Slavery's Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development

Slavery's Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development


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During the nineteenth century, the United States entered the ranks of the world's most advanced and dynamic economies. At the same time, the nation sustained an expansive and brutal system of human bondage. This was no mere coincidence. Slavery's Capitalism argues for slavery's centrality to the emergence of American capitalism in the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War. According to editors Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman, the issue is not whether slavery itself was or was not capitalist but, rather, the impossibility of understanding the nation's spectacular pattern of economic development without situating slavery front and center. American capitalism—renowned for its celebration of market competition, private property, and the self-made man—has its origins in an American slavery predicated on the abhorrent notion that human beings could be legally owned and compelled to work under force of violence.

Drawing on the expertise of sixteen scholars who are at the forefront of rewriting the history of American economic development, Slavery's Capitalism identifies slavery as the primary force driving key innovations in entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, management, and political economy that are too often attributed to the so-called free market. Approaching the study of slavery as the originating catalyst for the Industrial Revolution and modern capitalism casts new light on American credit markets, practices of offshore investment, and understandings of human capital. Rather than seeing slavery as outside the institutional structures of capitalism, the essayists recover slavery's importance to the American economic past and prompt enduring questions about the relationship of market freedom to human freedom.

Contributors: Edward E. Baptist, Sven Beckert, Daina Ramey Berry, Kathryn Boodry, Alfred L. Brophy, Stephen Chambers, Eric Kimball, John Majewski, Bonnie Martin, Seth Rockman, Daniel B. Rood, Caitlin Rosenthal, Joshua D. Rothman, Calvin Schermerhorn, Andrew Shankman, Craig Steven Wilder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812224177
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Publication date: 02/06/2018
Series: Early American Studies
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 552,509
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University. Seth Rockman is Associate Professor of History at Brown University.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Slavery's Capitalism
—Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman

Chapter 1. Toward a Political Economy of Slave Labor: Hands, Whipping-Machines, and Modern Power
—Edward E. Baptist
Chapter 2. Slavery's Scientific Management: Masters and Managers
—Caitlin Rosenthal
Chapter 3. An International Harvest: The Second Slavery, the Virginia-Brazil Connection, and the Development of the McCormick Reaper
—Daniel B. Rood

Chapter 4. Neighbor-to-Neighbor Capitalism: Local Credit Networks and the Mortgaging of Slaves
—Bonnie Martin
Chapter 5. The Contours of Cotton Capitalism: Speculation, Slavery, and Economic Panic in Mississippi, 1832-1841
—Joshua D. Rothman
Chapter 6. "Broad is de Road dat Leads ter Death": Human Capital and Enslaved Mortality
—Daina Ramey Berry
Chapter 7. August Belmont and the World the Slaves Made—Kathryn Boodry

Chapter 8. "What have we to do with slavery?" New Englanders and the Slave Economies of the West Indies
—Eric Kimball
Chapter 9. "No country but their counting-houses": The U.S.-Cuba-Baltic Circuit, 1809-1812
—Stephen Chambers
Chapter 10. The Coastwise Slave Trade and a Mercantile Community of Interest
—Calvin Schermerhorn

Chapter 11. War and Priests: Catholic Colleges and Slavery in the Age of Revolution
—Craig Steven Wilder
Chapter 12. Capitalism, Slavery, and the New Epoch: Mathew Carey's 1819
—Andrew Shankman
Chapter 13. The Market, Utility, and Slavery in Southern Legal Thought
—Alfred L. Brophy
Chapter 14. Why Did Northerners Oppose the Expansion of Slavery? Economic Development and Education in the Limestone South
—John Majewski


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