Due to limited job opportunities the average marriage

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Due to limited job opportunities, the average marriage age in England was thirty for men and twenty-five for women. In America, where land was plentiful and labor scarce, the average was twenty-five for men and twenty for women. William Byrd III of Virginia referred to his eighteen-year-old daughter as the most "antique virgin" he knew. In addition, as afirewood-saving measure, unmarried men and women who courted weresometimes allowed to "bundle" together in bed with their clothes on. Miraculously, this practice sometimes led to pregnancy. Thepeople of New England were far more fertile than their soil, and their widows wasted no time in remarrying. One widow used leftover refreshments from her first husband's funeral for her second wedding. Massachusetts Governor William Phips' mother hadtwenty-seven children. The English literary critic Samuel Johnson, who hated Americans, said that they were multiplying as fast as their rattlesnakes. (Whatever his numerous faults, Johnson was a great wit. Once an enraged rival barged up to Johnson at a party and announced: "I predict, Sir, that you willeither die on the gallows or die of syphilis." Without batting an eye, Johnson calmly retorted: "That depends, Sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your wife.") As important as the higher birth rate was the lower death rate. American children had a better chance of reaching maturity and adults of reaching old age than their European counterparts, due to more plentiful food and firewood and less overall exposure to disease,as a result of the rural nature of the country. (Nevertheless, in this age of high infant mortality, no child was safe anywhere.One woman lost twenty children either at birth or in early childhood.) Although deaths from disease increased somewhat withthe growth in urbanization, trade, and travel, and immigration dropped, population growth was even greater in the eighteenth century. During that century, the American population doubled every twenty-five years. In 1700 Great Britain's population was twenty times that of her American mainland colonies; in 1775 it was only three times greater.As a result of population growth, cities sprouted. Although95% of white Americans were still involved in farming, producing their own food, clothing, shelter, and utensils, several cities arose. In 1770 the largest American city was Philadelphia, with 30,000 people, second only to London within the British Empire. New York City (25,000), Boston (16,000), and Charleston (12,000) 54
followed. Each city faced the sea, having more contact with London than with each other. American cities were highly stratified. At the top of the social ladder were the merchants, in the middle were the artisans and shopkeepers, and at the bottom were the sailors and unskilled workers. In 1771 the top fifteen percent of the population owned two-thirds of the wealth;the top five percent owned forty-four percent (a figure even worse than today's).

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