Historians and biographers have traditionally favored stories of the powerful and the trends they set in motion. More recently, they've spotlighted the neglected lives of the disenfranchised and dispossessed. But, asks Linda H. Matthews, descendant of the pragmatic, adaptable, and lively Hammill family, who tells the stories of the people in the middle? Spanning three centuries and three seas, from the bluffs of Scotland and Ireland to colonial Chesapeake Bay and Virginia, then across the expanding nation into the Pacific Northwest, Middling Folk makes the compelling case that the experiences of the middle classes--those who quietly, century after century, conducted the business and built the livelihoods that made their societies prosper --reveal a great deal about the founding of the United States and the ways in which customs and traditions are perpetuated through the generations. Matthews combines meticulous research and deft storytelling to show how the Scots-Irish Hammills--millers, wagon makers, and blacksmiths--lived out their lives against a backdrop of the American Revolution, the Civil War, and westward expansion. Readers will come away with a newfound respect for the ordinary families who helped shape this country and managed to hold their own through turbulent times.
Linda H Matthews is the cofounder and former publisher of Chicago Review Press. She lives in Evanston, Illinois.