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Michael O’Malley : Free Silver and the Constitution of Man | Common-place April 2006
Michael O’Malley is associate professor of history and art history at George Mason University. He is studying the money question in American history, as well as studying the history of recorded sound..... The money debate and immigration at the turn of the century.....In 1889, Harvard economist Francis A. Walker described the "social effects of paper money" that ranged from bad taste—"wanton bravery of apparel and equipage"—to dangerous consumer desires, which undermined the father’s authority. Paper money, Walker observed, led to the "the creation of a countless host of artificial necessities in the family beyond the power of the husband and Father to supply without a resort to questionable devices or reckless speculations." Not only driven to recklessness, these fathers adopted "humiliating imitations of foreign habits of living." Paper money undermined "that fit and natural leadership of taste and fashion which is the best protection society can have against sordid material aims." And it elicited "manners at once gross and effeminate," which led to "democracy without equality or fraternity, and exclusiveness without pride or character." Paper money threatened patriarchy; it drove otherwise respectable men to immoral or dangerous speculations. Paper bills produced both "effeminacy" and coarseness, encouraging foreign habits. How did paper money manage this cultural crime spree? Not by raising prices—in this passage Walker never mentions higher prices. Instead, by removing society from a basis in "real values," paper money overturned natural laws and natural social hierarchies. It decentered the self.
19thC  US_history  economic_history  cultural_history  social_history  patriarchy  masculinity  family  money  monetary_policy  currency  hierarchy  status  migration  racialism  democracy  reformation_of_manners  EF-add 
august 2013 by dunnettreader

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