1st Edition

Over the Threshold Intimate Violence in Early America

Edited By Christine Daniels, Michael V. Kennedy Copyright 1999

    Over the Threshold is the first in-depth work to explore the topic of intimate violence in the American colonies and the early Republic. The essays examine domestic violence in both urban and frontier environments, between husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and slaves. This compelling collection puts commonly held notions about intimate violence under strict historical scrutiny, often producing surprising results.

    OVERVIEWS 1. Christine Daniels--Intimate Violence, Now and Then 2. G. S. Rowe and Jack D. Marietta--Personal Violence in a Peaceable Kingdom: Pennsylvania, 1682-1801 3. Jacquelyn C. Miller--Governing the Passions: The Eighteenth-Century Quest for Domestic Harmony in Philadelphia's Middle-Class Households HUSBANDS, WIVES, AND LOVERS 4. Randolph A. Roth--Spousal Murder in Northern New England, 1776-1865 5. Edward E. Baptist--My Mind is to Drown You and Leave You Behind: 'Omie Wise', Intimate Violence, and Masculinity 6. Ed Hatton--He Murdered Her Because He Loved Her: Passion, Masculinity and Intimate Homicide in Antebellum America 7. Jenifer Banks--A New Home for Whom? Caroline Kirkland and Domestic Abuse on the Michigan Frontier 8. Stephanie Cole--Keeping the Peace: Domestic Assault and Private Prosecution in Antebellum Baltimore PARENTS AND CHILDREN 9. Merril D. Smith--Unnatural Mothers: Infanticide, Motherhood, and Class in the Mid-Atlantic, 1730-1830 10. James D. Rice--Laying Claim to Elizabeth Shoemaker: Family Violence on Baltimore's Waterfront, 1808-1812 11. Jeffrey H. Richards--Decorous Violence: Manners, Class, and Abuse in Rebecca Rush's Kelroy MASTERS, SERVANTS, AND SLAVES 12. Terri L. Snyder--As If There Were Not Master or Woman in the Land: Gender, Dependency, and Household Violence in Virginia, 1646-1720 13. Trevor Burnard--A Theater of Terror: Domestic Violence in Thomas Thistlewood's Jamaica, 1750-1786 14. T. Stephen Whitman--I Have Got the Gun and Will Do As I Please with Her: African-Americans and Violence in Maryland, 1782-1830 15. Christopher Morris--Within the Slave Cabin: Violence in Mississippi Slave Families Contributors' Biographies Index


    Christine Daniels and Michael V. Kennedy are both Assistant Professors of History at Michigan State University. Professor Daniels has published several articles on labor in early America. Professor Kennedy is co-editor, with William G. Shade, of The World Turned Upside-Down: Essays on the State of Colonial North-American Studies.

    "Over the Threshold is a fine collections of essays that will appeal to graduate and undergraduate audiences as well as scholars of early American women, crime, sexuality, families and labor. The volume provides a fascinating exploration of the many facets of intimate violence in early America." -- Journal of Southern History
    "The places and time covered, the inventive use of sources, and the rigor with which they are analyzed, make this collection valuable as both academic history and a teaching tool. Together, these essays fill a gap in the early American historiography and set the stage for future studies." -- Maryland Historical Magazine
    "Contributors offer interesting accounts of physical abuse (involving slaves and children, as well as women) in the context of specific locations and times...For its breadth, more unusual subject matter, and readability, Over the Threshhold is the more distinctive [when compared with Understanding Domestic Homicide]." -- Library Journal
    "A fascinating and disturbing collection offering a new angle of vision on relations between men and women in early America. I predict a wide readership for this book." -- Linda K. Kerber, author of No Constitutional Right to be Ladies
    "Like the classic study, Albion's Fatal Tree, Over the Threshold combines first-rate scholarship with fascinating reading. Ranging from spousal murders in Northern New England to domestic slave abuses in Mississippi, these essays persuasively show how subtly interwoven were early American social conventions, applications of justice, and the never-ending complications of gender, race, class, and rapid social change. Often as gripping as a novel, this book richly deserves a large and appreciative audience." -- Bertram Wyatt-Brown, author of Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South
    "A first-rate collection on the history of 'intimate violence' in colonial America and the United States from the second half of the seventeenth century to the eve of the Civil War, convincingly demonstrating both the historical context and the nature and patterns of change in the levels of violence over time. The essays, both extremely readable and uniformly of high quality, tell fascinating, often riveting, stories of love, lust and general mayhem." -- William Shade, author of Democratizing the Old Dominion
    "The articles in this anthology cover a wide range of environments, from not so peace-loving Quaker Philadelphia to brutal slave plantations in Jamaica. The authors investigate both patterns familiar to our own times, such as wife and child abuse and infanticide, as well as ones peculiar to those times, such as routine violence directed at servants and slaves. The articles are fresh, eye-opening, and bring to light the extent of routine violence and the extensive communal and legal means available to end it." -- Elizabeth Pleck, author of Domestic Tyranny: The Making of Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to Present
    "... particularly compelling." -- The Journal of Interdisciplinary History