The adoption and spread of steamboats and railroads rapidly and profoundly influenced antebellum American culture and experience. From published and private sources, Aaron Marrs traces their effects on language and the arts, on race and gender, and on religion and childhood, offering an important account of the implications of technological change.
Incorporating an expansive range of primary source material, Marrs captures the transformative power of steam transit in the antebellum period. The result is a rich account of how the impacts of new technologies are shaped by complex webs of experience and meaning-making. As stream transit remade antebellum American culture, American culture—in a variety of forms and with a diverse range of voices—pushed back.
This new book about the transportation revolution is truly fresh, smart, and fun to read. Aaron Marrs imagines steam transportation as a holistic phenomenon that profoundly reshaped the lives of antebellum Americans. He has scoured the archives through seven topical lenses, producing lively reports from an extraordinary sweep of sources. Marrs's approach infuses an old story with something of that urgency and human interest that contemporaries knew firsthand.
The development of steam power induced a profound change in human mobility. With detailed analysis and lucid prose, Aaron Marrs shows how steam became interwoven with every aspect of American society and culture. In children's books, slave narratives, religious tracts, and casual conversations, Americans came to terms with the new technology and made it their own.
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
Notes on sources