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Thrift and Thriving in AmericaCapitalism and Moral Order from the Puritans to the Present$
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Joshua Yates and James Davison Hunter

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769063

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769063.001.0001

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Spreading the Gospel of Self-Denial

Spreading the Gospel of Self-Denial

Thrift and Association in Antebellum America

Chapter:
(p.160) 7 Spreading the Gospel of Self-Denial
Source:
Thrift and Thriving in America
Author(s):

Kathleen D. McCarthy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199769063.003.0007

This chapter traces the democratization and diversification of thrift in the 19th century and explores how American voluntary associations preached the gospel of thrift to men, women, and children of every station and, in the process, helped fortify the foundations for commercial society. In this period, Americans created a variety of charitable organizations, which, in the effort to combat poverty, emphasized the importance of abstemious behavior. Religious groups continued to inculcate moral restraint as well, and the Second Great Awakening gave birth to the “benevolent empire,” through which the new Sunday school movement inculcated thrift as well as the related virtue of temperance. At the same time, Americans were busy creating mutual aid societies and lodges, largely secular, whose purpose was to preach the thrift ethic to the working class.

Keywords:   thrift, American voluntary associations, commercial society, charitable organizations, Sunday school, temperance

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