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The Emergence of Capitalism in Early America$
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Christopher W. Calvo

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066332

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066332.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

The Crisis of Free Society

The Crisis of Free Society

The Southern and Northern Reactionaries

(p.103) 4 The Crisis of Free Society
The Emergence of Capitalism in Early America

Christopher W. Calvo

University Press of Florida

This chapter focuses on American conservative economic thought, concentrating on George Fitzhugh, George Frederick Holmes, Thomas Skidmore, and Langton Byllesby. Material and intellectual capitalism are described as revolutionary movements that American conservatives organized against. Antebellum conservatives rejected bourgeois capitalist values, further illustrating the absence of a Smithian-inspired laissez-faire consensus. Combining these thinkers into a single chapter offers a fresh perspective on what constituted economic conservative thought in the face of capitalist revolution. Southern conservatives like Fitzhugh and Holmes reserved special animus towards Smith’s Wealth of Nations, highlighting the moral and social perils of free labor, competition, and industrialization, while celebrating the benefits of paternal slavery. In Northern industrial quarters, socialists like Skidmore and Byllesby challenged the foundational principles of bourgeois capitalism, denouncing profits, private property, the maldistribution of wealth, and the social and psychological externalities of industrialization. Skidmore and Byllesby voiced a home-grown version of socialist ideology then emerging among America’s working class.

Keywords:   George Fitzhugh, George Frederick Holmes, Thomas Skidmore, Langton Byllesby, Free labor, Paternal slavery, Working class, Industrialization

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