Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. v

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

“Why have men quit fighting?” wondered newspaperman Arch Bristow. He knew, from his local history research and even from his own earliest memories, that men in the nineteenth century had once brawled constantly—in barrooms, at dances, circuses, baseball games, even camp meetings. “In every town and village in the country there were wicked, brutal fights.” Each locality had its bullies, men who...

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1. The Tavern Crowd

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pp. 8-33

“In nearly every New-England village at the time of which I write,” P. T. Barnum remembered of the 1820s, “there could be found from six to twenty social, jolly, story telling, joke playing wags and wits, regular originals, who would get together at the tavern or store, and spend their evenings and stormy afternoons in relating anecdotes, describing their various adventures, playing off practical jokes upon...

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2. Jolly Fellowship

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pp. 34-64

“What for a Man are you?” demanded Joseph Blakemore of John Everet. Blakemore was in the Coach and Horses Tavern in London in 1731 “playing a Game of Skettles with one Thomas Bennesfield, and there happen’d to be a Dispute about the Game, on account of a Bett.” When onlookers, including Everet, said that Bennesfield had won, Blakemore furiously turned on Everet, asking whether...

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3. Reform

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pp. 65-96

“About the year 1825, a change began to come over the minds of the people” of Concord, Massachusetts, remembered Edward Jarvis, a physician and local historian. “It was produced, in some measure, by the temperance advocates. But, in greater part, it was a moral and intellectual epidemic—one of those silent unrecognized changes in public opinion that creep over a community, [when citizens]...

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4. New York

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pp. 97-128

“A great city,” explained Horace Greeley speaking of New York, “derives its subsistence and its profits from ministrations, . . . not only to the real needs of the surrounding country, but to its baser appetites, its vices as well; and, as the country becomes less and less tolerant of immoral indulgences and vicious aberrations, the gains of cities there from, and their consequent interest therein, ...

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5. The Gold Rush

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pp. 129-156

On 26 December 1849, Kimball Webster, a twenty-one-year-old gold hunter from Pelham, New Hampshire, began his journey up the Sacramento River to the mining regions. Webster had known the boat’s captain, Thomas D. Bonner, back in New Hampshire as an agent and lecturer for the Washington Temperance Society. Thus Webster was surprised when Bonner “topped one of the whiskey...

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6. Cultural Connections

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pp. 157-186

“At the present moment,” wrote James K. Kennard Jr. in the Knickerbocker magazine in 1845, “a certain ubiquitous person seems to be in the way of the whole people of these United States simultaneously . . . and any one may hear him told, a hundred times a day, to, ‘Get out ob de way, Old Dan Tucker!’ ” The phrase was from a popular minstrel song, and Kennard was celebrating the incredible...

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7. Wild East and Wild West

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pp. 187-213

“Guess you haven’t seen much as rough as this afore?” was the question that greeted English newspaperman John White as soon as he entered a Julesburg, Colorado, gambling saloon in 1867. Julesburg was one of what Harper’s Magazine dubbed “air towns,” the temporary termini of the transcontinental railroads that were among the most disorderly places in the West. White replied that it really...

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8. Sporting Men

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pp. 214-247

“I’m God damn glad I killed the son of a bitch,” snarled Jere Dunn as the Chicago police took him into custody. Sprawled dead on the floor was Jim “Cockeyed” Elliott, a Brooklyn prizefighter and a good one, at one time light-heavyweight champion. Dunn, originally from the tough Sixth Ward of New York, was a “wellknown sporting character” who had been, among other things, a racehorse trainer...

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9. Continuities and Complexities

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pp. 248-280

“A ‘House of Commons,’ as it was sometimes called, assembled late in the afternoon or early in the evening either on the veranda or inside the [general] store, depending on the weather” in the 1870s in his hometown of Gurleyville, Connecticut, remembered Wilbur Cross years later. “It was a variable group of men who came in for their mail and sat until somebody said it was time to go home. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 281-285

“As I say, we ain’t no New York City or Chicago, but we have pretty good times. Not as good, though, since Jim Kendall got killed. When he was alive, him and Hod Meyers used to keep this town in an uproar. I bet there was more a laughin’ done here than any town its size in America,” a barber tells a newcomer to town in the opening of Ring Lardner’s widely anthologized 1925 short story “Haircut.” ...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 287-288

Appendix A. Onset of Moral Reform by Decade

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pp. 289-290

Appendix B. Correlation of Selected Social Statistics, New York City, by Ward, 1855

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p. 291

Notes

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pp. 293-366

Index

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pp. 367-376