The Politics of Individualism: Parties and the American Character in the Jacksonian Era

Paperback | October 1, 1993

byLawrence Frederick Kohl

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In the fifty years following the Revolution, America's population nearly quadrupled, its boundaries expanded, industrialization took root in the Northeast, new modes of transportation flourished, state banks proliferated and offered easy credit to eager entrepreneurs, and Americans foundthemselves in the midst of an accelerating age of individualism, equality, and self-reliance. To the Jacksonian generation, it seemed as if their world had changed practically overnight. The Politics of Individualism looks at the political manifestations of these staggering social transformations. During the 1830s and 1840s, Americans were consumed by politics and party loyalties were fierce. Here, Kohl draws on the political rhetoric found in speeches, newspapers, periodicals, and pamphlets to place the Democrats and the Whigs in a solid social and psychological context. He contends thatthe political division between these two parties reflected the division between Americans unsettled by the new individualistic social order and those whose character allowed them to strive more confidently within it. Democrats, says Kohl, were more "tradition-directed," bound to others in morepersonal ways; Whigs, on the other hand, were more "inner-directed" and embraced the impersonal, self-interested relationships of a market society. By examining this fascinating dialogue of parties, Kohl brings us bright new insight into the politics and people of Jacksonian America.

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In the fifty years following the Revolution, America's population nearly quadrupled, its boundaries expanded, industrialization took root in the Northeast, new modes of transportation flourished, state banks proliferated and offered easy credit to eager entrepreneurs, and Americans foundthemselves in the midst of an accelerating age of...

Lawrence Frederick Kohl is at University of Alabama.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 5.51 × 8.19 × 0.71 inPublished:October 1, 1993Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195067819

ISBN - 13:9780195067811

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"This excellent, finely crafted book makes a significant addition to our understanding of party rhetoric and ideologies in the Jacksonian era. Kohl's is the first study to place what Democrats and Whigs said firmly in a psychological context--specifically their divergent personal reactions toan individualistic social order. The result is a persuasive and highly original reading of partisan rhetoric during the 1830s and 1840s. Kohl has produced perhaps the most persuasive explanation ever given for the intense party loyalties forged during the Jacksonian period."--Richard L. McCormick,Rutgers University