The American Revolution and Class Conflict
A paper which questions whether the tensions that existed in the United States in the years immediately after the American Revolution are the product of class conflict.
A paper that describes the situation in the United States after the American Revolution and presents that the social conflict within this situation was the product of social and class differences. The paper shows that the inherent conflict between the progressive, industrialized, urbane North and the plantation lifestyle, made possible by cotton, tobacco and slave labor, ultimately revealed a nation sharply divided along socioeconomic lines. It shows that The Civil War was the inevitable outcome of a developing nation uncertain as to whether it should remain progressive and industrialized or genteel and slow moving.
“A revolutionary opposition can either destroy the culture of the preceding ruling class or appropriate it. In the American Revolution, the choice was appropriation. While many of the elite despaired at the prospect of vulgarity coming to power, others worked at polishing society. In the years after the Revolution, for example, museums were founded to elevate the public taste and reformers pushed for the creation of public schools, where manners were taught along with the three R’s. Instead of obliterating genteel culture, American democracy allowed ordinary people to make gentility their own. In the colonies, gentility had set apart a small elite of wealthy, educated ladies and gentlemen who lived in the great houses, dominated society, and occupied high government offices. Now everyone could possess gentility. Everyone who could adopt genteel manners and exhibit a few of the outward signs of refined life – perhaps a parlor carpet and a cloth on the dining table – could be respectable. In the 18th century, ladies and gentlemen designated a distinct class of people who stood apart from the rest. ”
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