In the early years of the Republic, as Americans tried to determine what it meant to be an American, they also wondered what it meant to be an American child. A defensive, even fearful, approach to childhood gave way to a more optimistic campaign to integrate young Americans into the Republican experiment.
In Children and Youth in a New Nation, historians unearth the experiences of and attitudes about children and youth during the decades following the American Revolution. Beginning with the revolution itself, the contributors explore a broad range of topics, from the ways in which American children and youth participated in and learned from the revolt and its aftermaths, to developing notions of “ideal” childhoods as they were imagined by new religious denominations and competing ethnic groups, to the struggle by educators over how the society that came out of the Revolution could best be served by its educational systems. The volume concludes by foreshadowing future “child-saving” efforts by reformers committed to constructing adequate systems of public health and child welfare institutions.
Rooted in the historical literature and primary sources, Children and Youth in a New Nation is a key resource in our understanding of origins of modern ideas about children and youth and the conflation of national purpose and ideas related to child development.
Children and Youth in a New Nation is a thoroughly enjoyable read; its articles are lively, pithy, and accessible. Those who use it as a course reader will appreciate the inclusion of study questions, three lengthy primary source excerpts, and an excellent bibliographic essay.
The Journal of American History
Children and Youth in a New Nation is a rich and welcomed introduction to the many faces of childhood in America from the Revolution to the eve of the Civil War. The history of childhood is often treated as a marginal topic, disconnected from major historical themes. This volume seeks to correct that misperception by demonstrating that the growth of the republic and the emergence of new ideas about childhood and the shifting experience of actual children were inextricably linked.
Steven Mintz,Columbia University, and author of Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood
The collection of essays edited by Marten, Children and Youth in a New Nation, forgrounds the dual role that children play within society - as individuals and as representatives of adult ideals and aspirations.
Mary Niall Mitchell
William and Mary Quarterly
[T]his is a creatively designed collection that will provoke fruitful classroom discussion and serve as a very good source for historians and students interested in children, youth, cultural history, republicanism, and the history of the early republic.
The Journal of Southern History
This fine collection [also] contributes to the understanding of particular groups, such as bicultural Creek children, the Shakers, and orphans in the Southwest borderlands.”