Report of the d'Hauteville Case: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. At the Suggestion of Paul Daniel Gonsalve Grand d'Hauteville versus...Ellen Sears Grand d'Hauteville. Habeas Corpus for the Custody of an Infant Child
Philadelphia: W. S. Martien, 1840.
Philadelphia: W. S. Martien, 1840. First edition. [bound with] The Petition of Henry C. De Rham, to the General Assembly of Rhode Island, To Except Paul Daniel Gonsalve Grand d'Hauteville, From the Operation of the Law 'To Secure the Fulfillment of Certain Contracts and for the Relief of Married Women in Certain Cases.' Together with a Remonstrance of Ellen S. d'Hauteville...Providence: Knowles & Vose, 1841. First edition.
[bound with] Review of the d'Hauteville Case: Recently Argued and Determined in the Court of General Sessions...Boston: Weeks, Jordan, and Co., 1841. First edition.
Three volumes bound in one. Finely bound by Bradstreet's in half morocco over marbled boards with gilt to spine. Top edge gilt. Marbled endpapers. Armorial bookplate of Samuel F. Barger to front pastedown. Measuring 225 x 135mm and collating complete including titles: 295, [1, blank]; 124, [2, errata]; , 44. A just about Fine copy, with some inoffensive pencil annotations and corrections to volume I and occasional faint foxing; overall a pleasing copy of three scarce legal works related to women's custody rights according to international and interstate law.
Three scarce tracts documenting the international custody battle that became highly publicized and debated in its time. In 1837, American citizen Ellen Sears married Daniel Gonsalve d'Hauteville, a member of the Swiss nobility. During their brief union, Ellen survived emotional neglect and mental cruelty from her husband, whose "self-image as paterfamilias conflicted with Ellen's growing sense of herself as a mother tormented by an unfeeling spouse" (DiFonzo). Pregnant and unhappy, she left her husband for the U.S., giving birth to her son after her arrival. Under Common law doctrine, d'Hauteville demanded that his wife and child return to his household in Switzerland. "But Sears and her Philadelphia lawyers devised a strategy that would challenge the accepted legal formulation along its emerging cultural fault line...leveraging mental cruelty into an accusation that d'Hauteville had violated the standards of the changing American family" (DiFonzo). This strategy, combined with gains that the women's movement had made in the U.S. and Europe marital property laws within the century, helped bolster her position and win her custodial rights.
"The d'Hauteville case was not a single event in a courtroom, but a set of multiple legal experiences that exposed timebound and timeless realities of American legal culture. The case began in an insular way, as a domestic drama must, with the rapid rise and equally rapid fall of the d'Hauteville marriage. But as the fight for the son Frederick displaced their marriage as the central focus of Ellen and Gonsalve's relationship, the law assumed a greater and greater presence in their lives. The pair not only confronted contradictions between their own ideas about justice and the legal rules they had to learn, they also experienced the transformation of their domestic tragedy into a legal event with innumberable participants, from lawyers, judges, and legislators, to courtroom spectators, newspaper reporters, and diarists" (Grossberg).
The present tracts trace d'Hauteville's initial petition for Habeas Corpus, followed by his petition to be exempted from a Rhode Island law protecting the rights of mothers. The final title tracks the case's conclusion, providing a review. (Item #4910)