Unitarian philanthropy and cultural hegemony in comparative perspective: Manchester and Boston, 1827-1848.
Of course, New England in 1816 had nothing remotely comparable to the industrialization already evident in Lancashire and the Midlands. And when factory industry appeared in the following decades, some of its founders, motivated by similar convictions, carefully constructed workplace communities designed to avoid English conditions.(3) As it did for many Americans of the time, urban England confirmed Jeffersonian fears Tuckerman had carried across the Atlantic and provoked an urgent American question: "Shall we, or shall we not, give encouragement to great domestick manufactures?"(4) The misery so conspicuous in English cities magnified his foreboding that a similar prospect lay in the near American future. He was certain of the price "the spirit of manufacture" would exact: uneducated children, women "of the lowest condition of society" wrenched from their families, their character rendered "impure," and an unhealthy, unskilled laboring class.(5)
Eleven years later, in 1827, the Executive Committee of the American Unitarian Association, alarmed by the growing visibility of poverty in Boston, authorized the establishment of the Boston Ministry to the Poor and appointed Tuckerman to the post of Minister at Large to the Poor of Boston. He plunged into his avowed task of rehabilitating souls lost to poverty and moral depravity through personal contact, counsel, and judiciously distributed material aid. In 1833, after five years of physically and emotionally exhausting effort, and with other pastors now enlisted in the work, Tuckerman visited England again. His reputation as minister to the urban poor preceded him and he was warmly received. Inspired by his visit, Unitarians set up similar organizations, known as Domestic Missions, in Bristol, Liverpool, and Birmingham, as well as in Manchester and the East End of London. The English organizers of Domestic Missions lauded Tuckerman and acknowledged their debt to the Boston minister. In 1835, Rev. John Relly Beard, one of the Manchester mission's key organizers, publicly credited "the idea and impulse" to his Boston colleague.(6)
William Ellery Channing was Joseph Tuckerman's closest friend. Probably the best-known American Unitarian of his time, and certainly the pre-eminent spokesman for Boston Unitarianism, Channing reawakened early nineteenth-century Unitarian theology with a deepened spirituality which spoke eloquently to contemporaries in Europe and North America. Their English colleagues greatly admired both men. Channing's theology and Tuckerman's philanthropic work struck a chord in England. On both sides of the Atlantic, their practical example of social morality, or religiously-inspired ethical ideas about social organization and social relations, provided a compelling model for addressing the problems of the urban poor.(7) This article will discuss the genealogy of their model in Boston and explore its reception in Manchester in order to understand, in comparative context, how the philanthropic consciousness of powerful citizens helped to construct middle-class hegemony in modernizing cities. How were such ideas articulated and practiced? How can they be understood in comparative social context? As barometers of nineteenth-century urbanization propelled by fundamental economic change, Manchester and Boston present suggestive opportunities for answering these questions.
Manchester's contemporary significance needs no reiteration, save the qualification that until the late 1820s mechanized textile production was only one sector--and by no means the largest--in a highly diversified economy. Warehousing, banking, and distribution services all claimed significant resources well into the usual chronology of the city's industrialization. For example, as late as 1825 warehousing operations commanded twice the rateable or taxable value of "manufactories," and until the integration of power-loom technology, the warehouse remained the center of an extensive hand- weaving trade in factory-spun cotton yarn. Manchester was indeed "cottonopolis," with all that implied about the shocking new industrial world, but it also integrated factory industry into an expanding commercial, financial, and service economy with its eye fixed on the world at large.(8)
While in no sense an "industrial city" on the order of Manchester, Jacksonian Boston financed New England's growing textile industry and distributed its products. With older trade patterns in decline and New York eclipsing all other American ports, Boston's commercial elite recognized vital exporting potential in the new productive power. The factories may have been in Waltham or Lowell, but Boston capitalists planned and nurtured New England's industrial development. While maritime trade still dominated the picture, newly chartered railroads and newly built wharves rapidly expanded to link the industrializing hinterland to seagoing commerce. In short, Boston underwent a variant of the same economic revolution then in full swing in Manchester.(9) The port city evolved into an outlet for industrial production it financed and organized, while the industrial city maintained a complementary role as a center of finance and exchange.
Though far smaller than Manchester--its 1830 population of 60,000 no match for Manchester's 140,000--the New England city grew just as quickly, jumping by about 40% between 1820 and 1830, and by nearly as much again in the next decade.(10) Both cities were home to growing and increasingly diversified groups of professionals, white-collar workers, and a multitude of small-scale entrepreneurs and tradesmen. Manchester's textile labor force included skilled and unskilled factory workers and domestic outworkers. Boston's laboring population, though growing in size, remained largely artisanal or tied to the wharves. In sum, the two cities shared an increasing economic complexity and social heterogeneity. Their middle classes grew larger and more diverse, while their laboring populations reflected distinctive positions within expanding industrial economies. Though the chronologies differed and structural patterns diverged, Manchester and Boston were the respective urban centers around which the English and American industrial economies first coalesced.(11) They thus serve as appropriate centers for considering the construction of ideas about social morality as cultural adjustments to changing social conditions.
In nineteenth-century cities, voluntary societies channeled a portion of elite-based wealth into a new urban culture. Lecture halls, schools, hospitals, charities, and societies devoted to "the diffusion of knowledge" in many contexts appeared in Boston and Manchester simultaneously in the three decades before 1850. Elite- sponsored institutions voiced and enacted an ideal of "stewardship," a consciousness of the link between power and responsibility. They were vehicles through which specific discourses entered the public realm: conceptions of social and political organization, hierarchies of knowledge, and prescriptive foundations of public and private morality.(12) In this fashion,
voluntary institutions facilitated the consolidation and public expression of individual and class identities. The mechanics' institution, the lyceum or athenaeum, the innumerable clubs, libraries, and societies for businessmen, professionals, clerks, and artisans, all manifested cultural attempts to situate and empower social groups in a fluid, competitive, and rapidly changing urban environment.(13)
The sponsors of urban civic culture ritually condemned sectarian discourse, religious or political, as "controversial" and inimical to the higher values they championed. Cultural institutions were viewed as neutral ground, and historians can profitably see them as primarily extra-political, or as a construction of "civil society."(14) To be sure, cultural institutions carried specific social gravity; their agendas, and their ability to pursue them, reflected very real distributions of resources. Civic culture and the exercise of power were closely linked. Viewed in this light, civil society tests the boundaries and languages of social relations outside the realm of formal politics and establishes the sources of moral authority which define hegemonic social relationships.(15) In sum, civic culture emerged from a contested sphere, an arena in which competing versions of social experience elbowed their way toward a position in public discourse.(16)
Whether charitable or more narrowly "cultural," the institutions of civic culture turned repeatedly to the thorniest question of all: how best to conceive of and organize an incipient mass urban society. Tuckerman's Ministry at Large and the English Domestic Missions confronted this question at a time when religion powerfully influenced public discourse in England and the United States. The wave of evangelical fervor that swept through Anglo- American Protestantism intensified both piety and the religious allegiances which formed common experiences among widely diverse groups of people. With municipal structures as yet inadequate to the tasks, the cultural matrix of religious arguments and voluntarist organizations often provided the first sustained response to newly perceived social dilemmas.(17) The social expression of religious ideas among elites in two cities living through the "heroic" age of early industrial capitalism offers a precise cultural context for understanding the idea and practice of social morality.(18) This, in turn, can open a comparative perspective on the historical process which created the hegemonic culture of Anglo-American urban society.
The 1851 religious census counted 1,670 Manchester Unitarians at worship on census day. Prior to repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828, this small community shared the same civil and legal disabilities that burdened other non-Anglicans. After repeal their reputation as heterodox freethinkers continued to provoke hostility, among trinitarian nonconformists as well as Anglicans. In Manchester, moreover, disproportionately large Unitarian participation in local politics and civic affairs of the 1830s occasionally triggered more localized outbursts of resentment. Only toward mid-century, and well after reform had removed the main juridical penalties attached to dissenting status, did trinitarian antagonism--Anglican and otherwise--begin gradually to diminish.(19)
Unitarianism in antebellum Boston was a much larger and more formidable cultural and religious presence, a major denomination appealing (as in Manchester) primarily to the wealthy and the educated. Significantly, Boston Unitarianism emerged from the heart of Massachusetts' Congregational establishment, unlike English Unitarianism, whose lineage was largely Presbyterian and completely nonconformist. This critical difference allowed Bostonians to face animosities with broader and stronger communal resources. Thus, when conspiracy-driven fears of Unitarian dominance emerged in Massachusetts politics during the 1830s, the hostility itself grew from a position of strength, most notably a series of legal decisions which validated Unitarian control of churches and church property throughout the commonwealth.(20)
Broader historical patterns, only indirectly related to religious allegiance, also shaped their respective experiences. Prior to the late 1840s, Boston's Unitarians faced nothing comparable to the periodic social instability marked by Peterloo, the Reform Bill crisis, or Chartism. Nativist/Irish Catholic violence in the 1830s certainly disturbed wealthy Bostonians of every description, but these episodes never provoked the constant sense of alarm about "dangerous classes" that characterized their Manchester counterparts.(21) In both cities, many Unitarian families were recent migrants. The newcomers to Boston assimilated into the mercantile elite coterminously with the religious shift that turned many Federalist-era churches to Unitarianism. They adapted to their own purpose the established traditions and institutions of a politically important commercial hub and invented new institutions of their own.(22) Manchester Unitarians were also "new men," though no newer than their city. Fewer in number, and with fewer institutional advantages, they worked against more formidable odds to establish their place in the city. Their efforts simultaneously aided the larger project, in which Unitarians were a critical element, of establishing the distinctively middle-class politics that characterized Manchester's emergent place in national life.(23)
A stronger social position thus allowed Boston Unitarians an easier passage to power. Greater social uncertainty and a heightened version of the dissenter's defensiveness molded communal self- definition in Manchester. National political allegiances support the comparison. Manchester Unitarians identified with the aggressively anti-aristocratic impulses of radical Whiggery, while Boston Unitarians--overwhelmingly American Whigs--detested the Jacksonian democratization of political culture. Manchester Unitarians joined the middle-class challenge to England's "old regime" and participated in a great campaign to remake state and society, while Bostonians enlisted in the Whig response to Jacksonianism which looked to rescue and reconstitute elite political authority.(24) The Unitarian model of social morality, first in Boston and then in Manchester, took shape within these larger contexts.
Beginning in 1827, Joseph Tuckerman submitted regular published reports to the Executive Committee of the Ministry at Large. He described a city in which concentrations of drunkards, vagabond children, and destitute, profligate families are hidden within larger precincts of respectable artisans. He brought sobriety, education, and lessons of thrift to some, always aware that many more needed attention than could possibly receive it. The minister described himself as a "moral policeman," a kindly, empathetic, but strict guardian/missionary of respectable behavior.(25) Privately, he kept meticulous records of pastoral visits and sums lent to the needy. A representative entry, in January 1828, recorded the repayment of ten dollars lent to one Asa Griffin, "to aid him in redeeming clothes and furniture, which he had pledged for a debt while he was living in intemperance." Griffin had sobered up in the interim and now has "a shop fitted up for his business as cabinet maker."(26)
Drunkenness was one marker of the distance between deserving and undeserving poor, a distinction preoccupying all commentators on poor relief, English and American. Institutional developments in both cities reflected the problem. In Manchester, as elsewhere in England, limited public provision for outdoor relief remained after the 1834 Poor Law amendment ostensibly abolished it in favor of the workhouse, though the city's policymakers always pushed for stringent and frugal enforcement of Poor Law regulations. In Boston, a House of Industry, organized in 1824 under municipal auspices and according to principles similar to the English workhouse, challenged the traditional public provider, the Overseers of the Poor, a popularly elected body which continued to administer outdoor relief in the time-honored manner. In both cities, perceptions of deserving and undeserving poor generally corresponded to a de facto division of labor between private and public charity.(27)
Tuckerman's descriptions of his work should be seen against this institutional and ideological background. Thus, in 1832, he argued that in the distribution of charity "there will be occasion for great caution and much wisdom, so that in no case whatever, if it be possible, shall pecuniary aid be offered or granted, when the industry of those who ask it can in any way procure the needed relief."(28) Similarly, the following year his colleague Charles Barnard cited English statistics and the arguments of Manchester's John Relly Beard to suggest a related conclusion: "The relief of suffering, there is reason to fear, has been in too many cases pursued, both by individuals and societies, to the disregard or injury of the prevention of pauperism."(29)
These were conventional middle-class nostrums about the dangers of dependency, drawn in part from popularized readings of political economy. While he endorsed such notions, Tuckerman's experience in Boston's slums never allowed him dogmatically to ascribe poverty to immorality. Sensible that the point was easily lost on his patrons, he repeatedly insisted upon the legitimacy of material suffering among the "virtuous poor." "I am ready," he wrote in an 1828 report, "as far as it may be done, to maintain, and to act upon, the principle, 'if a man will not work, neither shall he eat.' But if he cannot work, or cannot obtain employment,--and strange as it may seem to some, this is a very possible case,--nor eat, except he obtain the bread of charity, shall it be witholden?"(30)
Tuckerman's willingness to identify structural unemployment, and underemployment, distinguished his commentary from the run of middle-class moralists. He especially emphasized the difficulties faced by women in the labor market, and he always framed descriptions of poor women (as he did with the poor generally) as members of families. Middle-class philanthropists feared disintegration of the working-class family, and their fear fed judgments about its moral deficiencies. The ideal of domesticity, based on assumptions of sexual difference and prescriptive gender roles, always figured large in philanthropic remedies. Tuckerman's understanding of the economic roots of female urban poverty was somewhat unusual among male philanthropists, but he subscribed fully to the domestic ideal, which fit squarely within the larger context of middle-class philanthropy.(31)
Another, perhaps deeper impulse underscored Tuckerman's arguments about poverty: a need to confront the social costs of urbanization he identified with England, and to build structures which would prevent them from reaching English proportions in Boston. In his view, the urban migrant lost contact with the cohesive community characteristic of the rural environment. The vast, impersonal city sharpened class divisions, worsened the experience of poverty, and loosened communal checks on immoral behavior. The positive work of the "moral policeman" was to restore social cohesion through forming sympathetic human relationships with the downtrodden. The task bore little connection to the abstracted and mechanical analyses of politicians and political economists, whom he accused of regarding the working classes as "machinery, in relation alone to their productiveness of wealth." Instead, his mission comprised "an infinitely higher charity," one which "has for its object the character, the mind, the soul."(32) No mere alms-giver, the moral policeman had the far weightier responsibility of reconnecting broken social bonds. It took formidable resources, among them a rich intellectual inheritance, to rehabilitate characters, minds, and souls.(33)
Over the years, William Ellery Channing encouraged, cajoled, and criticized Tuckerman into increasing the scope and effectiveness of his friend's work. But unlike Tuckerman, Channing seldom discussed the material needs of the poor, the finances of poor relief, or the quandary of discriminating between deserving and undeserving. Instead, he defined the moral and intellectual sources of Tuckerman's "higher charity." In one letter of encouragement, Channing urged his friend to find ways to express "distinct, substantial truths, which the intellect may grasp, and which answer to the profoundest wants of the spiritual nature."(34)
For Channing, the "profoundest wants" could only be spiritual. "Degradation of mind," in Channing's words, and not material suffering, constituted poverty's most destructive impact.(35) Repairing that degradation meant reminding the poor of their intellectual and moral dignity. It was a common theme in his writing, nowhere better expressed than in the 1838 lecture entitled "Self-Culture." Aimed at the intelligent and independent artisan/workman, "Self-Culture" offered a guide to the acquisition of "higher" faculties: aesthetic, rational, and moral. Just as Tuckerman criticized the political economist's superficial analysis of the laborer as a wealth-producing "engine," Channing urged the workman to renounce the false intellectual idols of utilitarian or vocational knowledge and social ambition. For Channing, culture superseded all worldly goals and instrumental purposes; to gain culture was to live a fully-realized life and to build a barrier against "degradation of mind."(36)
The Boston minister believed that Unitarianism held a special warrant to teach these lessons. The warrant was partly theological, in that Unitarian rejection of Calvinist doctrines of sin opened the possibility of universal human capacities for improvement. But Channing went beyond repudiating doctrines of depravity, whether old Puritan or new Evangelical. Just as importantly, he articulated a romanticized emotional language that touched a generation eager to rescue "corpse-cold Unitarianism" from excessive formalism and atrophic rationalism. Channing met such accusations with rhetoric worth quoting at length:
It is objected to Unitarian Christianity, that it does not possess this heart-stirring energy; and if so, it will, and still more, it ought to fail; for it does not suit the spirit of our times, nor the essential and abiding spirit of human nature. Men will prefer even a fanaticism which is in earnest, to a pretended rationality which leaves untouched all the great springs of the soul, which never lays a quickening hand on our love and veneration, our awe and fear, our hope and joy.(37)
For somewhat different intellectual reasons, this Romantic sensibility appealed to both American and English Unitarians. Channing's inward-looking theology challenged the rote Arminianism of the Americans and made him an unwitting (and unwilling) accessory to the Transcendentalists. His work also attacked the mechanistic, determinist tendencies characteristic of early nineteenth-century English Unitarianism under the sway of Joseph Priestley. For English contemporaries like Liverpool's John Hamilton Thom and James Martineau and Manchester's John James Tayler, the American's religious philosophy answered their discontent with Priestleyan doctrine. In Channing they found a deeply-felt exploration of human dignity, an essential moral freedom which Channing called the "likeness to God."(38)
These self-conscious stewards of urban elites undertook their theological re-orientation amidst a host of social challenges. Compelled to rework the ethical premises of the class they represented, Channing, Tuckerman, and their English contemporaries raised the "likeness to God" to an egalitarian principle. It displaced outward goals and circumstances, which they presumed to have no bearing on the universal entitlement to a moral and spiritual life. "I am a leveller," Channing told the English poet and dramatist Joanna Baillie, "but I would accomplish my object by raising the low, by raising from a degrading indigence and brutal ignorance the labourers and multitudes."(39) Channing's Romantic impulse turned Unitarian theology toward this social organicism. To "raise the multitudes" was to engage in Tuckerman's "higher charity." In this respect, philanthropic emphasis on the family as a social institution could assume larger metaphorical dimensions. The greater human family, bound together in a common emotive framework of empathy, promised to bridge social divisions. The higher charity, like the religion it drew upon, began in feeling. It was not an abstract principle.
In Manchester, John James Tayler, pastor to the elite Mosley Street Unitarian chapel and one of Channing's chief English disciples, articulated a version of Unitarian social morality that reflected a different set of social experiences. In 1833, Tayler delivered a lecture in which he described the elements of "The Moral Education of the People." Such education begins, he stated, with understanding the "connexion between events, of the necessary dependence of some on others, of the reasonableness of moral distinctions, of their conformity to our station and circumstances, and of the direct subserviency of right conduct to happiness." At the heart of "right conduct" Tayler placed "respectful demeanour towards superiors in age and worldly station." On another occasion, Tayler advised a working-class audience that a "meek, gentle, patient, and loving spirit" constituted the "genuine dignity" to which they should aspire. At the same time, the sincere Christian accepts the religious emotion Tayler called a "consciousness of dependence," a calm acceptance of powers which lay far beyond one's comprehension or control. For Tayler, moral education hinged upon understanding complementary hierarchies, social and metaphysical.(40)
Tayler's definition of moral education exemplified the language of English Unitarian sermons, which typically enjoined strict adherence to social hierarchy while invoking spiritual egalitarianism and philanthropic obligation--in contemporary language, the "claims of the poor." The cultural tension between hierarchy and equality was generally pitched higher in the English context, and perhaps higher still in Manchester, where social volatility constantly loomed overhead. Thus Tayler subtly altered the Bostonians' social assumptions. Unlike Channing or Tuckerman, for example, he regularly proclaimed social principles drawn from political economy, not a posture suited to complement communitarian rhetoric about the greater human family.(41) Similarly, Tayler's version of moral education implied both stewardship--that the educated share their knowledge--and an intensified sense of submission, or the religious emotion he called "genuine dignity." It followed that social discontent must evidence moral ignorance. Far more explicitly than in Boston, in Manchester authentic religious understanding recognized the imprint of divinity in a hierarchical world.
These differences aside, a shared theology prompted Manchester Unitarians to adopt Tuckerman's practices, while a common heritage of contentious relations with the surrounding culture produced hostile attitudes toward competing philanthropies. Though Tuckerman frequently emphasized an ecumenical approach (he unsuccessfully advocated sponsoring a Catholic missionary as early as 1828), Channing expressed the more common perspective when he accused evangelicals of "spiritual conceit" and insisted that Unitarians "understand better the worth of human nature in all classes, and are prepared to act on all with that sentiment of respect which is essential to success."(42)
English Unitarians leveled similar accusations at Anglican evangelicals. In an 1845 review of Domestic Mission reports from various cities, an English critic derided evangelicals as tract- mongerers "anxious above all things to report progress in proselyting [sic] to their own narrow creed." He claimed that Unitarians were "the only ones breathing the spirit of Tuckerman," and offered as proof the Manchester Domestic Mission's manifold charities, its integration of domestic visits into a larger scheme of Sunday schools, a lending library, a savings bank, and a medical dispensary.(43) Domestic Mission reports often described a profusion of character-building "rational activities," but never discussed conversion or tract-distribution. An 1838 Manchester report, for example, noted such "popular and attractive amusements" as vocal concerts, natural history exhibitions, and a sewing class.(44) Unitarians were indeed notably reluctant proselytizers, and brought the same reluctance to their urban missions. By the late 1830s other religiously-sponsored reformers began to abandon conversion as the chief means of approaching the urban poor. Like their pastoral model, though, those who worked in "the spirit of Tuckerman" had always sought characters and minds as well as souls.(45)
In precisely that sense, Unitarians designed their missions as schools for rational autonomy, for educating individuals to manage themselves and their affairs in a volatile urban world.(46) Tuckerman's work promised Manchester's Unitarian stewards a way to rectify the suffering they saw in their city, and they assumed it would easily cross the Atlantic. But poverty in Manchester was not poverty in Boston. The greater ideological tension characteristic of Tayler's sermons intensified when it filtered down to the practical work of Manchester missionaries, who encountered a poverty that defied understanding. In January 1838, for example, minister George Buckland reported that the "protracted depression of trade" had severely affected his charges, but simultaneously insisted that "poverty is too often to be seen in connection with bad habits" and suspected that much of the aid he distributed was unwarranted. Three months later, at the end of a hard winter, Buckland described an appalling scene in an Irish weaver's cellar dwelling. A bedridden woman lay dying in one corner of a damp, cold, and badly-lit room. In another, her dead infant could be seen propped against an idle loom. The father, earning seven shillings per week, could not afford the cost of burial. Buckland's earlier willingness to connect poverty to moral turpitude now disappeared: "When I look at this and similar facts," he reported, "I sometimes feel at a loss what to say, or what to recommend."(47)
The minister went to Manchester's slums armed with Tuckerman's assumptions and the ethos of the city's Unitarian elite. But Tuckerman had not learned about the urban poor from proletarianized handloom weavers, nor from the starving, uprooted Irish peasants who poured into Boston several years after his death in 1840. His social theory rested on encounters with the likes of Asa Griffin, the intemperate cabinet-maker, exactly the sort of "journeyman mechanic" he and Channing wanted to transform into a "self- cultured" independent workman. In Manchester, Buckland found conditions neither the Boston model nor its Manchester adherents could comprehend. In this instance, cultural affinities were no match for the structural differences that distinguished Boston's artisans from Manchester's partly industrialized workforce.
Tuckerman's second visit to England, in 1833, confirmed his fears of 1816. Seventeen years after first encountering Birmingham's workshops and Manchester's mills, he perceived a nation where coercion and not rational autonomy had become the chief social principle. "Take away the host of its police and its soldiery," he told a Boston audience in 1834, "and the wealth of this kingdom could not purchase the security of London for a week." Beneath the controlled chaos lay a hidden nation of the invisible poor. Why are they invisible? "The answer is, you see them not, because they are kept in the background by a power which is effectual for keeping them there."(48) For Tuckerman, coercion signified a failure of stewardship. Relying on naked force meant that the "moral policeman" had not done his job.
His admonition suggested the underlying context that bound Unitarians in Manchester and Boston: the consolidation of hegemonic stability. Religious feeling, expressed in the ideas and practices of urban philanthropy, projected this social purpose into the public space of civil society. Starting from a theological conception of "religious duty"--a mixture of stewardship, discipline and submission framed within a romantic commitment to equality in an organic social world--the Unitarian clergy built cultural premises for a community of moral individuals. They were one voice, among many, ratifying middle-class experience in modernizing urban economies through the ideal of hierarchical, rational autonomy. Such values were consistently self-imposed as well as trained on the poor. Thus, in the early 1820s, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers employed the moral categories of middle-class philanthropy when it proposed amendments to bankruptcy laws. Bankrupts, and legal remedies, were to be divided into categories of "unfortunate but honest," "improvident," and "fraudulent debtors."(49) Precluding social coercion--the "moral policeman's" ultimate goal--turned upon mass conversion to the same ethical and behavioral standards social stewards applied to themselves. When Joseph Tuckerman denounced English conditions, he described his own fear of an immoral and literally irrational society.
The internal consolidation of middle-class hegemony required these articles of faith, though their cultural construction generated conflicts. When Tuckerman condemned England he echoed the kind of priestly warnings Unitarian moralists in both cities frequently offered their congregations. Denunciations of selfishness and heedless love of wealth were standard sermon rhetoric, but often the criticisms cut more deeply. In Manchester, Tayler deplored his congregants' unwillingness to meet with the poor under the same roof. Channing accused his fellow clergy of lackluster support and marveled at the complacency of lay Unitarians.(50) As he told the Liverpool merchant William Rathbone in 1837, "I have often been struck with the entire composure with which a congregation will hear their worldliness rebuked, when they wince if any acknowledged vice were charged on them. They really see no guilt in an entire absorption in outward interests."(51) Lay resistance to clerical teaching could easily be inflamed, and enthusiastic laborers for the philanthropic cause never exceeded a small minority. The moralization of economically-driven public issues--slavery and temperance in Boston and the Ten-Hour Bill in Manchester come to mind--exposed fissures separating clergy and congregations.(52)
To be sure, the Unitarian clergy fundamentally sanctioned the economic and political order their congregations embodied. But like any intelligentsia, they also criticized it. Channing wrestled with his response to slavery for years before finally taking an unequivocal abolitionist stand, thereby trading the scorn of anti- slavery activists for the indignation of his congregation.(53) Joseph Tuckerman walked the same tightrope, against a less dramatic backdrop, in an 1835 letter to George Bond, a Boston textile merchant and prominent layman who sat on the American Unitarian Association Executive Committee. Arguing for the extension of his ministry, Tuckerman disapprovingly, almost angrily, described the systematic exclusion of anyone unable to afford a pew in Boston's Unitarian churches, but then promised he had no intention either of bringing "journeyman mechanics" into established churches or of indiscriminately mixing poor and wealthy children in Sunday schools. Tuckerman was anxious to retain Bond's support, which doubtless accounted for his careful reassurances, but his ambiguity is nevertheless revealing.(54)
In the late 1840s, potato blight in Ireland swept victims into both cities. In Manchester, Tayler reiterated calls for charity and brotherly sympathy, and explained how the great distress could be turned to permanent stability through a kind of hegemonic "bargain." Misery will subdue the starving Irish; their will broken and their dependence heightened, they will be open to "healing influences of kind and faithful advice." Help the sufferers now, he advised, and in exchange find a future social consensus: "tell them plainly, that if material aid must be furnished for a time by others, the moral co-operation which alone can make it a blessing, and not a curse, must come from themselves."(55)
The minister had been addressing recurrent crises for a long time-- in Manchester, 1847 was no worse than previous depression years-- but in Boston, the unprecedented scope of immigration and the extremity of immigrant poverty stretched philanthropic structures and assumptions to the breaking point.(56) Addressing the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches in 1848, Ezra Stiles Gannett, Channing's successor at the Federal Street pulpit, expressed a hardened class perspective neither his predecessor nor Tuckerman had ever articulated. In their very numbers, Gannett claimed, the indigent poor threaten nothing less than a social contagion: "They are the source of perplexity to the legislator, of trouble to the municipal authorities, and anxious foreboding to the alarmist and the theorist. They may be overlooked, but they cannot be unfelt. They affect the comfort and security of our daily life. They take possession of our dwellings and our streets. They congregate, and yet they spread."(57)
Gannett's chilling words suggest how the Irish influx propelled Boston into the modern urban world that Manchester already knew well. In simpler times, Tuckerman and Channing conceived a way to cultivate the sturdy republican mechanic they hoped to find in Boston's slums. An "inward culture," in Channing's words, was possible for even "the inhabitant of a hovel."(58) Manchester's middle-class Unitarians eagerly embraced Channing's spiritual egalitarianism, romanticized theology, and social organicism. But the historical trajectory that carried them to their confrontation with modern urban life gave poverty in their city a more complex and less tractable cast. In Manchester, historical forces ranging from the power loom, to Chartism and other manifestations of working-class unrest, to the political culture of English religion, intensified the tensions among equality, the need for hierarchy, and their consequent moral categories. George Buckland confirmed the point when he confessed to helplessness in 1838. Ten years later, the Irish famine brought a true proletariat to Boston and closed part of the distance that had separated conditions in the two cities.
In the broadest sense, Unitarianism itself served larger historical processes in a period characterized by closely entwined religious, social, and political allegiances. Among English nonconformists, sect and chapel were models of identity and organization which shaded gradually toward the new social and political loyalties of the early Victorian era. The emergence of middle-class politics, and middle-class consciousness, owed much to sectarian religion's emancipatory effect on older forms of allegiance and dependency. In that sense, Manchester Unitarians participated in the general identification of Whiggery with Dissent over Parliamentary reform and social legislation, though semi-respectable religious convictions always complicated their position.(59)
As we have seen, Boston Unitarians had a much less tenuous hold on prestige and power. Here too Unitarianism exerted a cohesive force for the construction of class values and political loyalties. Unlike their English counterparts, however, the bankers and merchants of Boston constructed a deeply conservative and unabashedly elitist approximation of aristocratic culture.(60) Paradoxically, they did so under American conditions, lacking in precisely the corporate structures or hoary distinctions their Manchester friends abhorred. The clerical voice was exquisitely tuned to these sociocultural dilemmas. Thus we can situate Tuckerman's muted indignation over the exclusiveness of Unitarian churches, or Channing's carefully qualified self-description as a "leveller."
In both cities, Unitarian philanthropy consciously distinguished its ethos and methods from the surrounding Protestant culture, precisely as Unitarians distinguished themselves from others. While sectarian conflict lay close to the center of urban civic culture, and Unitarian self-consciousness served larger social and political ends, it also blurs the deeper implications of their social morality. Rejecting the evangelical stress on sin, redemption, and conversion, Unitarian philanthropists sought to teach their way toward social relations reconstructed to serve two versions of hegemony. In Manchester, middle-class Unitarians negotiated their demands for equality--religious, social, and political--within the inherited hierarchical norms of English society. In Boston, rich Unitarians transformed their elite status into an informal aristocracy within an ascriptively democratic and formally republican political culture. The conceptual claims of philanthropy were thus enmeshed in the emergent consciousness of two steward classes, within two distinctive social contexts, at a critical, self-defining moment of hegemonic consolidation.
The last comparative word belongs to Channing. Commenting on the prospect of English political reform in 1831, he captured the imperative for sending social morality into the civic culture of growing cities. His words describe the rationale, and the dilemma, of Anglo-American Unitarians confronting a world they wished to improve, to accommodate, and to control:
In giving wealth and intelligence, you give power, and a power which will assume a political direction.... [I]t springs necessarily from the improvement of the community in wealth and knowledge. It is a want of a people, who are rising in civilization. They who do not so view it ought at least to see, that be it good or bad, come it will and must; and that wisdom and patriotism call them to make the best terms with it in their power.(61)
A Research Fellowship awarded by the Massachusetts Historical Society enabled me to pursue this project in Boston. An earlier version of this article was presented to the New England Historical Association, University of Massachusetts at Boston, October 19, 1991. Janet Rogow read this and previous versions with a precise editorial eye. For criticisms and comment along the way, thanks to Matt Gallman, Peter Holloran, Richard Vann, and R. K. Webb. Manuscript material is quoted by permission of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Houghton Library, Harvard University.
1. Joseph Tuckerman Travel Journal, 1816, f. 87. Tuckerman Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS).
2. Ibid., fols. 104-5.
3. For an account of such sentiments among the first Boston industrialists, see Robert F. Dalzell, Jr., Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made (Cambridge, Mass., 1987), pp. 12-25. The planned industrial "village" was one strategy for avoiding the disasters of English industrialization. For the work environment in Lowell, the American archetype of planned industrialization, see Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860 (New York, 1979). For Lowell as a cultural symbol of urbanized industrialism, see Thomas Bender, Toward an Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century America (Lexington, Kent., 1975), pp. 71-128. For a discussion of the ways public discourse in New England idealized Lowell to show how the organization of modern industry could escape the social price paid in the old world, see Carl Siracusa, A Mechanical People: Perceptions of the Industrial Order in Massachusetts, 1815-1860 (Middletown, Conn., 1979), pp. 63-102.
4. Tuckerman Travel Journal, f. 105.
5. Ibid., f. 89.
6. "Manchester Ministry to the Poor," Christian Teacher 1 (1835): 326; Joseph Tuckerman on the Elevation of the Poor. A Selection from His Reports as Minister at Large in Boston, ed. Edward E. Hale (Boston, 1874), pp. 8-9.
7. For a highly nuanced intellectual biography of Channing, see Joseph Delbanco, William Ellery Channing: An Essay on the Liberal Spirit in America (Cambridge, Mass., 1981). For Channing's influence on English Unitarians, see R. K. Webb, "The Unitarian Background," in Truth, Liberty, Religion: Essays Celebrating Two Hundred Years of Manchester College, ed. Barbara Smith (Oxford, 1986), pp. 22-23.
8. Roger Lloyd-Jones and M. J. Lewis, Manchester and the Age of the Factory: The Business Structure of Cottonopolis in the Industrial Revolution (London, 1988), pp. 30, 105, and passim. For examples of the many portentous descriptions of Manchester that proliferated after 1815, see Steven Marcus, Engels, Manchester, and the Working Class (New York, 1974), pp. 28-66. The best short introduction to nineteenth-century Manchester remains Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities (1963, repr. Harmondsworth, 1982), pp. 88-138.
9. For a concise description of Boston's economy in the period under discussion, see William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, The Web of Progress: Private Values and Public Styles in Boston and Charleston, 1828-1843 (New York, 1985), pp. 23-39, 62-69. Dalzell, Enterprising Elite, provides a stimulating analysis of the lives and work of Boston's early industrial capitalists, comprehending business history in wider social and cultural context.
10. Pease and Pease, Web of Progress, pp. 12, 32.
11. For discussions of the social diversity characteristic of Manchester's middle classes, see Alan J. Kidd, "Introduction: The Middle Class in Nineteenth Century Manchester," in City, Class and Culture: Studies of Cultural Production and Social Policy in Victorian Manchester, eds. Kidd and K. W. Roberts (Manchester, 1985), pp. 4-10; Simon Gunn, "The 'Failure' of the Victorian Middle Class: A Critique," in The Culture of Capital: Art, Power, and the Nineteenth Century Middle Class, eds. Janet Wolff and John Seed (Manchester, 1988), pp. 23-25; Briggs, Victorian Cities, pp. 105-106.
12. For a discussion of stewardship among Lancashire industrialists, see Anthony Howe, The Cotton Masters (Oxford, 1984), ch. 6. For Bostonians, see Dalzell, Enterprising Elite, ch. 5. For the institutional genesis of Boston's elite culture, see Ronald Story, "Class and Culture in Boston: The Athenaeum, 1807-1860," American Quarterly 27 (1975): 178-199. For a social analysis of Manchester's cultural institutions, see Howard M. Wach, "Culture and the Middle Classes: Popular Knowledge in Industrial Manchester," Journal of British Studies 27 (1988): 375-404.
13. Story, "Class and Culture," uses the example of the Boston Athenaeum, a private subscription library founded in 1807, to emphasize this consolidating dynamic among Boston's elite. For a wider-ranging discussion of the same theme, see Stuart M. Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900 (New York, 1989), esp. pp. 192-195.
14. The avowed "neutrality" of cultural institutions is discussed at length in a recent history of middle-class life in the English woolen manufacturing center of Leeds. See R. J. Morris, Class, Sect, and Party: The Making of the British Middle Class, Leeds, 1820-1850 (Manchester, 1990), esp. pp. 265-277. See Wach, "Culture and the Middle Classes," for an account of conflicts over neutrality and the determination of appropriate cultural content at the Manchester Mechanics' Institution and the Manchester Athenaeum.
15. See Story, "Class and Culture in Boston," pp. 178-188, for an interesting comparison with Liverpool which addresses the point.
16. My argument here assumes that the exercise of power in civic culture reflects the consolidation of hegemonic influence, which is not synonymous with "social control." Thus what I take to be the deeper purpose of cultural institutions and elite-sponsored reform organizations alike: the need to find and express modes of social and cultural self-definition. For a persuasive discussion along these lines, see Paul Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 (Cambridge, Mass., 1978), pp. 57-64. Similarly, R. J. Morris places the complex of voluntary societies in Leeds at the center of his analysis of middle-class consolidation. Morris, Class, Sect, and Party, passim. In a more theoretical vein, Thomas Bender has outlined a notion of "public culture," proposing it as an organizing framework for a synthetic interpretation of American history. Extending his definition of the "public" beyond the axis of politics and the state, Bender includes in his scheme "the more subtle power to assign meaning and significance to various cultural phenomena, including the power to establish categories of social analysis and understanding," and emphasizes the contested, fluid nature of the process. Though far more modest in intent, my use of the term "civic culture" is conceptually similar. See "Wholes and Parts: The Need for Synthesis in American History," Journal of American History 73 (June 1986): esp. 125-126, and Bender's discussion of social class and cultural institutions in early nineteenth-century New York in his New York Intellect: A History of Intellectual Life in New York City, from 1750 to the Beginnings of Our Own Time (New York, 1987), ch. 2.
17. Cf. Edward Pessen, Riches, Class and Power Before the Civil War (Lexington, Mass., 1973), pp. 252, 263.
18. For two of the most relevant recent discussions concerning religion in early nineteenth-century English culture, see Boyd Hilton, The Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1795-1865 (Oxford, 1988), and Robert Hole, Pulpits, Politics, and Public Order in England, 1760-1932 (New York, 1989). For a feminist analysis which puts evangelicalism at the very center of English middle-class culture, see Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780-1850 (Chicago, 1987), esp. pp. 73-192. In the American context, the most relevant and comprehensive interpretation of religious influence on civic culture is E. Digby Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Class Authority and Leadership (Boston, 1979). For evangelicalism and American middle-class reform efforts, see Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order, pp. 8-33, and Carroll Smith Rosenberg, Religion and the Rise of the American City: The New York City Mission Movement, 1812-1870 (Ithaca, 1971), esp. pp. 44-69.
19. Though neither the manifestations nor the effects of anti- Unitarian feeling in England should be overstated, their marginalized status remains a critical comparative distinction. The trinitarian provision in the Toleration Act of 1689 was not rescinded until 1813. Appeals to anti-Unitarian prejudice almost cost William Rathbone Greg his election to the Manchester constituency in 1839. In 1838, members of the Manchester Athenaeum, a middle-class forum for lectures and cultured leisure, attempted to exclude Unitarians from holding office. See V. A. C. Gatrell, "Incorporation and the Pursuit of Liberal Hegemony in Manchester," in Municipal Reform and the Industrial City, ed. Derek Fraser (New York, 1982), pp. 24-29. English Unitarians also fought protracted legal battles against trinitarian dissenters who challenged their right to funded income (the Lady Hewley Trust) and to occupy chapels. Moreover, social prejudice against them never quite disappeared, regardless of economic and political clout. See John Seed, "Theologies of Power: Unitarianism and the Social Relations of Religious Discourse," in Class, Power and Social Structure in British Nineteenth-Century Towns, ed. R. J. Morris (Leicester, 1986), pp. 131-132; G. I. T. Machin, Politics and the Churches in Great Britain (Oxford, 1977), pp. 165-166. Other analyses which discuss Manchester Unitarianism in wider cultural context include Arnold Thackray, "Natural Knowledge in Cultural Context: The Manchester Model," American Historical Review 79 (1974): 672-709, and John Seed, "Unitarianism, Political Economy, and the Antinomies of Liberal Culture in Manchester, 1830-1850," Social History 7 (1982): 1-25.
20. For the political background see Dalzell, Enterprising Elite, pp. 176-178, and Ronald Formisano, The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s-1840s (New York, 1983), pp. 168-169. One estimate for Boston between 1828 and 1843, based upon membership in elite cultural and corporate institutions and possession of over $20,000 in taxable property, counts 35% as Unitarian. See Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease, "Whose Right Hand of Fellowship? Pew and Pulpit in Shaping Church Practice," in American Unitarianism, 1805-1865 ed. Conrad E. Wright (Boston, 1989), pp. 182-183. Another scholar estimates that by 1851 two- thirds of the wealthiest Bostonians were Unitarian. See Ronald Story, The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class, 1800-1870 (Middletown, Conn., 1980), pp. 7-8.
21. In Boston, consciousness of "dangerous classes" emerged full- blown only with the massive Irish influx of the late 1840s. See below. For elite reactions to nativism in Boston, see Pease and Pease, Web of Progress, pp. 153-158.
22. In the broadest terms, the culture of elite Bostonians mirrored economic strategies which made accumulated capital both safe and readily available. In this sense, the archetypal economic institution was the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company, a clearinghouse for turning newly-made fortunes into intergenerational trusts. See Dalzell, Enterprising Elite, passim, for full discussions of economic strategies, their cultural analogues, and how both served to maintain stability and flexibility. Cf. Fredric Cople Jaher, The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles (Urbana, Ill., 1982), pp. 20-26; Baltzell, Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia, pp. 364-365. For reforms at Harvard, which went over to Unitarianism in 1805, and the university's role as a consolidator of elite values, see the analysis in Story, The Forging of an Aristocracy, pp. 109-134, as well as Peter Dobkin Hall, The Organization of American Culture, 1700-1900: Private Institutions, Elites, and the Origins of American Nationality (New York, 1984), pp. 184-190.
23. See Thackray, "Natural Knowledge in Cultural Context," for a discussion of how Manchester's first generation of Unitarian "new men" embraced the cultural uses of science to counteract their sense of marginality. For general reflections on Manchester's "newness," see Briggs, Victorian Cities, pp. 89-93, and pp. 123-125 for the broader attachment of nonconformity with anti-Corn Law agitation, the fundamental expression of national middle-class politics identified with Manchester.
24. Jaher, The Urban Establishment, p. 55. For an account of the "reconstituting" elite response to Jacksonian-era instability, see William A. Pease and Jane H. Pease, "Paternal Dilemmas: Education, Property, and Patrician Persistence in Jacksonian Boston," New England Quarterly 53 (1980): 147-167.
25. Mr. Tuckerman's First Annual Report as Minister at Large in Boston (Boston, 1827), pp. 14-15. Depending upon his audience, Tuckerman stressed different roles for the "moral policeman." Arguing for the systematic extension of his ministry under municipal auspices, Tuckerman chose to emphasize the moral policeman's role as a guarantor of public safety and agent of social control: "The city authorities ... would find in such a ministry as I am describing ... its most effectual police, the most watchful and successful guardians of the public order. Whence spring public disturbances but from that very class with whom the ministers at large would be maintaining the most frequent and sacred intercourse, and conferring upon them the most substantial favors?" Tuckerman, Ministry at Large for the Poor of the Cities (Boston, 1832), p. 13.
26. A copy of Tuckerman's receipt was included in a packet of papers marked "Poors' Purse." Tuckerman Papers, MHS.
27. Alan J. Kidd, "Outcast Manchester: Voluntary Charity, Poor Relief, and the Casual Poor, 1860-1905," in City, Class, and Culture, pp. 48-67. For the Boston House of Industry and Overseers of the Poor, see Pease and Pease, The Web of Progress, pp. 95-96.
28. Ministry at Large for the Poor of the Cities, p. 6.
29. Mr. Barnard's First Report of his Service, as a Minister at Large in Boston (Boston, 1833), p. 11.
30. Mr. Tuckerman's First Semiannual Report of the Second Year as Minister at Large in Boston (Boston, 1828), p. 14. To judge by Tuckerman's repetition of the point, it wasn't easily grasped by all lay Unitarians, See, e.g., his discussion of chronic underemployment and detailed typology of the virtuous poor in Second Semiannual Report (1828), pp. 17-26.
31. For Tuckerman's discussion of women's wages, see First Semiannual Report (1829), pp. 15-16. For a more detailed analysis, see his anonymously published work An Essay on the wages paid to females for their labour; in the form of a letter, from a gentleman in Boston to his friend in Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1830). See Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, passim, for a general and multi-faceted discussion of domestic ideology in England. For a discussion of philanthropic societies organized by women, some of which, beginning in the 1830s, put women's economic disabilities at the forefront of their agenda, see Anne M. Boylan, "Women in Groups: An Analysis of Women's Benevolent Organizations in New York and Boston, 1797-1840," Journal of American History 71 (1984): 497-523. For the uses of domesticity and imagery of the family among Manchester's domestic missionaries, see Seed, "Unitarianism," pp. 13-20.
32. Second Semiannual Report (1830), p. 15; First Semiannual Report, (1829), pp. 17-18.
33. For Tuckerman's description of the social atomization consequent to urban growth, see First Annual Report (1827), p. 6, and Second Semiannual Report (1830), pp. 17-19. For a lengthy analysis of English conditions as a negative model, see ibid., pp. 4-17. For a general discussion of similar perceptions about urban life among other Jacksonian-era Protestant missionaries see Boyer, Urban Masses and Moral Order, pp. 3-64.
34. Channing to Tuckerman, 13 May 1835. Channing Papers, MHS. When Tuckerman complained of the fatigue induced by his preaching in another Unitarian congregation, Channing minced no words: "You deserve to suffer. You know yourself unequal to this labor--and I wonder that you can do it without self-reproach--for it is defrauding the poor, and those who employ you to instruct the poor. You have no right to use your strength in this way. It is sacred to another purpose." Channing to Tuckerman, 27 June 1828. Channing repeatedly warned Tuckerman against overexertion and usually mixed his upbraiding with liberal doses of encouragement.
35. William Ellery Channing, The Ministry for the Poor. A Discourse Delivered Before the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches in Boston on their First Anniversary, April 9, 1835 (Boston, 1835), pp. 2-3.
36. "Address on Self-Culture, given September 1838 as an introduction to the Franklin Lectures," in Works, 6 vols. (Boston, 1848) II: 347-411. For an example of how English Unitarians appropriated Channing's social thought, see the largely admiring review of "Self-Culture" by John Hamilton Thom, a leading Liverpool Unitarian. While critical of Channing in some respects, Thom emphasized the applicability of the American's ideas to English conditions. Christian Teacher, I, new ser. (1839): 307-321.
37. "The Demands of the Age on the Ministry. Discourse at the Ordination of Ezra Stiles Gannett," in Works III: 147. Emerson, who had the deepest respect for Channing, coined the phrase "corpse- cold Unitarianism." For Channing's intellectual relationship with Emerson and Transcendentalism see Delbanco, William Ellery Channing, passim.
38. Webb, "The Unitarian Background," pp. 10-16; Ralph Waller, "James Martineau: The Development of his Religious Thought," in Truth, Liberty, Religion, pp. 242-245; Webb, "John Hamilton Thom: Intellect and Conscience in Liverpool," in The View from the Pulpit: Victorian Ministers and Society, ed. P. T. Phillips (Hamilton, Ont., 1978), p. 225. "Likeness to God" was the title of a widely-read 1828 sermon.
39. Channing to Joanna Baillie, 12 July 1831. Channing Papers, MHS.
40. John James Tayler, "The Moral Education of the People," 1 December 1833; "On the Opportunities for Mental and Moral Culture Afforded to the Humbler Classes," undated. Tayler Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Manchester College, Oxford (MCO). I have drawn this and the following paragraph from an extensive discussion of Tayler's moral discourse and pastoral career in Manchester. See Howard M. Wach, "'A Still, Small Voice' from the Pulpit: Religion and the Creation of Social Morality in Manchester, 1830-1850," Journal of Modern History 63 (1991): 425-456.
41. Tayler's sense of social danger peaked, at least rhetorically, during the Chartist disturbances of August 1842. Wach, "A Still, Small Voice," pp. 438, 442-443
42. Tuckerman, Second Semiannual Report, 1828, p. 13; Channing to Lucy Aikin, undated; Channing to Committee of the Unitarian Association on the Ministry at Large, 1 July 1833. For similar reasons, Channing insisted on Unitarians working alone. He had no qualms about cooperating with other sects on specific social problems such as intemperance, but, as he put it to a member of the Executive Committee, to "awaken their moral nature" only Unitarianism's understanding of "the true perfection of man" would do. Channing to anonymous, 4 April 1834. By the same logic, Channing agreed with the English Unitarian Lucy Aikin when she described evangelical Anglican missionaries among the English poor as "patronesses of pauperism rather than of the poor." Channing to Lucy Aikin, undated. Channing Papers, MHS.
43. "Religion in the Age of Great Cities," Prospective Review I (1845): 110-111.
44. "Manchester Domestic Mission--Minister's Monthly Report," in Christian Teacher 4, old set. (1838): 115-117. Compare Tuckerman's description, in 1827, of "pleasant hours" he organized for poor children, instructing them in religion and natural history. Second Quarterly Report (1827), p. 8.
45. In both England and the United States, Unitarians only infrequently engaged in proselytizing. See Seed, "Theologies of Power," pp. 119-120. In the U.S., the onset of depression conditions in the late 1830s contributed to redefining urban philanthropy beyond the old evangelical goal of converting the masses to godliness. For a narrative of the process in Boston's Congregational-sponsored City Missionary Society, see J. Leslie Dunstan, A Light to the City: 150 Years of the City Missionary Society, 1816-1966 (Boston, 1966), pp. 71-86. A similar evolution took place in New York in the Episcopalian New York City Mission Society. See Rosenberg, Religion and the Rise of the American City, esp. pp. 145-159.
46. For a stimulating discussion of how "character," in precisely this sense, emerged as a preoccupation in early nineteenth-century Boston, see Hall, The Organization of American Culture, esp. pp. 178-184.
47. "Manchester Domestic Mission--Minister's Monthly Report," Christian Teacher 4, old ser. (1838): 115; "Manchester Mission to the Poor," ibid., pp. 307-308. See also the account of Buckland's bewilderment and the Manchester mission's ideological meaning in Seed, "Unitarianism," pp. 18-20.
48. Joseph Tuckerman, A Sermon Preached at the Ordination of Charles F. Barnard and Frederick T. Gray, as Ministers at Large in Boston (Boston, 1834), pp. 29-30.
49. Lloyd-Jones and Lewis, Manchester and the Age of the Factory, pp. 141-142.
50. Letters Embracing the Life of John James Tayler, ed. J. H. Thom (London, 1872), 2 vols., 1. pp. 201-203; Channing to Ezra Stiles Gannett, 8 July 1835; Channing to Tuckerman, 30 July 1835. Channing Papers, MHS.
51. Channing to William Rathbone, 23 August 1837. Channing Papers, MHS. Rathbone was a fascinating observer of early Victorian conditions. The English people, he told Channing, "are in the transition state between brute ignorance and that degree of education which gives increased power, but not an equal knowledge of its right direction, a quicker perception of their wants and injuries, but not of their origin or remedy, a jealousy of their own rights, but a marvelous indifference to those of others, liberty to themselves and liberty to trample upon that of their neighbour." Rathbone to Channing, 17 September 1840. Channing Correspondence, Houghton Library.
52. For an analysis of how conflicts between Boston clergy and congregations, and therefore between benevolence and self-interest, manifested themselves over temperance and slavery questions, see Pease and Pease, "Whose Right Hand of Fellowship ?", pp. 192199.
53. One historian of Boston characterizes this conflict as "dissimilar conceptions of elitism," a functional tension between fractions of the same social class: "Arbiters of culture manipulate myths, symbols, values, and ideas; businessmen and statesmen deal primarily with power, products, money, and people." Jaher, The Urban Establishment, p. 43. For Channing's tortured embrace of abolitionism, see Delbanco, William Ellery Channing, pp. 130-152.
54. Joseph Tuckerman to George Bond, 11 April 1835. Bond Correspondence, Boston Public Library.
55. "On the True Administration of Benevolence, Material and Moral," March 14,1847. Tayler Sermon MSS., vol. 16, MCO.
56. In 1849 almost 29,000 Irish immigrants arrived in Boston, most of them absolutely destitute. The numbers had been building steadily since 1846. Oscar Handlin, Boston's Immigrants (Cambridge, Mass., 1941; repr. New York, 1977), p. 52.
57. Ezra Stiles Gannett, The Object, Subjects, and Methods of the Ministry at Large. A Discourse Delivered Before the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches, in the Federal Street Meeting-House, April 9, 1848 (Boston, 1848), p. 11.
58. The Ministry for the Poor, p. 5.
59. The procreative role played by sectarian religion as the "midwife of class" was diagnosed by Harold Perkin. See The Origins of Modem English Society, 1780-1880 (London, 1969, repr. 1972), esp. pp. 196-208,347-353. For more recent studies which confirm the point see, e.g., Richard Brent, Liberal Anglican Politics: 'Whiggery, Religion, and Reform, 1830-1841 (Oxford, 1987); Hole, Pulpits, Politics, and Public Order, pp. 229-247; Morris, Class, Sect, and Party, pp. 151-158.
60. Formisano, The Transformation of Political Culture, pp. 289-297; Story, The Emergence of an Aristocracy pp. 127-133.
61. Channing to Lucy Aikin, 22 June 1831. Channing Correspondence, Houghton Library.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Wach, Howard M.|
|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1993|
|Previous Article:||Urban and national identity: Bremen, 1860-1920.|
|Next Article:||Household economies and communal conflicts on a Russian serf estate, 1800-1817.|