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Abigail Abbott was a devout New England Congregationalist woman. In 1768, she married Major Asa Bailey. During their 26 years of marriage, they farmed in Haverhill and Landaff, New Hampshire, and had 14 children. Asa Bailey had a sexual affair with one of the farm servants and at least one more accused him of rape. He also violently beat his wife. In the 18th century, the social and economic consequences of divorce for women were so grave that Abigail Abbott Bailey chose to remain with her husband. But in late 1788, Asa Bailey committed incest with their 17-year-old daughter Phebe, a crime his wife could not forgive. Abigail sent him away, and endured his return on several occasions. As the marriage unraveled, a religious revival unfolded in the region around her New Hampshire town. In 1793, Abigail finally sought permission from the Congregational Church to divorce her husband, and her petition was granted. Abigail kept a personal journal of her frightening domestic life, and this work was edited by Ethan Smith and published in Boston, Massachusetts, the year of her death as "Memoirs of Mrs. Abigail Bailey, Who Had Been the Wife of Major Asa Bailey, Formerly of Landaff, (N.H.) Written by Herself."
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