Given the fundamental changes that transformed American society in the years between Benjamin Franklin's apprenticeship in a printer's shop and mid-19th-century efforts to organize labouring men and women, no social group offers a more interesting spectacle than skilled tradesmen or artisans. They came from various ethnic backgrounds (some worked in slavery), took their religion and politics seriously, lived mostly in cities but also in the countryside, and in many cases became pillars of their communities.
American Artisans takes a fresh look at the role of artisans in the American economy and society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Going beyond the traditional story of the decline of journeyman status, the authors explore a variety of themese loosely centered around opportunities in the developing economy. Indeed, many of these essays explore entrepreneurial ideals among artisans competing in the marketplace. Contributors to this collection examine the interaction of race and artisan economy in southern cities. They trace the passing down of intellectual capital-skill-from father to son and outline the economic relationships between merchant and artisan. They also explore the culture and politics of artisans, including religion, third-party partisanship, and the interaction of gender and reform.
American Artisans is an important and originial contribution to a field of growing significance.
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