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1884 __ Marriage by telegraph
Comment : “Whatever may be its advantages, marriage by telegraph is not always safe. The truth of this has just been learned by sad experience by a widow lady who married by telegraph a man whom she had never seen, but whom she believed, on the faith of his letters, to be a leading citizen of his particular town. Some time after the wedding the bride met her husband, and was greatly disappointed to find that he was a mulatto barber with a firm dertermination to abandon shavin and professional conversation and to live exclusively on his wife's money. Marriage by telegraph was doubtless invented by some woman who was without a wedding dress and who was unwilling to postpone marriage until she could obtain one. She thought that, if she stood at one end of a telegraph wire and her intended husband stood at the other end in company with a Methodist minister, she could answer the minister's questions, receive his benediction, and thus find herself a wife, without attracting attention to her shabby dress and her last year's bonnet. When a woman holding these views finds a man willing to marry her on condition that he need not trouble himself to call on her until such time as he may find it perfectly convenient a marriage by telegraph is arranged. No harm would come of such a marriage ceremony were the participants to remain apart forever, but when the pair undertake to live together the situation becomes a very undesirable one. No telegraphic marriage has yet been brought before a court decision as to its validity. Such marriages have been confined to the Western States, where it is so easy to get a divorce that no dissatisfied husband or wife ever takes the trouble to have a marriage set aside on the ground that it was illegal. There can be no doubt, however, that no man residing in, say, Chicago, can be married to a woman in, say, Cincinnati, by simply using the telegraph wire in the presence of some variety of reckless minister. If an agreement to marry when made by telegraph constitutes a legal marriage people can be married by letter as well as by telegraph. If a man and a woman write to a minister that they desire to be married, and if the minister.after receiving his fee.writes them a certificate that they are married, the marriage is at least as good as a telegraphic marriage. The bride and the groom are in neither case present in the sense in which a bride and groom must be present in order to enter into a valid marriage contract in the presence of a minister. The marriage would be quite as good were the minister to marry the groom in January and the bride three months later. As to the ministers who lend themselves to such a marriage by telegraph, they certainly deserve the attention of a Grand Jury, since they are lending their aid to enable foolish people to live in a state of concubinage, and are therefore accessories before the fact.”. (The New York Times, published in October 11, 1884)
Urls : http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9400EFDE1038E033A25752C1A9669D94659FD7CF (last visited )

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