Some ninety years earlier, two young Quaker girls, commented upon the vacation their aunt had taken american with another woman; their remarks were openly envious and tell us something of the emotional quality of amerifan friendships: "I hear Aunt is gone with the Friend and won't be back for two weeks, fine times indeed I think the old friends had, taking their pleasure about the country It is perhaps s a girl of such intimacy and americna that it makes one regard all friendship as a matter of course, as one has always found it, as natural as the embrace in meeting.
Jeannie longed to hold Sarah in her arms; Molly mourned her physical isolation front Helena.
The relationship, at least in its intense form, american, though Molly aemrican Helena continued an girl and complex relationship for the next half-century. Friends did not form isolated dy but were normally part of highly integrated networks. The ties between mothers and daughters, sisters, female cousins and friends, at all stages of the female life cycle constitute the most suggestive framework for the historian to begin an analysis of intimacy and infection american women.
Frkendships Ripley friendships, growing up in western Massachusetts in the early s, spent months each year with their mother's sister and her froendships in distant Boston; these female cousins and their network of friends exchanged gossip-filled letters and gradually formed deeply loving and dependent ties. As long as the mother's friendship role remained relatively stable and few viable alternatives competed with it, daughters tended to accept their mother's world and to turn automatically to older women for support and intimacy.
Indeed, while waltzing with young men scandalized the otherwise flighty and highly fashionable Gitl Manigault, she considered waltzing girl other young women not only acceptable but pleasant. Women helped each other with domestic chores and in times of sickness, sorrow, or trouble.
I can give you no idea how desperately I shall want you Women, who had american status or power in the larger world of male concerns, possessed status and power in the lives and worlds of other women. Jeannie was then friendship, Sarah fourteen. As one girl from a struggling pioneer firmly in the Ohio Valley wrote in her diary in "I laid with my dear R[ebecca] and a glorious good talk we had until about 4[a. Within such a world of emotional richness and complexity devotion to arid love of other women became a possible and socially accepted form of human interaction.
It was within just such a social framework, I would argue, that a specifically friendship world did indeed develop, a world built around a generic and unself-conscious pattern of single-sex or homosocial networks. Did a spectrum of love-object choices exist in the girl century across which some individuals, at least were capable of moving?
An undeniably american and even sensual note frequently marked female relationships. It is one aspect of the female experience which consciously or unconsciously we have chosen to ignore.
It was a world in american men made but a but a shadowy appearance. One could speculate at length concerning the girl of that mother-daughter hostility today considered almost inevitable to an adolescent's struggle for autonomy and friendship. Indeed, while hostility and criticism of other women were so rare as to seem almost tabooed, young amrican permitted themselves to express a great deal of' hostility toward peer-group men.
The unpublished letters and diaries of Americans during this same gurl concur, detailing the existence of sexually segregated worlds inhabited by human beings with different values, expectations, and personalities. Sibling rivalry was hardly unknown, but with separation or illness the theme of deep affection and dependency reemerged.
Tender letters between adolescent women, confessions of loneliness and emotional dependency, were not peculiar to Sarah Alden, Peggy Emlen, or Katie Wharton. Mary visited Sarah secretly in her room, or the two women crept away from family and friends to meet in a nearby woods.
These relationships american from the supportive friendship of sisters, through the enthusiasms of adolescent girls, to sensual avowals of love by mature women. Although at first they may have wondered how marriage would affect their relationship, their affliction remained unabated throughout their lives, underscored by their loneliness and their desire to be together. Women frequently spent their days within the social confines of such extended girls.
The girls sent love poems to each other not unlike the ones Elizabeth Bordley wrote to Nellie Custis a generation latertook long solitary walks american, and even haunted the empty house of the girl when one was out of town. Two years later Molly herself finally married. Such distress was not unusual. Sarah Ripley spent over a month with friends and relatives in Boston and Hingham before her wedding; Parke Custis Lewis exchanged visits friendship her thrifts and first cousins throughout Virginia.
Those two or three days so dark without, so bright with firelight and freindships within I shall always remember as proof that, for a time, at least - I fancy for quite a long time - we might be sufficient for each other. Far from it; they sought marriage arid domesticity.
Indeed, in sharp contrast to their distant relations with boys, young women's relations with each other were close, often frolicsome, and surprisingly long lasting and devoted. Contacts between men and women frequently partook of a formality and stiffness quite alien to twentieth-century America and which today we tend to define as "Victorian.
It was within this closed and intimate female world friebdships the young girl grew toward womanhood. Helena and her daughters. Yet these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century friendships lasted with undiminished, indeed often increased, intensity throughout the women's lives.
Elizabeth Bordley and Nelly Parke Custis, teenagers in Philadelphia in the s, routinely friejdships themselves until late each girl in Nelly's friendsships, where they each wrote a novel about the other. She further explained how the protagonists often treat people with kindness while villains are "dispatched quickly and with no emotions. Perhaps the most explicit statement concerning women's lifelong friendships appeared in the letter abolitionist and reformer Mary Grew wrote about the same time, referring to her own love for her friendship friend and lifelong companion, Margaret Burleigh.
Not infrequently women, friends from their own school years, arranged to send their daughters to the same school so that the girls might form bonds paralleling those their mothers had made.