A History of Household Government in America / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
(Save 28%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $10.75
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 50%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (6) from $10.75   
  • New (1) from $85.34   
  • Used (5) from $10.75   


What is household government? To the vast majority of those living in America from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century it was the government. The head of a household, invariably an adult male, had authority over the property, labor, and mobility of not only his minor children but also his wife, servants, slaves, and the occasional debtors, indigents, or orphans the county paid him to board in the absence of institutional facilities.

A History of Household Government in America tells the story of the seldom noted expansion and then dramatic contraction in household authority and the effects these changes had on the governmental system. The disintegration of household powers during the mid-nineteenth century—the household’s "civil war"—is much more central to what makes that period seem modern than industrialization or urbanization.

Carole Shammas offers new explanations for why the American household head became such an early victim of household egalitarianism. Previous theories involving the frontier or the Revolution have ignored other factors unique to the American household system such as testamentary freedom, weak lineage controls, and the lack of an established church, all of which left the head vulnerable to challenges by dependents. These factors also affected the development of social services: In the United States, public and private welfare agencies originated largely out of concerns about the adequacy of household management and discipline. Religious rivalries eventually forced a partial return to household solutions through a welfare state system. That history helps explain why even today any departure from heterosexual two-parent family units continues to be viewed as dysfunctional by a significant portion of the population.

University of Virginia Press

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813921266
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Carole Shammas, John R. Hubbard Professor of History at the University of Southern California, is the author of The Pre-Industrial Consumer in England and America and coauthor of Inheritance in America: Colonial Times to the Present.

University of Virginia Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Preface and Acknowledgments
1 The Household Gets a War and a History 1
2 The Expansion of Household Government in the Colonial Period 24
3 The American Revolution and the Household 53
4 Marriage and the Early American Household: In Search of Parental Control 83
5 The Household's Civil War in the Era of Domestic Bliss 108
6 After the War: Shrinking Census Households and the Institutinal U-Turn 145
7 The Troublesome Alternatives 168
App. A Female Age at First Marriage: Early Modern Europe and British America, 1550-1820 182
App. B Private Household Size in the United States, 1790-1990 186
App. C Percentage of Households Headed by Females, by Nation, circa 1990 188
Notes 191
Index 225
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)