The mass industrial democracy that is the modern United States bears little resemblance to the simple agrarian republic that gave it birth. The market revolution is the reason for this dramatic - and ironic - metamorphosis. The resulting tangled frameworks of democracy and capitalism still dominate the world as it responds to the panic of 2008. Early Americans experienced what we now call 'modernization'. The exhilaration - and pain - they endured have been repeated in nearly every part of the globe. Born of freedom and ambition, the market revolution in America fed on democracy and individualism even while it generated inequality, dependency, and unimagined wealth and power. In this book, John Lauritz Larson explores the lure of market capitalism and the beginnings of industrialization in the United States. His research combines an appreciation for enterprise and innovation with recognition of negative and unanticipated consequences of the transition to capitalism and relates economic change directly to American freedom and self-determination, links that remain entirely relevant today.
John Lauritz Larson is professor of history at Purdue University. For ten years he served as co-editor of the Journal of the Early Republic. He is the author of Bonds of Enterprise: John Murray Forbes and Western Development in America's Railway Age (1984) and Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the New United States (2001), as well as numerous essays on early American economic development.
Introduction: what do we mean by a market revolution?; 1. First fruits of independence; Interlude: panic! 1819; 2. Marvelous improvements everywhere; Interlude: panic! 1837; 3. Heartless markets, heartless men; 4. How can we explain it?; Epilogue: panic! 2008, deja vu all over again; An essay on the sources.