A CHANGING SOCIETY
IN THE OPENING DECADES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, THE American people throughout the eastern parts of the country were enjoying very much the same recreations as they had in colonial days. The Revolution had marked a distinct break in many customs, especially for the wealthier classes, but old threads of activity were quickly picked up. Writing about 1821, Timothy Dwight singled out the principle amusements as "visiting, dancing, music, conversation, walking, riding, sailing, shooting at a mark, draughts, chess, and unhappily in some of the larger towns, cards and dramatic exhibitions."1 Social life had a relative simplicity, and popular diversions conformed to familiar patterns.
But new winds were blowing. The turbulent, expansive years of the first half of the century were to usher in changes in recreation as far-reaching as those in any other department of the national life. The country was going through the first phase of its transformation from a simple agricultural community into a highly complex urban society. New means of amusement had to be found to replace those from which increasingly large numbers of persons were cut off by the very circumstance of city life. The rise of a working class imbued with the pervasive ideals of Jacksonian democracy created a demand for popular entertainment which had hardly been felt in colonial days.
The trend toward urbanization and the growth of a factory population were to continue in later years at a greatly accelerated pace. It was the novelty of these developments, crowding people together in living conditions entirely new to America, that gave