Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865 / Edition 1

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Overview


Brown here explores America's first communications revolution--the revolution that made printed goods and public oratory widely available and, by means of the steamboat, railroad and telegraph, sharply accelerated the pace at which information travelled. He describes the day-to-day experiences of dozens of men and women, and in the process illuminates the social dimensions of this profound, far-reaching transformation. Brown begins in Massachusetts and Virginia in the early 18th century, when public information was the precious possession of the wealthy, learned, and powerful, who used it to reinforce political order and cultural unity. Employing diaries and letters to trace how information moved through society during seven generations, he explains that by the Civil War era, cultural unity had become a thing of the past. Assisted by advanced technology and an expanding economy, Americans had created a pluralistic information marketplace in which all forms of public communication--print, oratory, and public meetings--were competing for the attention of free men and women. Knowledge is Power provides fresh insights into the foundations of American pluralism and deepens our perspective on the character of public communications in the United States.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195072655
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1991
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,029,967
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Information and Authority in Samuel Sewall's Boston, 1676-1729 16
2 William Byrd II and the Challenge of Rusticity Among the Tidewater Gentry 42
3 Rural Clergymen and the Communication Networks of 18th-Century New England 65
4 Lawyers, Public Office, and Communication Patterns in Provincial Massachusetts: The Early Careers of Robert Treat Paine and John Adams, 1749-1774 82
5 Communications and Commerce: Information Diffusion in Northern Ports from the 1760s to the 1790s 110
6 Information and Insularity: The Experiences of Yankee Farmers, 1711-1830 132
7 Daughters, Wives, Mothers: Domestic Roles and the Mastery of Affective Information, 1765-1865 160
8 William Bentley and the Ideal of Universal Information in the Englightened Republic 197
9 Choosing One's Fare: Northern Men in the 1840s 218
10 The Dynamics of Contagious Diffusion: The Battles of Lexington and Concord, George Washington's Death, and the Assassination of President Lincoln, 1775-1865 245
Conclusion 268
Appendix 297
Notes 303
Index 363
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