click here to read the full text of the book


Queen City of the West, 1819–1838

Daniel Aaron

“A classic.” —Journal of the Early Republic

Daniel Aaron, one of today’s foremost scholars of American history and American studies, began his career in 1942 with this classic study of Cincinnati in frontier days. Aaron argues that the Queen City quickly became an important urban center that in many ways resembled eastern cities more than its own hinterlands, with a populace united by its desire for economic growth

Aaron traces Cincinnati’s development as a mercantile and industrial center during a period of intense national political and social ferment. The city owed much of its success as an urban center to its strategic location on the Ohio River and easy access to fertile back-country. Despite an early over-reliance on commerce and land speculation and neglect of manufacturing, by 1838 Cincinnati’s basic industries had been established and the city had outstripped her Ohio River rivals. Aaron’s account of Cincinnati during this tumultuous period details the ways in which Cincinnatians made the most of commerce and manufacturing, how they met their civic responsibilities, and how they survived floods, fires, and cholera. He goes on to discuss the social and cultural history of the city during this period, including the development of social hierarchies, the operations of the press, the rage for founding societies of all kinds, the response of citizens to national and international events, the commercial elite’s management of radicals and nonconformists, the nature of popular entertainment and serious culture, the efforts of education, and the messages of religious institutions.

For historians, particularly those interested in urban and social history, Daniel Aaron’s view of Cincinnati offers a rare opportunity to view antebellum American society in a microcosm, along with all of the institutions and attitudes that were prevalent in urban American during this important time.

Daniel Aaron is Victor S. Thomas Emeritus Scholar in English and American Language and Literature at Harvard University.

1992   364 pp. This title is no longer available in a traditional print edition. Click here for free access to the book's full text.
Urban Life and Urban Landscape