Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Judge Not a Man by the Cost of his Clothing

During the Age of Progress, in the late 19th century, investors like Cornelius Vanderbilt created great wealth within the railroad corporations and George Westinghouse made his fortunes in large part because of his advances in railroad technology by inventing the automatic coupler. While these men and other capitalists were part of the elite, the laborers in the coal and iron ore mines were suffering from poverty. They worked long hours under harsh conditions for little pay.

The ballad Judge Not a Man by the Cost of his Clothing, written anonymously, exemplifies the social class differences that were developing in this time period.

Give me the man as a friend and a neighbor,
Who toils at the spade, the loom or the plough,
Who wins his deploma of manhood by labor...
Then why should the broadcloth alone be respected,
And the man be despised who is fustian appears.

Within these two stanzas, the author explains his fustrastion with the attitudes of the rich. He is thought of as less of a man because he is poor and can only afford clothing made from twilled cotton or low-quality wool. He wants to be judged for his character because he thinks of himself as a good man that is hard working, yet he is looked down upon because of his wardrobe.

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