Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




America's seashore was virtually untouched prior to the Civil War. The American attitude toward leisure held that any time spent engaging in unproductive activities was time wasted. In antebellum society, industrialization had yet to transform the lifestyles of rank and- file Americans. In a predominantly agrarian society, work and leisure were ill-defined. No widespread notion of"leisure time" existed. To be sure, a few resorts did flourish in the antebellum United States. With the notable exceptions of Newport, Rhode Island, and Cape May, New Jersey, these tended to be health resorts situated in close proximity to inland springs believed to offer therapeutic properties. These resorts, which lay far away :from the large seaboard cities, drew only wealthy sojourners. The presence of landed elites, planters, and urban merchants stimulated the evolution of resorts, such as Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs, New York, and White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, into social centers for prominent Americans. The great majority of Americans, however, did not ''vacation."

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