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Friends of the Unrighteous MammonNorthern Christians and Market Capitalism, 1815-1860$
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Stewart Davenport

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226137063

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226137087.001.0001

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Paradox, People, and Project

Paradox, People, and Project

Chapter:
(p.171) Chapter Twelve Paradox, People, and Project
Source:
Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226137087.003.0013

Accompanying the development of market capitalism were the obvious vices of competitiveness and pride, and the traditional republican bugbears of luxury and greed. These social pathogens threatened first the virtue of individual Christians within the market mechanism, and by extension the stability of the republic itself. Some believers therefore reasoned that the “principles of trade are immoral and unchristian,” and that “no prosperous merchant can be a good Christian.” In this Manichean view of things, the structure of the modernizing economy was so rotten and its temptations so irresistible that it simply could not be reconciled with Christianity's principles and practices. There was apparently no way to be both moral and successful, and given the choice, some Christians were conceivably prepared to forsake business altogether.

Keywords:   capitalism, competitiveness, pride, Christianity, trade, modernizing economy, luxury, greed

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