During the nineteenth century most Americans defined the "home" as a sheltered location where American women cultivated motherhood to nurture conscience in America's children. Similar ideologies affected Western Europeans. But domesticity's strain was purest in America. Many Americans held the conceit that the household should be a morally self-sufficient institution.
The moral influence and responsibility of the mother and of the household were limited in nineteenth-century English family ideology by the rise and influence of the public school. Respectable nineteenth-century boys continued to be taught the ethics of male honor in English boarding schools (Eton, Harrow, etc.) through peer group pressure. Nineteenth-century New England had boarding schools too, but they were newer institutions primarily attended by the children of rich urbanites who feared their children's moral corruption in the city. These schools were informed by the ideal of domesticity, and they were warmer and smaller places than their English counterparts. 1 The ideology of domesticity also helped create a body of family law in the United States that was quite different from Great Britain's. 2 The impact of the ideology of domesticity also inspired a body of writing with some unusual tendencies among the United States' best nineteenth-century male authors. American male writers had difficulties defining the wider meanings of relations between men and women. Perhaps in response to the