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Class Inequality and Paternalistic Ethos in “Give Me Liberty!: An American History” by Eric Foner Essay

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Updated: Nov 16th, 2021

Introduction

Paternalistic ethos appeared to be the part of colonial American history influencing the life of various class levels being under the pressure of social instability. The book “Give Me Liberty! An American History” written by Eric Foner, highlights the basic peculiarities of paternalistic ethos interference with social activities and underlines the attitude of social classes to its introduction in the USA through various historical steps of country development.

Class Inequality and paternalistic ethos

The development of paternalistic ethos was considered to be a try to suffuse the relationships between colonial partners and dependents on the basis of legitimacy through the metropolitan contemporary norms adoption. The introduction of paternalistic ethos appeared to be a significant step in class rule legitimizing. It left a positive print in the international and interclass unity of the colonial period experiencing by the USA.

The slaves managed to feel humanity on the part of higher classes due to paternalistic ethos development; it created some space for the slaves giving them an opportunity to release their needs through religious involvement and expression. Slaves and people of Afro-American origin had an opportunity to experience the “sense of family”.

“…it created a tendency for the slaves to identify with a particular community through identification with its master…” (Foner, 2005)

It should be noted that paternalistic ethos was the slaves’ defense against the threat to their interests and possibilities for self-expression.

Being the representative of the Northern culture, the paternalistic ethos could be perceived as the shaper of nationalism. The introduction of this aspect influenced the unity of black and white nations uniting them under common elements of intimacy and affection. The representative of the northern state being under the influence of communist interests experienced pressure because of paternalistic ethos development; it is necessary to underline the fact the individuals were impacted by the interests of the state and experienced strong pressure in the political sphere.

The owners of plantations having slaves and enough space for their agricultural business widening were as well influenced by the adoption of paternalistic ethos; it should be noted that emotional distance between them and their slaves could result in slaves’ chattel status. Nevertheless, some changes were observed in the system of agriculture provisions. Some fines and penalties have been introduced for unwillingness to serve people. Slaveholders and employers took advantage of such changes receiving additional profits.

Conclusion

The characteristics of paternalistic ethos in the book “Give Me Liberty! An American History”, written by Eric Foner, managed to evaluate the pros and cons of its development for all levels of social classes. The period of colonial America appeared to demonstrate the atmosphere that time through the lives of slaves and wealthy people showing the impact of paternalistic ethos upon their activities and ways of self-expression.

References

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. Seagull Edition. W. W. Norton & Co. 2005.

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IvyPanda. "Class Inequality and Paternalistic Ethos in “Give Me Liberty!: An American History” by Eric Foner." November 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/class-inequality-and-paternalistic-ethos-in-give-me-liberty-an-american-history-by-eric-foner/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Class Inequality and Paternalistic Ethos in “Give Me Liberty!: An American History” by Eric Foner." November 16, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/class-inequality-and-paternalistic-ethos-in-give-me-liberty-an-american-history-by-eric-foner/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Class Inequality and Paternalistic Ethos in “Give Me Liberty!: An American History” by Eric Foner'. 16 November.

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