This book would not have seen the light of day without the assistance of several institutions and numerous friends and colleagues. John Platt and Tony Roth of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and Lillian Tonkin of the Library Company gave generously of their time and expertise, and graciously complied with my excessive requests. The staffs of the Presbyterian Historical Society and Old St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church directed me to a treasure-trove of primary and secondary material that greatly enriched this manuscript. The research performed at these repositories was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
It is difficult to imagine a more cooperative group of colleagues than my fellow historians at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They are a reservoir of inspiration and dialogue. Stephen Nissenbaum, Paul Boyer, Ronald Story, Leonard Richards, and Robert Griffith helped me think through perplexing issues, and I am richer for their rigor and spirit of collegiality.
Theodore Hershberg, Director of the Philadelphia Social History Project at the University of Pennsylvania, deserves special mention. He awakened me to the possibilities of quantitative methods and although we disagreed over the nature of the historical process and relative value of statistical techniques in revealing its secrets, he never wavered in his personal generosity or support for my scholarship. He accorded me free access to the files and records of the P.S.H.P., sharpened my understanding of the antebellum city, and made my stays in Philadelphia intellectually rewarding and socially enjoyable.
I am deeply indebted to two distinguished scholars and dear friends. Milton Cantor, my colleague at the University of Massachusetts, read the entire manuscript and offered invaluable editorial advice. This book is much improved for his efforts and I am profoundly grateful for his unselfish dedication to my work. Those who have had the privilege of working with David Montgomery, formerly at the University of Pittsburgh and now at Yale University, know of his contagious enthusiasm and extraordinary intellectual powers. He has been a constant source of scholarly and political inspiration, a rare individual whose contribution to my own maturation and that of untold members of the profession is hard to capture in prose and impossible to repay. He has read and criticized more drafts of this work than either of us cares to remember and my fondest hope is that the final product is worthy of the time and effort he has invested in me.
My greatest debt is to my spouse, Leslie Tarr Laurie. Her quiet persuasion prodded me along; her love and companionship sustained me in moments of doubt. She is the invisible shepherd of this work.