Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 / Edition 1

Revolutionary Conceptions: Women, Fertility, and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820 / Edition 1

by Susan E. Klepp
     
 

In the Age of Revolution, how did American women conceive their lives and marital obligations? By examining the attitudes and behaviors surrounding the contentious issues of family, contraception, abortion, sexuality, beauty, and identity, Susan E. Klepp demonstrates that many women—rural and urban, free and enslaved—began to radically redefine motherhood

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Overview

In the Age of Revolution, how did American women conceive their lives and marital obligations? By examining the attitudes and behaviors surrounding the contentious issues of family, contraception, abortion, sexuality, beauty, and identity, Susan E. Klepp demonstrates that many women—rural and urban, free and enslaved—began to radically redefine motherhood. They asserted, or attempted to assert, control over their bodies, their marriages, and their daughters' opportunities.

Late-eighteenth-century American women were among the first in the world to disavow the continual childbearing and large families that had long been considered ideal. Liberty, equality, and heartfelt religion led to new conceptions of virtuous, rational womanhood and responsible parenthood. These changes can be seen in falling birthrates, in advice to friends and kin, in portraits, and in a gradual, even reluctant, shift in men's opinions. Revolutionary-era women redefined femininity, fertility, family, and their futures by limiting births. Women might not have won the vote in the new Republic, they might not have gained formal rights in other spheres, but, Klepp argues, there was a women's revolution nonetheless.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807833223
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
12/01/2009
Series:
Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

List of Illustrations ix

List of Table xiii

Introduction First to Fall: Fertility, American Women, and Revolution 1

1 Starting, Spacing, and Stopping: The Statistics of Birth and Family Size 21

2 Old Ways and New 56

3 Women's Words 88

4 Beauty and the Bestial: Images of Women 128

5 Potions, Pills, and Jumping Ropes: The Technology of Birth Control 179

6 Increase and Multiply: Embarrassed Men and Public Order 215

7 Reluctant Revolutionaries 248

Conclusion: Fertility and the Feminine in Early America 272

Appendix 287

Index 305

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