The 1780s and 1790s
In the 1780s and 1790s, the old configuration of rank and hierarchy slowly gave way to demands for greater pluralism and equality, patriarchal leaders had to share the political sphere with representatives from other social groups, and an invigorated market economy created new fears and uncertainties. Even as they unflinchingly asserted their right to governance, upper-class New Yorkers were being forced to acknowledge in new ways the presence of the less privileged. That was a legacy of the Revolution and its immediate aftermath. For elites, the challenge of organizing new relationships with commoners was the main development of this time period. The loss of the national capital (to Philadelphia, in 1790) ensured that New York would continue to evolve as a business-oriented city and that business would be the main source of wealth and prestige for urban elites but upper-class New Yorkers remained fearful and apprehensive about materialism and did not yet embrace it fully.
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