Synopses & Reviews
Anglo-Americans wrestled with some profound cultural contradictions as they shifted from the hierarchical and patriarchal society of the seventeenth-century frontier to the modern and fluid class democracy of the mid-nineteenth century. How could traditional inequality be maintained in the socially leveling environment of the early colonial wilderness? And how could nineteenth-century Americans pretend to be equal in an increasingly unequal society?
Bowing to Necessities argues that manners provided ritual solutions to these central cultural problems by allowing Americans to act out and thus reinforce power relations just as these relations underwent challenges. Analyzing the many sermons, child-rearing guides, advice books, and etiquette manuals that taught Americans how to behave, this book connects these instructions to individual practices and personal concerns found in contemporary diaries and letters. It also illuminates crucial connections between evolving class, age, and gender relations. A social and cultural history with a unique and fascinating perspective, Hemphill's wide-ranging study offers readers a panorama of America's social customs from colonial times to the Civil War.
"Hemphill succeeds in developing a one-dimensional source into a complex, shrewd story." Burton J. Bledstein, University of Illinois at Chicago
"Hemphill provides important new insights about the origins of American manners and about the role of changing etiquette standards in forming social class and gender definitions." Peter Stearns, Carnegie Mellon University
"[A]n expansive and brilliant history of early America in manners." Michael Zuckerman, University of Pennsylvania
About the Author
C. Dallett Hemphill is Professor of History at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
Part I. Hierarchy: Manners in a Vertical Social Order, 1620-1740
Ch. 1. Manners for Gentlemen
Ch. 2. Manners Over Minors
Ch. 3. Manners Maketh Men
Part II. Revolution: An Opening of Possibilities, 1740-1820
Ch. 4. Middle Class Riding
Ch. 5. Youth Rising
Ch. 6. Women Rising
Part III. Resolution: Manners for Democrats, 1820-1860
Ch. 7. Manners for the Middle Class
Ch. 8. Manners for Adults
Ch. 9. Ladies First?
Table: Conduct Works: Author/Audience Statistics