In Jacksonian America, as Grund exposes, the wealthy inhabitants of northern cities and the plantation South may have been willing to accept their poorer neighbors as political and legal peers, but rarely as social equals. In this important work, he thus sheds light on the nature of the struggle between “aristocracy” and “democracy” that loomed so large in early republican Americans’ minds.
Francis J. Grund, a German emigrant, was one of the most influential journalists in America in the three decades preceding the Civil War. He also wrote several books, including this fictional, satiric travel memoir in response to Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous Democracy in America. Armin Mattes provides a thorough account of Grund’s dynamic engagement in American political life, and brings to light many of Grund’s reflections on American social and political life previously published only in German. Mattes shows how Grund’s work can expand our understanding of the emerging democratic political culture and society in the antebellum United States.