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Chicago in the Age of CapitalClass, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction$
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John B. Jentz and Richard Schneirov

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036835

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036835.001.0001

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The City

The City

(p.13) 1 The City
Chicago in the Age of Capital

John B. Jentz

Richard Schneirov

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the dramatic capitalist transition in Chicago in the three decades from the 1850s through the 1870s. A capitalist economy based in wage labor became predominant in Chicago during and after the Civil War, and a new bourgeoisie organized it to produce capital accumulation, reinvesting profits in transforming the production process as well as the nature of work. This system required a permanent wage-earning working class, and the mere existence of this class posed a challenge for men of Abraham Lincoln's social vision. The working class was also a social issue for those who found permanent wage earning to be legitimate, for their justification of it presupposed a standard of living that could support a dignified family life and considerable choice in purchasing products in the market.

Keywords:   Chicago, capitalist economy, wage labor, bourgeoisie, capital accumulation, permanent wage earning, working class

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