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ARC Review: The Divorce Colony

The Divorce Colony: How Women Revolutionized Marriage and Found Freedom on the American Frontier by April White April White’s The Divorce Colony is set during the Gilded Age, in the America of the late 1800s. It revolves around the lax divorce rules then to be found in South Dakota.  Today, getting divorced is almost easier than getting married. But in the Gilded Age, divorces were not so easy to obtain. Divorce was viewed as a moral concern for the state, and was denounced from the pulpit for threatening the sanctity of marriage. Even President Theodore Roosevelt spoke out against it.  Laws around divorce tended to be most lax on the frontiers of the United States. By the 1880s the territory of Dakota gained the dubious honor of posting the largest rise in divorces in the country. At the turn of the century one city - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - gained a reputation for having the laxest divorce laws of all, and required only a three month residency in order to take advantage of them

Review: American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence

American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence by Pauline Maier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had heard a lot about this book, all of it positive, and so had added it to my pile of books to read, which now I'm slowly working my way through.

The first three sections of the book focus on setting the textual context around which the wording of the Declaration came to be - it describes the many "other Declarations" from states and localities also being produced in the early Revolutionary timeframe, and the debt owed to the English tradition of Declarations, especially the Declaration of Rights of 1689, all of which I was unaware of before. There's also a section delving into the authorship (as opposed to drafting) of the document. This history focuses on the wording of the document, more so than the Revolutionary events around it. The author clearly knows her stuff (it's one of those books where you want to make sure you check out the footnotes as there's some good stuff in there), and she keeps it interesting, in plain and engaging language.

In the introduction the author sets the goal of telling two stories - one of the original making of the Declaration, and the other of the "remaking into the document most Americans know, remember and revere". She's very thorough in telling the first story, as mentioned above, but as to the second story things are not nearly as complete. This second story comes in the fourth and final part of the book and mostly revolves around the case she makes for Lincoln "remaking" the document into a statement of principals around equality. The epilogue includes a brief mention of Martin Luther King, and then the book is done. I felt there was much more of that second story to tell that she left untold.