America's First Great Depression

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-04-17
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr

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For a while, it seemed impossible to lose money on real estate. But then the bubble burst. The financial sector was paralyzed and the economy contracted. State and federal governments struggled to pay their domestic and foreign creditors. Washington was incapable of decisive action. The country seethed with political and social unrest. In The First Great Depression, Alasdair Roberts describes how the United States dealt with the economic and political crisis that followed the Panic of 1837.As Roberts shows, the two decades that preceded the Panic had marked a democratic surge in the United States. However, the nation's commitment to democracy was tested severely during this crisis. Foreign lenders questioned whether American politicians could make the unpopular decisions needed on spending and taxing. State and local officials struggled to put down riots and rebellion. A few wondered whether this was the end of America's democratic experiment.Roberts explains how the country's woes were complicated by its dependence on foreign trade and investment, particularly with Britain. Aware of the contemporary relevance of this story, Roberts examines how the country responded to the political and cultural aftershocks of 1837, transforming its political institutions to strike a new balance between liberty and social order, and uneasily coming to terms with its place in the global economy.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Back to the Futurep. 1
Boom and Bustp. 13
Hard timesp. 14
Gauging the lossesp. 22
The bubblep. 25
The collapsep. 38
The States' Crisisp. 49
Defaulting on state debtsp. 50
Disgrace in Europep. 65
Shackling the statesp. 73
The Federal Government's Crisisp. 85
Gridlock in Washingtonp. 86
The fraying national compactp. 98
Losing the arms racep. 109
Reconciling with the superpowerp. 121
Law and Orderp. 137
Rebellion in Rhode Islandp. 138
The anti rent warp. 149
Cannon fire in Philadelphiap. 160
Building civic armiesp. 170
The End of the Crisisp. 175
A proxy war in Mexicop. 176
Redemptionp. 189
Conclusion: Freedom, Order, and Economic Crisisp. 203
Note on Method and Acknowledgmentsp. 215
Notesp. 217
Indexp. 249
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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