Founding Mothers and Fathers

Founding Mothers and Fathers

Gendered Power and the Formation of American Society

Book - 1996
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Baker & Taylor
A study of power relationships in early America argues that, because colonial women were power figures in the home, they had a great deal of power outside the home

Blackwell North Amer
Focusing on the first half-century of English settlement - approximately 1620 to 1670 - Mary Beth Norton looks not only at what colonists actually did but also at the philosophical basis for what they thought they were doing. She weaves theory and reality into a tapestry that reveals colonial life as more varied than we have supposed. She draws our attention to all early dysfunctional family extending over several generations and colonies.
The basic worldview of this early period, Norton demonstrates, envisaged family, society, and state as similar institutions. She shows us how, because of that familial analogy, women who wielded power in the household could also wield surprising authority outside the home. We see, for example, Mistress Margaret Brent given authority as attorney for Lord Baltimore, Maryland's Proprietor, and Mistress Anne Hutchinson, who sought and assumed religious authority, causing the greatest political crisis in Massachusetts Bay.
Norton also describes the American beginnings of another way of thinking. She argues that an imbalanced sex ratio in the Chesapeake colonies made it impossible to establish "normal" familial structures, and thus equally impossible to employ the family model as unself-consciously as was done in New England. The Chesapeake, accordingly, became a practical laboratory for the working out of a "Lockean" political system that drew a line between family and state, between "public" and "private." In this scheme, women had no formal, recognized role beyond the family. It is this worldview that eventually came to characterize the Enlightenment and that still looms large in today's culture wars.

Baker
& Taylor

Focusing on the years 1620 to 1670, a study of the power relationships in early American religion, politics, and society argues that, because colonial women were power figures in the family, they wielded an extraordinary amount of authority outside the home.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c1996
ISBN: 9780679429654
0679429654
Branch Call Number: 973.2 NOR
Characteristics: x, 496p. ; 25cm

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