I. Democratic Republicanism
A. Social & Political Equality for White Men
1. Republican ideology proclaimed:
a. Legal equality for all free men
b. Yet, Americans accepted social divisions if they were based on personal achievements. 2. Some Americans (from long-distinguished families) questioned the morality of a social order based on mobility & financial success. 3. By the 1810s, Republicanism meant voting rights for all free white men. 4. Americans increasingly rejected the deferential political views of Federalists who called for “a speaking aristocracy in the face of a silent democracy.” 5. As the political power of middling & poor white men grew, the rights & status of white women & free blacks declined. B. Toward a Republican Marriage System
1. European & American husbands:
a. Had long dominated their wives
b. Controlled the family’s property.
2. Women argued that the subordination of women was at odds with the republican belief in equal natural rights. 3. Economic & cultural changes eroded customary paternal authority a. Parents could no longer use land as an incentive to control their children’s lives & marriages. 4. As the passions of the heart overwhelmed the cool logic of the mind, a new marriage system appeared. 5. Rather than seeking to control them, fathers now sought to protect the best interests of their children. 6. Theoretically, the republican ideal of “companionate” marriage gave wives equality with their husbands; in reality, husbands still controlled the property. 7. Before 1800, most petitioners for divorce charged their spouses with neglect, abandonment, or adultery; after 1800, emotional grounds dominated divorce petitions. C. Republican Motherhood
1. Main responsibilities of a married woman:
a. running the household
b. raising the children.
2. Beginning 19C the U.S. experienced a sharp decline in the birthrate a. Fewer children meant fathers could provide better for each b. Mothers were no longer willing to spend all their active years bearing & rearing children. 3. Political leaders called upon women to become: a. “Republican wives” & “Republican mothers” who would shape the characters of American men. 4. Christian ministers:
a. Embraced the idea of republican motherhood b. Some envisioned a public role for women based on their domestic virtues. D. Raising & Educating Republican Children
1. Most American states required the estate of a man be divided among all his children if he died without a will. (Unlike the English custom of primogeniture) 2. Some felt that Republicanism encouraged American parents to relax parental discipline & give their children greater freedom. 3. Well-to-do Americans (influenced by the Enlightenment) a. Believed children were “rational creatures” b. Believed children could be trained to act properly & responsibly. 4. Many poor families (influenced by the Second Great Awakening): a. had much stricter, authoritarian parents. 5. Values taught w/in families were crucial because most education took place w/in the home. 6. Many state constitutions encouraged the use of public resources to fund primary schools…BUT a. there was not much progress until the 1820s. 7. Textbooks:
a. Praised honesty & hard work...