Courting in a Polite Society
 
From: bernhard1848@att.net
 
Though forbidden to call on a pretty young woman at her home many years ago, young men adopted strategies calculated to win hearts nonetheless.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
www.cfhi.net 
 
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Courting in a Polite Society:
 
“The age-old custom of making and receiving gifts had lost none of its ability to win favor during the ante-bellum period. When J. Johnston Pettigrew, later a hero of the Confederacy, desired to present a young woman whom he had admired with a small piece of jewelry he accompanied it with the following note:
 
“Although I have not the presumption to claim any but an undistinguished place among the number of your admirers – will you allow my respect for your father to obtain for me the privilege of….adding this little ornament as a token of the good wishes for your perfect felicity…”
 

[T]o which the young lady replied, in a formal note written in the third person, that she hoped Mr. Pettigrew would not leave the city “without affording her the opportunity of expressing in person the feeling which is so much better seen in action than in words. Should destiny deny her this boon, however, she will ever treasure the bracelet as a memento of one, whose character has long-since called forth her esteem and whose friendship she would be proud to win.”
 
(Antebellum North Carolina, A Social History, Guion Griffis Johnson, UNC Press, 1937)