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tv   Mail- Order Marriages in California  CSPAN  April 15, 2017 5:17am-6:28am EDT

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and mam hamilton, when carb isn't around gets himself into a lot of trouble. >> for our complete schedule go to c-span.org. >>up next on american history tv law professor marcia zug on the history of mail-order brides in america. she says the 19th century california gold rush encouraged single women to move west and marry the state's bachelors. but she says when brides started coming from asia society's acceptance of mail-order brides plummeted. she is author of the book buying a bride an enganling history of mail-order matches. this is an hour and ten minutes. >> hi. thank you so much for coming tonight. i want to thank patty and the california historical society
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and especially on this rainy day, but i think that's making all very happy because you haven't had rain. i said ya'all because i've live in the south for ten years and that's all you're going to get from me. i want to give you before i start today about the california portion of the book. i want to give you a sense of how the book happened and my thought process, maybe it will be similar to some of what you all -- you all are thinking. i used to say you guys i'm from new york. and i came into this book with the idea that -- well, noticing that there seemed to be a conflict that the historical representation of mail-order brides seemed good. i was a big little house on the prairie fan, there's a book "sara plain and tall yts that i loved. and the idea that these pioneer women who went west often as
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mail-order brides and helped settle the west and they were allotted and heroes and we loved them, and then there was in modern day image of the mail order bride as this abused and ploilted woman who needs to be saved and the practice should be stopped, it needs to be certainly regulated, highly, and i was like how do we have twoez these two images? >> one of them has to be somewhat wrong. and i went into the book thinking it's the historical one that we're using the rose-colored glasses of history to misremember what actually happened. and what i found as i was doing historical research and writing the book was that actually the good parts of mail-order marriage continue to exist today and there are a lot of benefits of mail-order marriage. so i want to know why -- why the change in perception? and california's history is really interesting because it was both at the forefront of
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these pioneer mail-order brides and also at the forefront of the changing perception of mail-order brides. so i'm going to talk about two separate periods of history, california history, the gold rush mail-order brides, the women who started coming over in 1849, and then the focus on the asian mail-order brides, japanese picture brides in particular, and how we got this change. so let's see. i want to start with a sense of why mail-order brides happened in the west. so this is a map, this is actually ail little later than the period i'm talking about. this is a map taken from the 1870 census. the white area is where you have gender parity. the darker area is where you have more men. what do you notice? okay i'm not a professor right now. you notice, so i'm going to answer my question. you notice that on the east coast you have relative gender parity. the further west you go, the
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more men you get. okay. so as the frontier's expand, you get a situation where there are way more men than women. okay. so california until particular really exacerbates this because this is a kind of normal pioneer migration story that this map here shows where everyone moves just a little bit west at a time, but i assume as everyone in this audience knows, california was different, right? gold. so gold made people come out here real fast. a lot of them. primarily men. so all of a sudden instead of the slow settling that you had been getting up until this point, you get a rush, a gold rush, right? so all of these men start rushing out to california. and they leave the women behind. and that's okay for a little while, but men get lonely and
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then we need to figure out what we should do about it. and not only do men get lonely, they also large groups of men are not always considered a good thing. so one of the first ideas came from this woman. her name is eliesa farnum and she had inherited land in cold front in 1849 had the her husband had come out here to stake his claim and he dies, she had been left back home with their two young sons, he dies and she knows if she doesn't come out to kafrl shecalifornia going to lose her hand. but she's a very proper east coast woman and she's been hearing some bad things about california. zafl not have a great reputation and this is california's reputation. that everyone is violent and
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shooting each other in the face and maybe not, you know, quite that way but this is not a place that you want to bring two small children. okay. so eliza had some interesting ideas. she thought that the way you tame men is you bring out women, right. that the reason these guys are dangerous and violent and she doesn't want to be near them is because they don't have the civilizing influence of women. okay. so she comes up with an idea. let's bring women. so she starts, she does this call for bride, the california association of american women, and it is widely endorsed both on the east coast and on the west coast. on the east coast you get all these, you know, famous people who are this is a great idea, this is wonderful, no one's better to lead this than farnham, she was very well known at this point. she had been the mate reason to of sing sing prison out east.
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she was a doer, she got things done. so they're all behind her. and not simply out of like the kindness of their hearts, there's some other things going on. her proposal to bring out brides was not the first female migration program. before this, throughout the 1830s, early 1840s, every time there was unrest in the east when factories started closing down and female factory workers are getting laid off, they start striking, they wouldn't equal pay, things like that that are annoying and you want to get rid of them, the idea from the reformer was we'll just move them out west, get rifd those unruly women, they cause problems, move them out west where they're wanted because out west, you know, they'll take the unruly women because they don't have anything else. and we'll talk about what they actually have. but that's the idea. so there had been, you know, a
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couple decades worth of these programs of moving women out west for jobs. a lot of them became school teachers. and this was well supported, it was well -- it was well accepted. and her program was similar. so it wasn't that she proposed something so radical. the difference with farnham's program was there wasn't any pretense that they're going to go out and become school teachers first or something, these women are coming out to merit men and civilize them. okay. now, california, not surprisingly, is pretty thrilled with this idea. they -- the attal california, which is one of the california parpsz, they wrote when they find out about her plan they write, this is the most gladdening intelligence of the day, eliza farnham girls are coming the day of regeneration
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is nooi at hand, we should prepare ourselves to witness the great change shortly to follow with feelings akin to hilarious joy. so they're super excited. okay. now, i should step back for a minute. >> i showed you the map of the gender disparity, but, you know, california wasn't de void of women, right. there are plenty of native women in california. and one of the questions that comes up a lot in this history of mail-order marriage is the relationship between the settler men and the indija nus women. and sometimes the men wound up wanting to have relationships with the local indian women, and that was the reason for bringing mail-order brides because that was considered bad. i have a whole chapter on jamestown and up in canada because that was a big concern of the government because these
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men were abandoning the colony. for instance jamestown if you remember hearing about it, not a nice place to live for a long time. one of the quotes i have about it in the book is jamestown, a misserry a hell of death. not good tourism material kind of proshur thing there. women didn't want to come. thewomen men were dying, they were starving, disease, all this kind of stuff. but those indian village dollars next door, they had food and they were doing much better and all the men kept abandoning jamestown and other settlements for the indian ville ages and mayor r marrying the indian women. california's a little different. they do have relationships with the native women, but not so good. so it seemed to be something with the dangerousness of california, the group, the mob mentality, but these men were
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not marrying the indian women. they were actually attacking them. so there was a lot of sexual violence out in california, to the extent that within a generation the female -- the indian female population in cold front was decimated. if you look at the census figures between 1850 and 1870, indian men vastly outnumber indian women. it's a very, very dangerous time to be an indian woman. so the men were having some sort of relationship with these women, but they weren't looking to them as marriage material and it certainly wasn't curbing their violent instinkts. . is different than what you get in a lot of places, sba marriage with native women was common in the west, usually amongst trappers. so when it was smaller groups that went west and they often had relationships with the transcribed because they helped
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them with their trapping and collecting of furs, then you had a lot more sba marriage and that was one of the reasons why places like oregon and washington wanted mail-order brides. but that wasn't so much what was happening in california. there also seems to have been worse relationships between the settlers and the transcribed in general. there are a whole bunch of hor, or stories about men who do have relationships with indian women and then the end yennian women kill them in their sleep and dut cut them up into little pieces, stories like this. so there was a big fear of actually having a relationship with native women. so that wasn't so much what was going on in california. so if you can't have a relationship with the indian women and there are no other women, you know, this is a nice indian intermarriage family just not from california, then the idea of bridging out women gets you very excited. so here's a little cartoon about
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a live woman in the mines, you know, this guy has a wife, all the other men are so proud of him, they're all so happy for him, this is so exciting. okay. so that's great, that seems to be, you know, the idea when farnham says i'm going to bring out women, they get super excited because otherwise they're stuck with this. i mean, they're adorable, right, but you know, they're still trying to have their dances but there are no women around. okay. so the men want women. great. fine. here's another one. what about the women? right. just because men want the women to come out doesn't mean it's a good thing for the women to come out. so one of the things that goes wrong with farnham's plan is she actually doesn't think about that. so for farnham, she's one of those victorian -- i mean you can see from her picture, right,
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very tightly bunned hair and very proper and doesn't look like she smiles much and her idea was she wanted to bring, you know, very proper, middle class women out to california to tame the miners and teach them, you know are good christian values and how to not be all -- not only violent but just de botched and all those sorts of things, right. and her appeal is not great. she appeals basically to women's idea of duty, right. so she says -- she implord the women to sackya fies their eastern com forts by leaving the sea of luxury by the fire side and in order to save the western men from sin and debochery. >> if you're a middle class woman, you want to travel all the way out to california which doesn't have a great reputation,
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least com forts of your middle class home which by the way are not so com personal, right. there's -- there's an interesting tally, so liddium marie child makes this tally of her year's housework and she's middle class, 360 dinners, 362 brek fafts, sitting roomd and kich ebb swept and dusted 350 times. lamps filled 3-52 times. it's not like so easy out east. and farnham's saying hey, leave these com forts for even less comfort out west. solt middle class women weren't interested, they said thanks but no thanks. but, the working class and lower class women were interested because their lives out east weren't so great. they didn't have these com forts, necessarily, they're getting kicked out of a lot of their factory jobs. their wages are going down, therp not being treated very well out east and they're
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interested. so about two to 300 of them apply for farnham's program. but they're not the women she's looking for. she winds up not taking them. in the end, she takes like three, one of whom leaves with the ship's captain around the, you know, somewhere in brazil. so it's real lie like her, her maid and one other person. so her program winds up not being a success, but it also highlights what would work. so she's too focused on just saving the men and she doesn't focus on what would be in the interest of the women. right. if you don't appeal to the women, they're not going to come as mail-order brides. but it's also highlights some of the stuff that california should do. so california starts appealing to eastern women to make them come out here. and there air couple different things that they do. two of which are very successful and will get repeated by later states with their mail order
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bride programs that make them very successful as well. so the two big things are divorce and property. out east, you know, we have the women's rights movement going on at this time, you have the senna ka falls convention, but the laws aren't change so quickly, partially because they don't really have to, right. women, they're protesting and all of that but there are enough of them we don't really have to listen to them. california wants women to come. so one of the first things that they do is that they decide that we're going to get rid of the common law property regime, which is the cover ture property ya regime which means that when a woman marries a man, her legal identity gets covered by his. she no longer has a legal identity and more importantly for this, she no longer has her own property rights. this was one of the big things that the women -- the women's rights movement on the east coast was trying to get rid of,
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that married women would be able to keep their separate property, property that they bring into the mayor range and property that they earn during the marriage because it seemed fairly, you know, unfair that what you get married and now your husband has all of your prorlt that you bring into it and that you earn during the marriage and there's nothing you can do about it. you now have to ask him for money for anything that you might want and he has no obligation to give it to you. so women out east are very upset about this system. california goes, well, since we're creating our laws anyway, why don't we not do that. and not only -- i'm not guessing at what they're thinking. when you actually look at the transcripts from the constitutional -- the california constitutional convention, they say things like, being a bachelor with the hope of one day getting married, i think we should not adopt those eastern profit r property laws. they knew exactly what they were doing. they're trying to make the laws in california attractive so that
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women who are thinking, you know, who might be inclined to immigrate will have a stronger incentive to do it. so that's the -- they changed the property law and you actually do see that this changes how the women out in the california view their worth. they recognize that they're valuable out here and they have power because of that. so there's this great ad that i love from this marysville california woman. she actually places an advertisement in a newspaper for a husband. says a husband wanted by a lady who can wash, cook, scour, mill be, spin, sew, can't plow, rock the krads will gold rock are i think you sir, saw, plain, drive nails, et cetera. these are a few of the solid bran's now for the ornament it will swhent as far as sin tex, murray's grammar could find six
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states on the at las could read and write ar can, point roses butterfly ships, et cetera were could once dance, ride a horse donk i can or oxen besides a great many things too numerous to be asked here. you asked could she scold. no she can't you go for nothing belonging on in the now nor her terms her age is none of your business nor handsome nor fright old man need not apply nor any who have little education than she has a a great deal more gold. for there must be $20,000 settled on her before she will bind herself to perform all of the above. this is not smug would see on the east coast, right. but out here she knows with this gender distart that tparity tha are willing to recognize the value of women and she's up front. look, i can do all of these things and it is valuable and not only is she asking for this money but because of the way the law has changed in california, if she's paid it she gets to keep ', right. so on the east coast, yes, you might get some sort of dourry or
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something like that, but your husband has control of it until he goez dies and you're hoping that he dies before you, otherwise you're out of luck, you never see that money again, right. here, this is her money, she gets it, if this marriage doesn't work out, she's got protection, right. and the sektd second part of that is the other change which is the divorce laws. right. so california decides that they are going to have liberal divorce laws and they do this for two reasons. one reason is -- well, one reason is to incentivize the women to take the risk, right. you're going cross country to marry a man that you don't know. well, that's risky. no one's going to say it's not. but if you can get out of that marriage, it's a little less risky, right? the other part of it is that it actually kind of freeze up women to marry more men, right.
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we don't have bah ligamy but we can have serial mo nothingamy. so again the idea was you can keep your wife if you can keep your wife. marrying her doesn't automatically mean she's your wife vur to convince her every day to say married to you because there's a miner right next door who is, you know, showing her his rocks, i mean, the gold ones, and, you know, she's going to leave you for him if you don't make marriage, you know, worth while to her, right. and there's some, you know, fun letters from east coast women about this. there's one sort of east coast woman who's right a little scandal liesed. she's writing back home to her friends in new york. colonel stevenson of the new york rec regiment who married a pretty woman who got divorced from one husband to marry him and then she adds a little later that mrs. bonner who ran away from her husband with a mr. plume in columbus is living here
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with him married of course. but she's commenting on all that's going around. there's this other california woman who i admire, abby manster and she's describe willing benefits of california's divorce laws. she says i tell thaut woman are in great dee manned in this country whether they are married or not. you need not think strange if you see me coming home with some good looking man one of these times with a pocketful of roksz it's all the go here for women to leave their husbands were two out of three do it. so this is not uncommon or unknown. so california sets up a situation where they incentivize women who don't have the greatest prospects out east to take the risk of mailing order marriage, marry someone that they don't know, and, you know, they're very much like the 40 nineers, right. it's a risk to come out here. there are a lot of dangers, a lot of uncertainty, but the rewards can be quite great.
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and it works very well. within -- i think it's within ten to 20 years california's a gender parity. it happens very, very fast. part of that has to do with california. california is an easier place to live, they get more families, and unfortunately one of the things that happens after that once they hit gender parity is a lot of these rules disappear. so they don't stay the most progressive state on women's rights. that becomes other states that need to start incentivizing women to come. you ever wonder why wyoming was the first state that gave went right to vote? it was rey back then too. it wasn't is that they were so progress stiff was that they realized one of the best ways to get women was to give them rights and then actually a whole lot of women's rights advocates start advocating that women should muf to please maces were move with your feet and convince
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people that you will not stay where you are not treated fairly. so california is the first of the western states to consider mail-order marriage. there is, you know, a lot that they learn from eliza farnham's failed proposal. so even though she doesn't actually bring over really any mail order brooinz brides, her idea is replicated, you know, for the next 50 years or so there are these mail order bride expeditions that bring over groups of eastern women to western mining towns, western logging towns, and are very, very successful. one of the most successful ones is the mercer girls extradition which you may or may not have heard about i write about that in the book as well and that one brings hundreds of women out to the washington territory. okay. so this is one story. but then there's the second
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story. california's all in favor of these women coming, they support it, they change their laws. that's all well and good. here are some lonely bachelors. i'm partial to the one with the cat, he looks sensitive. and, you know, fine. then we get a change. so the mail-order brides that i'm talking about are white women and they're coming out to the merit white men, but soon after this period you start getting a lot of anti-asian sentiment. chinese immigrants have been brought over to build the railroads. that was fine when they were, you know, being built but now we're, you know, now historically we're in a recession and there's all this anti-chinese sentiment, they're take our jobs, there's a horrible cartoon, the hobson choice killing them or jumping off the ledge. and you start getting all of
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these immigration laws to complete chinese immigrants from coming. so you get the chinese exclusion act which barred all laborerers both male and female from entering. eventually we pretty much through the laws prevent the majority of chinese immigrants from coming to this country and the ones who were here if no no immigrants can come they pretty much can't marry or have families and that was intentional. they couldn't natural lies so the only way you would get a chinese citizen, you know, a person of chinese descent who was an american citizen is through birth citizenship. but you can't have babies if there are no women. so you want to stop not only, you know, the male immigration, but they wanted to stop the female immigration. and they're successful with the chinese immigrants. but during this period, we start getting a whole lot of japanese immigration, which hadn't
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happened before because japan wasn't letting anyone leave. but things are changing in japan. they're now letting people leave japan and things are bad in japan. so there's a big famine going on, a lot of the immigrants who come over from japan actually aren't -- wouldn't necessarily consider themselves japanese time. during this period okinawa was invaded by japan, occupied by japan, they were very oppressed by the japanese rule. something like 60% of the population during this period leaves the island. there so there's massive migration from okinawa. there's also occupation from south korea and during this period south koreans are for purposes of immigration law going to be considered japanese. so you have the chinese exclusion acts, but those don't bar japanese immigrants.
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and quickly it becomes clear that this is a loophole that needs to be closed, but japan doesn't want an out right ban, sothy come up with a gentleman's a greemt. which is you won't ban you meeping the united states, won't ban japanese from entering, japan will stop its own citizens from coming but we will make an exception for wives of japanese immigrants who are already in the united states. so this is where you get the rise of the creation of picture brides. because you have all of these japanese men who are in america, they can't marry anyone here, there are very few japanese women in america at this point. antima seg nation laws mean they can't marry anyone who's not japanese and the agreement says if they're married they can bring their wives over. but it's dangerous for them to leave the country because if they leave the country, two
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things might happen. one if they go back to japan there's a good chance they're going to get incripted into the emperor's arm and the other problem something we're seeing today it's not at all clear they're going to get back into this country. so what they do is they start marrying picture brides, women whose pictures they meet through and advertisements or interimmediataries who they had no relationship before hand, they're married by proxy which was remembering niedsed in japan as a valid marriage. so then the women come over here as their wives and they are let into the country. they're still -- this is a hearing at angel island. there was a lot of questioning of these women, whether or not they were real marriages, things like that. and it becomes increasingly clear to a lot of the white californians that this gentleman's agreement isn't really working because all of these women are still coming
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over and they're getting married -- well they're married to this men and then they're having babies and there's all this stuff about their crazy fertility right rate. japanese women are having a baby a year, sometimes three. not quite, but, you know, this is -- we need to stop this. we need to shut this down. now, you know, before that happens, and it will happen, the -- there's some other arguments that are being made. the japanese brides are a little different than the east coast women who have more protections, right. i was talking to but all of those california laws that protect them. the picture brides are in a much more precarious situation. if they don't marry these men, they need to get remarried when they come to the united states because we're not so sure about proxy marriages, but if they don't marry these men they can't stay and have go back home when a lot of them say will bring shame on their families so they
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don't want to do that. a lot of the men lie to them, but because of their situation, it's much harder for them to just find someone else. in california if the guy you come over -- if you're a white eastern want guy you come over to marry turns out to be 25 years older than he says he was and the business that he is, you know, president of turns out to be a fruit stand on the corner, you just go and, you know, find someone else. these women can't. they have to marry the men who their papers say they're married to. so they are in a more precarious situation for that reason. one of the things that -- one of the themes of the book is that the more legal protections mail-order brides have, the, you know, the better off they are. but even so, a lot of the women do decide to marry these men and they still use the gender disparity to their advantage. so there still aren't enough women. a lot of them wind up working, a lot of the complaints that they have is that the men they marry don't work.
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so the women do -- they do eye lot of cooking, laundries, things like that, they make their own money. and a lot of them, you know, stay with their husbands and raise families, but they're controlling the money and they're powerful in the relationships for that reason. but a lot of them also leave these guys. they have their own independent sources of income, now they're here and you see these japanese newspapers with whole columns of mail-order brides who have left their husbands and, you know, they've found other japanese men who will treat them better and they leave for them. the divorce rate for the japanese mail-order brides is about four times as high as it is for nonjapanese women in california at that time. and the -- the anti-japanese government, basically, uses this to show that these women are morally de botched and
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eventually used today's to show that picture brides need to be shut down. and they are successful. here are concerns about the hor ro hordes of women just entering and they accuse them of being prostitutes and if they're not prostitutes they're these de botched women who we don't want here. okay. so the change that we see in california is that when the race of the women changes, the acceptance of mail-order marriage evaporates, right. now these women are seen as subverting immigration law, as subverting or threatening the obviously the racial purity of the country, and california, again, is at the forefront of a movement with mail-order brides and immigration in general to ban undesirable people or
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emigrant groups that are considered undesirable from entering the country. so the asian exclusion acts are the most severe, but what you start seeing on the east coast is a repetition of both european mail-order brides, using mail-order marriage to subvert restrictive immigration laws and then the government tweaking these immigration laws to try to catch these women and keep them out of the country. so we have a situation where california's history explains both the respect and glorified history of mail-order marriage when the women were seen as helping the country, part of the manifest destiny, they were supported, they were protected. when they were seen as threats,
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then mail-order marriage could become more risky because they're not protected by u.s. laws. but mail-order marriage still provided opportunities for women who were, you know, to come to this country who would otherwise have been excluded. and today so i'll leave with you this. this is still what's happening. so the people who come over use mail-order marriage to come over know that there are risks, but they come over because they believe that the opportunities offered by mail-order marriage are superior to, you know, the opportunities that they have at home. we have lots of laws in place to protect them. the more laws that we have, the safer it is for them to come. the newest group who is mail-order marriage are gueye men. because if you think about what's going on in lots of
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places in eastern europe, it's not so safe to be a gueye man or, well, a gueye person. there are lots of antigay laws and now that we have same sex marriage, same sex couples can use mail-order marriage as well to come to the front of the immigration line. so it's the same history happening over and over again but we're also seeing with our immigration situation today that how -- how long marriage and family priority lasts is questionable. this a debate that we've had for a long, long time about whether or not we should prioritize workers or good immigrants versus the bad immigrants or the family immigrants. and we will -- we will see how that all plays out. so thank you very much and i look forward to your questions
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[ applause ] >> you mentioned that there were some people who brought out hundreds of brides. what was in it for the people who were doing the bringing? >> oh, well, there were a number of different things. that's a great question. many, fame, and love. some, you know, sometimes they wanted the women too. so it was like we all draw lots to see who's going to be the person whosh goes out east to bring back the brides because we're all lonely here and there could be money as well. so i'll go back and organize the bridal expedition and each of you chip in a certain amount of money and then i'll take my fee from it. asa mercer who bricks out the largest group of brides, he winds up -- he's elected president of the new college, he winds up being a state legislate -- -- i peen they love him. if you bring out women to lonely men like you're political career is set.
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so there were lots of incentives do it and not real lfs the only downside would be is if you fail at that time then you're not liked. so if you, you know, say you're going to bring over these women and you ask for month and then you don't really bring aught any, that could be a bad thing. but in most cases they were fairly successful and they didn't have to bring out that many for the men to be quite pleased with them. >> so what's the -- like i'm thinking about women from south america and mexico. so what's the difference between bringing, you know, 50 women from south america in to san francisco, they're not -- i don't know, are they marriageable? i guess i'm thinking about men who brought women in and then just prostituted them and made them dance. how is that different than mail-order brides? >> that's a good question. that's an important question. so i define very specifically mail-order marriage in this book and what a mail order bride is.
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a mail order bride is not a trafficked woman, it is not a prostitute or she is not a prostitute. it is a woman who chooses to immigrate for marriage to marry someone that she doesn't know but of her own volition. knowing that she is going for marriage, she's not tricked -- i mean, if she is tricked into become ache prostitute then she's a trafficked woman. but actually that -- that's a fear that's around, but when a lot -- so in modern mail-order marriage a lot of people worry that the women are trafficked, that they're lied to they're going to be mail-order brides and they turn out not to be. the trafficking tepds to be with lying about jobs. you can come to america, we're going to hire to you work at this sort of thing because mail-order marriage is not a good way to bring over lots of women. it's just hard. you can only sponsor -- one man
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would only sponsor in his lifetime a few, more than one but two, three tops and then that's it. so you'd have to find a lot of men willing to do this to bring over a lot of women. it's a lot easier to set up a fake cleaning company or something and get work permits to bring over women and then wind up trafficking them. so the international trafficking organizations that have looked into this have not found that mail-order marriage is the way that women are trafficked into this country. so if a woman is trafficked, she is not a mail order bride, but my definition. and mail-order brides have to be women who choose to do this. so arranged marriages are also not mail-order marriages. the women have to decide through their own volition that this is something that they want to do. >> so when a woman in the gold
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rush era comes from the east to the west, when and how and who decides the woman's going to be matched with this individual man for the first marriage? >> well, the woman decides who she wants. and what happens is the ship pulls up into the harbor and all the men are there in their sunday best. there's been a run on all the suits, all the barber shops, and all the men are there and some of them have cruder tactics than others. in mining towns some of them just show literally their big gold rocks and propose as the women are walking off the ship. and sometimes that worked. what usually happened, very few women married right await. what they did was she said, hold on, all the men want to marry right away, like immediately that day. and the women said, we're going to settle in, we're going to get
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to know you a little bit, and a lot of them worked for a little while because there was a demand for a lot of these female skills, right, so they worked as seem stresses and teachers getting to know the women, and then they would pick who they wanted to marry. it was up to no one else. and they're promised that in these agreements, that they will not be forced to marry, that they don't have to marry. and once in a while some of them don't marry. almost all of them do, but, you know, a few of these women don't marry and they're never made to. and the men have to convince them that it's in their interest to marry. the women who marry quickly tended to be women so with the mercer brides, the new york times actually embedded a reporter with one of the groups that goes out. so he sends back these dispatches to the east because people are fascinated by the whole thing. and one of the women who marries right away is this, like, 80-year-old woman who marries like a 25-year-old and to her,
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she wants to, you know, obviously she went out there to get married. and, you know, he's got a funny kind of description of her about how pleased she is with her strapping young buck and there's another woman he describes as a harried mother of many young boys, one of whom's neck he nearly wrung on the way over there. so she's a widow with many young children and she needs help the day the ship lands. but most of the 20-year-old women, they wait a little while and then they decide cl man they want to marry and eventually they do. so pretty much all of them marry within a year, but very few of them marry within a month. >> i'm assuming that it became less of an issue or happened less frequently once there was an he'dier mode of transportation for immigrants such as the transcontinental railroad, is that correct? >> it changes so you didn't get these expeditions anymore, but
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you detective actually the golden age of mail-order marriage is after you have the railroad. because now it's even less risky. right. if i have to take, you know, a couple month-long ship ride that also costs a whole lot of money, i'm a little more hesitant. now it's like a three-day train ride and if it didn't work out i can go back home. and some of them do though most of them don't. when they come out there are all these like funny newspaper stories of, you know, he failed to suit. so the woman comes out, she takes one look at him and is like -- but she actually likes wyoming, so she stays because all these other guys are like, hey, you know, stay, we'll, you know, maybe you'll like us. and she's like, okay. so she'll stay even if she doesn't marry him. but there are instances where they just turn around and go back home because it is easier and more affordable. the other part of it is there's the real rise of really the
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classified ads for this. so now have you papers going back and forth, mail going back and forth much easier. so now instead of women getting off ships and seeing the men -- they're still seeing the men for the first time, but they've been in contact with a particular man. so they've put these advertisements in things like the mat moan yl news and coupe pid's arrow and there are tons of them. they're 19th sent trip tinder basically, right. and, you know, they correspond with a particular man and then they good out to meet that man and that's because communication and transportation has gotten so much easier in the second half. 19th century that you actually get many, many more. the other aspect of that is that the civil war, right. so now you have an even greater gender disparity so there are all of these women who have no marital prospects out east because it's not equal anymore. all of these men died. if they want to get married, they have a much better chance if they go west where fewer men
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died in the civil war. so a lot of women really considered in a way they wouldn't have earlier. >> what was the situation on child support? was it your first husband you had children with and you went to another husband? he was expected to support them? >> well, it was a little different than it is today. men had a right to the children, this was something that winds up changing and that could be an issue leaving them. if they were going to enforce that. but part of what's going on in these female friendly western states until they hit parity is that they don't enforce a lot of these laws that favor men. so there's a very interesting case from colonial virginia about a broken engagement, and it's the woman who does the jilting and under the law, she should be in trouble.
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she should be like in a lot of troubling. but no one's willing to convict her of anything because there are so few women and she has this power. so, you virginia legislature kicks it over to england, which hems and haws, and eventually, they do nothing, and then they make a legislative change saying if this happens again, we'll really do something. and then another woman does, and they're like oh, well, say you're sorry in the church and we'll forgive you. because women, by virtue of their scarcity have a power, so even if the law technically would be against them, until you have a situation where the men are not really worried about pleasing the women anymore, those laws such that a man would retain custody of his children probably wouldn't be as enforced. but i have not seen one of those cases where a woman has divorced
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her first mail order husband for another man and there was a custody fight over the children. i think they were just able to take them, but i'm not sure. gooduestn. >> in your research, did you find anything about african-american women? and mail-order brides and the west? >> yes. they were certainly not as numerous. but there were african-american mail-order brides, and there was a group called the busy bee club, which, it was similar to this was out in tucson, i think, where they're worried that the men are getting into trouble because there aren't enough women, so they send back east and bring women over. they're very, very similar in terms of the motivations for what's going on. you have a gender disparity. obviously, you have the race aspect of it, that they can't marry white women who are there,
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but there aren't so many white women either. and what's different is there weren't so many african-american men who -- there was really not the concern of the intermarriage with the native women the way you had with the white men, which was a big factor in why a lot of the governments were trying to support these expeditions. so i looked for that research, and there's some. i wonder if there's more out there that i just wasn't able to find. but certainly, they, you know, there are examples of african-american women coming out as mail-order brides, and they do so for the same reasons. they're convinced that they have better prospects out west, and a lot of it has to do with the situation back east, post-civil war was often not so good, and the west had the possibility of offering more quality.
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>> hi, i was just curious. you were talking about the japane japanese mail-order brides, and i think you said that if they decide they don't marry this guy or they divorce him, they had an independent source of income, and i was just curious. what was that independent source of income for mail-order brides? >> they have to marry them to get off of angel island, so they have to marry them initially. but these traditional female jobs that there weren't women doing. there were innkeepers, marbarma, lawn dresses, and they'd be the ones running these businesses. so they would be the ones getting money. and that enabled them to seek to leave their husbands in a way that a lot of women can't if they feel they are financially dependent on their husbands. even if they don't leave with a lot of money, they have the skills to allow them to leave.
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and they have these businesses that were thriving, because you have these very large japanese communities with very, very few women. and all the men want like a nice, home-cooked meal. and lots of them don't have -- most of them don't have wives. and they want somebody to do their laundry, so they were able to get pretty good wages doing that. >> i want to ask one more. so, with the gold rush, there was, you know, a whole lot of people from a whole lot of different places, a lot of different cultures, ethnicities, whatnot. did the mail-bride business sort of follow the same thing? or was there a lot of mixing? say, somebody from spain would marry somebody from south carolina? >> most of the women who came over to the, through these western expeditions were
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american-born. they were eastern native women. the men they married hey not all have been. that's an interesting question. i've never really noticed that or the backgrounds of the men, they were, you know, the 49ers and other people who had, but some of them certainly might have been people coming from europe or other places like that. the women less so. you don't get the european mail-order brides, again, until you start getting the 1921 national origins act, the 1924 q quota act. because one of those things that those laws do is makes it almost impossible for single women to emigrate to america because you need men to sponsor you. there are all these horrible stories of women i've been on my
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own for 20 years as a seamstress making my own money, and it's not going to be a problem, and they're like, yeah, you need a guy, and they're sent back. because they're seen to be a likely public charge. and we're going to hear this term again. we're starting to, about, you know, poor people using our services. this is not a new idea. so they were very concerned about letting in poor immigrants who would then need state support and single well were just -- women were just automatically assumed to need state support. so if you wanted to come to america, your best chance was through mail-order marriage. that's where you start getting a lot of these mail-order brides. before that, they came over by themselves. if everything's equal, people don't choose mail-order marriage. today people choose mail-order marriage because it's not so easy to come to this country. the best way, the easiest way is
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to marry a citizen. it puts you at the top of the list. if it didn't come to the top of the les i donist i don't think any mail-order brides. >> i am curious about the woman who listed her attributes. did she get any takers? >> i wish i knew. i have researched her so much. i want to know what happened to her, and i don't. i wish i did. i, i bet she did. you know, you don't put that in there unless you think that you have a shot. and you see this, i have a whole chapter on the rise of matrimonial ads and the difference between the male ads and the female ads. and the male ads are all thens th -- things they want the women to do, like i need someone to cook my food and wash my clothes and take care of my cows or
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whatever, and the women's are little, making it clear that they don't just want to be some sort of drudge. i'll come out there, but i'm valuable, and you need to recognize it. and i'm doing this because i want to increase my marital prospects. especially as we get into the later 19th century. they can marry on the east coast. there are people they can marry. but for various reasons, they may not have found someone that they like so much. so, what does this do? it expands their options. maybe someone out there will like me better. there's a panic about surplus women, so the surplus women scare is the idea that there are too many single women. and, you know, what are we going to do with them? they're ruining -- it comes mostly from britain, but we have this on the east coast as well. all these government officials are freaking out that there are
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all these unmarried women. this is a problem. we need to do something about them. if you are living in a society that calls you a surplus woman, like maybe you want to go somewhere that doesn't call you a surplus woman, that actually like wants you, and when you get off the boat they're all excited and happy, hurrah, you know, so that's what goes on a lot as well. in england, there are these women's rights societies that actually set up immigration programs, because they realize that women's rights in england are just not happening so quickly. and that the best thing for a lot of women is to physically move. from britain, which does not appreciate them, to -- they go to british columbia, which has a very similar history to we have in california and the northwest. there's a whole issue there also
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because they need women because the americans are crossing the border and are going to annex british columbia, and they want them to cross the border, but they want them to be canadian. so they, you know, they're like, these americans won't stay here if they're no women, so we need to bring over women and the men will stay. so there are all these political implications as well, you know, about making sure that you have enough of a population, in this case, to like fight off an american invasion. so, it's, it's an interesting history. anyone else? >> i just love this stuff. so what about the mormon women? i want to throw that out there. i don't know if that's completely separate or -- >> family groups. i didn't see any mormon mail-order brides, and i think it's because they traveled together. within of the thin
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one of the things you see in the colonial period, you don't have mail-order brides in the northeast, because the northeast colonists are the religious refugees. so the puritans went with their women. they traveled in groups. so you didn't have the gender disparity. in the southern colonies which were plantations, cash crops. they were men who came over to make their fortunes, and they didn't bring women very much, especially when it became clear that things were terrible. things were terrible in the northeast as well, but, you know, when you're getting persecuted and potentially killed, they're still better. so the puritans are coming in family groups. in virginia and georgia and south carolina, they're not, the well co women come, the first group come, they think it's awful, they starve, there are indian raids. they leave, and the reputation of what's going on in the southern colonies gets back to england and no women want to come anymore.
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so it was just different for that reason. i think the mormons were like that, too. sense th since they moved in family groups, you never got a situation where you had lots of large groups of men without women. you have that problem now, if each man gets a couple women, then we have problems. it may not be fair, but it's actually problematic, there are all these stories about kicking boys out of community so you can have -- i mean, if you have a 50/50 birthrate, and some men who have ten wives and some men who don't have any, then you need to get rid of those men. that's separate. i also teach family law. >> so there was a pod cast on npr that talked about the need for multiple women in houses such as polygamy for like ranching and doing stuff like that. in california, was that really needed during the gold rush, because there was less of that
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ranch base of oh, go out and take care of cattle, but the men were out hunting for fold. was that polygamy still a thing for mail-order brides? people were like, i already have two, but let me get one more? >> there was no polygamy at this time, you were lucky if you got one. maybe in the mormon communities, but mail-order brides would not have been in a polygamist relationship, because they had the power, right? so what's interesting that happens over and over again is mail-order brides are able to negotiate for a better deal than their counterparts either back home in different places. so the fee due raw, which are the mail-order brides in the french colonies are way better than what the french women back home would have had. they are getting promises to do or not do certain things, and
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they have more choice over the men. and there are all these laws. so i was asked earlier if the women were ever forced to marry. no. but sometimes the men were. so in new france, if you did not marry, when you had the opportunity, so, if you just wanted to be a bachelor, then you lost all of your hunting rights. because the government wanted everyone to get married, but they knew they couldn't force the women. the women you needed to treat well. the men, you could actually start fining and punishing if they did not step up and, you know, do their duty. to, you know, populate the colony, because one of the things with new france as well was that the french king didn't really want to bring over so many immigrants or, you know, he didn't want to depopulate france for new france. so he decided that we're going to grow the colony through natural means.
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so it meant that, okay, we're going to bring over these women, but you better marry them, and you better have a lot of children with them. and actually, they really did. if anyone's here french canadian, you're probably related to the fee deraw. 80% is descended from these 800 women. i mean, they were, they were having babies. that's chapter two. any others? >> well, i'm the descend ntant a picture bride. this would be my italian grandmother came to new mexico and married my spanish great grandfather. they sent the money to bring her back. who paid for transportation in the california bride system?
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>> well, that was one of the reasons why farnum's plan worked. they didn't have a way to pay for it and it was very, very expensive. later on when we had the railroads, it was the men who paid to bring them out, like the mercer brides, the men took up a collection and mercer went back and chartered a ship and the well had free passage. usually in order to have a successful mail-order bride program, the men needed to pay the way for the women. and even today, if you look at modern mail-order marriage, the men typically are paying, not only paying for the women to come over, but there are certain financial requirements. they need to have a certain amount of income under u.s. hla before they're allowed to sponsor a mail-order bride to
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make sure that, you know, it's to protect the women. we have a lot of laws that currently protect mail-order brides, to make sure they're marrying someone who as a decent financial situation. but yes, there were a lot of italian mail-order brides. what year would this have been? oh, a really long time ago. okay. because i was going to say, italians were also caught up in these quota acts. so a lot of them couldn't come over because italians, eastern europeans, they were all limited to their, like census numbers from 1880. so yours came over really early. and it worked, right? >> a million kids. >> a million kids. >> in fact, the pedronchile has a winery in california. it started in new mexico. >> i have heard about quite a
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few descendants of picture brides. but statistically speaking, modern mail-order marriages are slightly more successful than the modern american marriage. i have theories for why this is. but the short answer, i think, is that mail-order marriages, you know what you're getting. you now what the benefit of that maternal i marriage is. and as long as both people keep their end of the deal you have no reason to end the marriage. one of the reasons we don't like mail-order marriage today is it seems anti-threat cal of our concept of the love match. you'
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you're marrying for something. marriage based on passion, when the passion goes away, a lot of times people leave each other looking for the next passion. but if you're marrying for stability and financial reasons and, you know, you have someone to take care of the home and do those things, as long as the people are still doing that, you know, there's no reason for the maternal to end. now i'm getting some faces. can love happen in these faces? yes, definitely. one of the quotes that i end the last chapter with, so the interviewer, there's an interviewer asking a mail-order bride from ukraine whether or not she loves her husband. and show's like, love, love, i wasn't thinking about love when i, you know, when i was in ukraine. i was thinking about, do i have enough bread to feed my child, and then he goes, but how could i not love a man who's been so good to me and himy daughter? love is not usually the reason these weomen start with these
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marriages, but if they're treated well, and they're happy in them, there's no reason why love can't come after. thank you all so much. [ applause ] this weekend on american history tv on c-span 3, saturday, at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures in history. jeffrey johnson on the 1916 bombing at san francisco's preparedness day parade, the worst act of terrorism in san francisco history. >> what happened next, just after 2:00 p.m. about a half hour into the parade, the local press would deem one of the most pathetic results of the explosion and the parade. >> and at 10:00, on real america, the 1915 film, "on the
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firing line" with the germans. >> you sigh a pipe, he's loading film in his camera, that's what i think he's doing. and watch thefy the guy there, t got hit. >> sunday at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts, we go to philadelphia. >> inside what we have is a fine arts exhibit where we include portraits from the early 18th and 19th century to tell the story of what it was like to live in 18th century america. the world that those people knew and the world that the revolution built. >> and at 8:00 p.m. they talk about the differences between washington and jefferson. >> washington is a horse whisperer. he is a person of volcanic temperament, but he learns early on to control himself. he learns horse mastery. and he's the horse whisperer who tames the very skittish alex
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andale alexander hamilton. >> go to c-span.org. now on american history tv's lectures in history, tracy lucht on women journalists in the late 18th and 19th centuries. we'll hear about nellie bly and dorthea dix. good morning. thank you for being here today. today's lecture is about american women journalists of the late 19th century. this is my absolute favorite thing to talk about as

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