In colonial North America, as in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, families and businesses were often entwined symbiotically. Kin connections provided businesses with capital, credit, and contacts; family businesses, in turn, provided kin with employment, training, and opportunities for advancement.
Colonial historians disagree, however, about the extent to which kin connections were central to artisanal establishments and about the evolution of artisanal family practices in colonial North America in the eighteenth century. Some argue that craft dynasties (intergenerational family artisanal establishments) dominated certain crafts in certain areas until the early nineteenth century. Carl Bridenbaugh wrote that an intergenerational command of craft skills enabled some artisanal families in the eighteenth century "to live in near-baronial style, and to dominate, nay rule over, the social and political life" of a region for generations. W.J. Rorabaugh has argued that intergenerational craftsmanship was important in all crafts until the 1840s.
Other historians disagree. Stephanie Wolf, for example, argues that in craft businesses in eighteenth-century Germantown, Pennsylvania, there was "little tendency for traditional family patterns to develop. . . . Fathers do not appear to have trained their sons to follow in their footsteps.” Wolf attributes the lack of dynasties to the presence of a modern, commercial worldview. Indeed, even scholars who disagree with Wolf would concede that craft dynasties declined in importance under the influence of an increasingly widespread modern worldview.
The existence of which of the following pieces of evidence would most undermine the position of Rorabaugh, as described in the passage?
Documents dating from the eighteenth century setting forth the terms of a loan made to a merchant by a family business
Documents indicating that most establishments in a certain craft typically hired recent immigrants rather than family members in the early nineteenth century
Military records demonstrating the participation of members of artisanal families in the wars of the eighteenth century in colonial North America
Detailed descriptions of craft practices contained in the eighteenth-century letters of a father to his son
An eighteenth-century letter of introduction provided by the head of one family firm recommending a cousin for employment in a distant relative's firm