“Unmanly Men!”: Quakers, Indians, and the Shifting Rhetorics of American Manhood During the Age of Revolutions
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From the Seven Years’ War through the end of the American Revolution, masculinity remained a disputed marker of identity that offered minority groups opportunities to use rhetoric of manhood as a means for accessing and maintaining power. For two such groups, regionally marginalized Delaware Indian leaders and influential but demographically outnumbered Quaker officials, the performance of their status as men became crucial to their positions and ability to shape policies. As larger events reshaped gender conceptions in both societies, these men adjusted their rhetoric and positions to meet the new expectations of them as masculine authorities. By examining the experience of the Delaware leader, Teedyuscung, alongside those of his Quaker neighbors, insights can be gained about the fundamental role gender played in shaping early American society. The wide power differential between each side shows that concerns with masculinity were ubiquitous in the Mid-Atlantic during the period and not wholly dependent on race or class. This also suggests that neither side was capable of unilaterally imposing their understanding of manhood on the other. Instead, white Pennsylvanians and Delaware Indians adapted their conceptions in response to local conditions while also borrowing ideas from one another. Recognizing this fact provides another example of the necessity for incorporating indigenous history into the narrative of America’s founding and shows their essential contribution to the country’s national identity. Furthermore, acknowledging that white attitudes concerning masculinity were informed by their relations with Indian groups forces the acceptance that these men constructed a gender system that supported their pretensions to racial superiority.
Society of Friends
Seven Years' War
Batchelor, Raymond Alan (2016). “Unmanly Men!”: Quakers, Indians, and the Shifting Rhetorics of American Manhood During the Age of Revolutions. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from