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.