chapter  6
15 Pages

‘Companions in Labor’

Same-sex marriage and the romantic ideal in the early United States
WithRachel Hope Cleves

The same-sex union of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, who lived together in Vermont from 1807 to 1851, opens a window onto the increasing emphasis on affection within American marriages during the first half of the nineteenth century. Bryant and Drake’s parental generation emphasized considerations of property and character in their marital choices. But Bryant and Drake were at the forefront of a shift within the family towards framing marital choices around shared affection. Ultimately, Bryant and Drake used the new valuation of affection to push back on religious injunctions against same-sex love.