In his 2010 book, On the Make: Clerks and the Quest for Capital in Nineteenth-Century America, Brian P. Luskey writes, “the opportunities for self-making seemed endless” for countless young white males moving to the big cities. Many of these young men took jobs as clerks in retail, wholesale and manufacturing establishments, a job many hoped would lead to financial independence and perhaps a firm of one’s own. As Luskey puts it, “These clerks were on the make, persistently seeking self-advancement, self-improvement, or self-gratification.” (p.2)

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