Class Matters: Early North America and the Atlantic World

Overview

As a category of historical analysis, class is dead—or so it has been reported over the past two decades. The contributors to Class Matters contest this demise. Although differing in their approaches, they all agree that socioeconomic inequality remains indispensable to a true understanding of the transition from the early modern to modern era in North America and the rest of the Atlantic world. As a whole, they chart the emergence of class as a concept and its subsequent loss ...

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Overview

As a category of historical analysis, class is dead—or so it has been reported over the past two decades. The contributors to Class Matters contest this demise. Although differing in their approaches, they all agree that socioeconomic inequality remains indispensable to a true understanding of the transition from the early modern to modern era in North America and the rest of the Atlantic world. As a whole, they chart the emergence of class as a concept and its subsequent loss of analytic purchase in Anglo-American historiography.

The opening section considers the dynamics of class relations in the Atlantic world across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—from Iroquoian and Algonquian communities in North America to tobacco lords in Glasgow. Subsequent chapters examine the cultural development of a new and aspirational middle class and its relationship to changing economic conditions and the articulation of corporate and industrial ideologies in the era of the American Revolution and beyond.

A final section shifts the focus to the poor and vulnerable—tenant farmers, infant paupers, and the victims of capital punishment. In each case the authors describe how elite Americans exercised their political and social power to structure the lives and deaths of weaker members of their communities. An impassioned afterword urges class historians to take up the legacies of historical materialism. Engaging the difficulties and range of meanings of class, the essays in Class Matters seek to energize the study of social relations in the Atlantic world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Readers of Class Matters will discover in the collection a sense of the difficulties of class analysis and the diverse range of meanings of class. With this book, Middleton and Smith have admirably succeeded in energizing the study of social relations in the Atlantic world."—Journal of the Early Republic

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812221237
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Series: Early American Studies Series
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Middleton is Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sheffield and author of From Privileges to Rights: Work and Politics in Colonial New York City, also available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Billy G. Smith is Professor of History at Montana State University and author of The "Lower Sort": Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750-1800.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Simon Middleton Billy G. Smith 1

1 Theorizing Class in Glasgow and the Atlantic World Simon P. Newman 16

2 Stratification and Class in Eastern Native America Daniel K. Richter 35

3 Subaltern Indians, Race, and Class in Early America Daniel R. Mandell 49

4 Class Struggle in a West Indian Plantation Society Natalie Zacek 62

5 Class at an African Commercial Enclave Ty M. Reese 76

6 A Class Struggle in New York? Simon Middleton 88

7 Middle-Class Formation in Eighteenth-Century North America Konstantin Dierks 99

8 Business Friendships and Individualism in a Mercantile Class of Citizens in Charleston Jennifer L. Goloboy 109

9 Corporation and the Coalescence of an Elite Class in Philadelphia Andrew M. Schocket 123

10 Class, Discourse, and Industrialization in the New American Republic Lawrence A. Peskin 138

11 Sex and Other Middle-Class Pastimes in the Life of Ann Carson Susan Branson 156

12 Leases and the Laboring Classes in Revolutionary America Thomas J. Humphrey 168

13 Class and Capital Punishment in Early Urban North America Gabriele Gottlieb 185

14 Class Stratification and Children's Work in Post-Revolutionary Urban America Sharon Braslaw Sundue 198

15 Afterword: Constellations of Class in Early North America and the Atlantic World Christopher Tomlins 213

Notes 235

List of Contributors 315

Index 319

Acknowledgments 327

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