November 13, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture

Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture

William R. Leach

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 0679754113

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This monumental work of cultural history was nominated for a National Book Award. It chronicles America's transformation, beginning in 1880, into a nation of consumers, devoted to a cult of comfort, bodily well-being, and endless acquisition. 24 pages of photos.

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Strauss said that Americans now saw luxury as healthy and “empowering”: “Luxury’s connection with the millions” has led to “luxury’s complete redefinition.” Today it is seen as “a source of strength” and as an entitlement “pledged” by America to the “masses of people.”120 The economic meaning of luxury had also changed. It had become, in Seligman’s words, a “necessity” for America’s new mass market economy. “Professor Patten,” he wrote, “was one of the earliest of modern economists to formulate

Studies in Economics and Industrial Relations (Philadelphia, 1941), p. 2; Willford I. King, “Trade Cycles and Factory Production,” and Francis Walker, “New Data Needed for Forecasting,” in The Problems of Business Forecasting, ed. Warren Persons et al. (Boston, 1924), pp. 13–16, 27, 35, 85–91. 40. JK, Frontiers of Trade, pp. 187–88. 41. U.S. Department of Commerce, Tenth Annual Report of the Secretary of Commerce (Washington, DC, 1922), p. 135. 42. Ibid., pp. 96–98, 107–10. 43. JK to

a corporation or the appeal of a commodity rather than those that openly showed the goods or companies themselves. “I would much rather do things like ideal gardens, spring, autumn, youth, the spirit of the sea, the joy of living (if there is such a thing),” he wrote one of his clients, the chocolate manufacturer Clarence Crane. “I kind of wish you had seen the one [Dreamlight] I did for the General Electric people, a sort of calendar they are to bring out in the fall to remind the public that

bound letterbooks were there, along with hundreds of unbound letters to and from Wanamaker and his son Rodman. Many newspaper scrapbooks, personal notebooks and pieces of diaries, and countless documents covering every aspect of the growth and evolution of the business were available. It was a rich archive indeed (now housed but still unprocessed in the Pennsylvania Historical Society), and I am extremely grateful to have been able to use it. It is because of the almost five months I spent there

costly that few other retailers could come close to matching them, although several tried. When a local minister complained that the focus on Santa Claus seemed out of keeping with a Christian Christmas, Wanamaker reassured him that “Young people very early grow to understand that [Santa Claus] is a mere pleasantry and tradition. I do not believe that it detracts from the story of the coming of Christ.”70 Wanamaker already had a large children’s business in the 1890s, but his toy section then

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