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America's First Great Depression:…

America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political… (edition 2012)

by Alasdair Roberts

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Title:America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837
Authors:Alasdair Roberts
Info:Cornell University Press (2012), Hardcover, 264 pages

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America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837 by Alasdair S. Roberts



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This was a well written book that is easy to read. If you know 19th century United States history, this book isn't going to have very much new for you with one exception. Specifically, the book spends time discussing in detail the number of states that defaulted on their "state" debt during the business depression and how that affected the United State's relationship with Britain. I knew about these defaults in a general way, but had never read a more detailed history about it. It's no wonder since the last monograph related specifically to these defaults is about fifty years old.

If you are not strong in your 19th century U.S. history, this monograph will very beneficial to you. ( )
1 vote Polymath35 | May 15, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0801450330, Hardcover)

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 America's 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:44 -0400)

Roberts examines the financial, political, and social upheavals that occurred in the United States in the decade following the Panic of 1837, which he calls the First Great Depression. The years leading up to the panic, he says, were a time of boom marked by geographic expansion, the near elimination of the national debt, states borrowing large sums for improvement projects, and land values that appeared to be rising without end. He explains that the panic caused a deep economic depression that resulted in loan defaults by nine states, federal gridlock, a breakdown of law and order, a loss of faith in banks, and a slow recovery for the U.S. economy, which came back only after the Mexican War. Parallels to the country's current economic recession are clear throughout the text, and Roberts makes explicit comparisons in his conclusion.… (more)

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