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Domesticity
Domesticity

This image expresses many antebellum reformers' domestic vision. This family is clearly a part of the emerging middle class. No workman or laborer, father clearly retains a professional or office job. His salary enables mother to stay at home tending to the children and, by implication, an aged grandmother. He is well groomed and signals, by spending his leisure time with his family, that he is not prone to drunkenness or the other debaucheries that plagued so many antebellum families. Note how mother has averted her face from the audience, presumably in humility and self-sacrifice.

Image source: Public domain
©Copyright 2002 Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project