The meaning of American history has rarely been contested more fiercely than during the current "culture wars" as Americans battle to define their past. Life in Early Philadelphia can contribute much to a reasoned discussion by giving readers the rare opportunity to interpret and reconstruct life in the country's premier urban center at a time when Americans struggled to establish their independence and to create a new nation. Covering the period from about 1775 to 1810, these remarkable documents reveal glimpses of the lives of everyday men and women-from the impoverished, imprisoned, and enslaved to the "middling sort" and the wealthy. Each document is prefaced by a helpful introduction and is extensively annotated. A general introduction, glossary, bibliography, and guide to further reading make the book ideal for students and general readers. Taken as a whole, this collection reveals much about the shaping of American society.
Billy G. Smith is Professor of History at Montana State University. He is the author of The "Lower Sort": Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750-1800 (1990) and the co-editor of Blacks Who Stole Themselves: Advertisements for Runaways in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 1728-1790 (1989) and The Infortunate: The Voyage and Adventures of William Moraley, an Indentured Servant (Penn State, 1992).