Characteristics Of Colonial American Society

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In Gordon Wood’s The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Wood explains how the American Revolution was different than any of the other revolutions that had taken place before. He states that it was unlike any other prior revolution in the way that it changed the “personal and social relationships of people,” (Wood 7). Colonial America had many characteristics of a true pre-modern society and two of them were hierarchical structure and extended families. Hierarchical structure, borrowed from the English, was extremely essential to colonial America. It was so significant that much of their society was based on the order of the social classes. The same also went for extended families. A characteristic of pre-modern societies, extended families…show more content…
Throughout the chapter “Hierarchy”, Wood explores this structure and how traditional it was. Wood continuously reminds the readers of the fact that “in some respects colonial society [is] more traditional than that of the mother country,” (Wood 12). Hierarchy was very ingrained into the colonists’ minds and since the colonists were still subjects of the King of England, they followed much of the monarchial structure that was set in England. The monarchial structure is essentially the same as hierarchy, except with one person at the top instead of a group of people. Wood notes that the colonists had no other social system to derive from than England’s, so many similarities between both societies existed. Also, the fact that Americans were fascinated by the King and perhaps more patriotic than the English people became a large part of the reason why Americans believed “hierarchy of a monarchial society was part of the natural order of things,” (Wood…show more content…
They are never focused on an individual, instead an individual is considered part of a whole. That is why extended families and households were prided upon. Extended families were created by “inbreeding and intermarrying,” (Wood 44) which created various relationships between relatives. This pre-modern tradition borrowed from the Europeans of having extended families was upheld and taken very seriously in colonial America. In the chapter “Patriarchal Dependence”, Wood identifies extended families as a characteristic of a pre-modern society. They were “the basic institution in the society and the center for all rights and obligations,” (Wood 44). Wood also explains that the household in general was a very important part of the colonies. According to Wood, “the family household was…the place where most of the work in the society was done,” (Wood 44). These complicated families were integral to a pre-modern society because they ran most of the
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