The Radicalism of the American Revolution - Part 3, Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Gordon S. Wood
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In the early 19th century "middling sorts" gain a moral hegemony over society by absorbing the gentility of the aristocracy and the work of the working class. The middling do not so much repudiate the Enlightenment, as they popularize and vulgarize it. They value education in useful areas of life. The modern distinction between high and popular culture develops, but the blurring of distinctions between gentlemen and non-gentlemen prevents the formation of a rival culture.

The struggle of individuals to achieve respectability enters America's folklore through Franklin's Autobiography and countless tales of youthful development. One of the most fascinating is James Guild's quest for money and gentility that proves elusive and then disappointing. In the end, he settles success and respectability as a portrait painter, catering to upwardly mobile customers. The gentry feel compelled to reach down and embrace the populace, a reversal of Jefferson's efforts to improve the aesthetics...

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This section contains 700 words
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Buy The Radicalism of the American Revolution Study Guide
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