'Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America

By Frances Smith Foster | Go to book overview

FOUR
RIGHTS AND RITUALS
MARRIED.In this city, on Thursday evening 27th ult. by the Rev. Mr.
Parois, Mr. BENJAMIN MERMIER, of Philadelphia, to Miss
ANNA BELLEVU, of St. Pierre, Martinique.
In St. Phillip’s Church, on Wednesday, 2nd inst. By the Rev.
Peter Williams, Mr. ANDREW WILLIAMS, of Salem, Mass. To
Miss JULIA SEABRE, of this city.
In this city, on the 31st ult. By the Rev. S. E. Cornish, Mr. JOHN
W. FREEMAN, to Miss DIANA THOMPSON.

—Freedom’s Journal, January 11, 1828

These announcements were published together in one issue of one antebellum African American newspaper. They represent countless other published advertisements and marriage banns announced in churches. Each outlines a personal story and represents communal ones. The Bellevu-Mermier merger joins the diasporic. She is from Martinique, while he is “of” the United States. Their names, as well as the minister’s, suggest a Francophone heritage. They were probably bilingual. The Seabre-Williams wedding unites residents from neighboring states. The bride was “of this city.” These two announcements remind us that African America was national as well as international. Long-distance transportation in the early nineteenth century was rudimentary, and telephones, telegraphs, and text-messaging did not exist, but African American communities were not necessarily insular. The third ad represents another

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