The United States has long epitomized capitalism. From its enterprising shopkeepers, wildcat banks, violent slave plantations, and raucous commodities trade to its world-spanning multinationals, its massive factories, and the centripetal power of New York in the world of finance, America has shaped political economy for two centuries and more. But an understanding of "capitalism" is as elusive as it is urgent. What does it mean to make capitalism a subject of historical inquiry? What is its potential across multiple disciplines, alongside different methodologies, and in a range of geographic and chronological settings? And how does a focus on capitalism change our understanding of American history? American Capitalism collects cutting-edge research from prominent scholars, sampling the latest work in the field. Rather than a monolithic perspective, these broad-minded and rigorous essays venture new angles on finance and debt, women's rights, slavery and political economy, labor, and regulation, among other topics.
Together, the essays suggest emerging themes in the field: a fascination with capitalism as it is made by public authority, how it is experienced in the detail of daily life, how it spreads across the globe, and how it can be reconceptualized as a discrete and quantified object. A major statement for a wide-open field, this book demonstrates the breadth and scope of the work the history of capitalism can provoke.