Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder: Wives in North America, 1750-1800

Date of Award


Degree Type

Archival Copy

First Advisor

Joseph Adelman


Wives of the American men who traveled for work in the era of the American Revolution, particularly politics, were usually left at home to tend to the family business or farm and raise the children. While also managing their roles as mothers and their domestic affairs as wives, they were seen as partners with their husbands, but simultaneously subservient because the male was most commonly seen as the head of household. However, in letter correspondence between husband and wife, the separation of spheres and the development of specific gender roles were defined in the women’s defiance to command her own authority inside the house. By using historians’ theoretical terms for women’s roles from the mid to late eighteenth century – republican motherhood, separation of spheres, and the cult of domesticity – this essay examines the division between men and women’s roles through Deborah Franklin, Abigail Adams and Rebecca Faulkner Foster and the correspondence they maintained with their respective husbands.

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