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Freedom's GardenerJames F. Brown, Horticulture, and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America$
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Myra B. Young Armstead

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814705100

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814705100.001.0001

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The Informal Politics of Association

The Informal Politics of Association

(p.129) 9 The Informal Politics of Association
Freedom's Gardener

Myra B. Young Armstead

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on James F. Brown's participation in various social organizations. These include the Protestant Church, extra-church religious associations (temperance advocates, Bible societies), a firemen's club, children's aid, an African American burial society, and a fraternal order. Such organizations leveraged the collective concerns of individual citizens to influence civic affairs in a number of directions. Participation in such organizations enabled Brown to experience first-hand the special freedom that de Tocqueville found so striking about democratic life in the young United States—freedom of association. While it is impossible to ascertain the participation level and participation rate of most antebellum Americans in most civic societies, what is clear is that joining was a mostly middle-class enterprise in the early and mid-nineteenth century. Brown belonged to a tiny group of steadily employed workers, middling sorts, who constituted the set of African American joiners.

Keywords:   James F. Brown, organized causes, social organizations, civic affairs, freedom of association, African Americans, membership

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