1623

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The Runaway Bride... or Groom: a Breach of Promise becomes Law

This year, through a judicial ruling, a "breach of promise" becomes legal precedence. The "promise" is a promise to marry made between a man and a woman. A man's word constitutes a binding contact. A woman's promise is based more on social custom than her actual ability to make a binding contact. If a man fails to marry a woman, she can sue him since an engagement is often a lengthy process and she loses many opportunities for marriage during that time. If she becomes pregnant due to premarital sex (which often occurred for some strange reason) he also ruined her reputation which was a severe hurt... called a tort in legal terms. The defense to a breach of promise is some substantial misrepresentation of character unknown at the time of promise or a substantial physical injury of one of the parties. Losing an arm or an eye is not enough. This new judicial precedence mostly forces a man to keep his promise to a woman and not mislead her simply to get sex. If she was a prostitute prior to a man's promise and he knew of it, an attack on her character is no defense. A woman has fewer options if she wants to back out, but if she does, she must return all gifts, including the engagement ring, that were conditional upon marriage. Any wedding gifts sent by friends and family must be returned. In years to come a "breach of promise" will become formal law but the details will be left to judges to handle. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Breach of promise suits declined in the 20th century. The TV comedy show, Fraiser, featured such a suit, but despite the opinions of situational comedies, South Carolina is the only state where one can formally sue for anything beyond getting an engagement ring back. Alienation of affections suits (that is... suing someone for taking your spouse away from you) are allowed in Hawaii, Utah, New Mexico, Illinois, North Carolina, Mississippi, and South Dakota. In Texas, if you present yourself as man and wife, you are legally married, and if you decide to break up later, you need a real divorce. How do you become a legally married couple in Texas? Live together as husband and wife, tell others that you are married and/or apply for a credit card together. FYI, be careful as you drive through Texas. A few years ago my rabbi noted a defect in my wife's religious marriage contract. (Technically, it belongs to her.) I had to remarry her to fix it, so we went through a small ceremony in my home. Did I notify the state of Texas? The thought never occurred to me. [3] [4] [5]

All the World is a Stage so Be Sure to Wear Pants *

Pants were not really known as pants until now. They were called "pantaloons" and they were usually worn in stage productions for comedic affect. They are named after a standard stage character called Pantalone who always wears baggy leg wear. He is also overly concerned for his daughter's virtue and protecting his investments so he is the constant butt of jokes for the stage. Pants themselves are made popular by Shakespeare's play "As You Like It" which has been published in booklet form this year. Shakespeare died a few years ago but his influence will continue into the modern day. [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day similar standard characters are used in visual media to clue people in to key elements of the story without having to hold up a sign reading "I'm the villain!" or "I'm the buffoon!" "Painted ladies" actually wear a lot of makeup and are the obvious vamps. People with subtle vices tend to smoke cigarettes, while elderly men who smoke cigars have lots of money. Crooks look visibly unkempt. Even bad people in three-piece suits look bad when they move their eyes back and forth as they tell a lie or stare coldly as they contemplate evil. Subtle visual messages are placed in advertising (especially political advertising) to send an unspoken message to the viewer. A neutral message of good will at Christmas time might send the message, "I'm a good Christian" depending on how the background images are arranged. Even the movie The Matrix (1999) contains a classic bit of religious staging. As Trinity and Cypher stand by Neo's door, the characters talk about whether or not Neo is "The One". If you look carefully, the lines of the door make an obvious cross as if equating Neo with a certain religious savior. The movie couldn't come straight out and make that connection, so they did it subtly. [9] [10]

A New Amsterdam for a New World

The Dutch West India Company has established a colony on the island of Manhattan for the purposes of exercising their monopoly. That's a fancy way of saying that they are there to make money as fast as they possibly can. Currently the only money-making trade available is for furs. In order to do much more than that, they will have to bring people from the Netherlands. That project will require a proper charter, with legal commitments for granting large plots of land. The idea is to let other people organize the large number of colonists into manageable groups. Anyone who can bring over a minimum of 50 colonists as a group will be granted a premium parcel of land. These new manor lords will be called patroons, but that won't come about until 1629. Until then, the region will be run by a governor and several advisors appointed by the company. [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the 1600s, the American continent was known as the West Indies. The East Indies were India itself and various island groups in that area including the Spice Islands. If you'll recall, the Dutch were the allies of the English under Queen Elizabeth, but under King James the 1st, that alliance frayed. The English were useless to the Dutch and sometimes were enemies of each other. That is why, when the Dutch came to the New World there was some question about whether New England would trade with New Amsterdam. Not to worry, though. The colonists of the New World were nothing if not practical. If the Dutch could make money doing it, you can bet they'd give it a try. The Dutch Republic was a merchant and banking nation. They made money as a middle man taking a percentage along the way. There is nothing wrong with that per se but in the long run, you don't become a great nation that way. You help OTHER nations become great if it is possible to become great.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1623, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Historical Events for Year 1623. OnThisDay.com (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “Jun 14th - 1st breach-of-promise lawsuit: Rev Gerville Pooley, Va files against Cicely Jordan, he loses”
  2. The Law Relating to Breach of Promise of Marriage. lawreform.ie (2009). Retrieved on 11 August 2015.
  3. Alienation of affections - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “At common law, alienation of affections is a common law tort, abolished in many jurisdictions. Where it still exists, an action is brought by a deserted spouse against a third party alleged to be responsible for the failure of the marriage.”
  4. Common Law Marriage in Texas. FindLaw (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “Common law marriages in Texas have the same legal status as a ceremonial marriage. Why is this important? Because if the common law marriage doesn’t work out, you’ll have to get a formal divorce to end it.”
  5. Frasier (season 8) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “Niles and Daphne, inside Martin's Winnebago, are about to run from Daphne's wedding. As they reach the end of the driveway, they both realise that they cannot run from their responsibilities and bravely choose to go back and face the music. Reluctantly, Daphne confesses her feelings for Niles to Donny, and Niles breaks up with Mel. The next day, both Niles and Daphne are more intimate but more uncomfortable around each other. Daphne receives flowers from Donny, accompanied by a summons, revealing that Donny is suing her for emotional distress and breach of contract.”
  6. As You Like It - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility.”
  7. Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Houghton Mifflin. “Pantaloon was always dressed in baggy trousers and these were practically his hallmark. In fact, baggy trousers came to be called "pantaloons" or, for short, pants.” 
  8. Pantalone - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “The character of Pantalone is entirely based on currency and ego, for he has the highest regards for his intelligence, 'but at every step he becomes the butt for every conceivable kind of trick'. With little else to occupy his thoughts after a life as a tradesman or merchant, Pantalone is the metaphorical representation of money in the commedia world. Pantalone is usually the father to one of the lovers, another stock character found in commedia. He is driven to keep his child and their respective lover apart.”
  9. THE MATRIX - Why Cypher Did It (7:35 into video). YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015.
  10. The Matrix (1999). IMDb.com (1999). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.”
  11. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster. “New Netherlands in America formally organized as a province” 
  12. New Amsterdam - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “New Amsterdam was a 17th-century Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, which served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland territory. It was renamed New York on September 8, 1664, in honor of the then Duke of York (later James II of England) after it was traded to the English along with the rest of the Dutch colony in exchange for control of the Spice Islands.”
  13. Patroon - definition of patroon (2015). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “A landholder in New Netherland who, under Dutch colonial rule, was granted proprietary and manorial rights to a large tract of land in exchange for bringing 50 new settlers to the colony.”
  14. History of the United States of America (1904). Retrieved on 11 August 2015. “The government of the new colony was carried on by Governor, or 'Director General,' Minuit and a council of five appointed by the company in Holland. It was very similar to the government of Virginia before the first House of Burgesses was elected. The people had no voice whatever in their own government. Because of this and of the fact that in Holland the people enjoyed peace and religious liberty the migration was slow, and at the end of five years but three hundred people lived on Manhattan Island. The company thereupon offered great inducements to attract colonists. It issued its charter of 'privileges and exemptions' (1629), by which the patroon system was established.”

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