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Title:"to Grind the Faces of the Poor": Journeymen for Jesus in Jacksonian Baltimore
Author(s):Sutton, William Robert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Solberg, Winton U.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, History of
History, United States
Abstract:Jacksonian artisans greeted the cultural transformations of industrialization with ambivalence; while technological advances offered opportunity for some, the deskilling of craft caused dislocation for others. Equally problematic were the rearrangements of the "moral economy" effected by industrial capitalism in terms of social relations, profits, and consumerism. Underlying these changes was the ideological reality, described by the construct of cultural hegemony, of an emergent liberalism replacing the dominant republican ethos. This process left, as a residual influence, the small producer tradition of preindustrial artisan life; such producerism emphasized profits for worker-producers and encouraged gaining "competences" within limits based on ideals of economic justice.
Popular evangelicalism was critical to the cultural conflict characterizing Jacksonian Baltimore. Rather than discovering in "populist evangelicalism" impulses toward docility, Baltimore workers found spiritual forces that empowered them, informed their sensitivity to socioeconomic and political injustice, distinguished them from their wealthy and powerful co-religionists, and inspired their refusal to endure second-class citizenship in any area. The influences of work and spirituality coalesced in apprehensions of power and traditional economic morality that embraced producerism rather than industrial capitalism. A group of contemporary evangelical social critics (John Hersey, Thomas Branagan, Cornelius Blatchly, and William Stilwell) attacked deteriorating artisan circumstances and liberal loosening of traditional commercial exchange and consumer practices; they represented a groundswell of popular evangelical opposition to these aspects of modernization. Tension over issues of power and ambivalent understandings of economic justice engendered by these processes was evident in republican-inspired struggles over representative government within Methodism, eventuating in the Baltimore-centered Methodist Protestant schism of 1828.
Similarly, evangelical artisans in Baltimore found no dissonance between religion and producerism, labor militancy, and ethically-informed consumerism; in fact, Jacksonian trade unionism drew leadership and inspiration in part from evangelical sources. Nevertheless, as a result of Arminianism, revivalism, and disestablishment, liberal perspectives such as self-help and humanitarian philanthropy (evidenced in Washingtonian temperance societies, home missionary activities, and organized Sabbatarianism) emerged as culturally dominant. At the same time, populist evangelicals turned away from systemic critiques of economic oppression to develop instead their own communities near factories and artisan neighborhoods as havens from industrial depersonalization. But, even as mainstream evangelicalism transferred its allegiance to meliorating industrial capitalism, producerist vestiges remained viable for evangelical artisans and their populist descendants.
Issue Date:1993
Description:427 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9329174
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993

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