Enterprising AmericaBusinesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective

Enterprising AmericaBusinesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective

William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226261621

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book is a collection of seven original research papers by leading scholars of American economic history. The papers engage a diverse but clearly related set of topics regarding the establishment and growth of various kinds of economic enterprises that were central to American economic development. Prominent themes include changes in business organization and governance, bank behavior and credit markets, and scale economies in nineteenth-century manufacturing and agricultural production. The volume does not attempt to review and synthesize the literature on all aspects of American economic enterprise. Rather, the papers together provide inter-connected accounts of how businesses, banks, and credit markets promoted the transformation and growth of the American economy, as seen through a lens that focuses on how such enterprises were organized and operated. Most of the papers feature analyses of new or under-utilized archival sources. The emphasis on “enterprise” reflects the view that understanding modern economic growth requires attention to the historical context in which individuals came together to form voluntary associations whose goal was to provide goods and services to markets and, in doing so, to earn profits. Contributors include Jeremy Atack, Howard Bodenhorn, William Collins, Mary Hansen, Eric Hilt, Matthew Jaremski, Naomi Lamoreaux, Robert Margo, Alan Olmstead, Claudia Rei, Paul Rhode, Peter Rousseau, and Eugene White.