Children in Colonial America Essay

Children in Colonial America Essay

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The various essays comprising Children in Colonial America look at different characteristics of childhood in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Children coming to the American colonies came from many different nations and through these essays, authors analyze children from every range of social class, race, and ability in order to present a broad picture of childhood in these times. While each essay deals with an individual topic pertaining to childhood, they all combine to provide a strong argument that children were extremely valued in society, were not tiny adults, and were active participants in society.
Children in the early colonies were valued because they were the key to the thriving future of the colonies. Marten chooses essays about Aztec Mexico and New Spain to strengthen his argument by showing evidence this is true in areas surrounding the colonies. In these areas, women dying while giving birth “were compared to the soldiers who succumbed in battle” because they were fighting to give their society new life (14). Each child was important because he or she was malleable and could be taught the society’s culture and trades that would make the society flourish.
Since children were so highly regarded for their ability to be taught, idiocy was an extreme hardship for parents, because it “represented the antithesis of Puritan parents’ aspirations for their children” (142). Idiocy blocked children from being able to be independent and competent adults, and parents who had worked hard to meet this goal for their children were embarrassed and judged by others in their community. These children would never carry on the values of their parents and religious folk were even more concerned that they would die sinners be...


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... especially prior to 1877, because the children represent the future of these colonies and the ways they are raised and treated reflect the values of the families and the goals of the societies themselves. Learning more about children in these early American colonies will give further insight into the culture of these colonists. Overall, James Marten successfully supports his argument that children were valued in early American colonies, were not just tiny adults but actually had a childhood, and were active participants in these societies. By presenting his chosen works in a way that makes his evidence clear, he makes it evident to the reader that learning about children in early American colonies is essential to learning about the colonies themselves.



Works Cited

Marten, James. Children in Colonial America. New York and London: New York University Press, 2007.

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