Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society

Mary Beth Norton, Author
Mary Beth Norton, Author Alfred A. Knopf $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42965-4
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-679-74977-6
Hardcover - 978-0-517-19483-6
Open Ebook - 373 pages - 978-0-307-76076-0
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Defying an Anglo-American worldview that drew analogies between the family and the state as male-run, hierarchical institutions, women played important roles in colonial American society between 1620 and 1670. In her lively study, Cornell historian Norton highlights religious dissenter and health-care expert Anne Hutchinson, who held all-female religious meetings in her home, dispensed advice at births and preached God's free gift of salvation-activities that led to her excommunication from Boston's church in 1645. Another intrepid colonial woman, lawyer Margaret Brent, appointed in 1648 as the representative of Lord Baltimore, proprietor of Maryland, fought unsuccessfully for a vote and speaking privileges in the Maryland Assembly. We also meet a gossip group consisting of four women (including excommunicated heretic Anne Eaton, wife of Connecticut's governor) whose regular meetings elicited criminal prosecution on charges of slander and sacrilege in 1646. This erudite study is full of intriguing lore on colonial neighbors, sexual gossip and men's political squabbles. (Mar.)
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