Monday, July 20, 2009
An American lady, 19 years old, is looking for a husband between the ages of thirty-five and fifty; must not object to children, as the advertiser has a male child to care for; would prefer a sea captain; no objection to a widower if possessed of a kind heart and means. No abolitionists need apply. Address, inclosing carte de visite if convenient, Fanny, box 201 Herald office.
I thought of this ad for today because she is particularly interested in a sea captain, but since this ad was published almost forty years before the one on Thursday, I don't think they would have worked out. Still, what a funny ad! Why would she prefer a sea captain? Maybe she likes sailing? Or perhaps because he wouldn't be home a whole lot, so she wouldn't actually have to see him very often? And, here's the thing that really gets me. You're composing a personal advertisement in order to find your future spouse. You're coming up with all the things that matter to you about the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. And what you decide to put as a big priority is..."no abolitionists."
Um, okay. Clearly someone was pro-slavery! Now, this ad dates from 1860, less than a year before the Civil War began, when tensions were pretty high between the North and South. So I guess people who have very strong feelings on one side or the other might think it's important enough to mention in a personal ad, although you'd think that'd be something easily found out in the first letter or two. I suppose she just really, really, really didn't even want to accidentally talk to an abolitionist.
Too bad for her, though; five years later being an abolitionist or not was irrelevant. For once, I can't say I'm sorry things didn't work out for her as she would have liked.
Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!
©2009 Pam Epstein