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Download PDF by Brian Roberts: American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class

By Brian Roberts

ISBN-10: 0807825433

ISBN-13: 9780807825433

ISBN-10: 0807848565

ISBN-13: 9780807848562

California through the gold rush used to be a spot of disputed claims, shoot-outs, playing halls, and prostitution; a spot populated by means of that tough and rebellious determine, the forty-niner; in brief, a spot that turns out completely unconnected to middle-class tradition. In American Alchemy, although, Brian Roberts bargains a shocking problem to this assumption.

Roberts issues to a long-neglected fact of the gold rush: some of the northeastern forty-niners who ventured westward have been actually middle-class in starting place, prestige, and values. Tracing the studies and adventures either one of those males and of the "unseen" forty-niners--women who stayed again East whereas their husbands went out West--he indicates that, no matter what else the gold seekers deserted at the street to California, they didn't easily flip their backs on middle-class culture.

Ultimately, Roberts argues, the tale instructed the following finds an ignored bankruptcy within the heritage of the formation of the center type. whereas the purchase of respectability displays one level during this historical past, he says, the gold rush constitutes a moment stage--a uprising opposed to criteria of respectability.

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Additional info for American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class Culture

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Respectability and desires for wealth meet in hostile suspension; the Brendalls need money to confirm their status as a middle-class couple, yet neither their domestic security nor Susan’s femininity, we are led to conclude, will survive the vicissitudes of frontier life. Suddenly, and out of nowhere, a resolution of these tensions comes with a contrived plot twist: an unknown uncle dies, leaving George $20,000. ’’∞∏ At the time, the proverbial rich uncle was a common device in middle-class short fiction, a convenient deus ex machina for quick and happy endings.

When news of California’s gold reached the eastern seaboard, Hewes had just graduated from Yale College. His schoolboy letters, in turn, reveal a solid middleclass background: strong family ties, desires for self-improvement, and a refined sense of morality. They indicate that his family raised him right. And, as his sabbath school teacher reminded him, he was obliged to be thankful: ‘‘not only that you have these privileges but . . ’’∂≠ Less than two years after writing this, his ultimate victory over sin and temptation may have seemed in doubt, and he no longer seemed so inclined to think good thoughts.

They indicate that his family raised him right. And, as his sabbath school teacher reminded him, he was obliged to be thankful: ‘‘not only that you have these privileges but . . ’’∂≠ Less than two years after writing this, his ultimate victory over sin and temptation may have seemed in doubt, and he no longer seemed so inclined to think good thoughts. Instead, he was thinking about joining the gold rush. John Beeckman and William Prince may be the best examples of the more a∆uent forty-niners.

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American Alchemy: The California Gold Rush and Middle-Class Culture by Brian Roberts


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