Class inequality in America

I believe that the persistence of class inequality in America stood out the most about the Revolutionary era. In the book The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, George Robert Twelves Hewes, was one the many people who took part in revolutionary acts against British rule. He is also the person that The Shoemaker and the Tea party was mainly about in the first portion of the book. Most would think that someone who had taken part in something as significant as the first steps leading up the revolutionary war would be honored, respected, and even to a certain extent taken care of by his country. George took part in events such as the destruction of tea, Boston Massacre, along with other acts that mobs partaken in, in Boston. Hewes did receive these things but not until in his older age. He received recognition after it was known that he was one of the last survivors from the notorious acts prior to the revolution, one the acts that he was a part of being The Destruction of Tea ‘The Boston Tea Party’.
First, it appeared as though all the American citizens were on the same level because they were unitedly fighting for the same cause, yet there was still an unmoving division in class while the revolution era was taking place. In the book The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, Hewes talked about how he was alongside of John Hancock during the destruction of tea. Hewes insists that Hancock aided him in ripping apart a crate. Thatcher undoubtedly believed that Hewes had made a mistake about him being alongside of Hancock. The reason why Thatcher thought that Hewes account was inaccurate was simply because of the class system and inequality. Hewes was a shoemaker and Hancock was one of the wealthiest men in Boston
John Hancock was higher in class as Hewes, who was just one of many ordinary shoemakers in Boston. It was abnormal for someone of a higher economic status to have regular social interactions with someone in an inferior status. Hewes stayed a man of humble financial income during the course of his life. Also, inside of The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, Hewes, his wife, and their children lived in constant insufficiency of income. After his wife died in 1828, Hewes traveled between the homes of his children. All of his children were too poor to keep him at their house for long period of time. This shows how persistent the inequality was in America, although George Hewes was a hardworking man throughout his life and even was veteran of the revolutionary wars along with his other significant acts (being a part of the destruction of tea)
Additionally, although both the elite and the working class were working together to overthrow British rule they had different reasoning behind why they were rebelling against the crown. The colonists did not like the way that the British controlled things after the French and Indian war. The British began passing Acts to make enough revenue to cover the debt of the war. Colonists rebelled all taxes which Britain didn’t like. This started to cause a great amount of tension between the Americans and British. Therefore, the reasoning behind majority of the elites in America was patriotic politics, which was also the reason for a few colonists in the working class. For example the Stamp act, the colonists felt as though the Stamp Act was unfair.
Hewes including other colonists in the working class were motivated to act in the revolution because of their personal experiences, the things that affected them or the people they knew directly. For example, the presence of the British troops on American soil, and other events that happened to them that they saw, or that happened. For example, Hewes witnessed soldiers’ fire in a crowd, killing five men in the Boston Massacre. Hewes knew four of the men that were killed in the Massacre. One of the victims was shot in the back while they were standing next to Hewes, and fell directly into his arms. It seems as though Hewes reasoning for his participation in events was substantially because of social class resentment. Furthermore, he never even officially joined any patriotic groups. He continued just one of angry workingmen along the docks, ready to form a mob when needed, which he seemed content with.
Thirdly, colonists of lower class were involved in revolutionary actions to attempt to enhance their finical status. For example, Hewes needed to support his growing family. Hewes was in and out of the Army to support his family. During the war he fought as an average sailor and soldier, shipping out on privateering voyages and enlisting multiple times. Hewes total amount of time spent in the military was twenty months. He even tried privateering as a way to get more money, or even just some type of acceptable pay to help him achieve financial independence. His attempt to increase his financial situation failed. Hewes stated in The Shoemaker and the Tea Party that ‘we received nothing of the government but paper money, of very little value, and continually depreciating.’ He even lost his shoemaking shop that he had built in Boston. Georges shop was burned by British troops.
The economic divide caused many of the poor to feel desperate and in need because they couldn’t provide for neither their family nor themselves. This made it easier for the elite to persuade them to take part in the war. The military was offered as a ‘place of promise’ for colonists that were poor. The military gave lower class Americans a chance to boost their social status, and earn revenue along with the fact they might rise in rank while in duty. Also, the lower class colonists were fighting for their liberties and freedoms. They felt as though the British were unfairly imposing taxes on them.
Majority of colonists that were a part of the elite society were concerned about their own personal benefit from the boycotts. The colonists in the upper class weren’t worried about the liberties of the people like the middle and lower class colonists. The elite had all their liberties for the most part and they were also established in life due to their economic superiority in comparison to the colonist that were in the middle and lower class. For example, proprietors recognized that the boycotts would reduce their debts that they owed to the British merchants. Like the majority of the colonists the elite would gain from the separation from the British.
The separation for the elite would mean that they would not have to answer to British at all and that they would be in control of the American government and their revenue would increase. By the elites having the British out of the way they would be able to basically be the absolute power in a sense and take control. The elite owned majority of the land and therefore they controlled the colonies essentially. ‘The rich get richer and the poor get poorer’.
Alternatively, there was an additional type of class inequality in America. While colonists were fighting for their independence African Americans were also trying to gain their independence likewise. Alongside with the African Americans were the Native Americans, both groups of people felt they were being deprived of their liberties as Americans and as people. America’s outlook on freedom looked very hypocritical to outsiders. Americans defined freedom as a universal entitlement rather than it’s just for a specific person or place, but robbed thousands of their freedom solely on basis that their economy was based on agriculture and without slavery they would lose money.
The colonists were fighting for their freedoms and their liberties, kept slaves and denied them of their freedom and their liberty, which was the purpose of Americans rebelling against the British in the first place. The British were denying the Americans of their natural liberties. American’s treating the African Americans and Native Americans with ignorance put both of these groups of people on the bottom of the class system in America, which is under the already impoverished white colonists. The freedom of most diminished the freedom and equality of others. It is unquestionably that class inequality continued to be persistent in America during the Revolutionary era, and everyone was affected by it.
America was based on a class system. The class system just like in some other systems such as: feudalism, caste, and gender, there are injustice, and biased events that transpire. I n a class system, both recognized & accomplished statuses have a major influence on the society’s wealth, income, and even social positions. In a class system, although it is possible to have mobility, it is usually not easy for someone in a lower class to move up, and usually people of high positions don’t move down in the economic system. Therefore, people have equal opportunity in a sense but there are other factors that can effect rather or not a person is able to advance in life.
Individuals that had a high status in their society, example elites didn’t want or desire ordinary people to have an abundant amount of power in politics because that would jeopardize their way of governing and their revenue. Therefore, only people of high status held political positions, and had the most voice in politics the elite looked for each other just as the peers in the lower classes did, but the elite didn’t want to share their wealth and expand the wealth of others. Majority of citizens had the right to vote, but yet some were still excluded from their right to vote. John Adams for example stated he believed that men without property had no judgment of their own. The odds were in fact against the lower classes, Adams stating this is just another example of how unjust and unequal the freedoms of Americans were during this era if you weren’t in a certain social class.
In addition, the cause that brought all different classes together wasn’t able to break the class inequality in America. Throughout the revolution things were still unfair between the classes. Hewes was described as basically insignificant in like who for a moment became someone notable in the Revolution and, for a moment near the end of his life, a hero. He honestly felt he was on a level with his betters at a point in time. Hewes lived his entire life without being acknowledge or even being able to increase his social, or economic status during the revolution era. He even at old age had to depend on someone that wasn’t even a family member to take him in (his children couldn’t afford to provide for him) for shelter.
In Conclusion, Class inequality has always been an issue throughout history, and it wasn’t surprising to me that it was an issue during the Revolutionary era. The individuals in the upper class are comfortable in life and often take advantages of others that want to get ahead in life and live comfortably as the upper middle class, and the rich. The individuals in the lower and middle class are frequently those who are hard workers and the people who protest and debate when unfair circumstances arise in their communities or as in the time period of George Hewes the Revolution.

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