A Republic of Men: The American Founders, Gendered Language, by Mark E. Kann

By Mark E. Kann

What function did manhood play in early American Politics? In A Republic of Men, Mark E. Kann argues that the yankee founders aspired to create a "republic of fellows" yet feared that "disorderly males" threatened its start, well-being, and sturdiness. Kann demonstrates how hegemonic norms of manhood–exemplified by means of "the relations Man," for instance--were deployed as a method of stigmatizing unworthy males, lucrative liable males with citizenship, and empowering extraordinary males with positions of management and authority, whereas except ladies from public life.

Kann means that the founders devoted themselves in conception to the democratic proposition that every one males have been created loose and equivalent and will now not be ruled with no their very own consent, yet that they not at all believed that "all males" can be relied on with equivalent liberty, equivalent citizenship, or equivalent authority. The founders constructed a "grammar of manhood" to handle a few tough questions about public order. have been America's disorderly males certified for citizenship? have been they prone to realize manly leaders, consent to their authority, and defer to their knowledge? A Republic of Men compellingly analyzes the ways that the founders used a rhetoric of manhood to stabilize American politics.

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Additional info for A Republic of Men: The American Founders, Gendered Language, and Patriarchal Politics

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For example, Samuel Adams opposed “effeminate” refinements that seduced men into the self-indulgence and corruption associated with disorderly women. ” Only men who mastered female vices could ward off tyranny and establish a republic. However, not all uses of effeminacy conveyed gender opposition or misogyny. ” And Mercy Otis Warren was not expressing misogyny toward women when criticizing General William Howe for enjoying “effeminate and reprehensible pleasures . . 40 We can also detect gender opposition in founding-era metaphors.

9 The patriots proved themselves their fathers’ equals; they inherited but also merited liberty. The founders called on the dictum that each male generation was obligated to prove its worth as leverage for recruiting colonists to the cause of liberty. In , Silas Downer instructed Americans “manfully to oppose every invasion of our rights” so as to preserve and deserve their fathers’ legacy: Our fathers fought and found freedom in the wilderness; they clothed themselves in the skins of wild beasts and lodged under trees among bushes; but in that state they were happy because they were free.

A second reason the founders joined manhood and liberty was to promote an ethic of self-restraint. , honored “manly sentiments” that enjoined men to sacrifice “health, ease, estate, or even life” for freedom. Paine gloried in the “manly and martial spirit” that disciplined soldiers and Benjamin Franklin cheered the “manly constancy” that kept men calm in the midst of hardship. S. ”3 Men who engaged in licentious conduct and democratic excess deserved to be marginalized, stigmatized, ostracized, and even deprived of liberty, while those who exhibited manly self-restraint earned the freedom to practice responsible citizenship and promote the public good.

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