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On the Make: Clerks and the Quest for Capital in Nineteenth-Century America

On the Make: Clerks and the Quest for Capital in Nineteenth-Century America (Hardback)

£74.00
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Synopsis

In the bustling cities of the mid-nineteenth-century Northeast, young male clerks working in commercial offices and stores were on the make, persistently seeking wealth, respect, and self-gratification. Yet these strivers and "counter jumpers" discovered that claiming the identities of independent men-while making sense of a volatile capitalist economy and fluid urban society-was fraught with uncertainty.

In On the Make, Brian P. Luskey illuminates at once the power of the ideology of self-making and the important contests over the meanings of respectability, manhood, and citizenship that helped to determine who clerks were and who they would become. Drawing from a rich array of archival materials, including clerks' diaries, newspapers, credit reports, census data, advice literature, and fiction, Luskey argues that a better understanding of clerks and clerking helps make sense of the culture of capitalism and the society it shaped in this pivotal era.

Brian P. Luskey is Assistant Professor of History at West Virginia University.

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