From Communal to Independent Manhood in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, ca. 1760-1820

  • Elizabeth Mancke University of New Brunswick
  • Colin Grittner Douglas College


This article discusses understandings of manhood in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By means of the voluminous diary kept by Simeon Perkins, a man of local prominence, it explores the social responses within this rural seafaring community to how men chose strategies for gaining social status, exercising public power, and juggling private interest and public service. Across northeastern North America, capitalist ideals of independent manhood were gradually replacing moral ideals of communal manhood, which ultimately strained networks of reciprocity both within and outside the family. Yet by placing Perkins alongside Benajah Collins, another prominent Liverpudlian, this article also reveals that those who drifted too far from morally grounded communal ideals of manhood continued to find themselves ostracized within their immediate communities.