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Political Power in Boston, Massachusetts and Charleston, South Carolina, 1828-1843 (ICPSR 8653)

Principal Investigator(s): Pease, Jane H.; Pease, William H.


This study examined public records from two major port cities on the east coast of the United States in order to understand how urban centers functioned in antebellum America. The history, culture, and inhabitants of both cities were examined to compare the mechanisms of urban decision-making as they related to national economic and political circumstances. Demographic information was collected on a broad spectrum of individuals from both cities to gather as complete a picture as possible of those who wielded influence or power in the decisions undertaken in Boston and Charleston in response to the economic conditions of the period from 1828 to 1843. Variables in the dataset include the names of individuals, their gender, marital status, occupation, residence, location of business, birth and death dates, place of birth and nationality, political affiliation, church membership, fire and militia company association, professional, religious and/or philanthropic interests, business and corporate affiliations, property holdings, educational experiences, and political offices served.

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DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Boston - Download All Files (6.067 MB)
DS2:  Charleston - Download All Files (5.27 MB)

Study Description


Pease, Jane H., and William H. Pease. Political Power in Boston, Massachusetts and Charleston, South Carolina, 1828-1843. ICPSR08653-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1987. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08653.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08653.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • University of Maine. Faculty Research Funds Program
  • American Philosophical Society
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (RS 20093 (NEH))
  • National Science Foundation (SES-8023796 (NSF))

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    Antebellum South (USA), charities, church buildings, communities, community participation, demographic characteristics, economic conditions, education, financial assets, landowners, nineteenth century, occupations, philanthropy, political affiliation, political participation, political parties, property, real estate, religion, urban areas

Geographic Coverage:    Boston, Charleston (South Carolina), Massachusetts, South Carolina, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1828--1843

Date of Collection:   

  • 1971--1981

Universe:    Adult population of the cities of Boston and Charleston from 1828 to 1843.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Although this collection has only two parts, one for Boston and one for Charleston, it includes nine separate groups of individuals representing the universe of elite members and a sample of non-elite members in both cities. The principal investigators emphasize that the arrangement and nature of the variables differ between the two cities.


Sample:    All members of the elite in Boston (4,403) and in Charleston (2,308) who because of their occupation, political or social position, or wealth were likely to exercise influence and power in their communities, and a random sample of those who did not qualify as members of the elite. In Boston these included pro-Bank of the United States petitioners, anti-Bank of the United States petitioners, jurors, and firemen. In Charleston, jurors, voters, and firemen were sampled as members of the non-elite community.

Data Source:

City directories, tax rolls, probate records, and land deeds from Boston and Charleston (1828-1843), federal manuscript censuses of 1830 and 1840, various daily newspapers and municipal, church, club, philanthropic, and corporate records-both manuscript and published


Original ICPSR Release:   1987-10-12

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File CB8653.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

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