"A Shopkeeper's Millennium", by Paul. E. Johnson. A brief synopsis and summary of the book.

Essay by ashchik1College, UndergraduateA+, February 2003

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In the book, A Shopkeeper's Millennium, by Paul. E. Johnson, a closer look is taken at the society of Rochester and how it was affected by the revivals from 1815 to 1837. He does this by looking at the Rochester Directory, church records, and other documents from the city of Rochester. Yet, more importantly the author tries to explain why the revivals even took place. Johnson's theories that present themselves in the book contract Tocqueville's and other beliefs that revivals were society's anecdote to individualism. To put it more simply: Johnson feels that revivals had little to do with family breakdown, isolation, and rootlessness. More accurately he feels it had to do with a number of things.

Before 1815, Johnson describes the town of Rochester as a place where "town and country were separate worlds"(16). However, with the arrival of the Erie Canal, improvements in inland transportation turned farmers into businessmen, which consequently caused a number of changes to take place.

The first of these changes was the restructuring of the employer's household and his interaction with his employees. As a more capitalistic society emerged with the ever growing commerce of Rochester, the master craftsman became more capitalistic himself. Now, the master was concerned with making his products quickly and cheaply. With these more materialistic desires came a decreased concern for the well-being of his employees. Also due to the master's new concern for privacy and shelter from a sin-filled world, employees no longer shared the home of his employer. Without the supervision of a master, workingmen moved into neighborhoods of their own. Johnson provides information that shows with the workingmen all living together, heavy drinking occurred within these neighborhoods. Quickly a negative stigma was becoming attached to anyone who touched the bottle. This is partly due to...