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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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Motivations

Motivations

Chapter:
(p.49) Chapter Three Motivations
Source:
Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226137087.003.0004

This chapter discusses the need to understand two contexts that the clerical economists thought of as interrelated: the contentious and often chaotic world of ideas, and the equally contentious and chaotic world of new America. The clerical economists had an overriding concern to maintain order in both of these realms, and they often made surprising intellectual compromises to achieve that end. Their appropriation of Adam Smith's political economy was precisely such a compromise. To order-minded Americans like the clerical economists, the most threatening enemies of stability by far were the twin legacies of eighteenth-century Europe: religious skepticism and the social upheaval of the French Revolution. As educators of the future leaders of the American republic, the clerical economists knew that they had an important role to play in keeping the national ship afloat. The new nation, barely half a century old, was a huge gamble with extremely high stakes.

Keywords:   clerical economists, America, Adam Smith, political economy, religious skepticism, social upheaval, French Revolution

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