The Laws of Etiquette: or, Short Rules and Reflections for Conduct in Society. By a Gentleman, 1836
"The great error into which nearly all foreigners and most Americans fall, who write or speak of society in this country, arises from confounding the political with the social system. In most other countries, in England, France, and all those nations whose government is monarchical or aristocratic, these systems are indeed similar. Society is there intimately connected with the government, and the distinctions in one are the origin of gradations in the other. The chief part of the society of the kingdom is assembled in the capital, and the same persons who legislate for the country legislate also for it. But in America the two systems are totally unconnected, and altogether different in character. In remodelling the form of the administration, society remained unrepublican. There is perfect freedom of political privilege, all are the same upon the hustings, or at a political meeting; but this equality does not extend to the drawing-room or the parlour. None are excluded from the highest councils of the nation, but it does not follow that all can enter into the highest ranks, of society. In point of fact, we think that there is more exclusiveness in the society of this country, than there is in that even of England--far more than there is in France. And the explanation may perhaps be found in the fact which we hate mentioned above. There being there less danger of permanent disarrangement or confusion of ranks by the occasional admission of the low-born aspirant, there does not exist the same necessity for a jealous guarding of the barriers as there does here. The distinction of classes, also, after the first or second, is actually more clearly defined, and more rigidly observed in America, than in any country of Europe. Persons unaccustomed to look searchingly at these matters, may be surprised to hear it; but we know from observation, that there are among the respectable, in any city of the United States, at least ten distinct ranks. We cannot, of course, here point them out, because we could not do it without mentioning names."
J.W.Pepper's Universal Dancing Master, Lucien O. Carpenter, 1882
ETIQUETTE FOR THE STREET.
AS TAUGHT BY
1. The lady should be first to recognize an acquaintance, whether intimate or not.
2. The gentleman should raise his hat slightly, inclining and turning toward the lady in saluting. The hat should be raised by the hand farthest form the lady.
3. One salutation is all that civiliity requires when passing a personmore than once on a public promenade or drive.
4. The gentleman should raise his hat when asking a lady's pardon for an inadvetence, whether she is known to him or not.
5. Never stare at any one, is a rule with no exceptions.
6. The gentleman should not snoke when driving or waling with ladies.
7. If the lady with whom you are walking is saluted by another gentleman, acknowledge the same by removing your hat.
8. Should you desire to converse with a lady you should happen to meet, do not detain her, but turn and walk in her direction.
9. While walking with a lady in a crowded thoroughfare and obliged to proceed singly, the gentleman should precede her to clear the way.
10. While walking with a lady, the gentleman should take the side next the street.
11. Loud conversation should be avoided at all times.
Manners and Social Usages, M.E. Sherwood, 1887
"There is no country where there are so many people asking what is "proper to do," or, indeed, where there are so many genuinely anxious to do the proper thing, as in the vast conglomerate which we call the United States of America. The newness of our country is perpetually renewed by the sudden making of fortunes, and by the absence of a hereditary, reigning set. There is no aristocracy here which has the right and title to set the fashions."
"But a "reigning set," whether it depend upon hereditary right or adventitious wealth, if it be possessed of a desire to lead and a disposition to hospitality, becomes for a period the dictator of fashion to a large number of lookers-on. The travelling world, living far from great centres, goes to Newport, Saratoga, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, and gazes on what is called the latest American fashion. This, though exploited by what we may call for the sake of distinction the "newer set," is influenced and shaped in some degree by people of native refinement and taste, and that wide experience which is gained by travel and association with broad and cultivated minds. They counteract the tendency to vulgarity, which is the great danger of a newly launched society, so that our social condition improves, rather than retrogrades, with every decade."
Dancing and Its Relations to Education and Social Life, With a New Method of Instruction, Allen Dodworth, published in 1885, 1888, 1900, 1902 and 1905
"Observing the manner in which various persons move about in a large assembly, it will be noticed that one will make his way through the crowd seeming to conciliate more than offend those whom he disturbs. Another pushes his way in so different a fashion that antagonism is created at every step. The first of these two should certainly be classed higher in the moral scale than the second, yet the difference is only in the manner of doing the same thing. Truly, then, "Morality of Motion" would be a proper title for manners. In our bustling times this all-permeating virtue is not held at its true value. Speaking in a commercial way, no investment pays higher interest or makes quicker returns than good manners. In conversation, relating to the business success or failure of friends, how often we hear it said: "I am not surprised at his success, his manners were so agreeable." And again, what so frequent as "Miss Blank is certainly not at all pretty, yet her manners are so very agreeable every one is charmed with her." As the great thinker of the age states it, 'With the sympathetic being every one feels more sympathy than with others. All conduct themselves with more than usual amiability to a person who hourly discloses a lovable nature. Such a one is practically surrounded by a world of better people than one who is less attractive.'*"
For general background information on this subject, see also:
A History of Dance in the Nineteenth Century with links to dance and etiquette guides and a bibliography--the Library of Congress
Dance Instruction (and Etiquette) Manuals available at the Library of Congress's American Memory Web-site
You may find it interesting to compare and/or contrast the etiquette and dance manuals above with works in two other types of manuals often given to young men and women in the first half of the nineteenth century:
Domestic Manuals of the Nineteenth Century
19th Century Conduct Manuals
The Search for Improvement in Antebellum America
Home Page for Lucia Knoles, English Dept. , Assumption College