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.
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Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University. Seth Rockman is Associate Professor of History at Brown University.
Introduction. Slavery's Capitalism
-Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman
PART I. PLANTATION TECHNOLOGIES
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
Chapter 3. An International Harvest: The Second Slavery, the Virginia-Brazil Connection, and the Development of the McCormick Reaper
-Daniel B. Rood
PART II. SLAVERY AND FINANCE
Chapter 4. Neighbor-to-Neighbor Capitalism: Local Credit Networks and the Mortgaging of Slaves
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
PART III. NETWORKS OF INTEREST AND THE NORTH
Chapter 8. "What have we to do with slavery?" New Englanders and the Slave Economies of the West Indies
Chapter 9. "No country but their counting-houses": The U.S.-Cuba-Baltic Circuit, 1809-1812
Chapter 10. The Coastwise Slave Trade and a Mercantile Community of Interest
PART IV. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND NATURAL BOUNDARIES
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
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
"Slavery's Capitalism is a time capsule, neatly containing one of the most important developments in American scholarly and public life that took place during the Obama presidency. . . . The publication of Slavery's Capitalism at the tail end of the Obama era thus provides the perfect opportunity to take stock of what was accomplished in the last round of historicization: to see what is valuable in the paradigm of 'slavery's capitalism,' what is new about the 'new' history of capitalism in the United States, and what, if any, dangers of presentism its practitioners succumbed to. The book both incorporates and builds on a wave of recent scholarship on slavery and capitalism in the United States."-Times Literary Supplement "This fascinating collection of essays adds striking new insights to the venerable debate over the relationship between capitalism and slavery. It demonstrates slavery's centrality to the nineteenth-century Atlantic economy, and how slavery was fully compatible with technological, managerial, and financial innovation, but also why southern slavery differed from northern capitalism in ways that helped to produce the irrepressible conflict."-Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad "The centrality of slavery to the economic development of the United States is revealed here more fully, in more dimensions, than in any other book. Anyone who wants to understand this profound revolution in historical thinking will find no better place to start."-Edward L. Ayers, author of In the Presence of Mine Enemies: Civil War in the Heart of America "With some of the best work in one of the hottest fields in American history, Slavery's Capitalism re-centers the history of American capitalism on racial slavery as the U.S. economy's initial engine for development. I admire the ambition of the scholarly project and applaud the topical range of the essays."-Gary J. Kornblith, coeditor of Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of Nineteenth-Century America "The intimate relationship between capitalism and slavery has been too-long dismissed, and with it, the centrality of African and African American labor to the foundation of our modern economic system. Slavery's Capitalism announces the emergence of a new generation of scholars whose detailed research into every nook and cranny of emerging capitalism reveals the inextricable links between the enslavement of people of African descent and today's global economy."-Leslie Harris, Emory University
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