Penance in a White Sheet

John Doyle, 1839 Lithograph

While rereading Edmund Morgan’s magisterial American Slavery, American Freedom, I was struck by his discussion of public penance performed by early Virginian fornicators and adulterers: The courts, for example, prescribed penances for couples who appeared with children too soon after marriage, requiring them to appear at church the next Sunday dressed in white robes and [Read More...]


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