Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
The Refinement of America is an exciting and original analysis of how the concern for stylishness, taste, beauty, and politeness that began to be felt in America after 1700 changed the nation's future development as a society and culture. Bushman shows that the visions of a more elegant life both complemented and competed with other American values associated with evangelical religion, republicanism, capitalism, and the work ethic. He argues that gentility gained strength from collaboration with liberal capitalism, but in a way that blunted class conflict. The combination of capitalism, republicanism, and gentility prevented the hardening of class consciousness: instead there emerged a belief in the right of every citizen to membership in the middle class.