A House Dividing: Economic Development in Pennsylvania and Virginia before the Civil War

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Professor Majewski compares Virginia and Pennsylvania to explain how slavery undermined the development of the southern economy. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, residents in each state financed transportation improvements to raise land values and spur commercial growth. However, by the 1830s, Philadelphia capitalists began financing Pennsylvania's railroad network, building integrated systems that reached the Midwest. Virginia's railroads remained a collection of lines without western connections. The lack of a major city that could provide capital and traffic for large-scale railroads was the weakness of Virginia's slave economy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Majewski successfully endeavors to compare both support and investment in internal improvements in two counties, one in Virginia and one in Pennsylvania...fine, interesting work..." Choice

"...intriguing and provocative...his book has set out an approach that many more comparative explorations could follow fruitfully." EH.NET, Thomas Weiss, University of Kansas

"...concisely and well written work...Majewski's study has laid an important foundation for future understanding of the nation's early economic development." H-New Reviews

"John Mejewski has written an important monograph that futhers our understanding of the economic difference between North and South on the eve of the Civil War. The book is carefully research, cogently argied, and well written." The Jrnl of Am His

"a wide readership will benefit from the book's numerous strengths. Advanced undergraduates will profit from Majewski's clear explanations of historiographical debates, while graduate students will find a model of careful research. And scholars of antebellum America will find not just a thought-provoking argument but also a treasure trove of data that deepens and complicates our understanding of the era's economics development." American Historial Review Feb 2002

"A House Dividing, written in clear, direct language, is a real contribution and has certainly improved my own understanding of why the American Civil War was, as Barrington Moore called it, "the last capitalist revolution." " Enterprise & Society

"Majewski's comparison of internal improvements in Pennsylvania and Virginia addreses a long-standing question, Why did economic development in the northern United States outpace that of the southern United States in the first half of the nineteenth century?...Majewski's well-designed study offers fresh evidence and new insights. He weaves together documentary and statistical analysis and only rarely succumbs to economists' jargon." Adam Rothman, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"John Majewski's interesting and well-argued book expands on his prize-winning dissertation, providing a compelling narrative of how a Northern and a Southern state diverged economically in the antebellum period." Civil War History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction: Regional Development in Comparative Perspective; 1. Developmental corporations in a slave-labor society; 2. Developmental corporations in a free-labor society; 3. Railroads and local development; 4. The local politics of market development; 5. Urban capital and the superiority of Pennsylvania's transportation network; 6. Why Antebellum Virginians never developed a big city; Epilogue; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

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