The Market Revolution in America: Liberty, Ambition, and the Eclipse of the Common Good

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Overview

The mass industrial democracy that is the modern United States bears little resemblance to the simple agrarian republic that gave it birth. The market revolution is the reason for this dramatic - and ironic - metamorphosis. The resulting tangled frameworks of democracy and capitalism still dominate the world as it responds to the Panic of 2008. Early Americans experienced what we now call "modernization." The exhilaration - and pain - they endured have been repeated in nearly every part of the globe. Born of freedom and ambition, the market revolution in America fed on democracy and individualism even while it generated inequality, dependency, and unimagined wealth and power. John Lauritz Larson explores the lure of market capitalism and the beginnings of industrialization in the United States. His research combines an appreciation for enterprise and innovation with recognition of negative and unanticipated consequences of the transition to capitalism and relates economic change directly to American freedom and self-determination, links that remain entirely relevant today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Synthesizing nearly fifty years of scholarship on the market revolution, John Larson succinctly and eloquently argues that events in the first half of the nineteenth century made the United States into the capitalist and liberal nation it is today. There is no better brief summary of the market revolution thesis than this book." -Richard Bushman, Columbia University

"Historians have long debated the significance of the Market Revolution that transformed the United States in the early nineteenth century from a loose collection of households and regions into an integrated industrial nation-state. Now John Larson has synthesized a generation of scholarship into a lively narrative that captures the energy of this all-encompassing revolution as well as its often unanticipated social, economic and ecological costs. No one has more expertly shown us how the Market Revolution actually unfolded or more astutely located its importance in the history of the United States as a whole." -Andrew Cayton, Miami University, and co-author (with Fred Anderson) of The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000.

"John Larson brilliantly captures Americans' profound ambivalence about the emergence of modern capitalism in The Market Revolution in America. Learned and lucid, Larson's superb book puts our contemporary confusion into timely historical perspective: it deserves a wide readership." -Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia, author of Jefferson's Empire: The Language of American Nationhood

"A succinct, clearly written, and timely account of the origins of American capitalism." -Gordon Wood, Brown University

"...a solid and clearly written synthesis of the economic history of the early republic." -L. Diane Barnes, The Journal of Southern History

"...a significant contribution to the social and economic history of the early American republic." -Scott C. Martin, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521883658
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2009
  • Series: Cambridge Essential Histories Series
  • Pages: 222
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lauritz Larson is professor of history at Purdue University. For ten years he served as co-editor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He is the author of Bonds of Enterprise: John Murray Forbes and Western Development in America's Railway Age (1984) and Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the New United States (2001), as well as numerous essays on early American economic development.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: what do we mean by a market revolution?; 1. First fruits of independence; Interlude: panic! 1819; 2. Marvelous improvements everywhere; Interlude: panic! 1837; 3. Heartless markets, heartless men; 4. How can we explain it?; Epilogue: panic! 2008, deja vu all over again; An essay on the sources.

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