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CORNELL / History / HIST 1540 / What was the american economy like in the 1890s?

What was the american economy like in the 1890s?

What was the american economy like in the 1890s?

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History study guide finals  


What was the american economy like by the 1890s?



The Origins of the American Civil War 

● Snapshot of the American Economy in the 1840s and 50s 

○ The economy was booming­ cotton exports rose, the population increased by  44%, urban infrastructure

○ But, the popularity of cotton was going down 

○ As was that of NE textiles  

○ Instead, there were other industries which were taking over  If you want to learn more check out What is nationalism, and why is it important?

○ The South 

■ remained the king of cotton 

■ had the largest plantations 

■ the slave market was growing. Most people were still poor and owned no  slaves and remained outside the cash economy

■ It was the most globally oriented region of the US, but the one with the  least educated people


What makes new york city a financial center?



■ It showed little manufacturing and urbanisation because it produced 

nothing to scale

■ Capital for expansion was provided by the Northeast and Europe 

○ The West 

■ Commercial agriculture on family farms 

■ Widespread distribution of property  

■ High literacy rates 

■ Synergy between agricultural production and industrialisation 

■ Urbanisation­ Proctor and Gamble Cincinnati, Chicago, Pittsburg 

■ There was a shifting focus away from the South, and towards the 

Northeast, facilitated by railway and trunk lines

○ The Northeast 


What was the free labor ideology?



■ Hub of American commerce and finance (New York) 

■ Cotton was important, but it had the ability to mass produce and diversify  in other smaller industries We also discuss several other topics like How do gender differences affect relationships?

■ Specialization around manufacturing and commerce  We also discuss several other topics like What is the difference between fiscal expansion policy and contractionary fiscal policy?
We also discuss several other topics like What is fertility?

■ Divided leadership between cotton merchants, manufacturers and up and coming producers 

● A tale of three elites: merchants, artisan turned manufacturers and planters ○ Artisan turned manufacturer (Peter Cooper)­ he came from a humble background as a glue manufacturer. Then, moved onto metal production Don't forget about the age old question of What is the difference between retaliatory and offensive aggression?

○ Merchant (August Belmont)­ linked to the Atlantic trade market and had elite  business world connections of trade and trust 

○ Planter (James Henry Hammond)­ saw the cotton production as a profitable  business

● Atlantic economy vs Domestic Industrialisation 

○ Planters and merchants 

■ Global Trade (cotton) 

■ Free trade, no tariffs 

■ Little government spending on infrastructure 

■ Labour was inherently degrading, slaves were benign compared to wage  labour

■ Expansion of slavery and cotton plantations 

○ Producerist coalition 

■ Protection for budding industries 

■ Valued labour 

■ Government investment in infrastructure 

■ Against expansion of slavery  

■ Development of a large domestic market 

■ Free homesteads for Western farmers 

●  Free labour ideology and the slave power 

○ This was a conflict about the kind of capitalism that would become dominant ○ Capitalism was compatible with slavery, but slavery was not compatible with free  labor We also discuss several other topics like In what year did the first president-elect without his party leading in either house of congress labor?

○ It favoured decentralisation of the economy 

○ More opportunity for labourers to acquire property 

○ Popular amongst farmers, small manufacturers and artisans with entrepreneurial  ambitions

○ Alliance between Northeast and West against the South 

○ Against “slave power” and the influence slave owners had on the machinery of  the federal government

○ Used slavery as a way of undermining the dignity of labour

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