Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America

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Michael Zakim, Gary J. Kornblith
University of Chicago Press, 2012 - Business & Economics - 358 pages

Most scholarship on nineteenth-century America’s transformation into a market society has focused on consumption, romanticized visions of workers, and analysis of firms and factories. Building on but moving past these studies, Capitalism Takes Command presents a history of family farming, general incorporation laws, mortgage payments, inheritance practices, office systems, and risk management—an inventory of the means by which capitalism became America’s new revolutionary tradition.

This multidisciplinary collection of essays argues not only that capitalism reached far beyond the purview of the economy, but also that the revolution was not confined to the destruction of an agrarian past. As business ceaselessly revised its own practices, a new demographic of private bankers, insurance brokers, investors in securities, and start-up manufacturers, among many others, assumed center stage, displacing older elites and forms of property. Explaining how capital became an “ism” and how business became a political philosophy, Capitalism Takes Command brings the economy back into American social and cultural history.
 

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Contents

An American Revolutionary Tradition
1
1 The Agrarian Context of American Capitalist Development
13
The Fate of Landed Independence in NineteenthCentury America
39
3 Toxic Debt Liar Loans Collateralized and Securitized Human Beings and the Panic of 1837
69
From Family Security to Corporate Accumulation
93
An Antebellum Argument over Slavery Capitalism and Personhood
119
6 Capitalism and the Rise of the Corporation Nation
145
Americans Look at the London and Liverpool Docks
169
8 William Leggett and the Melodrama of the Market
199
The Clerk at Work
223
The Civil War Institutional Change and American Capitalism
249
Anonymous History
277
Contributors
285
Notes
289
Index
351
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About the author (2012)

Michael Zakim is associate professor of history at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of Ready-Made Democracy: A History of Men's Dress in the American Republic, 1760–1860, also published by the University of Chicago Press. Gary J. Kornblith is professor of history at Oberlin College and the author of Slavery and Sectional Strife in the Early American Republic, 1776–1821.

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