NANCY ISENBERG is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at Louisiana State University, and the author of the New York Times bestseller White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, and two award-winning books, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr and Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America. She is the coauthor, with Andrew Burstein, of Madison and Jefferson.
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement. They were alternately known as 'waste people,' 'offals,' 'rubbish,' 'lazy lubbers,' and 'crackers.' By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called 'cl...[SEE MORE]