Drawing on the 19th century historians Edward Augustus Freeman and Frederic Maitland and contemporary scholars Emmanuel Todd, Alan Macfarlane and James Campbell, they argue that the Anglo-Saxons brought with them a unique institution, the absolute nuclear family, “the continuous core of our distinct American culture.”
In nuclear families, individuals, not parents, select spouses; women have comparative freedom and equality; children have no rights of inheritance; grown children leave parents’ homes and are not bound to extended families.
On each point this is contrary to longstanding family patterns in the rest of the world.
This enduring family pattern has consequences. It has made Americans liberty-loving, individualistic, keen for equal opportunity but not equal outcomes, venturesome, mobile and suspicious of big government.