In a society adapted to the risk it takes, gamblers were vulnerable because they minimized the risks to themselves in games designed to turn around the mere probability.
Reformers, however, generally attacked the profession from another perspective.
Americans Antebellum tended to traverse the sharpest at the bottom of the class of “turnbuckles” — lackeys, servants, lazy sons of rich and pure fashion men, “people of lottery” and some gentlemen who deal with with the breeding of horses — that compared so unfortunate “to the industrious producers” who contained the common man in contemporary belief.
Since he generated nothing of value and got by on trickery rather than on honest work, the gambler stood outside respectable company in the settled regions.
The moralists have likened his trade to the thievery. Betting amounted little more than an attempt to close one person to deprive others of another of his property or possessions, against his consent and without the return of an equivalent.
However, he clearly led again to the biggest crimes.
The willingness of the nation to perceive the sharpers as off-and-out criminals meant that gamblers were frequently identified as blacklegs, especially in southwestern territories in which they apparently congregated and worked freely.
Foreign investors at the Mississippi Valley learned from their American guests that even if these proscribers were identified as gamblers, as such they were their apparent profession, they were waiting for any crime that could offer them an advantage.
It did not seem to us to be simply a legitimate place for the sharpest in American civilization.
In one country it was filled with people of chance, however, it also did not seem to be effective barrier to separate the gambler from the respectable company.
While most citizens probably agreed that gamblers were distasteful, the profession nonetheless defined itself and flourished in the early nineteenth century.
The prosperity of a sizable class of sharpers suggests that to many people the arguments against gambling remained largely unpersuasive.
Americans were attained in the risks and rewards of free enterprise and westward expansion during the antebellum period, and gambling often seemed a natural extension of daily economic life.
These observers undoubtedly exaggerated the feature, perhaps to document a common European stereotype of American vulgarity on the border, but their perceptions clearly contained a core of truth.
Gambling and gamblers have thrived, despite the rhetorical disapproval, in a congenial atmosphere to bet completely open and commercial.
Foreigners explained the fondness of Americans for play in terms of the general cultural climate they contended that the dynamics of capitalism and democracy within the new republic created a restlessness and infatuation with the risk that heightened the urge to wager.
The life of an average American, passed as a game of probability. and every activity has come to be structured around risk taking.
The national feature appeared the lightest in the country’s business, which can be likened to a “vast lottery” and in the westering process; every adventure was undertaken not only for the profit it gives them, but for the love of the constant excitement caused by that pursuit.