In Quest of Freedom: American Political Thought and Practice

By Alpheus Thomas Mason McCormick; Richard H. Leach | Go to book overview

11
THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS AND THE UNCOMMON MAN

THE ADVANCE OF INDUSTRY AND GREATER RECOGNITION of the common man during the Age of Jackson were two sides of a single coin. Industrialization in the United States, as elsewhere, was chiefly a middle-class movement. When the middle class became dominant in the economic sphere, it asserted itself politically, as Harrington and Webster had foreseen. Between 1830 and 1850, the whole tone of American life, economic, political, social, and intellectual, was set by the middle class. Democracy and equalitarianism were the twin philosophies of the times. The values of democracy were seen as natural products of the existing economic pattern; indeed, the existence of vast natural resources and the absence of rigid class lines combined to make the prevailing industrial order democratic.1 Economic and political advances came to

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1
Merle Curti, The Growth of American Thought, 2nd ed. ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943), p. 300.

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