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The Agrarian Context of American Capitalist Development

The Agrarian Context of American Capitalist Development

(p.13) 1 The Agrarian Context of American Capitalist Development
Capitalism Takes Command
Christopher Clark
University of Chicago Press

Agrarian expansion has long been associated with the spirit of capitalism in the United States. Agriculture was a key player in the country’s transformation into a global economic power. This chapter examines the complementary aspects of agricultural expansion for broader capitalist development in the United States. It first provides an overview of the rise of American capitalism in the nineteenth century and how it turned the country into the world’s largest economy by setting in motion the growth of industries such as manufacturing, mineral production, and finance. The chapter then looks at how agriculture and its expansion became deeply involved in many of capitalism’s principal attributes, along with the emergence of land markets and markets for wage labor. In addition, it explores how structural conditions guiding the relationships between agriculture and capitalism gave rise to conflicts among different kinds of producers, between farming and commerce, and between labor and proprietors.

Keywords:   capitalism, United States, agriculture, agricultural expansion, land markets, wage labor, farming, commerce, labor, proprietors

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