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Affairs of party, Jean Baker asserts, were a central feature of public life in nineteenth-century America. In this book she explores the way in which the Northern Democrats of the mid-eighteen hundreds lived their public lives. She begins with a psychobiographical explanation of how people became Democrats, weighing the importance of such influences as education and family life. She then discusses two major elements that set Democrats apart from members of other political organizations: a modified Republican ideology tailored to the circumstances of the Civil War, and a mordant racism conveyed most strikingly through minstrelsy. Finally, Baker studies the neglected subject of partisan behavior, concentrating on the significance of parades, voting, and other rituals. In Affairs of Party Jean Baker brings together the three basic components of a political culture-education, thought, and behavior-and provides an understanding of the collective values of Northern Democrats and an insight into the elusive meaning of party experience. In her new preface, Professor Baker places her book in the context of both recent scholarship and recent political and cultural developments.
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