Capitalism Takes Command: The Social Transformation of by Michael Zakim, Gary J. Kornblith

By Michael Zakim, Gary J. Kornblith

Most scholarship on nineteenth-century America’s transformation right into a industry society has eager about intake, romanticized visions of staff, and research of organisations and factories. construction on yet relocating previous those reports, Capitalism Takes Command offers a historical past of kin farming, basic incorporation legislation, loan funds, inheritance practices, workplace structures, and danger management—an stock of the potential wherein capitalism turned America’s new innovative tradition.

This multidisciplinary choice of essays argues not just that capitalism reached some distance past the purview of the economic system, but additionally that the revolution was once no longer restrained to the destruction of an agrarian earlier. As enterprise without end revised its personal practices, a brand new demographic of non-public bankers, assurance agents, traders in securities, and start-up brands, between many others, assumed heart degree, displacing older elites and types of estate. Explaining how capital turned an “ism” and the way enterprise turned a political philosophy, Capitalism Takes Command brings the financial system again into American social and cultural history.

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Always there was anxiety that land would be appropriated by other than small proprietor-settlers, that speculators would amass individual entries, or that companies would use preemption and homestead provisions to acquire large amounts of timberland. Homesteaders’ claims conflicted with those of claim- 34 Christopher Clark ants under the older preemption laws, with the claims of railroads or other corporations, or—in the case of California—with holders of land under Mexican grants confirmed at the time of annexation in 1848.

In the North, therefore, profits were greater from the collection, transportation, processing, and distribution of crops than directly from growing them. Accordingly, capital for investment became channeled into commerce, urban development, transport, and manufacturing activities that serviced the rural economy. Even speculative profits in land could more often be made in successful towns, where commercial functions concentrated, than in farmland as such. Rising urban property values, reflecting the growth of commercial activities, themselves became an important source of wealth.

31 Distribution, communications, and regional variations sustained a nation of decentralized power structures, shaped on local and regional rather than national lines. Different kinds of class power resulted. 32 Access to slave labor meant that the most fertile parts of the South and Southwest were the most important regions in which it was possible to sustain large agricultural estates. In nonslave regions, North or South, farm sizes were smaller, large farms were rarer, and those that were created often did not last long.

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