JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Winter 2013) number of characteristics of the poor, ranging from their literacy rates, to the communities that assisted one another, to the types and amount of food they consumed. I have several minor quibbles with the book, one of which actually works in favor of the author, while the others do not undermine the volume's major arguments. First, Murray most likely underestimates the number of white lower-class Charlestonians. As other historians of early American urban centers have found, official records notoriously undercounted laboring people. If the group is larger than Murray believes, that simply adds more weight to his study. Second, the book boldly declares that ``ideology took a backseat'' (7) to belly factors in the lives of poorer people, a point of debate among scholars. His contention is not supported with much evidence. Indeed, the records Murray analyzes, as rich as they are, do not shed too much light on the political ideology of poorer people. In their dealings with officials (as Murray recognizes), they usually had to play the role of deferential supplicant to obtain their goals; expressing radical ideas would hardly achieve those ends. Finally, Murray may be too facile
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 18, 2013
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