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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The early modern period, spanning 1500 to 1800, was a vital one for what became the United States, and families were critical to the colonies that underpinned it. Households determined lines of belonging and governance; they gave status and formed a central source of power for both women and men. They also functioned symbolically: creating metaphors for authority (father-king) as well as actual sources of authority. Colonialism, or the imposition of foreign governing regimes, also shaped families and intimacies. The regulation of domestic life was a central feature of colonial power, even as individual families, both settler and indigenous, breached rules that authorities sought to impose. This chapter considers the importance of lineage and households, as well as the effects of war, epidemics, and slavery. It traces a range of households, Native American, African, and Euro-American, to argue for the central importance of families in shaping colonial North America.

Keywords: family, household, marriage, lineage, colonialism, war, epidemic, slavery, power

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