To understand the ways in which politics, religion, and daily life intersected in the eighteenth-century American colonies, it is important to realize the extent of European—especially British—an influence that coexisted with the growing influences of local customs and practices, new religious beliefs, and the intellectual currents of the Enlightenment. Distinctive regional identities began to develop, while traditional gender roles persisted. This was a transatlantic world, and ideas floated freely across the ocean—published in tracts, treatises, and increasingly in newspapers.
One of the key elements of eighteenth-century religious, intellectual, political, and domestic life was the continual discussion and debate over the role of the individual in society—both in the familial setting and in the larger community. As you study the following documents, think about how they represent the relationship between the individual and the family/community in the eighteenth century. In your response, explain how these documents reckon with the ideas of equality and responsibility. Taken together, what do they reveal about the relationship between new ideas and traditional gender roles in pre-Revolutionary America?
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