In this pioneering study of the ways in which the first settlers defined the power, prerogatives, and responsibilities of the sexes, one of our most incisive historians opens a window onto the world of Colonial America. Drawing on a wealth of contemporary documents, Mary Beth Norton tells the story of the Pinion clan, whose two-generation record of theft, adultery, and infanticide may have made them our first dysfunctional family. She reopens the case of Mistress Ann Hibbens, whose church excommunicated her for arguing that God had told husbands to listen to their wives. And here is the enigma of Thomas, or Thomasine Hall, who lived comfortably as both a man and a woman in 17th century Virginia. Wonderfully erudite and vastly readable, Founding Mothers & Fathers reveals both the philosophical assumptions and intimate domestic arrangements of our colonial ancestors in all their rigor, strangeness, and unruly passion.
"An important, imaginative book. Norton destroys our nostalgic image of a 'golden age' of family life and re-creates a more complex past whose assumptions and anxieties are still with us."--Raleigh News and Observer
About the Author
Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University, received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. She teaches courses in the history of exploration, early America, women's history, Atlantic world, and American Revolution. Her many books have won prizes from the Society of American Historians, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and English-Speaking Union. Her book, FOUNDING MOTHERS & FATHERS (1996), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2011 her book SEPARATED BY THEIR SEX: WOMEN IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE IN THE COLONIAL ATLANTIC WORLD was published. She was Pitt Professor of American History at the University of Cambridge in 2005-2006. The Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and Huntington Library, among others, have awarded her fellowships. Professor Norton has served on the National Council for the Humanities and is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has appeared on Book TV, the History and Discovery Channels, PBS, and NBC as a commentator on Early American history.