Martha Ballard: Nurse, Midwife, and Early American Diarist In her work Martha encountered scarlet fever, puerperal fever and wound infections, caused by Group A hemolytic streptococci. At that time there were no antibiotics and these diseases could be lethal. As a nurse Martha not only helped patients with treatment, but also gave them and their relative psychological support, as she lost her children to epidemic before and deeply understood their feelings.
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After the Treaty of Paris recognized independence of the US in 1783, many issues were still unsolved. The United States were floundering through a postwar depression and seeking to resolve administrative problems – the states were basically much like separate states (i.e. different currencies, different laws, separate armies, etc.). Only after the writing of the Constitution and forming of the executive, legislative and judicial branches these issues began to resolve. Though may more radical leaders of the revolution were disappointed conservatism of first presidents when the revolution was over, liberty and democracy was safeguarded as highest ideals of the United States.
The story about Ms. Fosters, wife of minister of Hallowell’s Congregational Church, trial against Joseph North, Hallowell’s local judge. This story appears to be rather controversial and involves not only the rape itself but relations in the community in general. While Minister Foster was in rather bad relations with the community, Joseph North was reputable man, which could effect the decision of the court. There are no clear facts allowing to judge who was right, however many evidences testify that objectivity of court decision was questionable.
There is no information on were and how did Martha learned to be a midwife, it is likely that she learned by doing, by observing, by participating.
As a midwife, Martha gave prebirth care to expecting mothers, attended the birth of the infant assisting mothers, and provided care to the mother and her infant in early days after birth.
After France lost it territories in Maine in 1763, ordinary settlers moved to that region to take up available land, however it had appeared to be already claimed by absentee developers. This fact resulted in many conflicts regarding land distribution.
The squatters’ revolt was in its pick in 1809 and Martha Ballard’s family was involved in this drama — Martha’s nephew, Elijah Barton, was among rebels and was accused of murder, and so called „white Indians“ marched on Augusta to break him out of jail.
Public religion in early New England meant existence and authority of a single church in each town, which would determine the individual and collective behavior norm in community. As opposed to that private piety means personal faith, resulting not from social limitations, but from internal needs.
Martha Ballard’s diary contains almost 10,000 made between January 1, 1785 and May 12, 1812, being an unparalleled document in early American history. It allows reader not only to learn some historical facts, but allows viewing these events from a perspective of a person, a woman in young American republic. It contains not only casual records of Martha’s l day-to-day life of people in that age, but also gives facts about society of that time and personal thoughts regarding this society. —————————————————————————–
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