Ye Heart of a Man: The Domestic Life of Men in Colonial New England

Overview

This book is the first to investigate the everyday lives of men in prerevolutionary America. It looks at men and women in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut, comparing their experiences in order to understand the domestic environment in which they spent most of their time. Lisa Wilson tells wonderful stories of colonial New England men, addressing the challenges of youth, the responsibilities of adulthood, and the trials of aging. She finds that ideas about patriarchy or nineteenth-century notions of separate...
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Overview

This book is the first to investigate the everyday lives of men in prerevolutionary America. It looks at men and women in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut, comparing their experiences in order to understand the domestic environment in which they spent most of their time. Lisa Wilson tells wonderful stories of colonial New England men, addressing the challenges of youth, the responsibilities of adulthood, and the trials of aging. She finds that ideas about patriarchy or nineteenth-century notions of separate spheres for men and women fail to explain the world that these early New England men describe. Patriarchal power, although certainly real enough, was tempered by notions of obligation, duty, and affection. These men created their identities in a multigendered, domestic world. A man was defined by his usefulness in this domestic context; as part of an interdependent family, his goal was service to family and community, not the self-reliant independence of the next century's "self-made" man.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For the past generation, a cohort of professional historians have focused on the lives of women in Colonial America. Foremost among these have been authors like Laurel Ulrich Thatcher (Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, Vintage, 1991. reprint) and Mary Beth Norton (Founding Mothers and Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society, LJ 3/1/96). Now Wilson (history, Connecticut Coll.) turns the spotlight on Colonial men. Her examination of diaries, letters, and other manuscripts reveals surprisingly that the average Colonial man viewed himself (and was viewed by others) as a member of a domestic, familial unit in which he had rights as well as obligations. Most husbands and wives worked together--the concept of the man occupying the "public sphere" while the woman stayed at home belonged more to the 19th century than to the previous ones. Wilson's clear, engaging writing is authoritative and free of doctrinaire cant. Recommended for all large academic and public libraries.--Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300085501
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 A "Business for Life" 13
Ch. 2 "It Will Not Injure You": Men and Courtship 37
Ch. 3 A Husband "Well-Ordered" 75
Ch. 4 Provider 99
Ch. 5 "Ye Heart of a Father" 115
Ch. 6 Widower 143
Ch. 7 "Like an Armed Man": Retirement and Manhood 171
Conclusion 186
Notes 189
Index 241
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