This innovative study of working-class formation in Philadelphia takes issue with a number of widely held views about the origins and nature of the early American working class. Although other historians locate the birth of the American working class in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, Schultz argues that the origins of Philadelphia's working class lay in the dramatic social changes that transformed artisan life in eighteenth-century Philadelphia. In contrast to recent accounts of working-class formation that trace its ideological roots to the republicanism of the Revolutionary and Jacksonian eras, Schultz argues that Philadelphia's working class drew its ideological force from an indigenous small-producer tradition inherited from the artisans of early modern England. Moreover, Schultz takes issue with the prevailing view that religion and party politics diminished working-class consciousness. Rather, he details the ways in which rational religion and popular politics were active forces in the formation of Philadelphia's early working class. Engagingly written and drawing upon a wide range of sources, this book reconstructs the moral and political worlds of Philadelphia artisans as they created America's first working class from the crucible of economic, political, and social change in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.