John Macdonald's Social Mobility

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For the common Briton during the eighteenth-century, the empire created an interesting opportunity for mobility whether it is social or spatial. The expanse of the empire allowed for citizens to travel to new colonies, for commercial opportunities, patriotic duty with the navy or military, and even for employment. This concept has been explored through the upper middle class, Aristocracy, and gentry due to the extensive sources that remain. The lower and remaining middle class had opportunities to become part of the mobile empire as well, although not as many. Travel accounts provide evidence that these lower classes, in addition to the elites, were able to achieve spatial and social mobility within the empire. The growth of the British Empire…show more content…
His early account of his life is provided by his sister Kitty, who explains the cause of the family’s misfortune from their father’s extravagance and by joining the Jacobite cause in 1745. The experience of his early life as a poor orphan has shown throughout his life; John works hard to provide for himself and to craft an image of wealth that contradicts his station. MacDonald was employed with the aristocratic families of Scotland and then the gentry and middle class of London as a servant and postilion. There he received an education and developed the skills to portray a member of the middle class or the gentry. His employment as a footman allows him to travel Great Britain, the Continent, and later the world. This mobility is the reason that MacDonald travels to India; Colonel Dow of the East India Company hires MacDonald as his servant and to run his household in India that provides John with increased status among the British Elites in the city of Bombay. As a result of his experiences, John’s efforts create situations where he adapts his station to appear greater throughout his account. His account demonstrates the opportunities provided from empire for social mobility and…show more content…
His account is recalled by another and portrays the difficulties that faced the common sailors in the Navy. Tom’s tale begins with his apprenticeship to a tradesman that ends due to his idleness and bad habits. Tom runs away with a job on a ship bound for India. This experience teaches Tom of the difficulties of life and he returns to his apprenticeship. However, at the termination of the apprenticeship, Tom returns to the sea again for employment. His account recalls the dangers of British society shown through his encounters with the Wapping dame who cheats him out of his money. The difference of Tom’s account is that only has one profession, that of a sailor, throughout his life. His travels are not the focus of the account more of a side effect of his profession. Additionally Tom’s station alters only when he has the funds to provide a better quality of life, which he quickly loses to excessive charity. The account demonstrates the difficulties of the lower classes while also demonstrating that they receive some benefit from the

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