Friends and Lovers Friendship and Romance in Mixed-Sex Friendships in the Early American Republic
Cassandra Good, University of Pennsylvania
This paper examines the lines between mixed-sex friendships and romantic relationships in the early American republic. Given the overwhelming cultural focus on marriage and seduction in this era, it was hard for people then—as it is for historians today—to distinguish between friendship and romance. Without prescriptions for how to conduct a heterosocial friendship, men and women had the opportunity to collectively define the emotional and sexual character of a relationship. Through an examination of literary texts and manuscripts, I argue that men and women adapted the sign system of romance to create new, more flexible possibilities for heterosocial relationships.
Founding Fathers/Founders as Fathers: Raising a Natural Aristocracy in Virginia
Lorri Glover, St. Louis University
Thomas Jefferson theorized that in the new American republic a “natural aristocracy” based on talent and achievement would supersede the hereditary power structure of the colonial order. But gender sharply, inviolably bisected this new ethic, both in the rhetoric of revolutionaries and in their households. Gender dictated how the heirs of the founders went about securing a place in the American meritocracy, a lesson that Jefferson assiduously taught his daughters and granddaughters. Using the family papers of Thomas Jefferson, this essay interrogates girl-rearing in the revolutionary age to reveal the intimate and intricate connections between political ideals and family values.
Commentator: Thomas Foster, DePaul University
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