the ruling powers. Russia in particular inflicted great, and arguably irreparable, destruction to Moldovan identity. Their reprehensible ploys to mix in other ethnicities, solely for the purpose of watering down the Romanian masses, created a great Alexandria Historical Review, Page 53
deal of alienation and cultural damage. There is also a deep stubbornness exhibited by the Moldovan people who at times refuse to simplify matters by accepting instruction. For example, consider the Gagauz who insist that they are speaking Turkic even though it is synonymous with Gagauzi. Additionally, there are Moldovans who maintain, against all evidence to the contrary, that they are speaking Moldovan and not Romanian. Both of these examples are contributing factors to the problem of identity in Moldova. It is perhaps difficult for Westerners, particularly Americans, to understand the incredibly hostile ethnic tension in Eastern Europe. For Americans, their nation is formed by a plethora of differing and mixed ethnicities, and this is a feature that engenders a great amount of national pride. “The Great Melting Pot,” as it is affectionately called, has no context in which to grasp the incredibly staunch nationalism in Eastern Europe. For nationalities in the Intermarium, the past might as well be the present. They do not let go of, or move past, former grievances. Any sort of affliction suffered at the hands of another ethnic group causes centuries of hatred and bitterness between the groups. As seen very vividly in Moldovan culture, each ethnic group desires very strongly to maintain the integrity of its perceived roots and culture. Unfortunately, this obstinacy does not bode well for any solution to the problem of Moldovan identity. It is important to understand, especially from a Western perspective, the problem that is posed in this very small and forgotten little state in the Intermarium. As was briefly discussed in the introduction, this is a most impoverished and desperate little state. It is forgotten by the world in a very real sense. The people there are extremely alienated, not only from the rest of the world, but really from any sort of self-understanding. The national confusion is endemic. The problem of human trafficking within its borders is profound, and the rest of the world is blind to this reality. The mass majority of the problems that Moldovans face is likely attributable to one main factor: the inability to communicate. Moldovan identity will find no clarity without the ability to engage in meaningful discourse with one another and with the world. With a firm grasp on the problem of Moldovan identity, one is better equipped to seek out and support methods and policies that would aid the economic and cultural advancement of this forgotten society. Bibliography Anderson, Elizabeth. “Backward, Forward, or Both?” European Education 37, no. 3 (Fall 2005):
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53-67. Accessed February 6, 2016. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=18753542&site=e host-live. Central Intelligence Agency. “Europe: Moldova.” The World Factbook. Accessed May 14, 2016. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/md.html. Chinn, Jeff. “Moldovans: Searching for Identity.” Problems of Post Communism 44, no. 3 (1997): 43. Accessed May 15, 2016. http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=31c98063c763-473d-8feb- 3d31b1b06b57%40sessionmgr103&vid=0&hid=123&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl 2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=9705155182&db=aph. Chodakiewicz, Marek Jan. Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2012. Cojocaru, Natalia. “Nationalism and Identity in Transnistria.” Innovation: The European Journal of Social Sciences 19, no. 3/4 (September 2006): 1. Accessed 2/6/2016. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=76497842&site=e host-live. Department of State. “2015 Trafficking in Persons Report.” July 27, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2016. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/243560.pdf. Dogaru, Vitalie. “Not Finding a Common Tongue.” Transitions Online (9/6/2004): 1. Accessed May 14, 2016. http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.phc.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=6df863 58-eb2f-46cf-aaa5- 96fec1f249d8%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ% 3d%3d#AN=14669970&db=aph. King, Charles. The Moldovans: Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture. Studies of Nationalities. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2000. Kvilinkova, Elizaveta N. “The Gagauz Language through the Prism of Gagauz Ethnic Identity.” Anthropology and Archeology of Eurasia 52, no. 1 (Summer 2013): 7494. Accessed 2/6/2016. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=91834709&site=e host-live. Minahan, James. Miniature Empires: A Historical Dictionary of the Newly Independent States. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Schmidtke, Oliver, and Serhy Yekelchyk, eds. Europe’s Last Frontier? Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine between Russia and the European Union. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
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“And There You Are An Ocean Away, Do You Have to be an Ocean Away?” Hamilton and Angelica: Flirting with Family Becca Samelson It is often said that behind every great man there is a great woman. Most people presume that this phrase refers to a man’s mother and/or wife. But in Alexander Hamilton’s case, this saying best applies to his sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler Church. Although a woman in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, Angelica managed to leave her mark. Well-educated and very sociable, Angelica found her way into the social circles of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, and, of course, Alexander Hamilton. While rumors of affairs between many of these men and her abounded, the most convincing, and longest lasting, is an insinuated affair between Hamilton and Angelica. While the two clearly shared a close friendship due to similar interests and intellects, Angelica and Hamilton did not have an affair. Based on her background and personality, Angelica formed a close, platonic friendship with Hamilton that lasted for their entire lives. Angelica Schuyler Church was born on February 20, 1756. She was the oldest daughter of the American Revolutionary War’s General Philip Schuyler. John Trumbull’s painting of her features a beautiful woman with “a long pale face, dark eyes, and a pretty, full-lipped mouth who is voguishly dressed and looks… sophisticated.”1 Though her sisters stayed at home, Angelica had attended a female seminary for her education.2 She was fluent in French and extremely knowledgeable in social and political affairs.3 This education made her the most brilliant of the Schuyler sisters.4 With an almost “mysterious femininity,”5 Angelica captured the attentions and imaginations of almost every man she met. As James McHenry once wrote to Alexander Hamilton, “[Angelica] charms in all companies. No one has seen her, of either sex, who has not been pleased with her and she pleased everyone, chiefly by means of
1 Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 133.
2 Robert A. Hendrickson, Hamilton (New York: Mason/Charter, 1976), 257.
3 Chernow, 133.
4 Hendrickson, 254.
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those qualities which made you the husband of her sister.”6 Richard Morris described Angelica as “worldly, witty, frivolous, and flirtatious.”7 She was known for her extravagant parties and her forward fashion.8 Her flirtatious manner, combined with her brilliance, led her to attract many famous and intelligent men, including Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, and Benjamin Franklin.9 While clearly able to attract any man she wanted, Angelica’s choice in a husband is somewhat surprising. In 1777 she eloped with John Barker Church.10 This fat, short man with thick lips and shining eyes had gone to Albany to audit the army’s Northern Department, commanded by General Schuyler, where he met the eldest Schuyler daughter.11 At the time, however, Church was using the fake name of “John B. Carter” because he was escaping from problems in London.12 Some say that it was after a duel and others claim that he was running from creditors due to a debt caused by stock speculation and gambling.13 Knowing they would not have parental consent, the two eloped. Church became very rich during the revolution, as the negotiator of supplies to French and American forces. James McHenry told Hamilton that “[Church] is the mere man of business […] and I am informed has riches enough, with common management, to make the longest life comfortable.”14 Hamilton also called Church a “man of fortune and integrity, of strong mind, very exact, very active, and very much a man of business.”15 Most likely, Church’s wealth and social success drew Angelica to him; after all, the couple would live in Europe
6 Hendrickson, 254.
7 Richard B. Morris, ed., Alexander Hamilton and the Founding of the Nation (New York: The Dial Press, 1957), 579.
8 Chernow, 528.
9 Ibid., 204.
10 Ibid., 134.
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for much of the eighteenth century. From 1783-1797, Angelica and John Church lived in Europe, while Church served as an American envoy to France and, later, as a member of the British Parliament. While overseas, Angelica appeared to thrive in the risqué, social world of London and Paris. However, she was still homesick and clearly longing for American life.16 She once wrote, “What are Kings and Queens to an American who has seen a Washington?”17 Additionally, as she wrote in a letter to her sister, Eliza, “You talk of my father and my Baron von Steuben and your Hamilton. What pleasant evenings, what agreeable chitchat, whilst my society must be confined to chill, gloomy Englishmen.”18 In an epistle to Hamilton, she lamented, “I regret the separation from my friends and I lament the loss of your society. I am so unreasonable as to prefer our charming family parties to all the gaieties of London. I cannot now relish the gay world, an irresistible apathy has taken possession of my mind, and banished those innocent sallies of a lively Imagination that once afforded pleasure to myself and friends.”19 She even traveled from Europe to America, leaving her children and husband behind, in order to see Washington’s inauguration.20 Perhaps something that sets Angelica apart from her contemporaries is her intellect and political savvy. She loved reading books and engaging in repartee with strong intellectual thinkers of her time.21 In her correspondence, she engaged in discussions about current affairs with Jefferson, Hamilton, and Robert R. Livingston.22 Although Eliza, Hamilton’s wife, only reluctantly supported Hamilton’s political exploits, Angelica strongly encouraged him, always eager to hear more of his governmental pursuits.23 Her political interest is shown in her desire to return to Amer
16 Chernow, 205.
17 Ibid., 282.
19 Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 6, December 1789 – August 1790, New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, 245.
20 Chernow, 281.
21 Ibid., 133.
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ica to see the inauguration of the first president of America.24 She also understood enough of politics to feel caught in an awkward place when her family disagreed on political matters. While Church was a member of British Parliament, her husband was a general in the Continental Army and her brother-in-law was the Treasury Secretary of the United States.25 She wrote to Hamilton that she would have rather Church been a member of the House of Commons if he had “possessed your eloquence.”26 Hamilton responded that he would rather place Church in the American Congress.27 Angelica’s political savvy is best seen in context of her relationship to Hamilton. The two met after Elizabeth [Eliza] Schuyler and Hamilton fell in love. In 1780, Hamilton went to Morristown during the Revolutionary war. On February 2, Eliza arrived, carrying introductory letters to Washington from her father.28 She was there to stay with her uncle, Dr. John Cochran, who was staying a quarter mile away from Washington’s headquarters.29 Because of Hamilton’s association with Washington, he was able to socialize with Eliza on an equal level.30 As soon as he met Eliza, he was instantly smitten.31 People began to comment on how Hamilton appeared starry-eyed and distracted.32 However, while Eliza would reflect Hamilton’s sense of purpose and moral rectitude, her sister Angelica helped reflect his worldly side: “the wit, charm, and vivacity that so delighted people in social intercourse.”33 From that winter in Morristown, Hamilton was magnetically drawn to Angelica, who had already married Church at the time.34 In fact, Hamilton wrote this of Angelica before
24 Chernow, 281.
28 Ibid., 128.
30 Ibid., 129.
33 Ibid., 133.
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he married Eliza: It is essential to the safety of the state and to the tranquility of the army– that one of two things take place, either that she be immediately removed from our neighborhood, or that some other nymph qualified to maintain an equal sway come into it. By dividing her empire it will be weakened and she will be much less dangerous when she has a rival equal in charms to dispute the prize with her. I solicit your aid.35 Even at Hamilton and Eliza’s wedding, Angelica clearly was the belle of the ball. With her powdered and bejeweled hair, a “swelling bosom,” and a seductive corset, “No guest present could fail to be dazzled by Angelica.”36 Instantly, the connection between Angelica and Hamilton created some sort of “ménage á trois” between them and Eliza.37 Angelica would write to Eliza about her love for Hamilton, as well as writing to and receiving letters from Hamilton himself. She once even joked to her sister, “I love him very much and if you were as generous as the old Romans you would lend him to me for a little while.”38 Angelica and Hamilton seemed to have a very close relationship. Her wit, intelligence, charm, and beauty might have made her quite a match for Hamilton had she been single when the two had met. One reason for this is her shared enthusiasm for Hamilton’s political pursuits. Eliza cared little about Hamilton’s political aspirations; she seemed to dislike the amount of time he spent pouring into civics.39 Angelica, on the other hand, often encouraged her brother-in-law’s political plans. As her husband wrote to Hamilton before his appointment to Treasury Secretary, “[Angelica] is very anxious for your [Hamilton’s] happiness and glory.”40 Angelica, when 34 Warren Roberts, A Place in History: Albany in the Age of Revolution, 1775-1825, Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010, 128; Chernow, 133.
35 Morris, 579.
36 Hendrickson, 302.
37 Chernow, 134.
38 Richard Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton, American, Touchstone Ed. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), 46.
39 Chernow, 158.
40 Ibid., 159.
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writing to her sister, said that “I am more solicitous to promote his laudable ambition than any person in the world and there is no summit of true glory which I do not desire he may attain; provided always that he pleases to give me a little chit-chat and sometimes to say, I wish our dear Angelica were here.”41 Additionally, Angelica cared about Alexander’s health and appearance; when she heard that he was getting “puffy” due to his stress and work, she immediately wrote Eliza, telling her to be sure Hamilton ate better and got more exercise.42 Angelica and Hamilton’s bond was encouraged by many mutual interests. Hamilton and Eliza had asked Angelica to pick out a piano for one of their children; after picking out the piano, Angelica wrote to Eliza, “I know Hamilton likes the beautiful in any way. […]The beauties of nature and of art are not lost on him.”43 Additionally, both Hamilton and Angelica spoke fluent French, and their letters are full of French phrases; for instance, Angelica calls Hamilton her petit rascal.44 Clearly, Angelica and Hamilton had a close relationship. Since the two lived an ocean apart for so many years, the siblings-in-law sent many letters to one another. Their correspondence reveal more details of their relationship. Much of their letters include references to Eliza. As Hamilton wrote to Angelica, “If you knew the power you have to make happy, you would lose no opportunity of writing to Betsey and me; for we literally feast on your letters.”45 Similarly, Angelica told Hamilton to “comfort [Eliza] with the assurances that I will certainly return to take care of her soon” when Eliza had miscarried.46 She ended the letter requesting Hamilton to give “a thousand embraces to my dear Betsy, she will not have so bad a night as the last, but poor Angelica adieu mine plus cher.”47 Clearly, Eliza and her wellbeing was an important part of Angelica and Hamilton’s relationship. Another theme seen throughout Angelica and Hamilton’s letters is Angelica’s
41 Brookheiser, 46.
42 Chernow, 333.
43 Ibid., 337.
44 Morris, 579.
45 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 20, January 1796 – March 1797, New York: Columbia University Press, 1974, 233–234. 46 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 5, June 1788 – November 1789, New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, 497.
47 Syrett, vol. 5, 497.
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introduction of French refugees to Hamilton. During the French Revolution, while Angelica and Church were living in Europe, many aristocrats fled to America. Angelica aided in this process by recommending the Count de Noailles in a letter: You will receive this from a friend of mine and an admirer of your virtues and your talents. He goes to America to partake of that Liberty for which he has often exposed his life, and to render it all the services his knowledge of Europe and of the emigration about to take place to America, give the opportunity of doing. The Count de Noailles requires less recommendation than most people, because he is well known to you my friend.48 De Noailles was Marquis de Lafayette’s brother-in-law, which is how Hamilton was familiar with him.49 He had been a hopeful participant in the beginning of the French Revolution but left in light of the terror.50 Angelica also referred the duc de La Rouchefoucauld-Liancourt to Hamilton: He loved liberty with good sence and moderation; and he meant so well towards his country as to introduce into France a better system of Agriculture and to soften the situation of the Lower class of people there. […]He goes to America, and goes there without a friend, unless my dear Brother, who is always so good, will extend to Monsieur de Liancourt his care—besides many good qualities, this gentleman is the friend of the Marquis de LaFayette.51 In addition, Angelica helped Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord enter America. Very disliked in France (Napoleon called him “a pile of shit in a silk stocking”), Talleyrand hoped the French Revolution would create a new-state based on order.52 When that clearly did not work, he tried to escape. Angelica wrote to Eliza that Tall 48 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 14, February 1793 – June 1793, New York: Columbia University Press, 1969, 89.
49 Chernow, 464.
51 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 17, August 1794 – December 1794, New York: Columbia University Press, 1972, 251–252.
52 Chernow, 465.
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eyrand was “the cause of moderate liberty.”53 Angelica and Hamilton’s correspondence extended to American politics. When Hamilton was trying to get his debt plan passed through Congress, he wrote, “Tomorrow I open the budget and you may imagine that today I am very busy and not a little anxious.”54 In response, Angelica wrote, “Many thanks to my dear Brother for having written to his friend at a moment when he had the affairs of America on his mind; I am impatient to hear in what manner your Budget has been received and extremely anxious for your success.”55 In her next letter, when she had heard that Hamilton was still working on finances, she wrote, “I shall send by the first ships every well written book that I can procure on the subject of finance. I cannot help being diverted at the avidity I express to whatever relates to this subject. It is a new source of amusement or rather of interest.”56 In fact, this was not the first time Angelica had sent Hamilton books on finance; she had sent him Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which was one of Hamilton’s two primary books he consulted when crafting America’s banking system.57 When Hamilton was dealing with the Whiskey Rebellion in fall of 1794, he made sure to keep his sister-in-law updated: “I am thus far my dear Angelica on my way to attack and subdue the wicked insurgents of the West. But you are not to promise yourself that I shall have any trophies to lay at your feet. A large army has cooled the courage of those madmen and the only question seems now to be how to guard best against the return of the phrenzy.”58 After this, Hamilton tells Angelica, “In popular governments ’tis useful that those who propose measures should partake in whatever dangers they may involve. Twas very important there should be no mistake in the management of the affair—and I might contribute to prevent one.”59 He concludes by asking her to assure both Church and John Jay that the insurrection
53 Chernow, 465.
54 Ibid., 301.
56 Ibid., 245.
57 Chernow, 347.
58 Syrett, vol. 17, 340.
55 Syrett, vol. 6, 280.
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will do good in bringing solidarity to the country.60 Clearly, Hamilton could trust Angelica with details of his public life and could reasonably expect her to accurately pass along any messages he needed delivered. Similarly, Angelica often gave some suggestions of important figures Hamilton should meet. In April of 1794, she suggested that he meet Joseph Priestly. The British scientist and philosopher held beliefs that weren’t necessarily shared in America, but that were very respectable. Angelica wanted to make sure he would not receive any backlash for his ideas: Without the advantage and satisfaction of his acquaintance, I revere him for his works, and take a particular interest that he should be well received in America. That happy country which seems reserved by Providence as an Assylum [asylum] from the crimes and persecutions which make Europe the pity and disgrace of the age. You my dear Brother will receive with distinguished kindness this worthy stranger, (if he whose breast teems with the love of mankind may anywhere be called a stranger) and make our country so dear to him as to cause him to forget that which he leaves at an advanced period of Life and which he has most ably served.61 Angelica understood why Priestly’s ideas would not necessarily make it easy for Americans to accept him. But she also understood the importance of free speech; she wanted to ensure that people in America would be willing to welcome others with different beliefs. Sometimes political life was too much for Hamilton. He often lamented his listlessness with Angelica. In December of 1793, Hamilton writes that the upcoming political campaign “will present some volcanic exhibitions, will put every good man’s fortitude and patience to a severe trial.”62 Upset with the election, he writes, “But how oddly are all things arranged in this sublunary scene. I am just where I do not wish to be. I know how I could be much happier; but circumstances enchain
60 Syrett, vol. 17, 340.
61 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 16, February 1794 – July 1794, New York: Columbia University Press, 1972, 225. 62 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 15, June 1793 – January 1794, New York: Columbia University Press, 1969, 592–593. Alexandria Historical Review, Page 64
me.”63 Most likely Hamilton felt like he could confer with Angelica due to her feeling somewhat trapped in England, due to Church’s parliament position. Another letter written from Hamilton to Angelica is found in the collection of his son James, who crossed out and tore off portions of the letter. Hamilton again talks about the problems of public life: Truly this trade of a statesman is but a sorry thing. It plagues a man more than enough and, when it obliges him to sacrifice his own pleasure, it is very far from fitting him the better to please other people. […]I speak from experience. You will ask why I do not quit this disagreeable trade. How can I? What is to become of my fame and glory? How will the world go on without me? I am sometimes told very gravely it could not and one ought not, you know, to be very difficult of faith about what is much to our advantage. Besides, you would lose the pleasure of speaking of your brother[in-law as] “The Chancellor of the Exchequer” if I am to give up the trade. […]There is no fear that the minister will spoil the man. I find by experience that the man is every day getting the upper hand of the minister.64 Perhaps Hamilton felt as though he could share his true feelings with Angelica because she was in a similar situation. She was living in Europe when she would rather be in America with her family. While she might not have cared as much about creating a legacy, she would have felt torn in the way Hamilton did: serving others or indulging in one’s own desires. Even though they both felt a sense of duty, Angelica still wanted to be one of Hamilton’s priorities: “Remember this also yourself my dearest Brother and let neither politics or ambition drive your Angelica from your affections.”65 Often, in fact, the two mentioned how much they missed one another. After Angelica and Church visited the Hamiltons in the summer of 1785, Hamilton wrote Angelica: You have, I fear, taken a final leave of America and of those that love you here. I saw you depart from Philadelphia with peculiar uneasiness,
63 Syrett, vol. 15, 592-593.
64 Chernow, 457.
65 Syrett, vol. 5, 497.
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as if foreboding you were not to return. […]This is the impression we all have; judge the bitterness it gives to those who love you with the love of nature and to me who feel an attachment for you not less lively. I confess for my own part I see one great source of happiness snatched away.66 Hamilton felt miserable only a few days after Angelica had left. He wrote in a different letter, “Despairing of seeing you here, my only hope is that the jumble of events will bring us together in Europe.”67 In a later letter to Angelica, Hamilton questions, “How long Sister are the best friends to be separated! […]But the Fates leave us still in the dark without diminishing our ardent & affect wishes.”68 Hamilton again refers to the idea of fate keeping him and Angelica apart in a later letter: “Why will you be so lavish of these qualities upon those who forget them in six weeks and withhold them from us who retain all the impressions you make, indelibly? But so the world goes. And we must submit to Destiny.”69 Angelica clearly also missed Hamilton; when his letters became less frequent, she told him, “I sometimes think you have now forgot me and that having seen me is like a dream which you can scarcely believe.”70 While the two corresponded about how much they missed one another, it is also clear that the two had very flirtatious exchanges. In June of 1796, Hamilton teases Angelica about who she loves more: Eliza or himself. He writes, “The only rivalship we have is in our attachment to you and we each contend for preeminence in this particular. To whom will you give the apple?”71 Another interesting epistle is Hamilton’s letter from January 1800. After eating a meal seated directly in front of John Trumbull’s painting of Angelica, Hamilton satirically writes of his interaction with the woman over dinner: “She did not appear to her usual advantage, and yet she was very interesting. The eloquence of silence is not a common attribute of hers; 66 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 3, 1782–1786, New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, 619–620. 67 Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 4, January 1787 – May 1788, New York: Columbia University Press, 1962, 374–376.
68 Syrett, vol. 15, 592-593.
69 Syrett, vol. 20, 235-236.
70 Syrett, vol. 6, 280.
71 Chernow, 528.
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but on this occasion she employed it par force and it was not considered as a fault. Though I am fond of hearing her speak, her silence was so well placed that I did not attempt to make her break it. You will conjecture that I must have been myself dumb with admiration.”72 Hamilton’s playful, flirtatious tone is clearly seen as he chides and slyly compliments Angelica. Perhaps, however, the two most flirtatious letters come from Angelica’s letter in October 1787 and in Hamilton’s December reply. Angelica explains that the reason she did not respond to one of Hamilton’s letters was because she “could not relinquish the hopes that you would be tempted to ask the reason of my Silence, which would be a certain means of obtaining the second letter when perhaps had I answered the first, I should have lost all the fine things contained in the latter.”73 Unfortunately, the letter Angelica references has not been found. However, it appears to have been full of sweet statements, for she continues: “Indeed my dear, Sir if my path was strewed with as many roses, as you have filled your letter with compliments, I should not now lament my absence from America.”74 While, at first, this might seem superficially flirtatious, analyzing her grammar creates an important note; instead of saying “Indeed, my dear sir” she places the comma after “dear.” To quote Hendrickson, “She thus magically transformed a conventional salutation into an endearment of unguessable depths.”75 She goes even further in the letter, asking Hamilton to tell her family “every thing you think that the most tender and affectionate attachment can dictate;” but immediately after, she slyly tells Hamilton, “Be persuaded that these sentiments are not weakened when assigned to you.”76 Hamilton responds in December 1787, on the same day he was writing Federalist Paper No. 18.77 He begins by saying he wrote a much shorter letter to her husband but preferred to write a longer letter to Angelica. He writes, “I can not, however great my hurry, resist the strong desire I feel of thanking you for your invaluable let 72 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 24, November 1799 – June 1800, New York: Columbia University Press, 1976, 211–212.
73 Syrett, vol. 4, 279-280.
75 Hendrickson, 530.
76 Syrett, vol. 4, 279-280.
77 Hendrickson, 531.
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ter by the last packet. Imagine, if you are able, the pleasure it gave me.”78 As he continues, Hamilton grows even more forward in his flirtation: “I seldom write to a lady without fancying the relation of lover and mistress. It has a very inspiring effect. And in your case the dullest materials could not help feeling that propensity [. . .] If you read this letter in a certain mood, you will easily divine that in which I write it.”79 After describing the events of a fellow friend, Hamilton refers to Angelica’s misplaced comma. He writes, “It is my interest that it should have been designed; but I presume it was accidental. Unriddle this if you can. The proof that you do it rightly may be given by the omission or repetition of the same mistake in your next.”80 Unfortunately, that next letter has not been found. When he tells Angelica that Eliza sends her love, he chooses not to say “joins in mine.”81 This creates a distinction between the love Eliza feels for Angelica (as a sibling) and what Hamilton feels for Angelica (perhaps something more.) He concludes the letter promising, “Wherever I am I believe always that there is no one who can pay a more sincere or affectionate tribute to your deserts than I do.”82 In his closing, Hamilton slyly has a comma error of his own; he writes, “Adieu ma chere, soeur [Goodbye my dear, sister]” with the comma after dear, just like in Angelica’s letter.83 In analyzing these letters, Hendrickson writes, “Though this preoccupation with commas has comical overtones, it serves to draw into the tiny focus of two discreet scratches of their quills the whole range of frustrated, sublimated passion that seemed to consume this handsome, intense gentleman and his beautiful, brilliant, witty, sister-in-law separated from each other by an Atlantic.”84 Hamilton’s letters to Eliza, his wife, strike a very different chord. While he writes much more frequently to her than to Angelica, Hamilton’s tone differs greatly. The letters are full of admiring comments towards his wife; however, the language is much more formal and less flirtatious than his correspondence with Angelica. Call
78 Syrett, vol. 4, 374–376.
80 Syrett, vol. 4, 374–376.
84 Hendrickson, 531.
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ing her his “angel,” Hamilton writes to Eliza calling her, “My very Dear love.”85 Most letters are signed very formally, such as “Adieu My darling Wife My beloved Angel Adieu.”86 He often writes of missing his family; when writing Eliza of their newest infant, Hamilton wrote, “You both grow dearer to me every day. I would give the world for a kiss from either of you.”87 He (at least wrote that) he hated being away from his family: “It is absolutely necessary to me when absent to hear frequently of you and my dear Children. While all other passions decline in me, those of love and friendship gain new strength. It will be more and more my endeavour to abstract my self from all pursuits which interfere with those of Affection. Tis here only I can find true pleasure. In this I know your good and kind heart responses to mine.”88 He looked forward to having her letters: I am always very happy My Dear Eliza when I can steal a few moments to sit down and write to you. You are my good genius; of that kind which the ancient Philosophers called a familiar; and you know very well that I am glad to be in every way as familiar as possible with you. I have formed a sweet project, of which I will make you my confident when I come to New York, and in which I rely that you will cooperate with me chearfully.89 Hamilton briefly mentions politics once or twice to Eliza: “The members of Congress are very pressing with me not to go away at this time as the house is thin, and as the definitive treaty is momently expected.”90 On a different occasion he wrote, “The Senate has refused on account of the interference with other business to hear any more causes this session; so that were it not for the situation of your Sister Peggy, her request that I would stay a few days longer and the like request of your father 85 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 7, September 1790 – January 1791, New York: Columbia University Press, 1963, 35-36. 86 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 2, 1779-1781, New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, 677–679.
87 Syrett, vol. 3, 198.
88 Syrett, vol. 24, 220-221.
89 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 22, July 1798 – March 1799, New York: Columbia University Press, 1976, 251.
90 Syrett, vol. 3, 413-414.
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and mother, I could now return to you.”91 Yet in both of these letters, Hamilton was simply explaining why he would be unable to return quickly to his wife, not seeking her opinion or advice. Additionally, Hamilton does talk about Angelica to Eliza. He writes, “Angelica & her family are all well except that Mr. Church’s gout is not intirely gone.”92 In a different letter, Hamilton wrote, “I dined with Angelica today. […]My spirits were not very good—though every body tried to make my time pass pleasantly.”93 On other instances, when Eliza was with Angelica, Hamilton wrote, “Give my love to Angelica”94 and “remember me affectionately to her,”95 promising to “return full freighted with it for My dear Brunnettes,” Eliza and Angelica.96 Hendrickson’s interpretation of those letters, as well as the rest of their correspondence, is that Angelica and Hamilton had an affair. In addition to their overtly flirtatious letters, Hendrickson analyzes Hamilton’s ledger to further support this theory. When Angelica visited New York without her husband in 1789, they only paid for half of the trip. The other half was supplied by Hamilton.97 Hendrickson notes that Angelica’s ledger is unique since there are no credit entries and is more disorderly. Additionally, Angelica’s account is divided into two sections: “monies paid to yourself ” and “for you.”98 Hendrickson writes that those phrases “leap off the page to strike an auditor’s eye much the way the words ‘I love you’ tucked randomly into a logarithm table might strike an arithmetician’s.”99 Additionally, the account shows that Hamilton paid for Angelica’s lodging during the last month of her time; 91 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 25, July 1800 – April 1802, New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, 347. 92 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 21, April 1797 – July1798, New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, 496-497.
93 Syrett, vol. 21, 482-483.
95 Ibid., 296.
96 Ibid., 177.
97 Hendrickson, 555.
94 Ibid., 335.
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it was neither at his house nor at the Schuyler residence.100 Hendrickson concludes that this is when and where Angelica and Hamilton might have consummated their affair. On the other hand, Ron Chernow argues there was no affair between Angelica and Hamilton, because Angelica and Eliza were in constant communication. Chernow writes, “Angelica must have sensed that her incessant adoration of Hamilton, far from annoying or threatening to her beloved younger sister, filled her with ecstatic pride.”101 Their love of Hamilton seemed to strengthen the bond between the two sisters. It was this shared affection of Hamilton, along with Eliza’s attachment to her older sister that allowed Hamilton to write to Angelica in a way that would have been forbidden with other women.102 Hamilton seemed to be a bonding point, rather than something that caused a divide between the sisters. Chernow writes, “Eliza would never have harbored deep affection for her sister or allowed Hamilton to write her so freely if she had been aware of any real transgressions.”103 It does not seem likely that there was an actual affair between Hamilton and Angelica due to the closeness of Angelica to Eliza. Perhaps a middle ground between the two views creates a more accurate picture of Hamilton and Angelica’s relationship. Clearly, Angelica and Hamilton were both close to Eliza. Of course, this wouldn’t stop Hamilton from having an affair later in his life with Mariah Reynolds.104 Hamilton was most likely not fully satisfied or content with Eliza; not only did he have a physical affair with someone else, but Eliza also did not always support Hamilton’s political pursuits, did not speak French, and was not as well-learned as Hamilton. Perhaps he felt as though he could not share all his life with her. Angelica, on the other hand, provided that sort of companionship. Hamilton could discuss anything and everything with Angelica: politics, fears, family, and even, of course, flirtation. Perhaps the two yearned for what might have been had Angelica been single when she had met Hamilton. Clearly the two cared for each other in a way that goes beyond sibling-in-law affection. But it is highly unlikely that the two would have acted upon those feelings. Both letters include too many
100 Hendrickson, 558.
101 Chernow, 134.
103 Ibid, 528.
104 Ibid., 364.
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references to Eliza. Additionally, it is highly unlikely Angelica would be so open about her love for Hamilton in her letters to Eliza had an actual affair taken place. The two may have merely viewed themselves as soul mates that missed their chance to be together. Their letters’ flirtatious comments may have indicated emotional infidelity, but they otherwise kept their friendship chaste. Eventually, Angelica and her family moved back to America, right around the time Hamilton published his affair.105 After Aaron Burr was elected Vice President, he and Hamilton dueled, resulting in Hamilton’s death. Before the duel, he wrote Eliza a goodbye note, but he did not write one to Angelica.106Angelica was with Hamilton when she died, and according to Gouverneur Morriss, she was “weeping her heart out” as Hamilton died.107 A few days later, the funeral would begin at Angelica’s house and the procession would continue throughout the city; missing from the procession, however, were Eliza and Angelica.108 Who was Angelica Schuyler Church? She was a beautiful, rich, social, intelligent woman. Her intellect and charisma led her to interact with many of the most brilliant American minds. Her personality and enthusiasm was clearly magnetic to Hamilton. While the two never had an adulterous affair, they clearly shared a bond that went beyond friendship. Hamilton’s publicized affair may have fueled suspicions around his relationship with Angelica, but as well as, this suspected emotional affair. Their relationship provided Hamilton with healthy encouragement, political advice, and joy. Thus, the flirtatious nature of the letters only indicates a strong affinity between the in-laws Hamilton and Angelica. No shameful interaction could have occurred between these affectionate friends. Bibliography
Brookhiser, Richard. Alexander Hamilton, American. Touchstone Ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Press, 2004. Hendrickson, Robert A. Hamilton. New York: Mason Charter, 1976. Morris, Richard B., ed. Alexander Hamilton and the Founding of the Nation. New York: The Dial 105 Chernow, 529.
106 Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 26, 1 May 1802 – 23 October 1804, Additional Documents 1774–1799, Addenda and Errata, New York: Columbia University Press, 1979, 293.
107 Chernow, 706.
108 Ibid., 711
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Press, 1957. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 2, 1779–1781. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 3, 1782–1786. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 4, January 1787 – May 1788. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 5, June 1788 – November 1789. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 6, December 1789 – August 1790. New York: Columbia University Press, 1962. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 7, September 1790 – January 1791. New York: Columbia University Press, 1963. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 14, February 1793 – June 1793. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 15, June 1793 – January 1794. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 16, February 1794 – July 1794. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 17, August 1794 – December 1794. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 20, January 1796 – March 1797. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 20, April 1797 – July 1798. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 22, July 1798 – March 1799. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 24, November 1799 – June 1800. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 25, November 1799 – June 1800. New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. Syrett, Harold C., ed. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 26, 1 May 1802 – 23 October 1804, Additional Documents 1774–1799, Addenda and Errata. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.
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