Americans have an unusually strong family ideology. We believe that morally self-sufficient nuclear households must serve as the foundation of a republican society. In this brilliant history, Barry Levy traces this contemporary view of family life all the way back to the Quakers.
_____ Levy argues that the Quakers brought a new vision of family and social life to America--one that contrasted sharply with the harsh, formal world of the Puritans in New England. The Quaker emphasis was on affection, friendship and hospitality. They stressed the importance of women in the home, and of self-disciplined, non-coercive childrearing.
_____ This book explains how and why the Quakers' had such a profound cultural impact (and why more so in Pennsylvania and America than in England); and what the Quakers' experience with their own radical family system can tell us about American family ideology.
______ Who were the Northwest British Quakers and why did their family system so impress English, French, and New England reformers--Voltaire, Crevecouer, Brissot, Emerson, George Bancroft, Lydia Maria Child, and Lousia May Alcott, to name just a few? To answer this question, Levy tells the story of a large group of Quaker farmers from their development of a new family and communal life in England in the 1650s to their emigration and experience in Pennsylvania between 1681 and 1790. The book is thus simultaneously a trans-Atlantic community study of the migration and transplantation of ordinary British peoples in the tradition of Sumner Chilton Powell'sPuritan Village; the story of the formation and development of a major Anglo-American faith; and an exploration of the origins of American family ideology.
"This book represents recent social and intellectual history at its best. Like a finely cut gem, its carefully coordinated facets glitter and shine....[Levy's] analysis is subtle and complex, blending intellectual, social, economic, and demographic sources....All students of 'American republicanism' as well as Quakerism should read and study this book; they will be well rewarded."--History: Review of New Books
"Levy's study of the origins and fortunes of the domestic family could hardly be more timely and welcome....Levy's data are consistently impressive....A wonderfully provocative history....Necessary reading for any history of Quakerism, the family, and women in Anglo-American culture."--William and Mary Quarterly
"An important book for both family historians and family sociologists because it seeks to revise the historical argument regarding the origins of the modern American family....A major contribution to family literature. Levy's exhaustive historical research in tracing a cohort of Quaker families from England to the Delaware family through several generations provides new evidence to refute old arguments, which will be debated for some time."--Contemporary
"A solid social history of the transplantation of Welsh and Cheshire Quakers from northwestern Britain to the Radnor and Chester Meeting Tracts just west of Philadelphia....Well-researched and, on the whole, judiciously interpreted."--Reviews in American History
"Stimulating."--Journal of American Studies
"Levy's arguments should interest students of the histories of women, the family, and American religion."--Religious Studies Review