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This is called “the land of the free and the home of the brave”; it is called the “asylum of the oppressed,” and some have been foolish enough to call it the “Cradle of Liberty.” If it is the “Cradle of Liberty,” they have rocked the child to death… William Wells Brown

Although more sociology than history the book still offers some interesting anecdotal evidence. Its failing is in not showing exactly how stark the relief was between the Colonial America of the Constitutional period and the post Jacksonian free land and free labor movements by immigrants who shared neither the social nor the intellectual heritage of the Founders. The former were the high point of a process of self-government that had begun with the Magna Carta and the latter had never experienced any form of self-government and unfortunately pulled the roof in on the temple in their quest for something for nothing.

Social change in America : from the Revolution through the Civil War    Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2006 Christopher Clark Social change United States History Hardcover. xiii, 349 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-340) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

An interpretive history of the processes of social change in the early years of the new republic. It concentrates on the nation’s expansion, which saw the rapid growth of rural societies based on family labor, slavery, and wage labor, but also an intensification of economic activity that fostered the growth of commerce, towns, and manufacturing; applied new technologies to transport and communications; and initiated mass immigration from overseas.

The processes of social change in the late colonial period and early years of the new Republic made a dramatic imprint on the character of American society. These changes over a century or more were rooted in the origins of the United States, its rapid expansion of people and territory, its patterns of economic change and development, and the conflicts that led to its cataclysmic division through the Civil War. Christopher Clark’s  account of these changes in the social relationships of Americans puts its emphasis on the connections between the crucial importance of free and unfree labor, regional characteristics, and the sustained tension between arguments for geographic expansion versus economic development.

Clark traces the significance of families and households throughout the period, showing how work and different kinds of labor produced a varied access to power and wealth among free and unfree, male and female, and how the character of elites was confronted by democratic pressures. He shows how the features of the different regions exercised long-term influences in American society and politics and were modified by pressures for change. And he explains how the widening gap between the claims of free labor and those of slavery fueled the continuing dispute over the best economic course for the nation’s future and led ultimately to the Civil War.

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