The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions

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In recent years, scholars in a number of disciplines have focused their attention on understanding the early American economy. The result has been an outpouring of scholarship, some of it dramatically revising older methodologies and findings, and some of it charting entirely new territory- new subjects, new places, and new arenas of study that might not have been considered "economic" in the past.
The Economy of Early America enters this resurgent discussion of the early American economy by showcasing the work of leading scholars who represent a spectrum of historiographical and methodological viewpoints. Contributors include David Hancock, Russell Menard, Lorena Walsh, Christopher Tomlins, David Waldstreicher, Terry Bouton, Brooke Hunter, Daniel Dupre, John Majewski, Donna Rilling, and Seth Rockman, as well as Cathy Matson.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“With such a diversity of topics, any reader will find it hard to challenge Matson’s vibrant depiction of early American economic history and its potential to continue to make substantial contributions to our understanding of the past. Whatever quibbles readers may have with the individual essays, this volume undoubtedly will inspire new scholars to consider, as well as old scholars to reconsider, the value of economic history to historical inquiries, which is precisely the book’s purpose.”
—Troy Bickham, Itinerario

“Matson’s survey is ideal for graduate students preparing for exams or for more advanced scholars seeking to make a foray into the field. . . . This book is a clarion call for economic historians to go forth and proclaim the good news: economic history still has something to tell us. In its division between historiography and history, it suggests that we need as many evangelists as practitioners if we are to bring economics to history’s masses.”
—James Fichter, Common-Place

“As this volume documents, the economy, whether measured through numbers, words, or some combination of the two, deserves more attention from scholars who would not necessarily consider themselves economic specialists. At the very least, Matson’s sweeping survey of the field should be required reading for every graduate student of early American history, whatever their research interests.”
—Jessica Lepler, Journal of the Early Republic

The Economy of Early America offers a stimulating overview of recent historical writing on the economic history of early America.”
—Richard R. John, William and Mary Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271027654
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Cathy Matson is Professor of History at the University of Delaware and Director of the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

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Table of Contents



1. A House of Many Mansions: Some Thoughts on the Field of Economic History

Cathy Matson

2. Rethinking The Economy of British America

David Hancock

3. Colonial America’s Mestizo Agriculture

Russell R. Menard

4. Peopling, Producing, and Consuming in EarlyBritish America

Lorena S. Walsh

5. Indentured Servitude in Perspective: European Migration into North America and the Composition of the Early American Labor Force, 1600–1775

Christopher Tomlins

6. Capitalism, Slavery, and Benjamin Franklin’s American Revolution

David Waldstreicher

7. Moneyless in Pennsylvania: Privatization and the Depression of the 1780s

Terry Bouton

8. Creative Destruction: The Forgotten Legacy of the Hessian Fly

Brooke Hunter

9. The Panic of 1819 and the Political Economy of Sectionalism

Daniel S. Dupre

10. Toward a Social History of the Corporation: Shareholding in Pennsylvania, 1800–1840

John Majewski

11. Small-Producer Capitalism in Early National Philadelphia

Donna J. Rilling

12. The Unfree Origins of American Capitalism

Seth Rockman

List of contributors


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