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You will not have a hard time looking around the page. However, there are ads around the place. To make sure that the ads are getting rid of, you need to have the paid subscription. There is a stream feature in your account, almost like the way how Facebook adjusts is a news feed. These doctrinal sites-the heartbalm actions of seduction and breach of promise to marry, common-law marriage, and dower-benefited many women by granting them an impressive set of powerful rights and entitlements precisely by positioning them into legally recognized relationships to marriage.

In a legal system characterized by male privilege and prerogative, each of these doctrinal areas offered women powerful tools to acquire individual men's financial resources. In the antebellum era, after all, the very right to marry, or plausibly to make a legal claim to marriage's shadow, marked white women as citizens in sharp contradistinction to slave women, who were explicitly excluded from the privileges and protections of marriage law. Moreover, by bringing women within marriage's normative domain, the assumptions about women's intimate identities underlying heartbalm actions, common-law marriage, and dower undoubtedly vindicated the subjective experiences of many unmarried women.

No doubt, many women longed to live in marriage's emotional, social, and ideological shadow. Some women who brought actions for breach of promise to marry had truly thought of themselves as wives-to-be, and felt entitled to compensation for their lost expectations and dreams.

Similarly, some women who brought common-law marriage claims genuinely considered themselves wives within traditional marriages and were shocked-upon the death or disappearance of their husbands-to learn that their relationships were not legally recognized.

And, without question, some widows continued to identify themselves, emotionally and socially, as the wives of their deceased husbands. Just as surely, though, other women had conceived of their intimate lives in radically different terms, deliberately choosing not to marry or feeling liberated by their release from wifehood.

Regardless of women's particular subjective experiences, by bringing single women within marriage's normative framework, the laws anchoring marriage's shadow performed substantial ideological work that served the interests of a legal system committed to marriage's ability to define all forms of intimate identity and gender relations.

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First, these doctrinal areas bolstered the view that only marital relationships-now broadly defined to include both formal marriages and many other marriage-like relationships-were worthy of legal recognition.

This message had powerful consequences for women seeking financial support, the group that made up the plaintiff class in these actions. In order to gain legal rights as a member of a relationship, these legal doctrines implicitly told women that they had to present their nonmarital relationship as marriage-like. Second, by narrowing the field of plausible legal claims, these areas of the law rendered legally invisible a woman's decision to live completely outside of marriage's normative structure, implicitly denying the possibility that couples wished to conduct their intimate relations in a social world completely apart from marriage.

At the very least, these laws precluded women from acknowledging any such intent if they wanted to invoke the protections of the law. Through these legal rules, therefore, the law pulled single women into the confines of marriage, at least if they wanted the law to recognize them as rights-bearing members of intimate relationships.

These actions, in other words, defined the boundaries of the law's concept of intimacy as coterminous with marriage's boundaries. In so doing, they denied the possibility of women's unbounded intimate imaginations, and thus their diverse intimate identities. Finally, the legal rules responsible for casting broadly the reach of marriage's shadow played a critical role that was at once economic and ideological: They sought to contain the economic dependencies of many unmarried women within the conventional framework of marriage.

As Martha Fineman has analyzed, legislators have long imagined that marriage serves the critical social and political function of attaching dependent women to provider men, thereby creating "the mechanism through which we can avoid assuming collective or state-assumed responsibility for dependent members of our society. Thus, formally unmarried women could make claims on the financial resources of particular men only by legally situating their relationships within marriage's shadow.

No longer formally internal to marriage, widows nonetheless derived their social and legal status from what lawmakers perceived to be their proximate relationship to marriage.

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In defining and redefining widows' rights, judges and legislators ossified the link between this group of unmarried women and the institution of marriage, stretching the meaning of marriage as well as its regulatory powers in ways that fortified marriage's dominion over not only widows, but also other groups of women living outside of formal marriage. The Legal Rights of Widows Dower constituted "the core of the wife's entitlement under the old common law system.

A woman's dower rights were deemed inchoate while her husband was alive, and, even after his death, her life estate precluded her from selling her interest in her share of her husband's land or even, in many states, improving the land in productive ways lest she run afoul of the common-law doctrine of waste.

At common law, a husband acquired a right to the rents, profits, use, and enjoyment of any of his wife's property. Women generally depended on their husbands for financial support during marriage to a far greater extent than men depended on their wives.

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Likewise, widows depended on their deceased husbands' property for support in a way that widowers, in general, did not depend on their deceased wives' estates.

In addition to dower, a widow was entitled at common law to her "paraphernalia," that is "her beds and clothing, suitable to her condition in life. In New York, for example, a widow was entitled to possess items seemingly considered constitutive of a woman's place in the home, including, for example, spinning wheels, weaving looms, stoves, the family Bible, family pictures, beds, silverware, and one teapot.

Dower, after all, constituted a floor, not a ceiling. As he saw fit, a man with means could always provide for his widow more generously by will.

In either case, under the common law, a widow was entitled to claim her dower rights. The Effects of Dower If dower often guaranteed a woman little concrete financial protection upon her husband's death, a wife's inchoate dower rights nonetheless had three significant effects, each of which contributed to the legal construction of men's and women's distinct roles within marriage, as well as the ideological foundations of the private family within the public order: 57 Dower altered the value of a husband's real property during his lifetime; limited a husband's testamentary freedom; and stretd coverture's sociolegal framework so that it read women living outside of marriage, that is, widows.

Dower, Land Transfers, and the Blurring of Separate Spheres Dower had its most easily recognizable impact on land values and transferability.

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By attaching to all real property that a man owned at any time during his marriage, even land that he sold, dower had the potential to diminish greatly the attractiveness of a married man's property to potential buyers.

By constraining the transferability of men's land, however, dower reflected the deep contradictions inherent in separate-spheres ideology, as well as the blurry, permeable boundary between the so-called private and public spheres. On the one hand, a wife's inchoate dower rights bolstered her conventional position as a dependent of her husband's economic largess, offering her little significant compensation for the vast loss of property and economic rights she experienced upon entering a marriage and, thus, the legal framework of coverture.

On the other hand, a wife's inchoate dower rights necessarily inserted her into her husband's market dealings over his real property, and even granted her some considerable potential ability to thwart his desired sales. In this respect, through dower, the common law itself-the origin of coverture, the core legal instantiation of separate spheres-imported wives into the public sphere of the marketplace and made them necessary players in men's economic transactions.

In practice, after all, dower's doctrinal machinations threatened to separate a woman from her home by force if her dower rights were not settled by the time her so-called quarantine period ended.

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Dower therefore undermined the basic tenets of separate-spheres ideology by suggesting that the "woman's sphere" of the home was as thoroughly interlaced with men's economic rights as the "men's sphere" of the market was entangled with women's family roles. Dower and Testamentary Freedom If dower's effects on land sales challenged a husband's absolute economic control of his family's interactions with the market, dower's limiting effects on a husband's testamentary freedom constituted yet a further incursion into cultural understandings of white, middle-class masculinity.

In this respect, dower again played a role that was at once economic and ideological by simultaneously constraining a married man's concrete ability to dispose of his property and also by circumscribing male freedom and property rights in light of the relationship between the private family and the state. By guaranteeing even a modest amount to widows, dower constituted a formal ck on husbands' absolute testamentary freedom.

The power of disposition is felt psychologically to constitute an essential element of power over property. Even if a man wrote his wife out of his will, dower wrote her back into his estate. As such, dower marked the nexus where competing visions of masculinity collided: the head of household as unconstrained master of his property, on the one hand, and the head of household as the compelled provider for his dependent wife, on the other.

When these male roles came into conflict-that is, when female support clashed with male control-dower powerfully dictated which role would triumph. The law guaranteed men would provide for their dependent women even if it limited their generally unconstrained decisional autonomy over their property and matters of resource allocation within their families.

Dower and Marriage's Shadow If a wife's inchoate inheritance rights during her husband's lifetime contributed to the complex sociolegal construction of white, middle-class masculinity as at once powerful and constrained within marriage, a widow's dower rights played an additional ideological role as well, thereby defining femininity as surely as they defined masculinity.

Dower extended the normative structure of coverture beyond the end of a marriage. By perpetuating the wifely synthesis of protection and dependency, dower preserved a woman's socioeconomic and cultural status as a wife even beyond her husband's death. Just as marriage, at least in theory, privatized women's economic needs within the family, so too dower, in theory, provided for a widow's dependencies within that very same marriage framework. Dower, in other words, sought to protect the public fisc from widows' financial demands just as coverture aimed to protect the public from wives' financial demands.

Therefore, even as the law sought to preserve her wifely identity, a widow clearly constituted a feme sole, that is, a "woman alone. As such, the law of dower both constructed and reinforced the larger social identity of a widow as a wife-a woman internal to the institution of marriage as opposed to a single woman outside of that privileged relation-despite the fact that, like other single women, a widow had no husband.

Dower thus located widows in the legal shadow of marriage, creating the expectation-one generally accepted as common sense-that a widow's legal rights would be defined in relation to her no-longer-existent marriage to her deceased husband and that her financial demands would be met by him.

The Standard Story of Dower's Demise Dower's dominance as the legal framework for widow's rights receded gradually over the course of the nineteenth century. As Linda Kerber has shown, immediately after the Revolution, some states began "free[ing] women's dower claims from their traditional protections. Despite this clear trend away from dower, surveying the array of reforms implemented by different states, Vernier noted his "feeling of disgust for the slipshod methods of lawmakers" confronted with the project of dower reform.

In no field is there more evidence of haphazard, fragmentary legislation. As Blackstone and many others after him bemoaned, "[T]he claim of the wife to her dower at the common law diffusing itself so extensively, it became a great clog to alienations. In New York, for example, between and the years leading up to dower's demise-a total of only nine actions were brought to admeasure dower. According to the traditional story, land and economic development, not widows, captured the attention of commentators concerned with dower.

Legal change occurred, in this account, because men wanted to develop their land, not because women contested dower's effects or its construction of the marriage relationship and the private family. It is thus generally assumed that dower's abolition both wrought and reflected a dramatic transformation in the legal and social regulation of property, but not in the meaning of widowhood or women's place within the family.

As one scholar has observed, perfectly capturing the moral of the standard tale of dower, "Dower was abolished because it was a clog on transactions and was replaced largely by rights against the deceased husband's will. Consequently, it did not have the same powerful redistributional and status-changing significance as did the married women's property acts. Woman's Rights Activists' Attack on Dower A more robust story, however, can be told about dower's demise.

This story broadens its focus to include not only altered social and legal conceptions of property, but also contested understandings of widowhood, marriage, and equality between the sexes.

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A quick preview of dower's demise in New York 97 -specifically, a brief glimpse ahead to the ceremony marking its legal end-immediately suggests that women's activism and debates about sex equality, absent as they are from the current legal history of dower, must constitute a part of any full account of dower's decline.

Fearon, thereby revising New York's inheritance law. In their place, section 18 of New York's new law replaced these common-law relics with the predominant modern inheritance legal regime: a gender-neutral "elective" or "forced" share.

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Under such a law, a wife who is left out of her husband's will can "elect" to inherit a fixed portion of his estate as though he had died intestate, thereby "forcing" him to provide posthumously for her support. As members of the press and photographers crowded around him, Roosevelt suspended a hearing in progress on another legislative matter to affix ceremoniously his signature to this so-called "new charter. To understand how Roosevelt, Leach, and Kenyon all came to see the abolition of dower as a part of an emerging women's rights legislative agenda requires a foray into the history of the nineteenth-century woman's rights movement and its now-forgotten assault on dower and the common law of inheritance.

In turn, the history of nineteenth-century woman's rights activists' critiques of dower frames the critical questions that we should ask of the twentieth-century legislation: What is the meaning of sex equality within marriage, and how do laws regulating the rights of women outside of formal marriage define legal notions of equality within the family, as well as the relationship between the family and the state?

Dower and the Suffrage Movement Surprisingly, social and legal historians of the American family have paid scant attention to dower and the ways in which inheritance law has governed women's lives, family choices, and relationships to marriage and the state. But like laws regulating courtship, marriage, divorce, contraception, abortion, and child custody-all subjects that have received extensive attention in the last two decades from legally minded historians-dower and inheritance law have been critical legal sites for defining the institution of marriage, as well as women's social roles and legal rights within and outside the family.

A revitalized account of dower and its demise thus must begin with the recognition that Blackstone and other like-minded legal commentators were not alone in critiquing the institution of dower; nineteenth-century woman's rights activists also offered their own distinct critiques of the common-law inheritance system. The extent of these women reformers' critiques of dower and dower's role in the legal agenda of the nineteenth-century woman's rights movement should not be exaggerated.

Dower hardly constituted the primary target of these reformers' efforts. As participants in the woman suffrage movement, these activists sought, first and foremost, women's formal political inclusion in public life through the franchise.

As historians have documented, though, suffrage activists understood marital status laws and family law generally as key parts of the political and legal system that constituted them as less than full citizens.

I offer these argument fragments not to prove that dower in and of itself constituted a core grievance of the nineteenth-century woman's rights movement, but rather as the conceptual and intellectual antecedents for the later debates over the abolition of dower in New York and, particularly, for later feminist efforts to reform dower and the underlying structure of inheritance law in the pursuit of sex equality.

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Leaders of the woman's rights movement, of course, approad dower-as they approad all issues-from their position of relative class and race privilege. Recognizing their privilege and its attendant notions of entitlement and self-interest, however, should not obscure the perspicacity with which these reformers built a sex-equality agenda that included a critique of dower and inheritance law, marshaling evidence of widows' economic needs as support for their equal rights platform.

As their somewhat sporadic discussions of inheritance law reveal, nineteenth-century woman's rights activists offered two principal arguments against dower, both related to their larger critiques of marital status law, and both grounded in the recognition that inheritance law constructed the family and family roles. First, woman's rights activists offered a formal sex-equality argument based on the doctrinal differences between dower and curtesy, and, second, they argued that the common law of inheritance functioned as an orstrated assault on the private family and, especially, on the family home.

Read alongside one another, these arguments reveal a deep tension within woman's rights activists' reformist vision of the relationship between the law and the family, as well as a significant ambiguity in the meaning of equality within marriage.

Their critiques of dower suggest that these reformers at once envisioned a dramatic transformation of the family-in which principles of sex equality would be imported into the marriage relationship-and simultaneously clung to a traditional vision of the private family and of women's entitlements within a family shielded from the law's intrusion.

As Part IV will demonstrate, this uneasy synthesis foreshadowed the tensions inherent in the approach that New York's lawmakers would eventually adopt in choosing the broad language of sex equality to abolish the formal inequality of dower and curtesy while simultaneously protecting the fundamental structure of the private family with its traditional, gendered understandings of dependency.

Understanding dower reform in New York, however-especially its feminist component-first requires a look back to the pre- "feminist" days of the second half of the nineteenth century when suffragists created the first organized American movement for sex equality and, in so doing, challenged basic understandings of the relationship among women, the family, and the state.

The Equality Argument Against Dower No nineteenth-century woman reformer offered a fiercer argument for sex equality within inheritance law than Marietta Stow, perhaps the lone woman's rights activist who focused more intently on inheritance law than on suffrage.

Stow publicly shared her tale-or, as she called it, her "casus belli"-in print and in numerous spees across the country. Before his death, however, and in her absence, he was forced through undue influence to appoint as executors of his estate men who drove the estate into insolvency, thereby ating Stow of substantial amounts of money.

She grounded her critique of inheritance law, therefore, on the broader argument that "[w]omen should have the same protection in marriage as men. Like Stow, leading members of the nineteenth-century woman's rights movement-including, for example, such prominent suffrage activists as Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton-understood a critique of dower as integrally related to their larger critique of marriage's role in preserving women's unequal status.

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They understood, in other words, the reach and import of marriage's shadow, as well as the ways in which marriage's periphery defined its core: that the law's regrettable treatment of widows reflected the basic framework of marriage law and, moreover, that inheritance law reform had the potential to reform the institution of marriage itself.

When Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell married infor example, they famously signed a contract denouncing the traditional male prerogatives and female disabilities that attad to legal marriage.

Among the core offenses inherent in coverture, Stone and Blackwell decried the "laws which give to the widower so much larger and more permanent an interest in the property of his deceased wife, than they give to the widow in that of the deceased husband.

In her very brief comments closing the woman's rights convention, Stone singled out only three quintessential examples of "distinctions which are made on account of sex [that] are so utterly without reason, that a mere statement of them ought to be sufficient to secure their immediate correction. Or why woman as a student, a wife, a mother, a widow, and a citizen, should be held at such a disadvantage?

In so doing, she explicitly called into question the boundary between the so-called private world of the family and the so-called public world of politics and the state.

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Women's second-class citizenship rights, she recognized, were rooted in their subordinate family roles, particularly their role within marriage. Similarly, Elizabeth Cady Stanton framed her critique of dower within a formal equality paradigm, recognizing that sex-differentiated inheritance rights were inextricably linked to larger structures of sex inequality and women's subordination.

At an New York woman's rights convention, in a speech subsequently sent to the New York state legislature, Stanton offered a lengthy description of the plight of widows left only with dower.

Pointing to the formal sex-based differentiation as the core affront of the common-law system of inheritance rights, Stanton challenged her audience: "How, I ask you, can that be called justice, which makes such a distinction as this between man and woman?

Men whose wives died, she argued, "ought to have the rental value of one-third of the woman's maiden property or real-estate, and it ought to be called the widower's dower. It would be just as fair for one as for the other.

All that I want is equality. In crafting sex-equality-based critiques, therefore, woman's rights activists dared to imagine a social and legal world different in kind from the common-law world of coverture.

Coverture-even as modified by married women's property acts and, later, married women's earning statutes -sought to craft separate legal worlds for men and women with sex-specific privileges and responsibilities. In the imagined world of woman's rights activists, by contrast, even within the deeply hierarchical legal and social framework of the family, men and women-husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and widows and widowers-would be entitled to the same legal status and rights.

A radical vision of equal rights within a reconstructed, nonhierarchical legal family thus lay at the core of the woman's rights movement's equality agenda and its equality-based critique of dower. As Stanton argued, while many women said they possessed "all the rights I want," that was "entirely false.

Will she tell you she has "all the rights she wants," as she points you to our statute laws, which allow the childless widow to retain a life interest merely in "one-third the landed estate, and one-half the personal property of her husband? The Family Privacy Argument Against Dower This version of Stanton's rights argument points to the second dominant rationale that woman's rights activists used to attack dower. Dower, they argued, initiated an invasive assault on the private family home. In addition to losing her husband, reformers observed, a widow's paltry legal rights under the common law meant that she usually lost her home as well.

A widow had the right to remain in the family home for a short period of time after her husband's death; after that, however, her husband's heir had the right to evict her. While it is hardly surprising that these elite women's imaginations remained somewhat bounded by the norms of their time, the conservative premises of their arguments based on the sanctity of women's place within the home contrast sharply with the prescient rhetoric of their equality platform.

Even as their equality agenda forced them to envision a radically restructured relationship between the sexes, woman's rights activists simultaneously marshaled arguments that reasoned from the existing normative model of the white, middle-class family: a model in which a particular man was responsible for a woman's financial support, even after his death, within the structure of marriage. Working within this conventional idiom, women reformers argued that dower offended the fundamental social and legal tenets that the family existed as a sacred, private space shielded from the invasive reach of the state.

Thus, while the sex-equality critique of dower attacked the most basic ideological and doctrinal elements of coverture, this second strand of attack actually fortified the basic structure of the private family and its traditional relationship to the state by denouncing dower's invasion of the private family home after a husband's death as destructive of the core of women's gender-specific place within the family.

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Within the woman's rights movement's critique of dower, therefore, a vision of sex equality coexisted with a vision of the home as women's protected sphere and the proper site of their entitled dependency. Woman's rights activists combined equality arguments and privacy arguments in ways that ignored their conflicting underlying premises.

At an woman's rights convention in West ster, Pennsylvania, for example, Ann Preston framed her formal demand for "equality before the law" as follows: When a woman dies, leaving behind her a husband and children, no appraisers come into the desolated home to examine the effects; the father is - crossfityards.com of his offspring; the family relation is not invaded by law.

But when a man dies the case is entirely different; in the hour of the widow's deep distress strangers come into the house to take an inventory of the effects A woman, she posited, was entitled to retain her traditional family role even after her husband's death. Stanton likewise embraced this same combination of arguments, combining a vision of equality with a commitment to the private family and, thus, a reform agenda premised at once on radical change and the status quo.

While she demanded that the law erase sex-based distinctions in inheritance law, Stanton also offered a plea for the sanctity of the family and the family home, as well as the incompatibility of that sanctity with dower. Of the newly widowed, Stanton said: In this dark hour of grief, the coarse minions of the law gather round the widow's hearth-stone, and, in the name of justice, outrage all natural sense of right; mock at the sacredness of human love, and with cold familiarity proceed to place a moneyed value on the old arm-chair, in which, but a few brief hours since, she closed the eyes that had ever beamed on her with kindness and affection; on the solemn clock in the comer, that told the hour he passed away; on every garment with which his form and presence were associated, and on every article of comfort and convenience that the house contained, even down to the knives and forks and spoons-and the widow saw it all-and when the work was done, she gathered up what the law allowed her and went forth to seek another home!

This is the much-talked-of widow's dower Had she died first, the house and land would all have been the husband's still. No one would have dared to intrude upon the privacy of his home, or to molest him in his sacred retreat of sorrow.

Dower violated that right in two ways: First, it provided insufficient economic means to preserve a woman as a dependent within the family structure, and, second, it allowed the state to intervene in the private sphere of the family.

Thus, as the editors of History of Woman Suffrage bemoaned, dower and the common-law rules of inheritance set into motion a series of events "generally resulting in the breaking up of the home. Synthesizing these potentially competing visions, they argued that the law ought to treat men and women in an equal manner, and that a woman was entitled to preserve her wifely, dependent role within the private home after her husband's death, just as a man retained his familial role as the head of the household when his wife predeceased him.

Women, in other words, had an equal right to maintain the traditional family and family home after their husbands' deaths. The law of inheritance, these activists argued-intermingling their visions of equality and dependency-deprived widows of this right. Bad Laws and Bad Husbands Further complicating their ambivalent vision of the family and women's equality, woman's rights activists did not blame the impersonal structure of inheritance law alone for the woes of widows.

To be sure, their account pointed primarily to lawmakers and judges as members of the heartless male establishment that continued to impose the cruel institution of dower on helpless widows.

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Thus, "the cruel inequality of the laws" played a recurring role in woman's rights activists' critiques of dower, Often, however, evil wore a less disembodied face.

As Matilda Joslyn Gage pointed out, the law did not act alone; rather, it "allow[ed] a husband As one report on woman suffrage concluded with respect to the plight of widows, "the will of the husband is sometimes even worse than the law itself.

Husbands, they pointed out, did not always act in "husbandly" ways, neglecting to offer their wives and, later, their widows financial support. Many widows thus needed protection not only from the impersonal rules of the law, but also from the very personal harms of their deceased husbands. Stanton, for example, reported: The cases are without number where women, who have lived in ease and elegance, at the death of their husbands have, by will, been reduced to the bare necessaries of life.

The man who leaves his wife the sole guardian of his property and children is an exception to the general rule. True, he can, if he will, but does he? The number is few. As Hendrik Hartog has observed, from the early nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, New York, "the most populous and most diverse state in the Union, played a crucial role-symbolically and practically-in the production of an American law of marriage. Between an lawmakers abolished dower, common-law marriage, and heartbalm actions-that is, they rethought the basic parameters of marriage's shadow.

The abolition of dower constituted the first step in this revisionary project. In this Part, I analyze the process of dower reform in New York as a multiparty conversation about the legal, social, and political meaning of marriage and the family. I argue that, like nineteenth-century woman's rights activists, early twentieth-century legislators and feminists approad dower reform with the dual goals of advancing sex equality and preserving the private family with its gender-specific markers of white, middle-class society.

Lawmakers and women activists thus embraced dower reform and sex-equality language as the means to reinforce a fundamentally traditional model of marriage structured around the male provider and the female dependent-a model whose practical power was being challenged by the proliferation of widows left financially unstable by dower's meager provisions.

Legislators and feminists, in other words, sought to return widows to their rightful place in the shadow of a reinvigorated form of marriage and, thus, sought to privatize successfully their economic dependency. Inheritance Law and the Meaning of Marriage Governor Roosevelt's public signing of New York's revised inheritance law marked the end of a lengthy investigative process spearheaded by Surrogate James A.

Foley of the New York Surrogate's Court. Three years prior to the law's passage, at a meeting of the New York City Bar Association, Foley had given a speech on the pressing need for New York to reform its decedent estate law. Dower, the report argued, "is, in most cases, an illusion and deception" Either a widow received an amount insufficient for her support or she received nothing if her husband held his real property-often, the Commission pointed out, even their home-in a corporate form.

In fact, dower simply allowed the law to "mock the widow with a mere polite phrase without any substantial benefit to her. Instead, it created a legal floor so low that stingy husbands could easily fail to provide for their wives' future needs.

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The Estates Commission thus expressed particular concern about women whose husbands deliberately sought to avoid providing for them by will. The Commission's perception that a not insignificant number of husbands regularly disinherited their wives drove its understanding of the necessity for an alternative legal mechanism to protect widows. I like to dance dine out take walks and wo.

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