Capitalism and Antebellum Thought
The introduction situates the concept of hybrid capitalism in the historiography of American economic thought, as well as within the literature on the history of capitalism. The influence of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is discussed. This chapter indicates that early American economists deviated from Smith and British classicism. Protectionism is introduced as the essential expression of the American economic mind. The theoretical distinctions between antebellum liberal and conservative economists are introduced. And the literature on antebellum finance is shown to have relied heavily on the dialectic between laissez-faire and republican ideology. The methodological advantages of discussing capitalism as a form of economic intellectual culture are illustrated with discussions of more recent historical analyses.
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