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The Making of Middle-Class America

Chapter 10:
The Making of Middle-Class America

The Making of Middle-Class America Visitors touring the United States in the 1830s were struck by the degree of equality and social and physical mobility they witnessed in the American people. America's agrarian economy, cheap and available land, and voting laws promoted a certain equality relative to Europe. In the same era, the American industrial revolution was shaping a middle class and its institutions. More people began leaving home to go to work and cities began to divide into industrial and residential areas. Left at home, women began to develop a "woman's sphere" and cult of domesticity. Childhood also changed during this era, as middle-class couples married later and had fewer children. The period also saw the rise of reform movements, such as the Second Great Awakening, social crusades (including temperance, abolitionism, and women's rights), utopian communities, and voluntary associations. (Image: Library of Congress)

Review the Chapter


Each primary source document listed below has its own introduction and review questions.

Catharine E. Beecher, from A Treatise on Domestic Economy

Charles Finney, Lecture to Converts

Charles G. Finney, "What a Revival of Religion Is" (1835)

"Early Habits of Industry," The Mother's Magazine (1834)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments (1848)

Henry Clay Work, "Come Home Father!" (1864)

Ja Norcom, Letter to His Daughter Mary Matilda Norcom

John Humphrey Noyes and Bible Communism (1845 and 1849)

Joshua and Sally Wilson Letters to George Wilson (1823)

Journal Entry of Francis Parkman (1846)

Lyman Beecher, "Six Sermons on Intemperance" (1828)

Marcus Whitman to Rev. David Greene (1844)

Mariah and Stephen King to their family (April 1, 1846)

Mathew Carey, Rules for Husbands and Wives (1830)
From Mathew Carey, Miscellaneous Essays

Michel Chevalier, Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States (1843)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, A Letter from Brook Farm (1841)

Richard McNemar, The Kentucky Revival, or a Short History of the Late Extraordinary Out-Pouring of the Spirit of God, in the Western States of America (1808)

Sojourner Truth, Address to Woman's Rights Convention, Akron, Ohio (1851)

William Lloyd Garrison, First issue of The Liberator (1831)


Click on a link below to view the image and read a detailed caption.

Amish Signpost

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Illustrations From the American Anti-Slavery Almanac for 1840

Marriage Certificate, 1848

Martin Van Buren and Abolitionism - Cartoon

Methodist Camp Meeting, 1819

Mormon Emigrants, 1879

Philadelphia Almshouse, House of Employment, and Prison


Robert Owen's Harmony Community

Sacramental Scene in a Western Forest - Lithograph

Shaker Dance

Shaker Village at Alfred, Maine, 1845

The Drunkard's Progress - Cartoon,1846

Thomas Gallaudet - Portrait

Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth


Select a audio clip to hear. You will need the latest Quicktime Player plug-in to listen to the audio. To determine if you have the latest Quicktime Player Plug-in and to download it if you do not, go to the Browser Tune-up.

The Liberator


These maps and their captions illustrate and describe important historical aspects of this period.

Interactive Map: Utopian Communities before the Civil War

The American Nation, Take Notes and Answer Analysis Questions

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