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Founding mothers & fathers :gendered power and the forming of American society /Mary Beth Norton.

Collection Type
Variant Title
Founding mothers and fathers
Norton, Mary Beth.
New York :
Sect. I. Gendered Power in the Family -- Prologue: The Government of Familyes. Ch. 1. The First Society. Ch. 2. A Little Monarchy. Ch. 3. Free in Liberty -- Sect. II. Gendered Power in the Community -- Prologue: Searchers Againe Assembled. Ch. 4. Communities of Men, Communities of Women. Ch. 5. Amongst the Neighbors -- Sect. III. Gendered Power in the State -- Prologue: His Lordship's Attorney. Ch. 6. Fathers and Magistrates, Authority and Consent. Ch. 7. Marvelous Wickedness. Ch. 8. Husband, Preacher, Magistrate.
1st ed.
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.
x, 496 p. ; 25 cm.
"A portion of chapter five was originally published as Gender and defamation in seventeenth-century Maryland in William & Mary quarterly, January 1987"--T.p. verso.
Includes bibliographical references (p. [413]-477) and index.
Call Number
Stacks HQ1075.5.U6 N67 1996
Descriptive terms
Families History 17th century.
Koloniale periode.
Politics and government To 1775.
Sex role History 17th century.
Social conditions To 1865.
United States