It is an investigation of the United States economy. The critical period of America’s economic development was prior to the Civil war. Of which it was a bloody and devastating interruption to economic progress of the nation that sent into a longer recovery than the Revolutionary war. Between the Revolutionary war and the civil war U.S planted the seeds for a vast complex and dynamic industrial system. It was only rivaled by Great Britain. The United States transformed its self through modernization during the six decades before the civil war.
Once the Constitution came into effect in 1787 it gave the new Federal Government the authority to establish an environment for economic growth and prosperity. It put an end to tariff wars between the states allowing free commerce flow state to state. Alexander Hamilton as first secretary of the Treasury was Presidents George Washington’s most influential cabinet member. He proposed that the federal government assume all state war debts to establish America’s credit to pay off the money they borrow. He established the First Bank of the United States in 1791. Hamilton wanted the America to grow out of its primary agrarian self-sufficient society and into an industrial power modeled off England. America was destined to grow through trade, banking, and industrialization. Hamilton established the fiscal and monetary underpinnings of the new nation. In the North a complex capital market was about to take off.
The political stabilities of the early 1790s the an already healthy economy and the abundant resources showed promise for long term economic growth. Between 1793 and 1808 the American commerce was principally dependent on international trade and shipping with Europe. The New England states expanded at a very impressive pace during this period.
The Napoleon wars in 1793 the enactment of the trade Embargo at the end of 1807, and the peace treaty of 1814 were noteworthy events for the economy before 1815. The year that brought age of good feelings to the United States. After the end of the war a three-year depression followed. However, the economy had already advanced passed its 1790s development.
The re-export and international trade had been the main man source for economic expansion. However, after the Embargo the United states look to internal sufficiency instead being solely dependent on resources from foreign powers. The freight rates declined tremendously after 1818. Further, regulations and tough competition caused it to be less of a driving force in the economy. After 1807 the rapid growth of manufacturing took of the role of re-exports and shipping. America was making its own goods from it abundant of natural resources. Rather than shipping them to Europe to be processed. The industrial Revolution had begun and was quickly making its to the United States at the beginnings of the nineteenth century. It would begin the advancement in the next step in civilization. Abstaining of British goods came at a price to the American industry. However, it was not enough to stop the rise in population and it caused the creation of new industry at home. New inventions and investments nurtured growth and economic expansion.
Consequently, economic expansion was principle boosted by the ingenuity political stability of the United States before the civil. Industries were established to take advantage of the abundant natural resources available in settled areas as well as the frontier. They provided opportunity when before only agriculture profession were the lone choice. Tariffs were imposed to drive local industry rather than outsourcing it.
All the quantitative data available for 1790 to 1860 suggest a significate and sustained economic advancement. By 1860 0ne-fith to 0ne sixth of the U.S population in urban areas that were rapidly developing. In addition, one third of the countries revenue was being produced by its manufacturing industry. On the other hand, this is not to dismiss the impact of agricultural. It was a crucial factor on the growing national economy. Large agricultural areas took root in the eastern part United states. It was an essential development as they were needed to supply new growing human population centers. There were so effective that they had enough left over for exports. The number of farm worker kept growing until the civil war. However, at the same time rural farmer immigrating to the cities for better jobs working in factories instead of operating their own farms. Despite this the farming community kept on increasing. New England the population employed in farming reached its peak around 1840 and dwindled slowly in the following years twenty years. Farmers in States like New York and Pennsylvania increased or were stable in numbers.
Written in the 1960’s the book is a little outdated. The book is not the easiest to read because of all the graphs, tables, and charts. However, once you get past that Dr. North presents an understandable account of the economic forces of the United States before the Civil war. The growing population, trade, the vast resources of the North American continent, and improved transportation fueled the modernization of the young nation.