Goldbugs and Greenbacks: The Antimonopoly Tradition and the Politics of Finance in America, 1865-1896

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $61.35
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 41%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $61.35   
  • New (3) from $97.97   
  • Used (5) from $61.35   


In Goldbugs and Greenbacks, Gretchen Ritter considers the great financial debate of the late nineteenth-century in which farmers and workers fought to redirect economic policy. Ritter argues that both groups believed money and banking were key to continued economic opportunity for all. Beyond the discussion about gold and silver was a broader dialogue about sectionalism, race relations, and the changing class structure. The farmer-labor groups that promoted anti-monopolism contended that without a fair financial system, the country would degenerate into a two-class society of the very rich and the very poor in which democracy would wither. The antimonopolist movement failed, but the nature and fate of this distinctive and neglected political tradition, examined in depth in Goldbugs and Greenbacks, tells us a great deal about the possibilities for political change in America.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is an important study that raises significant questions about the role of the financial system in influencing political and economic change....Goldbugs and Greenbacks is an important book for historians, economists, and political scientists concerned with developments in American society." Choice

"This is a provocative book, and a good contribution to the debate..." Larry Schweikart, H-Net Reviews

"Ritter has made a major contribution to the history of late-nineteenth century America. Her integration of the national party structure with economic reform and her detailed discussion of the monetary and national banking systems across a thirty-year period provide historians with a needed overview." Bruce Palmer, Reviews in American History 25

"Ritter's book might be described as a gold mine of late nineteenth century ideas regarding contemporary economic problems, banking and the nature of money. It should be of great interest to all scholars working on this period." Wilbur Devereux Jones, Perspectives on Political Science

"Goldbugs and Greenbacks is an important work that clearly explains the substance of the antimonopoly position....Historians of nineteenth-century politics, including historians of North Carolina, will find this book to be rewarding reading." James L. Hunt, North Carolina Historical Review

"In addition to educating readers about a transformative period in American political history, Ritter's book will remind them of the fullness of economic contradictions, political conflicts, cultural meanings, and sociological richness that is wrapped up in a dollar bill." Bruce G. Carruthers, American Journal of Sociology

"...Ritter has presented the best single account of the tradition. Readers who want to understand greenback currency, the national banking system, the pyramid reserve structure, gold, and free silver will find her book invaluable. ...Ritter has treated the money question as well as anyone." William F. Holmes, Georgia Historical Quarterly

"...a valuable contribution to the subject..." Samuel T. McSeveney, The Journal of Southern History

"The book will serve as a nice introduction for graduate students and precocious undergraduatesto the debates surrounding finance after Civil War...Her book will serve those not familiar with the antimonopoly tradition well, and it will ultimately stir the blood of those who still embrace that tradition." The Annals of Iowa

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521561679
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Pages: 317
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and acknowledgments
1 The money debate and American political development 1
I Antimonopolism and the money debate 3
II History, political development, and the financial debate 9
III Antimonopolism and economic development 16
IV Goldbugs and greenbacks: The culture of money 19
V Organization of the book 26
2 Party politics and the financial debate, 1865-1896 28
I Perspectives on nineteenth-century party politics 31
II The Republicans 34
III The Democrats 41
IV The antimonopolists 47
V The election of 1896 as a critical moment in American politics 58
3 Greenbacks versus gold: The contest over finance in the 1870s 62
I The National Banking System 66
II The financial standard: Greenbacks or gold? 73
III The financial conservative position on banking 78
IV The financial conservatives' defense of the gold standard 83
V The Greenback critique of the NBS 90
VI Greenbacks: A monetary alternative 95
VII Financial philosophies as competing visions of the public good 104
4 The "people's money": Greenbackism in North Carolina, Illinois, and Massachusetts 110
I North Carolina: Financial reform but little greenbackism 113
II Illinois: A center for farmer-labor radicalism 123
III Massachusetts: An early labor reform state 136
IV Greenbackism and American political development in the 1870s 148
5 The battle of the standards: The financial debate of the 1890s 152
I Financial conservatism's defense of the gold standard 158
II Financial conservatism's defense of the NBS 172
III Monetary reform: Bimetallism, greenbackism, and opposition to the gold standard 178
IV The financial reformers' critique of the banking system 194
V Academic findings 200
VI The victory of financial conservatism 206
6 Populism and the politics of finance in North Carolina, Illinois, and Massachusetts in the 1890s 208
I North Carolina: An emerging "New South" state 210
II Illinois and the labor-Populist alliance 226
III Massachusetts: Home of liberal orthodoxy 241
IV Conclusion 253
7 Money, history, and American political development 258
I Evaluating the antimonopoly tradition 260
II Banking and economic development in Denmark 273
III The legacy of antimonopolism 276
App. A Financial terms used between the Civil War and 1896 283
App. B Major banking and currency legislation, 1860 to 1900 286
App. C An antimonopolist reading of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 288
Index 291
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)