From a case on the validity of “marriage settlements” (which appear to be protective trusts established for married women):
If the law shall declare all marriage settlements to be void on the foot of public policy, and for the sake of domestic happiness, be it so. But if they are lawful, all we ask for is that their provisions be strictly enforced, and that the helpless feme covert shall be protected from the arts, the frowns and the kisses of her husband and his greedy unfeeling creditors. The argument that “these settlements are likely to produce perpetual feuds and contentions,” seems to be more specious than solid. In most cases, the seeds of that rebellious spirit which the wife, having a separate property, may manifest towards her husband, are sown long before the period of marriage. This spirit may be traced back, in most instances, to a defective early training, to the indulgence of bad propensities in infancy and youth; not to the simple and single fact that the feme covert has an income for herself and children, independent of the effects and fortune of her husband. In the faithful discharge of the duties of that mysterious connection called marriage, the weaker sex may proudly challenge competition with the stronger. All experience teaches us that, in devotion to the interests of their husbands and their children, in tenderness, patience under calamity, in disinterestedness, they are wholly without rivals in the opposite sex....
This is an age of enterprise, of bold, reckless speculation, of refinement and increasing luxury. There are cases of frequent occurrence, in which it is the duty of an affectionate parent to place at least a portion of his means beyond the control of his daughter's husband, and even the daughter herself, to save her from the improvidence, the immorality, even the kind hearted-ness of the man to whom she is united; for it often happens in this country, that men are ruined by their responsibility for others, prompted not by interest, but sheer good feeling.
It seems to be a mere fancy to suppose that the affections and feelings of nature in the marriage state are to be extinguished by the provisions of a marriage settlement, when we have continually such overwhelming proofs of their irresistible power, in the generous devotion of American wives and mothers! It is to avoid the effects of this devotion, that we contend for a literal execution of the provisions of these settlements. By the forecast of a father, provision is made for a daughter, that she may be protected from the vicissitudes and calamities to which her husband, engaged in commerce, in deep speculation in stocks, in banking, in the purchase of land or other real estate, is forever liable. The husband rouses the sympathies of his wife by a detail of his distresses; instead of going to the trustee, he appeals to her, the wife of his bosom and the mother of his children; her affections surrender up that which her judgment strongly condemns. It is gravely demanded of a court of equity to confirm that which has been yielded up by a powerless and suffering female. Let the rules of the court be inflexible upon this subject, and all difficulties will vanish.
Morgan v. Elam, 12 Tenn. 375, 1833 WL 1111 **17-18 (1833).
You’ll all recall Martyn Neale, Freespace’s officialidiot, who, not satisfied with parading his glaring stupidity for you all to see, has treated me to a stream of abusive email which I long ago started deleting unread. Well, I’m glad to see that Mr. Neale has started his own weblog. I highly recommend what is sure to be a site full of unintended self-parody, and a constant source of embarrassment to serious leftists.