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Social Change in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War
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...
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 and reunification through the Civil War. Christopher Clark's brilliant account of these changes in the social relationships of Americans breaks new ground in 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. Mr. 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 social 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. Like other long-running divisions in American society, however, this dispute was not fully resolved by the war's outcome. Social Change in America is a compelling new overview of the social dynamics of America's early years.
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