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Restoring Republican Motherhood

Author Caty Greene

As a mother, I have a unique duty to preserve our republic through the upbringing of my children.  This is not a new concept.  In fact, republican motherhood was a real thing during the formation of our country.  Revolutionary women discussed motherhood as if it were a fourth branch of government.[i]  The education of children was for the good of the nation, to preserve the civic virtue of future republican citizens.

Let me be clear that when I use the word republican, I am not speaking of the current partisan party.  Republican means the system of government that the Architects built – all seven boundaries of it.

If we want to influence the wider political sphere, mothers can begin right in our own homes.  In the era of shutdowns, lockdowns, and homeschooling, we have an opportunity to blend civic duties into our domestic ones.  As Founder Benjamin Rush stated, women play an important role in “molding the minds, morals and manners of the nation.”[ii]  In order to do this, we need the proper tools and training.

First, we must correct our own lack of civic education.  What system of government do we have?  How many boundaries does it have?  Why are boundaries important?  For that matter, what exactly is a boundary?  Fortunately, there are many educational resources out there a concerned mother can tap into.  Hillsdale College’s free online courses are a great place to start.[iii]

Second, we can no longer be passive in our civic involvement.  We have allowed public education to become a free babysitting service that undermines the very republic we wish to preserve.  Parents, not government, are the primary stakeholder in a child’s future and we must take back the responsibility and control we have wittingly or unwittingly relinquished.  Even if one doesn’t have children in the public school system, all concerned Americans must all work to mold public education into something that will strengthen the republic – not work to its detriment.

Next, and perhaps most controversial, how about we idealize motherhood?  Women should be able to stay home as full-time mothers without guilt or shame, and with the full support of their spouses – even if it means living with less.  If motherhood is important, let’s treat it as such. In the days of Mrs. Eliza Powel—confidante to George Washington and an influential, albeit quiet titan of early American politics[iv]—political and domestic feminism was wrapped up into one package.  It can be that again.

Finally, make your children a part of the team.  Bring them to civic engagements and meetings.  Speak to them as adults. Train them in logic and reason. Let them take part in the adult sphere. Discuss systematic politics within the home.  Read books.  Be a role model by practicing what you preach.

During these stressful times it’s easy to feel hopeless, but it is far from reality.  Mothers have the power to change the destiny of the nation. Instead of adding one more task to our laundry list of responsibilities, let’s integrate our domestic and civic duties. Together, we can restore our system of government and revitalize the Spartan model of republican motherhood once again…from within the comfort of our own homes.

Caty Greene is a mother and strongly engaged in preserving our republic.

The Language of Liberty series is an outreach project of the Center for Self Governance, a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in principles of liberty. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG. CenterForSelfGovernance.com


Word Count: 574

[i] https://dkuluris.weebly.com/uploads/3/7/7/3/37733977/rethinking_republican_motherhood.pdf

[ii] Jacqueline S. Reinier, “Rearing the Republican Child: Attitudes and Practices in Post-Revolutionary Philadelphia.” (The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 39, no. 1, The Family in Early American History and Culture [Jan. 1982]), 158.

[iii] https://online.hillsdale.edu/#home

[iv] https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/elizabeth-willing-powel/

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