Episode 094: Cassandra Good, Founding Friendships

Founding Friendships

Who are you friends with?

Why are you friends with your friends?

In the early American republic, men and women formed and maintained friendships for many of the same reasons we make friends today: companionship, shared interests, and, in some cases, because they helped expand thinking and social circles.

Today, we explore friendship in the early American republic. Specifically, we investigate what it was like for men and women to form and maintain friendships with each other. Our guide for this exploration is Cassandra Good, author of Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men & Women in the Early American Republic.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

Cassandra GoodIn this episode, Cassandra Good, an Associate Editor of the Papers of James Monroe and author of Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men & Women in the Early American Republic, leads us on an investigation of what it was like for early American men and women to form and maintain friendships with each other.

During our investigation, Cassie reveals friendship dynamics between men and women in the early republic; The benefits men and women derived from cross-sex friendships; And, why and how men and women formed friendships with members of the opposite sex.

What You’ll Discover

  • Friendships between men and women during the early American republic
  • Friendship between Thomas Jefferson and Margaret Bayard Smith
  • Risks associated with cross-sex friendships
  • Friendship between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams
  • Whether cross-sex friendships created equal standing between men and women
  • Women’s education and its limits during the early republic
  • How advice books assisted men and women with forming and maintaining friendships
  • How men and women made their friendships acceptable to early republic society
  • Whether husbands needed permission from their wives to form friendships with women
  • How men and women formed friendships in church
  • How Benjamin Franklin used fictive kinship to establish and maintain relationships with women
  • Flirting in the early republic
  • How early American views about cross-sex friendships compared with views in other countries
  • Whether non-elite men and women formed cross-sex friendships
  • Historical sources that reveal information about early American cross-sex friendships
  • Gift giving rituals of cross-sex friends
  • How politics facilitated the formation of cross-sex friendships
  • How women used cross-sex friendships to become involved with the political process


Links to People, Places, and Publications


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson had not been friends? What insight would we lose about the American Revolution and early republic periods without their friendly correspondence?

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