And so it came to pass in the morning, that, behold, it was Leah. (Genesis 29:25)
Jacob was neither the first nor the last to find that the person he married was far different from the one he had proposed to and thought he was getting!
I’ve known a few pastors over the years whose marriages were crosses they had to bear. I thought of that while reading Heirs of the Founders by H. W. Brands, as he commented on the marriage of John and Floride Calhoun.
John C. Calhoun was a prominent political figure in America the first-half of the 19th Century. A senator from South Carolina, he served as Vice-President under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. His home, Fort Hill Plantation, is located in Clemson, SC, and is open for visitors. Calhoun was a fascinating character about whom no one back then (or now!) was neutral. His son-in-law founded Clemson University.
To say the Calhouns had a difficult marriage would be an understatement. And yet, it had a romantic beginning, as most probably do.
Calhoun was some years older than Floride. While she was growing up, he cultivated her mother, who had been widowed when her daughter was only ten. Calhoun wrote long letters to the mother on topics ranging from family matters to politics. Gradually, as the daughter matured he inserted references to Floride. In time, he directed his correspondence to the daughter who was only too happy to return his affection. His letters were flowery and affectionate. “…I shall behold the dearest object of my hopes and desires.” “To be united in mutual virtuous love is the first and best bliss that God has permitted to our natures.”
In time, they were wed. Now, we fast forward a few years. Dr. Brands writes…
The marriage of John and Floride Calhoun had unfolded without surprises but not without difficulty. She bore one child after another, to a sum of ten. Three died early, leaving painful memories but still a full house at the upcountry plantation…
Calhoun was busy in the affairs of state and had little time for the little things that wives often appreciate. He paid dearly for the omission.