“Who has moved these inert masses, and who has made this singular gorge, where Nature has defended her solitudes and her hidden treasures by such elaborate defenses, such sullen and frowning fortresses, to yield up its key to his ‘Open sesame,’ and conquered her very rocks and rivers as his slaves?”…The inhabitants, from highest to lowest, will reply with his name, “The Hon. Asa Packer is our first citizen” (260).
The above quote is an outline of Asa Packer, and it exemplifies most other existing depictions of him as an honorable man of diligence and great success. His "rags to riches" success story along with his supposed humility made him a model citizen of the Lehigh Valley, one whose story could be used to inspire hope in any lower class citizen to achieve greatness. His portrayal is often in line with that of the classic Victorian with refined sensibilities, piety, and strong work ethic.
The Victorian Era is named after Queen Victoria of Great Britain's reign from 1837-1901. It is remembered as an era of prosperity, peace, and changing moral attitudes. Victorianism is the study of this time period; its major themes include materialism, religious piety, meritocracy, and strict classism.
American Victorianism describes the cultural influence of Great Britain on the United States during this time. The cultural ideologies of the era were particularly influential in the densely populated regions of New England, the Northeast and the lower Southeast.
The following pages explore Asa Packer's relation to Victorian culture, how his life was influenced by its' growing popularity and how his story may be shaped by its ideology.