On this date in History .... 1858:
as the “Reno of the Midwest” and “Divorce Capital” was condemned by a Chicago
Press and Tribune editorial on Indiana’s liberal divorce laws. Indiana was the
state the couples swarmed to for a quick and easy divorce. A person merely had
to show proof of residence (no length requirement) and swear there was
“statutory cause” for the divorce. The Chicago paper accused Indiana of
legalizing “Free Love” and it’s “abominations”, stating it was becoming a state
of loose women and fast men.
The reason for such
liberality is not really known but one suggested idea is attributed to Robert
Owen and his utopian views. Owen helped
his father establish a utopian society in New Harmony, IND., an experiment that
failed financially in just two years.
Owen’s “vigorous espousal of the rights of women” could have had an
effect on the attitudes in the new frontier state.
Indiana revived its
divorce laws in the 1870’s, & in the meantime, other states’ lax laws to
end marriage were overtaking whatever Indiana might have had on the books.