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Back in the days of family values, when abortion was illegal

 
 
Greyfan
 
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2004 08:31 pm
The following statistics are from the Aug 18-25, 2003 issue of The New Yorker. The article is "Who Discovered Childhood", by Joan Acocella.

1. In eighteenth century France, breast-feeding became unfashionable. The mortality rate for all infants under the age of one was 16 to 18%; for babies sent away to wet nurses (the wealthiest could afford to have wet nurses live in), the rate was 50-66%.

2. By 1850, half the children born in Vienna and Stockholm, and one third of the children born in Paris, were "illegitimate".

3. In the late 1800s, 37% of the brides in England went to the alter pregnant; in the early nineteenth century, the rate was 50%.

4. In the absence of safe, legal abortions, infanticide was not uncommon, though estimates vary widely. By the thirteenth century, Catholic countries established foundling hospitals, where unwanted babies could be left. Although the stated purpose was to prevent infanticide, the babies were sent out to wet nurses, where the majority perished.

5. By the mid-nineteenth century, one-third of the babies born in Milan and Florence, and one-half of the babies born in Vienna, were turned over to institutions. Reformers responded by requiring women who left babies at the the foundling hospital to identify themselves. This led to a decline in admissions, and an increase in babies left in the street.

6. Half the children turned over to the Inclusa hospital in Madrid in the mid eighteenth century, and three-quarters of the babies left at the Spedale degli Innocenti in Florence in the late eighteenth century were "legitimate".

7. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the man whose writings gave rise to the modern, tender view of children and childhood, consigned all five of his children to foundling homes. He tried to locate them later, but was unable to find a single one.

Ah, the good old days.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 4,326 • Replies: 51
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2004 08:39 pm
I have just been reading about Rousseau, in a book titled
Intellectuals. Quite the fella.

I've looked around that Spedale degli Innocenti in Firenze. Beautiful building to house such troubles.

The huge number dying when sent out to wet nurses sort of surprises me, but I would bet a fair number of children perished generally, and this added situation made the numbers soar.

All very interesting.
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Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2004 08:46 pm
Re: Back in the days of family values, when abortion was ill
Greyfan wrote:

3. In the late 1800s, 37% of the brides in England went to the alter pregnant; in the early nineteenth century, the rate was 50%..



That statistic was true for New England for all of the 18th century but it began to decline rapidly after 1810 and was no longer found by 1840. It had nothing to do with lose morals or hypocrisy. Rather the structure and demands of rural families in preindustrial economies were very different those in an industrial economy. children were both an asset and an economic necessity and the child bearing capabilities of a prospective bride a real concern. Your statistic, in the form it is presented is meaningless.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2004 09:30 pm
wow, quite an amazing group of stats.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 01:58 am
Lots of wet-nurses ran "baby-farms" - well, I say lots - but some did.

I imagine many children were fed and left - as used to happen in orphanages, too - fabulous physical care in many - but....

Babies die if not touched and loved. Literally, physically, die.

I cannot imagine the effects on the children thus brought up - especially moving, if they survived, from a wet-nurse back to their families. Like losing their mother.

I wonder if this sort of thing hardened people up for empire building and wars and such. Some feel the English ruling class males were so traumatized by boarding school at a young age, and successions of nannies and such, that they were brutalized into being excellent conquerers. Kinda like the Spartans - though the Athenians did damned well, too...Damned if I know.

I nearly didn't read this thread, Greyfan, because I imagined it would be a foolish diatribe about how bad things are now vs the past.

How wrong and stupid I was.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 08:50 am
Re: Back in the days of family values, when abortion was ill
Greyfan wrote:
The following statistics are from the Aug 18-25, 2003 issue of The New Yorker. The article is "Who Discovered Childhood", by Joan Acocella.

Not sure if you are trying to make a point or merely posting something of historical interest.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 08:56 am
Re: Back in the days of family values, when abortion was ill
Brandon9000 wrote:
Greyfan wrote:
The following statistics are from the Aug 18-25, 2003 issue of The New Yorker. The article is "Who Discovered Childhood", by Joan Acocella.

Not sure if you are trying to make a point or merely posting something of historical interest.


Then you are not thinking very carefully, Brandon.

Greyfan is definitely trying to make a point -- and I think he did rather clearly and cleverly.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 08:57 am
Re: Back in the days of family values, when abortion was ill
Frank Apisa wrote:
Then you are not thinking very carefully, Brandon.

Greyfan is definitely trying to make a point -- and I think he did rather clearly and cleverly.

What was that point?
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:00 am
If it has to be explained, I doubt you'll understand it.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:06 am
Frank Apisa wrote:
If it has to be explained, I doubt you'll understand it.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but that sounds like a suggestion about my intelligence. I would prefer that forum topics could be discussed without personal comments about participants.

Why all the mystery? If the point is very clear to you, as you say it is, why not take 60 seconds and state it for someone who inquires?

My overall point, however, is that if this is a political comment on a very controversial topic, it might be better placed on the politics board.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:12 am
Take it easy guys. If you get so excited about this on a history forum, I an imagine the blood pressure raised if it were on the politics forum. On A2K, we dissect ideas, not people. Get it!

Sounds like Greyfan was quoting the statistics from a "gentler" time, when abortions were illegal, and "family values" were paramount. Looks like the "good old days" were not what they were cracked up to be!
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:15 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Take it easy guys. If you get so excited about this on a history forum, I an imagine the blood pressure raised if it were on the politics forum. On A2K, we dissect ideas, not people. Get it!

The presence of a peace maker is always welcome.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:25 am
I would wonder what the point is, myself. Steven Jay Gould, in a Sunday New York Times Magazine article several years ago, made the comment that even as recently as a century ago, one could expect to see as many as half of their children die in infancy or childhood, that septic diseases were pandemic, that horse manure in the streets continued to be the vector for a host of diseases, as well as the horses in the urban stables being a vector for tuberculosis--in short, that there were no good old days.

If that is Greyfan's point, i heartily concur. If Greyfan has some deeper meaning that it is suggested that Brandon doesn't get, i don't get it either. Perhaps Greyfan could enlighten the both of us.

For those interested in how the "working class" lived before the First World War, there is an excellent work entitled The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century. The century referred to is the twentieth century; Salford is a working class suburb of Manchester in England. Also of interest is Maggie, a Girl of the Streets and Other New York Writings, by Stephen Crane, most well known for The Red Badge of Courage. Emile Zola, beginning while still quite young, produced a series of twenty novels in the Rougon-Macquard series, which follows members of a family through the period of the Second Empire in France (1851-1871), looking at all levels of French society in the period. The best reads about the hardships of working class life are l'Assomoir and Germinal. I don't know if the first is available in English, but i do know that the second is. An assomoir was a small bar in a poor neighborhood selling distilled spirits, often distilled on the premises. The name comes from the verb assomer which means "to knock out." That novel follows the life of a rather attractive blond woman, descended from the protagonists of the first novel in the series. Early in the novel, she gives up her son by her first "marriage" to be apprenticed to a metal worker, and he leaves the story, never being a significant part thereof. He is, however--now as a young man in his early twenties--the protagonist in Germinal. Zola's novels, for those who can read French (i believe most are not currently available in English), open a graphic window onto life in all classes of society in the mid-nineteenth century.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:33 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
Take it easy guys. If you get so excited about this on a history forum, I an imagine the blood pressure raised if it were on the politics forum. On A2K, we dissect ideas, not people. Get it!


Yep. Sorry.


Quote:
Sounds like Greyfan was quoting the statistics from a "gentler" time, when abortions were illegal, and "family values" were paramount. Looks like the "good old days" were not what they were cracked up to be! [/color][/b]


Exactly!

Makes one wonder why Brandon and Set were not able to comprehend that with very little trouble.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:37 am
Another typically snide response from Frank.

Setanta wrote:
If that is Greyfan's point, i heartily concur. If Greyfan has some deeper meaning that it is suggested that Brandon doesn't get, i don't get it either. Perhaps Greyfan could enlighten the both of us.


Here i was referring to the good old days being myth. So if that is indeed what Greyfan's point is, i did get it. How predictable Frank's sneer is.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:39 am
Frank- Sometimes I sometimes have the tendency to overanalyze. In the case of overanalyzing, I become so caught up in my analysis, that I often miss the obvious, and look for deeper meaning than the particular instance warrants. I would expect that others do the same thing.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:46 am
Very nice try, Setanta, but as usual, you missed by a mile.

I think the point Grayfan was making was very, very obvious. He certainly did not over-do the subtlty.

But you had included:

"I would wonder what the point is, myself."...and...

"If Greyfan has some deeper meaning that it is suggested that Brandon doesn't get, i don't get it either."

So my comment was in order.

No hard feelings, though. You are very entertaining when you lose control.

Can't tell you how much of a kick I got from a post where you managed to apply both "snide" and "sneer" to me. I thank you for that.
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Brandon9000
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:47 am
Reading the first post, I suspected that there was a political statement being made about a controversial topic. If that is true, I believe that the thread ought to have been started on the politics board, but I thought it polite to ask to make sure.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:50 am
Brandon9000- I think that the quotes could be discussed on many levels, both from a historical, political, and even a religious viewpoint.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 27 Jan, 2004 09:52 am
Good gawd guys, this was such a pleasant thread. Can you keep the caustic remarks in politics?
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