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Patriarchal Policing of Sex in the Early United States

  • Mark E. Kann (a1)
Extract

On the eve of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin published a satire instructing the British on humbling their American vassals. The British could castrate American males, thereby reducing American population growth. The logistics were simple: “Let a company of sow-gelders, consisting of 100 men, accompany the army. On their arrival at any town or village, let orders be given that on their blowing of the horn all the males be assembled in the market place. If the corps are men of skill and ability in their profession, they will make great dispatch, and retard but very little the progress of the army” (Franklin 1987, 718). Satire aside, Franklin's generation believed that sex and reproduction had a significant impact on the independence, strength, and durability of nations.

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