But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families....
-- THOMAS PAINE
F ollowing the Great Migration, the next major episode in American history to inspire an effusion of family imagery was the American Revolution. The rupture between England and America revived old memories of the traumatic separation between parent and child and sharpened the distinction between children and orphans, those who belonged to the family of the new republic and those who were effectively excluded from meaningful participation, and even citizenship, through a variety of legal and socioeconomic restrictions.
This development can best be understood within the context of the familial rhetoric that pervades Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary texts.1 In the most thorough analysis to date of the family imagery projected onto the relationship between England and America, Edwin G. Burrows and Michael Wallace document what they describe as the lingua franca the Revolution: "Over and over again -- in letters, diaries, newspapers, pamphlets, proclamations, and formal debates -- they likened the empire to a family, a family in which England enjoyed the rights and duties of parental authority over the colonies while the colonies enjoyed the corresponding rights and duties of children" (168).
Conflating the patriarchal functions of God, king, and father, a variety of primarily religious sources inspired the belief of the Stuarts in the divine right of kings. James I, who ascended the throne after Queen Elizabeth's death in 1603,