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Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Since its publication in 1984, Chants Democratic has endured as a classic narrative on labor and the rise of American democracy. In it, Sean Wilentz explores the dramatic social and intellectual changes that accompanied early industrialization in New York. He provides a panoramic chronicle of New York City's labor strife, social movements, and political turmoil in the eras ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 7th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1984)
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Nov 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Dave Debiak
I read this book not because I am particularly interested in labor history, although it is a fascinating and important subject with contemporary overtones. I read "Chants Democratic" because I wanted to again share company with one of the best U.S historians alive: Sean Wilentz. His "The Rise of American Democracy" is the best U.S history book I've ever read. "Chants Democratic" was his first book, published in the 1980s. It is also superb.

Many Americans today may take for granted that capitalis
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I got through most of this. Very looks so small! I'll skip through this in nothing flat, one thinks to one's self. And then...tiny type. And the material is not my favorite. I try to like labor history, but I may have to admit that in the end, I just think labor history is boring. Sorry, working class forebears.
Wilentz has interesting things to say here about this artisan republicanism, and how everyone in the early republic claimed the "Inheritance of the Revolution." Journeyman
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have read "the age of jackson".
This book functions well as an adjunct to the "age of jackson" by arthury schlesinger jr. it basicaly handles the development of the "working class" in new york city between the end of the american revolution to the period before the civil war.

During this period the economy of new york city industrialized, and that impacted the development of the "american" or more accurately given the subject of this book "new york" working class.

This book might also have a cross over audience with gangs of new
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Labor history of New York City before 1850. Wilentz chronicles the variety of worker responses to the industrialization process (in NYC at this time it meant more about division of labor and resulting wage decreases, then heavy mechanization). Excellent background and a rich variety of details as Wilentz describes worker's advocacy for a republican identity and communal connections amid the financial pressures of capitalism. ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was required reading and so it was so dry I just did speed reading to get it done. That said, even while only speed reading, I did notice this book has so many run on sentences and comma splices. It's awful. But hey, I got it done. If you are interested in labor history, I suppose this book is good, but that's not me. ...more
Oct 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent history of the evolution of American workers from hierachicized guild members to active adversaries of management--and the unfortunate ancillary rise of racism and ethnic strife. Also of the rise of Lincoln's Republican Party and the loss of cap-D Democracy to the South and the dark side for three-quarters of a century. ...more
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Might have been a pretty good book if not for the implicit racism. There’s some hopeful stuff about a moment of American commitment to labor unity. Except, you know, not for black people. Which Wilentz isn't particularly concerned about, or perhaps, doesn't even notice. ...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic; New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class (1984)
1. Discusses "metropolitan industrialization": process in which labor becomes a commodity
2. Excellent discuss of labor in Jacksonian New York
3. Integrates labor, capital, and political history
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I found it very interesting to learn about not only labor history but New York City history, all rolled up in one. It was an enjoyable read, although the author assumes more historical knowledge than I have; I would have appreciated more background information. But all in all a valuable book.
James P.
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Difficult to read but a fascinating look into the development of the working class and the labor movement.
Jul 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history buffs
What a neat book! It's heavy sloggin at times, but well worth the trouble. ...more
Vincent Fong
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
For academics only? Overly detailed for me.
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Sean Wilentz is the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University. His many books include The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics (2016); Bob Dylan in America (2010); and The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974–2008 (2008). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005) was awarded the Bancroft Prize, and he has received ...more

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