Paul E. Johnson's Sam Patch

Words: 772
Pages: 4

In Sam Patch, the famous jumper, Paul E. Johnson examines the life of Sam Patch, an ordinary figure that contributed to the extraordinary evolution of an America shaped by societal progression and the idea of “modern celebrity” (Johnson,2003, pg.9). As an American history professor at the University of South Carolina, Paul E. Johnson provides exceptional analysis in this monograph; he gives details about America’s working class (specifically in factories) and the interactions displayed between people atop and beneath the social pyramid. Johnson uses Sam Patch as a symbol that initiated conversation on the subject of, “celebrity” and “democracy” during the Jacksonian era (Johnson,2003, pg.12).
The words popular and wealthy cannot be used to
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Johnson proved to be very effective in compiling his archival sources, making the basis of this monograph predominantly on primary sources. Throughout the entire book, when discussing Sam Patch’s various “fall jumps”, he would offer sketches of the places his jumps occurred. For instance, after offering brief commentary from “artist Walter M. Oddie” about Patch’s jump at Hoboken, Johnson included a sketch of the leap (Johnson,2003, pg.76). He does this many times, each time providing a visual representation of some sort. However, the depiction of Patch’s jumps does nothing to corroborate Johnson’s thesis, aside from offering a perspective of how they looked. Johnson’s use of magazines/newspapers, were more appropriate in this context. For example, Johnson references the “Commercial Advertiser”, which published a poem lamenting the death of Sam Patch (Johnson,2003, pg.166). The poem is an example of how Patch affected people’s lives, even after his death, emphasizing how his courageous leaps stirred a conversation in society about social issues. A conversation emergent from the development of factory work during the Market Revolution and the resulting social stratification. One source that supports Johnson’s thesis is “The First American Factories”, an article published in U.S. that describes factory workers’ and the tough