It has surprised me how often seemingly morally incorrect circumstances play out time and again, not only in my own family tree, but in others’ as well. And here I'd been told how upstanding people used to be. Outstanding hide-n-seek on a national scale, that's all that was. I suspect the number of divorces, restless teenagers, and unplanned pregnancies hasn't raised that much over the last century - it's the knowledge of it.
Something that has actually declined is the infant mortality rate and the number of deaths from childbirth. Way back when was not a good time for women and children. It helped if you made it through your teens, and it helped if you were male, but a heart-wrenching perusal of the Slave Schedules reveals a bad time for everyone not related to the owner - and claimed by him. Sure we all know this, but when you see it in official documentation, it takes on a whole new depth and meaning.
My great-great-grandfather, John Jackson Gulick, was a physician who lost three wives to childbirth. The first died birthing her ninth child at age 34. The second died along with her first child at age 28. The third, my great-great-grandmother, Lea, died at age 44 giving birth to her fourth child.
There is little record of stillbirths and miscarriages as the Mortality Schedules were usually reserved for live births, so it isn't known how many pregnancies actually occurred. (I was told of many stillbirths and miscarriages on my mother's side. This, even though all the women lived long lives and had sizeable broods.)
The family tells me that after Lea's death, John gave up medicine and went into farming, and the Census reflects this. He'd decided if he couldn't keep his wives alive, then he should find another way to make a living.
John doesn't appear to have had sex so very often – with his wife anyway, but c'mon. You'd think a physician with two deceased wives would've figured out what was going on and would've stopped it and/or found alternative means to meet the need (and who's to say he didn't). I guess deductive reasoning, even among the educated, was in short supply in those days. I fear to think he had little regard for women in general. No wonder so many mothers cried at weddings - they were sending their daughters off to die.