African History to 1875 Fall 1997
THE RISE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS The rise of the middle class was a result of the industrial revolution. The "middle class" first appeared in Europe in the late middle ages, with the revival of trade and development of structures (armies, diplomatic marriages, endowments) that could convert money into power. Those who amassed wealth found themselves began to compete for power during the Renaissance, and by the 18th century, had successfully created a system that touched the entire globe. The middle class underwent enormous expansion in the 19th century as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution offered both new forms of production and new scales of production that provided much more flexible investments than the land held by the nobility and the Church. The new middle class was not united or homogeneous. At the lower end of the new middle class were small shopkeepers who found their livelihood at the bottom of the expanding capitalist economy. At the other end were large capitalists who owned companies. Although there were enormous differences in wealth and prestige between the different members of the middle class, they all shared an interest in a new concept, the "expansion of the economy." The members of the new European middle class shared several assumptions. 1) Personal security and prosperity were the highest goals. 2) The sum of everyone's individual success led to the success of the society as a whole. 3) Competition between humans stimulated them to do their "best"--to provide their best human effort. 4) An open, fluid economy, unfettered by natural or government restrictions, offered the best possible environment in which to m foster individual achievement. 5) Since the goal of security made members of the new middle class inclined to avoid risk, radical change occurred only after economic crisis forced action to cut costs. The new middle class had some specific ideas about the role of the government in the economy, all related to the conditions of commercial competition. Th overnment should reduce foreign competition with tariffs, but stay out of domestic competition. The overnment should also help to reduce the cost of competition by providing transportation and communication infrastructure, might possibly regulate standards to prevent unfair competition. QUESTIONS 1. How did Zephaniah Kingsley view slavery? 2. What was Zephaniah Kingsley's attitude towards government? 3. Where did Zephaniah Kingsley get his startup money for the first voyage in 1802? 4. Was Zephaniah Kingsley a man of the "middle class"?