Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Nov 17, 2019 3:31 am





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876) 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16170
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3493
Thanked: 1326 times in 1045 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)

Please use this thread to discuss the above chapter.



Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:39 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Freshman

Silver Contributor

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 218
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Thanks: 92
Thanked: 162 times in 126 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
In the opening pages of this chapter Woodard makes an important point about the beginnings of the march toward a liberal democracy in England. It is my feeling that most people believe that everyone shared equally in this gradual progression. In the early days of English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution while the landed gentry and wealthy merchants were gaining power from the king, the very opposite was happening for the vast majority of the population.

We are told that during this changing power structure millions of peasants were torn from their ancestral lands to make way for large commercial farms and sheep pastures. Peasants who had been working the soil and struggling with nature for generations were suddenly stripped of their means of a livelihood and forced to stream into crowded cities and work for starvation wages. In the words of Sir Francis Bacon, becoming little more than "housed beggars". In fact, malnutrition was so bad that on average they stood six inches shorter and lived half as long as the propertied middle and upper-class people.

By the 18th century, showing little awareness of the early history of these people and their hard work on the land, they even came to be looked on as an inferior race with one social commentator, Arthur Young, quoted as saying, "Everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor or they will never be industrious".



The following user would like to thank LevV for this post:
DWill
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:11 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5823
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2283
Thanked: 2211 times in 1671 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
The theme I found most interesting was how the Southern aristocrats in the US were opposed to independence, preferring the stable framework of British rule.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:19 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Freshman

Silver Contributor

Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 218
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Thanks: 92
Thanked: 162 times in 126 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
Robert Tulip wrote:
The theme I found most interesting was how the Southern aristocrats in the US were opposed to independence, preferring the stable framework of British rule.


And, of course, historically, this makes perfect sense. Established by slave lords from Barbados as a bastion of aristocratic privilege, Southern aristocrats had good reason to be fearful that in an independent country, with the added influence of the more democratically minded Northern areas, the "unwashed masses" who by virtue of their numbers could press for serious political and economic changes.

It's worth remembering that even the great John Locke, arguably the most influential intellectual of the period, didn't mean everyone when speaking of the "people", but rather men of property who were capable of exercising this freedom. Woodard quotes Locke on his stated beliefs about the causes of poverty. It is not the "scarcity of provisions or the want of employment, but the relaxation of discipline and corruption of manners, virtue and industry ... and vice and idleness"



The following user would like to thank LevV for this post:
Harry Marks, Robert Tulip
Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:58 am
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6345
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1842
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
The Southern aristocrats of course changed their thinking and supported a break with Britain when they saw that the mother country wasn't keen on perpetuating slavery.

It's hard to fathom, today, what seems a blindness to the effect of simple circumstance on people's social status. Poor people must have been born with less acumen and poor characters. They got just what they deserved based on their merits. It wouldn't do to help them get a leg up; that would only spread the contagion of inferiority to the higher levels of society. Differences in skin tone made even more plain and permanent the perceived separation of the worthy from the debased.

Slave owners going on and on about liberty seems insane to us, but Woodard explains how that made perfect sense to them. Looking back to classical Greece, as these aristocrats were fond of doing, warned them about the limits of democracy as much as it extolled democracy. The legitimate demos needed to be a select group. And Greece was also a slave culture.

Interesting how Woodard brings out the anti-democratic convictions of the colonial and early American leaders before Jackson. The republic that the Constitution established wasn't what the libertarian-minded folks of Appalachia wanted--too dependent on central power and the wealthy elite classes of lawyers and doctors. What would have happened, had the fierce individualists not been thwarted by the limits to expansion, is the break-up of the U.S. into at least two countries, but maybe more than that, without the need for a Civil War.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks, LevV, Robert Tulip
Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:35 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membership
Internet Sage


Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 341
Location: Texas
Thanks: 10
Thanked: 87 times in 70 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
I didn't sign up for this discussion but I couldn't help overhearing.

The Confederacy was promised a lot by British Prime Minister Palmerston. His goal was to first split the US into north and south with the war of secession, and then do another division, east-west. For that one he planned to use the Mormons. They hated the US govt, and Palmerston sent agents in among them to fan that hatred. Without Palmerston and his decade of agitation in the south, there may not have been a Civil War in the US.


_________________


The following user would like to thank KindaSkolarly for this post:
Harry Marks, LevV
Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:36 pm
Profile Email
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6345
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1842
Thanked: 2028 times in 1536 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
I'd not heard about Palmerston's involvement. Very interesting. I wanted to add something I picked up from reading a bit of Jon Meacham's book on Andrew Jackson, American Lion. Woodard calls Jackson "unlettered." While it is true that he had little formal schooling, he did educate himself to a degree and was a capable writer. He claimed to read three chapters of the Bible every day, and his library included volumes on American and some European history.



Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:16 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membership
Internet Sage


Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 341
Location: Texas
Thanks: 10
Thanked: 87 times in 70 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
Palmerston also agitated in the northern states. North-south war was vital to his plan to re-take America. He beefed up the British troop presence in Canada, too. He assumed that if Lincoln sued for peace in the south, then the Union would look for conquests in the north while it had a large army assembled. But the Brits would stop the invasion, and with the Mormons and mercenaries in the west, and the British navy blockading along the eastern seaboard, the Union would not be able to survive. Britain would be able to dictate surrender terms and essentially return America to colonial status.

But the Union won, and Palmerston died in 1865, so that was that.


_________________


Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:37 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Just realized BookTalk.org is awesome!

Silver Contributor

Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 784
Location: Florida
Thanks: 303
Thanked: 460 times in 355 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
KS has a fair assessment of the agitation from Palmerston. It is interesting to to the overall conversation of the politics of the U.S civil war.



Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:31 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Reading Addict


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1369
Thanks: 1471
Thanked: 680 times in 551 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
I heard an interesting variation on this theme recently when I asked a colleague about Cinco de Mayo. It seems the French also had designs on breaking up the U.S. and might have sent an army in from Mexico to assist the South in the Civil War, if the plans involving Emperor Maximilian had proved out. The resistance from Benito Juarez proved too resilient, and American aid helped to turn the tide. The battle of Puebla, celebrated on Cinco de Mayo, was not a turning point, but it may have helped to forestall such grand plans.



Wed Oct 30, 2019 8:05 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Reading Addict


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1369
Thanks: 1471
Thanked: 680 times in 551 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: American Character - Ch. 4: The Elite and the Masses (1607 - 1876)
Mark Twain's take on this tension, in Huckleberry Finn, is worth recapping. A mob comes to attack the local abusive aristocrat, who faces them down with one gun. "There's not one real man among you," he scornfully tells the crowd. This was the image the aristocrats had of themselves, hearkening back to the Cavaliers of the English Civil War, and the roots of lordship in battle. In fact, however, the sugar plantations of the West Indies were about wanton cruelty, widespread rape and the kind of rule by aggression that a surprising number of uber-capitalists espouse today (watch "The Smartest Guys in the Room" about Enron for an exposition of the theme). And that's there in the Twain text also, if you look for it.



Wed Oct 30, 2019 8:13 am
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank