Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraphs

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This project has been more than a decade in the making, and I owe many debts, of inspiration and aid, to more people than I can count and probably more than I will remember to acknowledge here. The faculty I had the good fortune to work with at the University of Califonia at Los Angeles were wonderful: from Gary Nash and Daniel Howe, who shaped my perspective and questions...

Contents

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p. xiii

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Introduction: Limiting and Developing Individual Consent: Children and Anglo-American Revolutionary Ideology

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pp. 1-16

In sixteenth-century England, children over age seven were of ‘‘ripe age’’ to marry (under seven they could contract only ‘‘espousals,’’ or betrothals). Four-year-olds could make wills to give away their goods and chattels. Children of any age could bind themselves into apprenticeships. Eight-year-olds could be hanged for arson or any other felony. Teenagers were routinely elected to Parliament. Children...

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1: Children, Inherited Power, and Patriarchal Ideology

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pp. 17-44

After his election to the House of Burgesses for Elizabeth City, Virginia, ‘‘Mr.’’ Willis Wilson, eighteen years old, traveled to Jamestown to attend the session of April 1692. The voters had chosen him to hold his father’s former seat, but the Committee of Elections and Privileges objected. After some debate, the full house refused to accept him as a burgess, he ‘‘appearing to this house to be under the Age of one and...

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2: ‘‘Borne That Princes Subjects’’? or ‘‘Christianity Is No Man’s Birth Right’’?: The Religious Debate over Inherited Right and Consent to Membership

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pp. 45-86

Ann Greenough died at age five, but luckily, or so Cotton Mather hoped, not before converting. She ‘‘gave astonishing Discoveries of a Regard unto god and christ, and her own Soul.’’ ‘‘She would put strange questions about Eternal Things, and make answers her self that were extreamly pertinent.’’ Indeed, her faith and understanding were such that she was ‘‘willing to die.’’ Told and retold in one of the only...

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3: The Dilemmas of Government by Consent and the Problem of Children: Force, Influence, Implied Consent, and Inherited Obligation

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pp. 87-128

Dissenters were the core opponents of patriarchal ideology during the seventeenth century: radical religious ideology about choosing church membership and interpreting the Bible for themselves pushed them toward an ideology that emphasized choice in political allegiance. Indeed, the most influential political theorists, especially in...

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4: Subjects or Citizens? Inherited Right versus Reason, Merit, and Virtue

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pp. 129-149

On July 6, 1776, Joseph Plumb Martin sat staring at the ‘‘enlisting orders’’ in front of him, hesitant to sign. His grandfather, with whom he lived, refused to agree to his joining up, as Joseph was only fifteen. ‘‘I took up the pen, loaded it with the fatal charge, made several mimic imitations of writing my name, but took especial care not to touch the paper with the pen.’’ Then someone jostled him from behind, ‘‘which...

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5: ‘‘To Stop the Mouths’’ of Children: Reason and the Common Law

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pp. 150-180

In 1784, twelve-year-old Susannah Brown was not allowed to testify against the man who raped her, because the Virginia judges thought her too young. These same judges, however, deemed her old enough to consent to marry the same man. Why such inconsistency? The answer is embedded in the tension within the common law between...

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6: Understanding Intent: Children and the Reform of Guilt and Punishment

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pp. 181-229

In Exeter, England, in 1641, Peter Moore, an apprentice apothecary, was executed for poisoning his master. Since he had just begun his service, we can guess that he was fourteen. But his age was not an issue in the case, nor for Moore himself in his deathbed confession, The Apprentices Warning-Piece. The surviving records of the assize courts from sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury England, where most...

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7: The Emergence of Parental Custody: Children and Consent to Contracts for Land, Goods, and Labor

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pp. 230-287

In February 1752, the churchwardens of Frederick Parish, in Virginia, bound four white children whose father had died into apprenticeships: Jonathan Rose (age thirteen), Hannah Rose (nine), Abigail Rose (five), and Isaac Rose (one). Likewise, they bound John Smith (three) and his sister Eleanor (six) in August 1752 (both also white) to learn the ‘‘skills’’ of ‘‘husbandry’’ and spinning and sewing, respectively...

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8: ‘‘Partly by Persuasions and Partly by Threats’’: Parents, Children, and Consent to Marriage

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pp. 288-337

In Virginia, in 1689, Mary Hathaway, only child and heir of Thomas Hathaway, deceased, married William Williams. She was nine years old. Two years later, accompanied by two lawyers well versed in the law, she appealed to the Sta√ord County Court to release her from the marriage on the grounds that ‘‘never any further rites of Marriage have passed betwixt us but the bare verbal Ceremonies’’ and...

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The Empire of the Fathers: From Birth to the Consent of Whom?

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pp. 338-368

When he encountered Blackstone’s admission that ‘‘some of our common lawyers have held that an infant of any age (even four years old) might make a testament,’’ the eminent legal scholar William Holdsworth wrote, ‘‘This is clearly a misprint for fourteen.’’ Those who have stumbled across evidence of age limits of fourteen...

Appendix: Legal Treatises Used by Americans before the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 369-376

Index

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pp. 377-390