By Joseph E. Illick
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23 Because Chesapeake society in the seventeenth century was largely populated by male immigrant servants who were not free to marry until they had served their terms and who died early in the disease environment, families were signiWcantly smaller than in New England. Not only were there fewer children per nuclear unit, but there were lots more orphans. qxd 4/25/02 3:12 PM Page 25 European American Childhood 25 pregnancy was seen neither as a time of special power (as among some American Indians) nor as a burden (as among some English).
58 The parents of John Adams, Susannah and John, taught their son to read early and put him in school, even allowing him to change from one master to another at his request, and certainly encouraging him to enter Harvard. ”59 Like Josiah Franklin, John Adams the elder was a reasonable man. Of course, the revolutionaries of 1776 were recruited not only from moderate households. Historian Philip Greven has observed that the issues of power and authority raised at that time provoked three distinctive responses.
The economic interdependence of the family was assumed, even to the point of suspecting emotional family ties. Religious institutions reinforced this ideology. 65 Such was the case when New Englanders moved to upstate New York, for example, and the situation remained the same as Americans marched across the continent. 66 And these conditions prevailed as settlers pushed further westward. Woman were constantly pregnant, the child mortality rate was high, and surviving youngsters were expected to work hard, usually at gender-deWned jobs.
American Childhoods by Joseph E. Illick