Westward Expansion 1800-1860: Education Research Article from American Eras

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State Reform Schools.

By the 1850s, as states increased their role in education and nativist attitudes toward immigrants became widespread, courts and legislatures increased intervention in families who deviated from prescribed domestic ideals. In the expansive early republic through individual decisions, judges had forged a liberal and contractual family law, decreasing patriarchy and extending the individual rights of wives and children. Expanding the doctrine of parens patriae to challenge paternal custody rights, they also used the argument of "the child's best interests" to enlarge judicial authority. As mothers assumed the central role in child rearing, women won an increasing number of custody cases. Yet new standards of child welfare and parental fitness also could reduce the rights of both parents as destitute or delinquent children who came before police courts were placed in more-acceptable domestic situations or in new institutions founded by the state. The first state...

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This section contains 689 words
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Buy the Westward Expansion 1800-1860: Education Encyclopedia Article
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