Family as the Cornerstone of American Society

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The family as the cornerstone of American society between the 17th and 19th century

''The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nature, preserve and pass onto each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are foundation for our freedoms. In the family, we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights, and responsibilities, human dignity and human frailty. Our families give us daily examples of these lessons being put into practice. In raising and instructing our children, in providing personal and compassionate care for the elderly, in maintaining the spiritual strength of religious commitment among our people-in these and other ways, America's families make immeasurable contributions to American's well-being. Today more than ever, it is essential that these contributions not to be taken for granted and that each of us remember that the strength of our families is vital to the strength of our nation."- President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan

"Family 1. a) The servants of a house or establishment b) the household c) the retinue of a nobleman or grandee d) the staff of a high military officer e) a troop, school. 2. The body of persons who live in one house or under one head, including parents, children, servants, etc. 3. The group of persons consisting of the parents and their children, whether actually living together or not; in a wider sense, the unity formed by those who are nearly connected by blood or affinity. 4. Those descended or claiming descent from a common ancestor; a house; kindred; lineage." (Source: Oxford English Dictionary)


2.The Early ages and the Colonial era
2.3.Colonial Williamsburg
2.4.Afro- American families
3.The family transformed – 18th century
4.The family in the 19th century

1. Introduction

There has never been just one type of family in the United States of America . African, Indian, and European peoples have each had their own traditional family structures, ceremonies, rites of passage, and taboos. The structure of family life for all groups underwent transformations during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that changed the way parents and children and husbands and wives perceived themselves one to another and in relation to the larger society. In the early ages each person identified him- or herself as a member of a people, a clan, a family, and a household. A people, the national grouping, was unified by language and culture. The clan was the largest subdivision of a people, by definition a kinship grouping since every member of a clan traced its origin from a common ancestor, either through the father's or the mother's line. The family included not just parents and children but also grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and other relatives. The household was the smallest family. It was restricted to parents, children, and sometimes grandparents. By the end of the eighteenth century, the white American family had begun developing a family structure that we now recognize as modern: one that was essentially nuclear, openly affectionate and child-centered. Such families appeared first among the gentry class of the society. Little by little, they became a model for other groups, and eventually the pattern for the modern American family, or, strangely enough, what we again often refer to as the "traditional" family

2. 2The early ages and the colonial era

. During the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century, when Americans from European backgrounds spoke about family, they often referred to what we would call households—as I already mentioned: people who happen to be living together. In addition to the husband, wife, and children, in the early ages this could include servants, apprentices, and sometimes slaves. These...
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