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American CreedPhilanthropy and the Rise of Civil Society, 1700–1865$
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Kathleen D. McCarthy

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561981

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561998.001.0001

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The Geography of Generosity

The Geography of Generosity

(p.78) 4 The Geography of Generosity
American Creed
University of Chicago Press

Despite the growth of national initiatives such as the American Bible Society (ABS), two regionally distinctive models of philanthropy and civil society had begun to emerge by the 1820s. Two types of nonprofit investors left a particular imprint on the Northern economy before 1840: philanthropically inspired mutual savings banks, and charitable and educational endowments. Franklin's appreciation for the financial power of philanthropy was codified in his will. The availability of philanthropic funds provided what one historian has termed “massive accumulations of capital” that helped to fuel “the early but rapid growth of capitalistic enterprise” in England beginning in the seventeenth century. Charities and associations stimulated economic growth in a variety of ways. The goal was to “bring within the reach of every industrious person, the great advantage of public security and interest for small sums of money,” in order to promote “that personal comfort of independence which arises from prudent conduct.”

Keywords:   philanthropy, economic growth, industrious, generosity, independence

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