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Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850
by Sean Wilentz
Publisher: Oxford University Press 1986
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Avg Rating: (1 review)
Chants Democratic is a fascinating reinterpretation of the origins and development of our nation's working class, as seen through the politics, culture, and ideas of New York City during the Jacksonian period. Here, Wilentz explores the dramatic social and intellectual changes that accompanied early industrialization in New York. Wilentz examines the significant roles played by immigration, religion, and women in the formation of new social classes. Using court records, ceremonial speeches, and art to illuminate the changes of the period, Chants Democratic presents a rich and detailed portrait of the social life, political battles, and cultural development in the emerging American metropolis.

Reviews

Better Chants than Arguments - July 8th, 2004
This book attempts to take a new look at working class social movements in the antebellum period by pointing out how groups like the Workingmen attemmpted to unionize and improve conditions by employing the language of classical republicanism that has played such a large role in 18th century scholarship over the last several decades. But the romantic search for a viable working class movement in the American past comes up short. The Workingmen were ineffective and corrupt, and the republican rhetoric uncovered here is, in the end, more a catchy sales tactic than a substantive historical finding.

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