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American FatherhoodA History$
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Jürgen Martschukat

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479892273

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479892273.001.0001

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Fathers and the New Republic, 1770–1840

Fathers and the New Republic, 1770–1840

(p.7) 1 Fathers and the New Republic, 1770–1840
American Fatherhood

Jürgen Martschukat

NYU Press

Chapter 1 covers the era of the American Revolution and the Early Republic. As this chapter lays the groundwork for the observations to come, it is the only chapter that has no single actor in its center, even though it very much revolves around the thoughts and writings of Founding Father John Adams. The chapter shows how new understandings of the family, its composition and role, developed with the American Revolution and how the two-generation family became a powerful tool in the governance of the new American republic. In particular the chapter explores how this new kind of family related to specific notions of fatherhood. It also points to ambivalences of this new republican ideal of “governing through the family”—ambivalences that still cause political anxieties today: many men did not live up to the demands addressed to them as fathers in a liberal society, so that the state or philanthropic welfare organizations were formed to take over. The chapter also discusses the persistence of violence in American families and institutions, even though the republican family ideal professed a family of love, harmony, and parental guidance.

Keywords:   American Revolution, Early Republic, republican family, reformatories, violence

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