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

The Clear Connection Between Slavery and American Capitalism
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Gerdeman: The book says "the relationship of slavery to American capitalism rightfully begins on the plantation.

Slavery's Capitalism A New History of American Economic Development F…

And how did this "empire of cotton" help create modern capitalism? Beckert: There are very many economic links between the southern plantation complex and the development of American and global capitalism, involving trade, industry, banking, insurance, shipping, and other industries.

The most prominent link developed around cotton. As you know, the cotton industry was crucial to the world-altering Industrial Revolution as it first unfolded in Great Britain and then spread from there to other parts of the world, including the northern states of the Union. Until , until the American Civil War, almost all cotton used in industrial production was grown by enslaved workers in the southern parts of the United States.

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A New History of American Economic Development The publication of Slavery's Capitalism at the tail end of the Obama era thus provides the perfect. Slavery's Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (Early American Studies) [Sven Beckert, Seth Rockman] on ykoketomel.ml *FREE*.

Slavery thus played a very important role in supplying an essential raw material for industrial production. Yet there were further links: British and later US capital financed the expansion of the slavery complex in the American South.

Historic Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Advancing credit was essential for southern planters to be able to purchase land and labor. Northern merchants, moreover, organized the shipment of cotton into global markets. And of course northern manufacturers, along with their European counterparts, supplied plantations in the South with tools, textiles, and other goods that were necessary to maintain the plantation regime.

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At base, Slavery's Capitalism seeks to prove that African slavery made more than the American South; it made the United States and, to a degree, the world. Law Library Crown. At the same time, the nation sustained an expansive and brutal system of human bondage. 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. Summary During the nineteenth century, the United States entered the ranks of the world's most advanced and dynamic economies. Skip to search Skip to main content. Cite View Details Find at Harvard.

Plantation slavery, far from being a retrograde system on its way to being ousted by industrial capitalism, saw a second flourishing in the 19th century in the wake of the industrial revolution. Beckert: Slavery was important to a particular moment in the history of capitalism. But there were also severe tensions between the deepening and spread of capitalism and slavery. For one, slavery was quite unstable.

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Slaves resisted their enslavements, and slave owners needed to deploy a lot of violence, coercion, and oversight to ensure the stability of the plantation and slave society more broadly. Moreover, slavery did not satisfy the labor needs that emerged in modern industrial enterprises; very little slave labor was used there.

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And last but not least, slave owners had a very definite idea about the political economy of the United States, focused on the export of agricultural commodities to world markets, free trade, and the territorial expansion of the slave regime into the American West. That was quite distinct from the increasingly urgent and also powerful political needs of northern industrialists and bankers.

They wanted tariff protection and the expansion of free labor into the American West. Both these political economies depended on the control of the federal government.

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With the advent of the Republican Party and then especially with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, that control became uncertain. As a result, southerners struck out on their own, provoking a violent Civil War that was won by the forces opposed to slavery. Beckert: Yes, definitely.

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No one alive today is responsible for slavery—a crime against humanity. But we all need to face our histories and then try to move forward from that acknowledgement of the past. More generally, it is crucially important that companies have a full understanding of their supply chains and of the labor conditions that are to be found throughout these chains. If they violate fundamental human rights, companies have the responsibility and also the ability to act. There were powerful business interests in the 19th century who worked diligently against slavery.

Just think of the Tappan brothers of New York, merchants who combined their business with anti-slavery activism.

And then there were also entrepreneurs who refused to process slave-grown cotton. These people can serve as examples of what is possible. When you read the letters of businessmen of the s and s, you see numerous efforts to separate business and morality into distinct realms. Merchants and manufacturers in the past did know that slavery was a moral problem, but then they tried to say that such moral considerations were extraneous to the concerns of business.

In retrospect we can all agree that these claims are preposterous. Such observations should make everyone today acutely conscious about making rationalizations that seek to insulate business from moral responsibility. Or in the immortal words of George W. Bush: "this sucker could go down.

At base, Slavery's Capitalism seeks to prove that African slavery made more than the American South; it made the United States and, to a degree, the world.

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This claim rests on three legs. First, the innovations we associate with capitalism—scientific management, vertical integration of supply chains, the evolution of accounting practices, property law, credit instruments, data processing, and technological solutions to specific productivity bottlenecks—all emerged with America's first big business: slavery. Second, and just as important, planters "worked their slaves financially as well as physically," creating not just cotton but also a critical pool of leveraged capital that went on to do what capital does, which is to say, multiply and protect itself and make life better for some but not others, or many but not all, or all but not equally, depending on whom you talk to p.

Third, northern involvement in slavery was so deep and sustained that "[i]n the blur of commodities and capital that flowed between regions, the sectional categories that organize so much nineteenth-century American scholarship begin to Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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