Kingdom of Mathias Paper

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The early 19th century saw a time of booming economic and technological advancement that in turn, impacted cultural aspects of life in America. The market revolution, as it was later deemed, was invoked by the construction of the Erie Canal, which allowed for easy access to imported goods and greatly expanded trade and commerce. As a result, Buffalo and Rochester experienced great gains and the ability to easily trade with states in the mid-west. Also, the advent of the Market revolution saw the emergence of a newly defined middle class bound to factory labor and wage earnings. But with all the socioeconomic changes and the religious revival of the Second Great Awakening, there were still individuals who fought to preserve the patriarchal society that existed prior to the tumult of reformation and revolution. In Paul Johnson and Sean Wilentz’s novel, The Kingdom of Matthias, Robert Matthews, the son of one of the many Scottish families of Coila, experiences several religious movements and their efforts to reshape society. Ultimately, after the experience of short lived wealth and a wretched family life decorated with fits of rage and violence, Matthews decides that all the various movements are but a ploy of the devil to destabilize and ruin Christian society. He then takes up the name of Matthias the Prophet who, after Judas’ treachery, is assigned by god to fill the gap as a disciple. He proclaims himself the defender of ancient truth, bent on returning the old world practices of marriage, Patriarchal families and introducing Marxist ideas of a society were all men are equal. In fact, he states that he wishes to fashion his kingdom as a place where “there would be no market, no money, no buying or selling, no wage system and no economic oppression of any kind” (Johnson and Wilentz p. 96). The wave of change that accompanied the market revolution tested the conventional views of a patriarchal society, established a better defined middle and upper class, and...
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