Society, Manners and Politics: In the United States, Being a Series of Letters on North America

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Applewood Books, 2007 - History - 480 pages
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Noted French political economist Michel Chevalier was sent to the United States in 1834 by the French Minister of the Interior to observe the state of affairs in American industry and finance. Chevalier traveled the United States over a period of two years and, during that time, composed a series of letters in which he recorded his observations. Originally published in France, the letters were translated from the third Paris edition and published in the United States in 1839. In these letters, Chevalier made note of the economic constructs of America, comparing the democratic model he found in the U.S. to the aristocratic model more prevalent in Europe. Rather than focusing on America as the revolutionary force of liberty and equality, or its failure to live up to its own socio-political ideals of freedom and equality, Chevalier's attention was focused on work in America-on the centrality of employment to American culture and politics, and how work, rather than class, gave the American his place in society. He also made note of forms of transportation, particularly railroads, as well as of slavery, banking, and the policies of Andrew Jackson.

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