Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Nature of the FutureAgriculture, Science, and Capitalism in the Antebellum North$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Emily Pawley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226693835

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226693972.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Coining Foliage into Gold

Coining Foliage into Gold

(p.103) 5 Coining Foliage into Gold
The Nature of the Future

Emily Pawley

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Five examines the workings of future storytelling, focusing on the mulberry bubble of the late 1830s. During this period, mulberry trees became a focus of financial speculation, not only through the networks of improvement, but also throughout U.S. financial centers. Speculators aspired to create a future empire of silk production, before prices plummeted. This chapter challenges the suggestion that such moments are deviations from normal, rational capitalism. Rather “manias” offer a chance to examine structures of credibility creation. The chapter sets the multicaulis mania in the global context of repeated silk fevers, then follows the particular variety Morus Multicaulis through global botanical networks into the networks of improving print culture. It connects the rise of the tree to the Panic of 1837 and shows how features of the variety itself, its leaf size and its easily calculable reproduction sustained forms of speculation, justified by new calculations about the nature of national consumption. Eventually, rising tree prices became their own justification, a rise punctured by a larger banking collapse. The chapter questions the retrospective justifications that sort successful attempts to create futures from those that fail, judging the first as rational and the second as fevered.

Keywords:   silk, mulberries, speculative bubbles, speculation, Panic of 1837, botanical gardens, nurserymen

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.