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Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature$
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Carol J. Singley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779390

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779390.001.0001

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Problems of Patrimony: Benjamin Franklin and Ann Sargent Gage

Problems of Patrimony: Benjamin Franklin and Ann Sargent Gage

Chapter:
(p.40) 2 Problems of Patrimony: Benjamin Franklin and Ann Sargent Gage
Source:
Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature
Author(s):

Carol J. Singley (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779390.003.0002

Competing impulses toward biological and adoptive kinship appear in the writings of Benjamin Franklin and Ann Sargent Gage. The self-made Franklin chose to acknowledge his illegitimate son, William, risking social approbation and demonstrating an attachment to blood; whereas the prominent Bostonian Daniel Sargent disowned his illegitimate daughter, Ann, and arranged for her adoption. Gender as well as social class played a role in each man’s decision. Ironically, Franklin lost his connection to William when the latter became a Loyalist during the American Revolution, whereas Ann, who struggled to reclaim her patrimony, eventually found her voice and gained a modicum of recognition. Both stories document the stigmas attached to illegitimacy during the early republic and offer new representations of adoptive kinship in relation to genealogy.

Keywords:   Benjamin Franklin, autobiography, Ann Sargent Gage, Daniel Sargent, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Moody Emerson, Elizabeth Peabody, illegitimacy, England, American Revolution, gender

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