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Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trade

Author(s):Barbour, Barton H.
Reviewer(s):Fender, Ann Harper

Published by EH.NET (March 2003)

Barton H. Barbour, Fort Union and the Upper Missouri Fur Trade. Norman,

OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. xvi + 304 pp. $34.95 (hardcover), ISBN:

0-8061-3295-7; $19.95 (paperback), ISBN: 0-8061-3498-4.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Ann Harper Fender, Department of Economics, Gettysburg

College.

A visit to a reconstructed fur trade post usually takes today’s visitor off

frequently traveled major highways. Fort Union, reconstructed and opened in

1995, rises impressively above the upper Missouri River between Williston,

North Dakota and Culbertson, Montana, far from congested roads. Barton

Barbour’s engaging history reminds readers that such forts were sited along the

major transport routes of their time. The northwest to southeast flow of the

upper Missouri/Mississippi Rivers gave relatively cheap albeit seasonal access

from St. Louis to the upper plains region. Fort Union, near the confluence of

the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, dominated the fur trade of the upper

Missouri from 1830 until 1867.

Barbour begins with a history of the European-North American fur trade,

formally initiated by the1670 English charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Its

charter granted monopoly rights to trade in lands whose waters drained into

Hudson Bay. The Upper Missouri, draining southward to the Mississippi, is close

to the Red River that drains into Hudson Bay. The border between Canada and the

U.S. cuts across this drainage system leading to cross border excursions of

native trappers, European/American traders, and fur-bearing animals. By the end

of Fort Union’s life, Canadian traders increasingly used cart haulage routes

between modern Winnipeg and St.Paul, Minnesota in preference to Hudson Bay

routes. Inevitably, the fur trade became embroiled in international boundary

issues and its posts played military and diplomatic as well as commercial

roles. As Barbour makes clear, however, the fur trade was essentially a

business, with close attention paid to cutting costs, expanding sources of

supply, and maintaining market share. Barbour explains how John Jacob Astor’s

American Fur Company and the Columbia Fur Company, based in St. Louis,

Missouri, competed vigorously for the furs of the upper Missouri through the

1820s. Both companies realized that splitting the geographic market would yield

each higher profit, but agreement proved elusive. Merger solved the problem,

just as the 1821 merger of the Hudson’s Bay Company with the North West Company

solved similar competitive problems to the north. In 1827, the former Columbia

Fur Company became the St. Louis-based Upper Missouri Outfit within the

American Fur Company. Throughout Fort Union’s existence the UMO faced “petty”

competition and had to make strategic decisions about whether to buy out

competitors or to drive them from the field by vigorous trading.

Barbour includes a chapter on the business aspects of Fort Union trade, a story

resembling similar material on the Hudson’s Bay Company. After a quick but very

informative history of the North American fur trade, Barbour examines details

of Fort Union’s construction. He provides numerous sketches of the post, as

well as material from private diaries and from journals kept as part of

business records. Not often covered in such histories, this chapter attends to

both evidence and speculation about how, or if, the fort disposed of effluent

associated with housing and feeding approximately three hundred persons.

Larger fur trade posts welcomed a variety of noted visitors and Fort Union was

no exception with artists, scientists, explorers and missionaries making their

way up the Missouri. Using company records and the visitors’ diaries, Barbour

chronicles these visits. Barbour also uses these records to build a composite

picture of life within the fort. As the growing recent history of the fur trade

emphasizes, European/American traders and Native trappers were economically

interdependent. The typical post was rich in multiculturalism long before it

became academically chic. Survival in the demanding conditions of the upper

plains required adaptation. Marriages between traders and native women were

frequent and often long-term (and resembled marriages among the families of fur

trading firms). Barbour gives a particularly interesting description of how the

fort dealt with several smallpox outbreaks. The fort and the fur trade in

general had codes of conduct that could not be broken without consequences, as

Barbour’s account makes clear.

Despite depictions of the fur trade as a lawless venture or perhaps because of

this depiction, governmental agencies regulated the trade. American (and

English) sensitivity to monopoly led to frequent outcries against the large fur

trading firms. The use of alcohol in the trade generated calls for prohibition.

Fur trading firms were required to have licenses to do business in Indian

territory and political connections helped to determine who received the

licenses. Periodically the federal government set up its own “factories” to

conduct trade with the natives; invariably the Natives preferred to trade with

private firms. These governmental restrictions were not unique to the Upper

Missouri, but Barbour details their impact on Fort Union and how the Company’s

political relationships affected its prosperity. Barbour compares records of

alcohol use and abuse in the fur trade with its use and abuse by U.S. soldiers;

from this evidence, the fur traders and their customers do not look so bad.

Government-company relationships also included the UMO’s role in transporting

goods and soldiers for the U.S. government.

Even as the fur trade represents “pre-industrial” North America, industrial

technology was making inroads. Early in Fort Union’s history, steam power

overtook manpower as the preferred source of energy to move upstream on the

Missouri, evidenced by the large number of steamboat names that Barbour

reports.

The political changes wrought by the Civil War, the opening up of both wagon

and rail roads to the west, the discovery of gold in Montana, the incessant

resettlement of Indians, and the decline of the bison contributed to the

economic demise of Fort Union and its parent company. Because much of the

Indian trade involved buffalo robes, the diminishment of the large western

herds especially affected Fort Union. The fur trade interests of the Upper

Missouri Outfit were sold in 1865 and in 1867 Fort Union was demolished.

Barbour muses about the causes of the fort’s decline; he finds the American

drive for a uniform culture unable to tolerate the multicultural diversity of

the fur trade. This conclusion to a fine history strikes this reviewer as a

reach that weakens his story, a story that appropriately resurrects the fur

trade from villain to multicultural model. Attitudes might have hastened the

decline of the fur trade and amiable white/Indian relations, but the trade

disappeared because its economic usefulness had ended with new population

movements and new technology.

As an Assistant Professor of History at Boise State University, Barton Barbour

appropriately ends his fascinating story with a lengthy and helpful

bibliographic essay. The author provides more than enough detail for the

professional historian and writes a good story for the casual reader interested

in the American west.

Ann Harper Fender’s recent work has involved the economics of the Hudson’s Bay

Company and the Canadian fur trade.

Subject(s):Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Extractive Industries
Geographic Area(s):North America
Time Period(s):19th Century

A Not-So-Dismal Science: A Broader View of Economies and Societies

Author(s):Olson, Mancur
Satu Kähkönen, Satu
Reviewer(s):Adams, John

Published by EH.NET (March 2003)

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Mancur Olson and Satu K?hk?nen, editors, A Not-So-Dismal Science: A Broader View of Economies and Societies. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000. x + 274 pp. $75 (cloth), ISBN: 0-19-829369-0; $24.95 (paper), ISBN: 0-19-829490-5.

John Adams, Center for South Asian Studies, University of Virginia.

A dozen years after its founding, the IRIS Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, continues to flourish. IRIS is the acronym for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector. IRIS began work in 1990 after representatives of USAID approached Mancur Olson about creating a research and policy institute that would actively apply his creative ideas about collective action, political economy, and economic growth to problems of Third World development. At that moment, the informal sector was briefly on the screen as a hot topic, but it was understood that IRIS had a wider ambit. On the immediate horizon, issues of economic reform were beginning to emerge as more East European and Central Asian economies confronted the task of making the transition from state-directed to market-based guidance. It appeared to some of the more alert minds at USAID that Olson’s The Rise and Decline of Nations (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), and his related papers, could bring fresh insights into the agency’s thinking. Not the least of the attractions was that institutional reforms could yield cheap, high-payoff effects on efficiency, productivity, and growth rates, when compared to the capital-intensive infrastructure or other investments favored by the donors.

The University of Maryland presented the advantage of its location in the Washington suburbs and, further, had a long tradition of institutional and policy-oriented faculty members in its Department of Economics, and the campus had strengths in related social sciences. The university administration, acting under the crusty directives of archaic state accounting and personnel practices, had no latitude to allow for the creation of a semi-autonomous unit that would enjoy flexibility in its financial management and personnel affairs. After tedious negotiations, Olson finally succeeded in establishing IRIS, thereby enabling his vision of a center devoted to rigorous, academically based economic policy advice, but with his own unmistakable twist. (The curious are directed to: http://www.iris.umd.edu/.) The irony escaped no one, certainly not Olson, that the first IRIS victory for institutional reform had to be won in College Park and Annapolis, before advancing on to the new fronts in Moscow and Lusaka.

Over the years, IRIS has turned out many publications in all forms. This book grew out of a long-term project centered in India. Olson and the other authors gave talks that were designed to cover general issues, rather than focus only on Indian topics. The intention was to provide Indian audiences with an introduction to the IRIS approach to policymaking and reform, and then engage in give-and-take discussions. The ten contributions to Not-So-Dismal certainly cover the range of ideas for which Olson and IRIS have become known, although the high stature and personal vantage points of the other authors bring additional cachet and riches to the table. As the editors tell us in the introduction, their principal ambition was to demonstrate the effectiveness of pushing new institutional economics out into the “suburbs” of the discipline, there to interact with historians, political scientists, and lawyers. One has to say that they succeeded very nicely.

Olson contributed two essays to the compilation. The volume opens with his “Big Bills Left on the Sidewalk: Why Some Nations Are Rich and Other Poor.” This is vintage Olson stuff. Take a couple of simple observations and then play with them like a kitten with a mouse. He starts by calling attention to the striking variations in levels of productivity and income marked out by national boundaries. When an immigrant from, say, Bangladesh lands in the U.K., his earnings rise by a factor of fifty or more. Because the immigrant did not miraculously acquire either more human capital, or assume radically different cultural or religious values, during an 11-hour airplane flight, then the determining factors must lie in the institutional and policy differences between the two countries.

The logic of Olson’s dissection of this conundrum is as entertaining as it is intuitively plausible. Economists generally believe that people are rational and will seize opportunities for gains from innovation, allocational efficiencies, and contractual adjustments. These are the “Big Bills” of the title, and we see in poor countries that these often remain on the sidewalk or cow path. Olson considers as possible explanations for the persistence of national poverty the usual neoclassical variables: technology, capital, the quantity and quality of labor, and land and natural resources. He rejects each in turn: knowledge is widely available at low costs; human capital differences are insufficient; land/labor ratios and diminishing returns do not appear explanatory. What’s left? Policies and institutions, of course. His advice to the less-developed world: “Wise up.”

Olson’s second chapter in the volume is, “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development.” A monarchist once said that a king afforded the best kind of government, because he is the “owner of the country,” and like a householder, when something is wrong “he fixes it” (p. 119). Claiming to have worried about this apparent conflict with his democratic inclination since he was a student, Olson asserts that he has finally resolved it. Societies “work satisfactorily” when they have peaceful orders and produce decent quantities of public goods. The problem is that the usual collective action contradictions intervene so that it is very hard for large societies to govern themselves well: any individual bears the costs of public good production, but is unlikely to recoup sufficient benefit to warrant the loss. Small bands or villages do not have this problem in like measure. Olson proceeds to argue that a “roving bandit” has a motive to become a “stationary bandit,” that is, a warlord or king, with a monopoly on violence because he has an “encompassing interest” that yields tax revenues from the gains from order and any economic expansion. Even with a tax rate of one-third, he has an incentive to produce public goods until the return on a unit of spending falls below three units of gain. Not optimal, but some public goods are better than none.

When dictatorships falter, it is likely because a short-term survival crisis leads to a reversion to plunder that robs subjects of incentives to remain productive and reduces spending on public goods. The leadership of a democracy is interested in securing the majority votes needed to hold power through adequate provision of public goods, but its willingness to tax is constrained by the majority’s encompassing interest in the gains its members get from higher output. Higher taxes not only take a larger share of a person’s income, but to the extent they depress incentives and product, impose an added loss. Democracies can also take the long view, which dictatorships can rarely do, plagued as they are with often deadly contests for the rulership and with crises of succession. Olson teases out of this contrast between dictatorship and democracy the further implication that governments that protect property rights and human liberties are likely to be those that do the best job of setting policies favorable to economic development. These themes are more fully developed, and applied to the problems of regime transitions, in his posthumously published Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships (Basic Books, 2000)

The other eight chapters in the book rove around these classic Olson ideas, playing off them, augmenting them, or challenging them. As we all recognize, solid ideas are among the best of public goods. Joel Mokyr takes up the question, why technologies that are known to have economic and financial potential, are actively suppressed. Answering this poser should de-obfuscate the singular difficulty many poor nations have in absorbing new knowledge and techniques. Mokyr goes down a fairly well worn path in identifying winners and losers in the social balance, and pointing to the different outcomes of the market calculus versus the political geometry. Many innovations have religious and cultural facets, as well as technical and scientific ones, and this mixture frequently lends itself to a judicial or political sorting out, rather than a bare market test. Opposition to adoption can arise from those fearful of job loss, capital obsolescence, human capital erosion, or dreaded externalities, such as those from pesticides or nuclear disaster. Various political economy, Olson coalitional, and path dependence factors intrude. Summing up, no one does technological evolution better than Mokyr — but we knew that!

Oliver Williamson writes about economic institutions and development, with emphasis on the structure of corporate governance and the role of transaction costs in shaping that structure. The firm operates in a larger institutional framework but is inhabited by individuals who feature bounded rationality and opportunism in their contractual dealings. The main determinants of outcomes are the status of credible commitments, the nature of the operative bureaucratic organization, and remediableness, which is whether an admittedly deficient institution actually can be supplanted by a superior alternative, not including an idealized costless or frictionless arrangement. Political leadership and bureaucracies don’t have to be perfect, and generally successful societies can tolerate a fair number of institutional and policy stupidities.

Williamson makes an intriguing argument that in rich countries with more or less decent governance, it is hard to make a case against the odd examples of inefficiency or irrationality, such as the U.S. sugar policy, since they were derived in a system that most people support and over a long period of time their distributional quirks have been tolerated. When we have a developing country with governance above a threshold of adequacy, then reform and policy improvements can be nudged by external assistance conditionalities; in other words, remediableness is feasible when credible commitments are applied. Like Mokyr’s adroit essay on technology, Williamson’s is the gold standard on organizations. If there is a critique, one would have to say that in both cases it takes so much space to present their unique languages and grammars, there is very little room left over for applications to the developing world.

After bowing to the insights of the new institutional economics with respect to contracting, property rights, and the political economy of social choice, Pranab Bardhan reverts to a more traditional political economy approach, centered on distributional conflict. He opens by reassessing the relation-based kin and clan networks that have defined the channels of Asian commerce for many centuries down to the present. He emphasizes that the reduction in information, management, and contract-enforcement costs associated with these systems make them a clearly competitive alternative to Western business formations. The chief institutional lacunae are found in the absence of financial instruments and markets, which in turn is a consequence of the absence of governments, traditional or colonial, that could provide for “coordination in investment and risk-taking” (p. 253). Modern East Asian states nurtured economic success with managed capital markets, development banks, and infant-industry interventions. These governments could credibly commit, while many others in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have remained “soft” and are pretty much the captives of predatory special interests, as usually posited in the economists’ theories of the state.

Bardhan contrasts the close working relationships between state and private actors in East Asia with the disconnectedness of these players in South Asia. The diversity and inequalities of South Asian societies made it more difficult to build an encompassing coalition or to create a consensus in favor of a coherent, forward-looking economic strategy. Weak performance incentives for the bureaucracy in India, as one case, created a fertile ground for capture of key decision-makers by private interests, aka corruption. Bardhan offers the useful reminder that the neo-institutionalists are apt to overestimate the plasticity of institutions in adjusting to factor prices or market opportunities, in comparison to the neo-Marxists who continue to insist on the staying power of entrenched economic elites or broader class interests. In India, we see familiar failures of beneficent collective action in the villages, where social divisions bar cooperation in use of irrigation water or common property resources. What to say? Quite a lot of wisdom here and a reminder that theories require quite a lot of hammering and bending to be made to fit actual cases.

In “Overstrong Against Thyself,” J. Bradford De Long considers the difficulty states have balancing long-term prosperity goals against corrosive claims on the current product for such noble causes as conquest, spreading a religion, or exhibiting splendor. After the industrial revolution this conflict intensified because there was so much more to appropriate and states were much better organized to do it. How Great Britain resolved this dilemma is pretty much the story of this chapter. De Long observes that Europe’s cities and their mercantile leaders flourished in regions characterized by an absence of absolute rulers. He points out that “an oligarchy of merchant-burghers” had a “direct interest in economic prosperity” while the princes and kings were primarily interested in raising their military power (p. 146). A merchant-ruled city-state will tax at a lower rate than will an absolute prince, because of the burghers’ benefit in sustaining affluence. By 1600, new military organizations and technologies shifted the terms of armed conflict in favor of the princes and against the city-state militias.

First Spain and then other regimes, some autocratic and some not, became the great power(s) of an epoch, but then faltered when their military efforts, budgets, and manpower mobilization, sapped their economic capacities. Adam Smith and others were wise enough to see that Great Britain faced the identical dilemma. According to De Long, the Protestant character of the society raised the stakes for all its segments. A Catholic restoration would have been calamitous. Fear was ubiquitous: the king of losing his throne, the nobles of losing their estates, the people of losing “their souls.” Unlike their counterparts on the continent, all were happy to load themselves with taxes, with the result that the burdens of war were widely spread. Britain tended to win land engagements and naval battles, conquered new territories, and experienced rapid internal demographic expansion, all abetting wealth and military capacity. Meanings for today’s poor nations: be lucky; be realistic about growth expectations, remembering that for a long time Europe’s growth rates were well below those of today’s late starters; unite the nation, and have a fair tax code; try to elevate pro-growth, foresighted policies in the political pecking order.

I am going to shortchange the final four papers based on personal whim and a shortage of time and space. (If you think this is biased and iniquitous, go write your own review.)

Erik Moberg challenges Olson’s interpretation of Sweden’s economic slowdown after the halcyon 1960s, when a deft balancing act seemed to ensure long-term success based on heavy taxation, a plethora of social benefits, and comparatively rapid growth. Social homogeneity, economic equality, and the encompassing character of the major interest groups may have been facilitative, as Olson claimed. Moberg believes that Olson’s assertion, it can hardly be called an argument, that the retardation of growth stemmed from a fragmentation of the encompassing coalitions is not sustainable. Olson had stressed the benefits of free trade during the golden years, but Moberg observes that the oil shocks of the 1970s, high capital costs, and more rigid labor markets made it increasingly hard for Sweden to adapt to changed market conditions. This very conventional explanation may carry more water than coalitional rearrangements.

India and the United States have each put in place robust affirmative action programs, one based on caste and the other on color. Edward Montgomery undertakes a careful review of the political origins of affirmative action in these two democracies. He finds that theoretical and empirical work does not provide unambiguous answers to questions about the impact of quotas on the wages of covered or uncovered workers, or broader effects on their educational access and attainment. There is a tendency in both countries for coverage to expand over time. When adopted, India’s caste reservations of jobs and university seats, and the U.S.’s parallel doorways for minorities to enter workplaces and schools, were supposed to expire after a transition period. Although this end game had not materialized when Montgomery wrote a few years ago, it is interesting that strong moves are afoot in India and the United States to quash affirmative action, as a backlash from the upper castes and the white nobility cascades into a stream already swollen and muddied by religious, nationalistic, and militaristic currents.

Montgomery’s thematic is widened in the following chapter, by Russell Harding, who looks at the impact of India’s and the U.S.’s “socially autarkic groups” on economic policy and growth prospects. Harding distinguishes groups that define themselves socially, in terms of religion, practices, or origins, from economic groups, such as farmers. A problem arises when these groups seek state subventions to ensure their survival, predicated on some ethical or other normative principle. Linguistic diversity raises education costs and complicates government and business labor recruitment. This is all pretty much conventional sociology and has little to do, as far as I can see, with Olsonian issues. Robert Cooter contributes a chapter on law, written with an infusion of game theoretics, but the theory floats very airily above any Third World actuality. Nothing wrong with this, but one exits with a “so what” taste in one’s mouth.

What did Indian audiences make of all this? Hard to say without having been there. The theoretical contributions would be, by and large, novel in most Indian university or research circles. At the same time, I’d say that India’s policymakers are very much aware of most of the issues involved inside their own political economy mechanisms. Indian politicians are, I’ll just simply aver, the best in the world, qua politicians-committed-to-winning. If you want to triumph in an election, you’d better buy the votes of the landed castes with farm subsidies, free water, and free power. It’s pretty hard to miss hundreds of thousands of guys running around in orange gauzy pajamas waving tridents, or not be aware of festering tribal rebellions in much of the northeast, or not empathize with some 120,000,000 Muslims who find themselves being involuntarily detached from Nehru’s secularist social compact.

John Adams is an out-of-the-closet old, or original, institutional economist. To make a post-Enron disclosure, he reports that he was at the University of Maryland for 25 years, knew Mancur Olson well, and helped found IRIS.

(Dr. Adams graciously agreed to take on this review after the original reviewer proved unable to complete the assignment.)

Subject(s):Markets and Institutions
Geographic Area(s):General, International, or Comparative
Time Period(s):General or Comparative

Confederate Industry: Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War

Author(s):Wilson, Harold S.
Reviewer(s):Surdam, David

Published by EH.NET (September 2002)

Harold S. Wilson, Confederate Industry: Manufacturers and Quartermasters in

the Civil War. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2002. xxii +

412 pp. $45 (hardcover), ISBN: 1-57806-462-7.

Reviewed for EH.NET by David Surdam, Graduate School of Business, University of

Chicago.

Harold Wilson, a professor of history at Old Dominion University, has written

a well-researched treatise on Confederate quartermasters and their relations

with southern manufacturers during the Civil War. In addition, Wilson devotes

roughly a fifth of the text to the postwar recovery.

Historians will be impressed with the author’s exhaustive use of primary

materials. Economists, though, may be disappointed by the endless litany of

details without much analysis. As a piece of descriptive history, Wilson’s work

is thorough and meticulous. Certainly there is a need for information regarding

the performance of the southern economy during the war. Readers will discover

how important cotton and wool were for a Victorian-era army: clothing,

harnesses, bandages, flour sacks, and tents are only the most obvious uses of

these products.

Wilson also does an excellent job in demonstrating that the southern economy,

although dominated by the production of staple products, compared well as an

industrial economy, ranking fourth behind England, the northern states, and

France. The supply of raw cotton and wool augured well for the quartermaster

department. Unfortunately, the migration of skilled laborers out of the

Confederacy or into the army hindered the productive capability of southern

manufacturers. Southern factories also depended upon imports of equipment and

machinery and, during the war, upon a shaky railroad system. The Union Navy’s

blockade impeded the flow of replacement parts, while forcing an over-reliance

upon rail transport instead of coastal and river transport. Despite these

handicaps, the quartermaster department generally succeeded in equipping the

soldiers with clothing and footwear, although frequent shortages did occur.

However, in the absence of the disrupted antebellum trade patterns, the

Confederate government could have more cheaply purchased such items. Wilson

could have more fully developed the losses arising from disrupted international

trade.

The book also ably demonstrates the tension between southern manufacturers and

planters (although these were not mutually exclusive groups). Many of the

manufacturers were northern-born men who maintained their Whig beliefs. The

manufacturers were able to get the Confederate government to enact tariffs in

May 1861 that closely resembled those used by the Federal government. For

modern-day adherents of the belief that tariffs and not slavery caused the war,

the Confederate tariffs serve as a sharp rejoinder.

The manufacturers also confronted inept Confederate policies with regard to

labor, inflation, pricing, and taxation. Wilson does not necessarily believe

that greater Confederate control of the economy was desirable or useful, a

relative rarity among Civil War historians. Confederate policies included price

controls on output based upon a fixed percentage above costs. Such a system

created perverse incentives, and southern producers were not hesitant to react

accordingly. In general, though, government work paid less than private work,

and many producers followed the widespread practice of avoiding government work

when possible. To compel their effort in producing supplies for the government,

the Confederate government controlled manpower via impressing labor.

The book lauds quartermaster general Alexander Lawton’s efforts to rationalize

the procurement process. Lawton attempted to monopolize the purchase of wool

and cotton; he succeeded, for a brief time, in getting the bulk of the raw

cotton and all of the wool, but ultimately, his efforts proved futile. Lawton’s

predecessor, Abraham Myers, does not receive as much praise, but he was

starting from scratch. Myers’ detractors based their criticisms upon such

personal traits as his Jewishness. Wilson also supplies the reader with such

juicy gossip as the contretemps between Jefferson Davis’s wife and Mrs. Myers.

Wilson discusses the profitability of manufacturing during the war years, but

his lack of analysis is a real drawback. Wartime profit figures are inherently

suspect due to the chronic inflation and archaic accounting system in use.

Businesses did not make explicit depreciation charges against their revenues

during this period. In a period of rapid inflation, such a lack could easily

exaggerate profits. The dividends paid out may have been a cannibalization of

capital. In fact, trying to ascertain wartime profits is likely to be an “Alice

in Wonderlandesque” exercise, but I hope someone will attempt the endeavor.

During the postwar era, manufacturers scrambled to demonstrate their “loyalty”

to the Union. The Confederate policies of impressments sometimes helped

manufacturers convince Federal authorities that their production for the

Confederate government had been based upon compulsion. Patriotism, whether to

the Federal or Confederate governments, may have influenced some manufacturers

during the war, but almost all were enthusiastic adherents of self-interest.

The manufacturers adjusted to the new labor conditions in the South.

Eventually, they created a segregated labor force whereby blacks did most of

the unskilled work, while poor whites did the semi-skilled work.

The author also does not analyze how well the Confederate policies worked. He

amply describes such policies, but I wish he had devoted more effort to such an

analysis.

Future researchers interested in Civil War economics will need to read this

book — its surfeit of information is valuable. If and when a definitive

account of the wartime southern economy is written, this book will be among the

chief secondary sources.

David Surdam recently published Northern Naval Superiority and the

Economics of the American Civil War (University of South Carolina Press).

Subject(s):Industry: Manufacturing and Construction
Geographic Area(s):North America
Time Period(s):19th Century

Trade Unions and the Economy: 1870-2000

Author(s):Aldcroft, Derek H.
Oliver, Michael J.
Reviewer(s):Otoo, Sharon

Published by EH.NET (August 2001)

Derek H. Aldcroft and Michael J. Oliver, Trade Unions and the Economy:

1870-2000. Aldershot, Hampshire and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing,

2000. xiii + 222 pp. $79.95 (hardback), ISBN: 1-85928-370-5.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Sharon Otoo, School of Management, Royal Holloway,

University of London.

The authors of Trade Unions and the Economy are Derek H. Aldcroft, who

is Research Professor in Economic History at the Manchester Metropolitan

University and Michael J. Oliver, an Associate Professor of Economics at Bates

College, Maine. This book is one of a series of Modern Economic and Social

History publications by Ashgate, of which Aldcroft is also General Editor. It

focuses on how trade unions have affected aspects of the UK economy and

business performance. The authors argue that there has been very little

continuous study of the effects of union activities in terms of economic

performance, and therefore this study is a contribution towards filling “the

gap in the literature” (p. xiii). The end result is a clearly written and

accessible monograph, which will be of interest to students and academics in

the fields of Economic History, Industrial Relations and Management Studies.

The first and last chapters of Trade Unions and the Economy, simply

entitled “Introduction” and “Conclusion,” are less than five pages each and

provide a concise overview and summary of the contents and subject matter of

the book. The remaining four chapters are divided into eras: Chapter 1 deals

with the rise of the mass trade union movement from 1870 until 1914, Chapter 2

focuses on trade unions between the years 1914 and 1951, Chapter 3 discusses

the peak of labor power in the 1950s to 1970s and Chapter 4 looks at the union

movement in the years after 1979. After weighing up the evidence, the authors

conclude that “on balance” union presence “has exerted a negative influence on

the economy” (p. 178).

This finding is supported by evidence from the four chapters that form the

bulk of the book. In “The Rise of a Mass Trade Union Movement 1870-1914″ the

authors examine the growth, structure and spread of early British trade

unions, before turning to look at “the most overt and frequently used weapon”

(p. 10) — namely the strike. Restrictive practices were also used by workers.

These “tended to slow down progress and had an adverse effect on efficiency”

(p. 16). Resistance to mechanization and technical change, new work methods

and payments systems, and demarcation disputes were the main reasons for this

form of industrial action. In this chapter, the authors provide a series of

short case studies on events in particular industries during this era,

focusing on Shipbuilding, Engineering, Iron and Steel, Boots and Shoes, Cotton

Textiles and Coal. By way of example, the authors argue that in the

shipbuilding industry, rigid demarcation lines and the operation of a closed

shop made it difficult for employers to adopt new work methods and manning

ratios, and this had a negative impact on industrial efficiency. Moreover,

Aldcroft and Oliver demonstrate that unions were not particularly successful

in raising labors’ income share, or indeed securing any major improvements in

working conditions between 1870-1914.

The chapter “Trade Unions in War and Peace 1914-1951″ begins with a fresh

examination of the membership and growth of British trade unions. The graph on

page 47 shows how both union membership and union density fluctuate, rising

during World War One and again, just before and during World War Two, and

declining after World War One. At its highest point during this period,

membership was at approximately nine million and density was around 55

percent. This contrasts greatly with the former period, in which union

membership and density were both still comparatively small. During the First

World War, trade unions were afforded “greater recognition on behalf of the

government and a more favourable response by employers” (85). The unions were

able to use labor shortages during this period to their advantage, and the

authors demonstrate how “the growth of collective bargaining and the

persistence of a craft mentality, provided the essential ingredients for

unions to damage the UK’s competitive position and to affect adversely the

investment, innovation, productivity growth and the cost structure of

industry” (pp. 86-87). The areas the authors focus on in particular are the

creation of wage rigidity — particularly through wage differentials —

payment systems and conditions of work, and industrial disputes. Although,

during the 1914-1951 period, labor gains were very good in comparison to the

previous period, Aldcroft and Oliver argue that “it is the post-1951 period

where more genuine concerns need to be expressed about the capacity of

organised labour to damage the state of the economy” (p. 86).

Chapter 3, entitled “The Zenith of Labour Power 1950-1970s” depicts a period,

which the authors identify as being “labour’s finest hour” (p. 88). Union

membership and density grew fairly steadily between the years 1938 and 1979,

peaking at 13,447,000 and 55.4 per cent respectively. This seems to have

corresponded with a rising trend in strike activity in the same period,

although when put in an historical context or compared with other countries,

Britain’s strike record is actually relatively good. However, the actual

impact of British strike activity on the economy was negative. Not only were

large-scale strike actions disruptive to production and economically damaging,

but small-scale stoppages also had negative consequences and unofficial strike

action earned affected suppliers and exporters bad reputations. Restrictive

practices and work rules were found to be probably even more of an impediment

to long-term efficiency and structural change than strikes. During this

period, the system of industrial relations changed such that a two-tier system

of collective bargaining emerged, where the authority of management and

national union officers was undermined by a shift of power to the shop floor.

This two-tier system was not conducive to increased efficiency through the

removal of restrictive practices.

The penultimate chapter “The Unions in Retreat 1979-2000″ discusses the effect

of the Conservatives’ legislative program, which dismantled many of the

pre-1979 collective structures and employment regulations. Initially a good

overview of the literature, which attempts to explain the reason for union

density decline in this period, is given. Many reasons are identified,

including growing unemployment, the rise in the number of women in the

workforce, the increase in part-time work, the growth of white-collar workers

and the expansion of the service industry. Moreover the increasing trend

towards smaller workplace sizes also negatively affected unionization. In an

examination of the legislation introduced by the Conservatives, the authors

argue: “The regulatory approach adopted by the Conservatives sought to provide

a framework which would balance the rights of employers and managers on the

one hand, and the rights of employees and unions on the other. Conservative

policy did not seek to abolish or outlaw the unions; policy-makers saw the

issue more in terms of choice, albeit regulated choice (p. 145, original

emphasis).”

The post-1979 reforms focused on the following main areas: the coverage of

collective bargaining and trade union recognition, the closed shop and

industrial action. In the same period there was growing wage inequality and

there was no change in the labor share of total income. The period of the

Labour government is briefly addressed also. Tony Blair is quoted twice as

stating during the 1997 election campaign, that New Labour would be committed

to maintaining the main elements of the 1980s industrial relations

legislation. However, according to Aldcroft and Oliver, the main lesson to be

learnt from this period is that while many of the Conservative reforms

addressed some of the deficiencies in the UK economy, some aspects of their

industrial relations strategy were more controversial and may arguably have

had a negative effect on the UK economy in the twentieth century.

In previous studies, other researchers (for example Freeman and Medoff, 1984)

have concluded that unionism per se, does not guarantee either good or poor

performance of an economy or business. It was found that the quality of the

relationship between unions and business was the determining factor. Although

Aldcroft and Oliver do state in the first chapter that they cannot “for

reasons of space, write a full account of the management side in a volume

which deals specifically with the impact on unions” (p. 4), a more balanced

argument focusing on aspects of the relationship between unions and

businesses, may have yielded further interesting revelations. It is also

noticeable that Aldcroft and Oliver equate “strong” union activity and

“powerful” unions with “adversarialism.” However, “union strength” and “power”

are concepts that are not specifically defined by the authors. The use of

strike action, for example, does not necessarily demonstrate that a union is

strong. Moreover, there are isolated examples in the book where the authors

quote studies which show that management itself had displayed significant

failings, and that organized labor was a help rather than a hindrance. For

example a Ministry of Labour report (1967) concluded that overmanning stemmed

more from managerial weakness than from union recalcitrance, whereas Turner et

al (1967) highlighted the constructive role of the shop stewards in the motor

industry in sorting out grievances, preventing spontaneous strikes and

maintaining the flow of production (p. 114).

Aldcroft and Oliver write in the conclusion of chapter 3 “it is true that

there are plenty of gaps in our knowledge as to how union activity affected

economic variables, either directly, and even more so indirectly” (p. 132).

This is perhaps the most important statement of the book. There is still

insufficient evidence to prove that British trade unions did have a negative

effect on the British economy, although with this book, the authors attempt to

show just that. Perhaps they do not succeed, but Trade Unions and the

Economy: 1870-2000 still provides a very useful introductory guide to the

literature and background of British trade unions and their interaction with

UK businesses and the British economy.

References: Freeman, R.B. and J. L. Medoff, What Do Unions Do?, New

York: Basic Books, 1984. Ministry of Labour, Efficient Use of Manpower,

London: HMSO, 1967. Turner H.A., G. Clack, and G. Roberts, Labour Relations

in the Motor Industry, London: Allen & Unwin, 1967.

Sharon Otoo is a doctoral research student of the School of Management, Royal

Holloway, University of London. Her current research is on organizational

restructuring and its effect on trade unions in the British and Australian

telecommunications industries.

Subject(s):Labor and Employment History
Geographic Area(s):Europe
Time Period(s):20th Century: WWII and post-WWII

Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest, 1941-46

Author(s):Kersten, Andrew Edmund
Reviewer(s):Maloney, Thomas N.

Published by EH.NET (April 2000)

Andrew Edmund Kersten. Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest,

1941-46. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000. x + 210 pp.

$35.00 (cloth), ISBN: 0-252-02563-6.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Thomas N. Maloney, Department of Economics, University

of Utah.

Most discussions of anti-discrimination policy begin with the important

developments of the mid-1960s: the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the

issuing of Executive Order 11246 regarding contract compliance rules. In

Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest, 1941-46, Andrew

Kersten (Assistant Professor of History, University of Wisconsin at Green Bay)

examines the activities of the Fair Employment Practice Committee, an earlier

federal effort to reduce labor market discrimination, which operated from 1941

to 1946. Kersten wants to describe the activities of the Committee in the

Midwest and to persuade us that the Committee had an important impact on the

employment of minorities in war-related work. He succeeds in providing a

lively, readable, and well-documented history of the FEPC in the Midwest,

though his evidence regarding the impact of the Committee is not entirely

persuasive.

There were really two federal FEPC’s. Kersten recounts the story of the

creation and demise of the first committee, and the rise of the second, in

chapters one through three. The first FEPC was created by President Roosevelt

through Executive Order 8802 in 1941. Executive Order 8802 was largely a

response to a threatened march on Washington scheduled for July of 1941. The

march was being organized by A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping

Car Porters to protest discrimination in defense-related work. The first FEPC

produced an anti-discrimination publicity campaign and held a series of

hearings in late 1941 and early 1942. In the spring of 1942, Roosevelt denied

the Committee requested increases in resources and then gave the War Manpower

Commission (WMC) authority over the further operations of the FEPC. The head

of the WMC, Paul V. McNutt, was not sympathetic to the goals of the FEPC and

began to limit its activities, according to Kersten. As a result, a number of

FEPC officials resigned, and Randolph revived his March on Washington Movement

to protest these developments. Randolph’s efforts were again successful, as

Executive Order 9346 (issued in May 1943) disbanded the existing FEPC, created

a new committee, and placed it in the Office of Emergency Management. This

new Committee had greater independence and greater (though still very limited)

resources, including twelve new regional offices. It also faced substantial

challenges, as tensions around racial discrimination in defense work were

growing more pronounced. By 1943, labor shortages were apparent in a number of

cities, yet some employers continued to pass over available, local black labor

and hired white workers from a distance.

In chapters four through eight, Kersten describes the activities of the new

Committee in the Midwest. His coverage of the region is comprehensive, though

he devotes particular attention to developments in Chicago, Cleveland,

Cincinnati, Detroit, and St. Louis. As Kersten recounts a litany of hearings

and meetings, a few prominent themes emerge. One is that, at least according

to employers, the hiring and promoting of African Americans was greatly

constrained by the attitudes of white workers. Employers’ concerns on this

issue were certainly well founded in many cases, as theentry of black workers

into an all-white plant (whether prompted by FEPC activity or not) quite often

resulted in walkouts by the white work force. One of the most important

activities of the FEPC was helping to negotiate settlements in these cases (in

an appendix, Kersten provides a list of hate strikes in the Midwest that were

settled with the aid of the FEPC). More generally, Kersten says that the FEPC

provided advice and aid to employers who were seeking ways to integrate their

plants, in the hope of avoiding such walkouts.

A second major theme is that there was little the FEPC could do alone. Success

in promoting greater labor market equality was dependent on support from local

government, federal government offices in the city, and local activist

organizations. For example, in explaining why FEPC hearings in East Alton,

Illinois had no effect on the hiring practices of Western Cartridge, a large

munitions manufacturer in that city, Kersten says that “[u]nlike Chicago,

where the FEPC made measurable progress, East Alton lacked a strong civil

rights tradition, liberal employers, radical labor unions, and a local

government willing to help the committee complete its work” (p. 58). In

Detroit, success arose from close cooperation between the FEPC and the local

office of the WMC. In Cincinnati, the local offices of the US Employment

Service and the WMC supported segregation, according to Kersten, and the FEPC

had no substantial impact.

Given the importance of broad cooperation and unified effort, it is, of

course, very difficult to identify the specific effects of the FEPC itself.

Still, greater efforts in this direction by Kersten would have been helpful.

As it is, he provides very little that would allow us to tie particular

employment gains to particular actions by the FEPC. For example, consider the

FEPC’s activities in Springfield, Illinois. Kersten reports that the FEPC

investigated complaints about defense contractors in Springfield in early 1942

and found black workers practically locked out of these jobs. In June 1944,

one FEPC official, Virgil Williams, returned to Springfield to check on the

situation. Williams found substantial progress in black employment in

Springfield, not only at defense plants but in a wide variety of

establishments. Kersten concludes that “cooperation among employers, civil

rights organizations, labor unions, and the FEPC made this [progress]

possible” (p. 55). All we know from Kersten’s account, though, is that the

FEPC investigated, came away discouraged, and later investigated again. In the

case of Detroit, Kersten tells us that the WMC and FEPC jointly “broke the

color barriers at Republic Aircraft, Briggs, and Central Broiler” (p. 109),

but he does not provide any detail regarding the interaction of WMC and FEPC

agents with these firms. On the other hand, Kersten describes in substantial

detail the completely fruitless negotiations between the FEPC and Jimmy

Hoffa’s Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit.

My point is not that the FEPC had no effect. I simply do not feel that Kersten

has provided much persuasive evidence on this issue, though such evidence may

exist. Indeed, without wanting to give special privilege to quantitative work,

I would suggest that William J. Collins’ recent study of the correlation

across cities of black employment gains and FEPC activity establishes more

concrete and specific results concerning the impact of the FEPC. Collins also

makes an effort to separate FEPC effects from those of local NAACP chapters

and local labor market conditions (“Race, Roosevelt, and Wartime Production:

Fair Employment in World War II Labor Markets,” American Economic

Review 91:1 (March 2001), pp. 272-286.)

In his final chapter, Kersten describes the quick dissolution of the FEPC

following the end of World War II. The Committee had never been very popular

in Congress. Despite initial indications of support, President Truman quickly

moved to limit the activities and discretion of the FEPC, and the Committee

was shut down in 1946. Kersten argues that, despite its brief life, theFEPC

had a substantial impact on the shape of subsequent state fair employment laws

and on the federal policies of the mid-1960s (though here again more specific

documentation would have been useful). He also argues that the employment

gains the FEPC helped to generate largely persisted through the 1940s (and

Collins’ evidence corroborates this).

It is encouraging that the progress of the early 1940s was not lost later.

Still, it is worth noting that the pace of improvement in black labor market

status slowed substantially by the 1950s. It is striking that the

breakthroughs of the war era had so little momentum. Employers no doubt

learned a great deal about black workers’ abilities and about how to combine

black and white workers on the shop floor during the war. This new knowledge,

however, did not produce much in the way of measurable, ongoing progress at

the national level in subsequent years. Such broad improvement apparently

requires both the persistence of tight labor markets and continual vigilance

in policy enforcement. Kersten’s book, while not without its weaknesses, does

the valuable service of describing how these forces came together to generate

black progress long before the better-known events of the 1960s.

Thomas N. Maloney is Associate Professor of Economics, University of Utah.

His research focuses on racial inequality in the US in the early twentieth

century. His publications include “Migration and Economic Opportunity in the

1910s: New Evidence on African American Occupational Mobility in the North,”

Explorations in Economic History 38:1 (January 2001), and “Personnel

Policy, Costs of Experimentation, and Racial Inequality in the Pre-World War

II North,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 30:2 (Autumn 1999).

Subject(s):Social and Cultural History, including Race, Ethnicity and Gender
Geographic Area(s):North America
Time Period(s):20th Century: WWII and post-WWII

In Irons: Britain’s Naval Supremacy and the American Revolutionary Economy

Author(s):Buel Jr., Richard
Reviewer(s):Shepherd, James F.

Published by EH.NET (April 2001)

Richard Buel, Jr., In Irons: Britain’s Naval Supremacy and the American Revolutionary Economy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. xiv + 386 pp. $35 (cloth), ISBN: 0-300-07388-7.

Reviewed for EH.NET by James F. Shepherd, Department of Economics, Whitman College.

A sailing ship that becomes stalled with its bow to the wind is said to be “in irons.” Richard Buel Jr. uses this apt metaphor to describe the inability of the American economy to free itself from the constraints imposed upon it by British naval supremacy during the Revolutionary War. This naval supremacy affected not only trade, but also production, especially in the dominant agricultural sector, and thus the ability of Americans to support and finance the war for independence. The book’s organization is chronological and much emphasis is given to discussing the links between trade, production, and revolutionary finance necessary to carry on the war. His geographic focus is upon the mid-Atlantic region and southern New England, though Boston and the Chesapeake receive some attention. Less attention is given to the Lower South. Sources include published and archival correspondence and records, and many secondary sources. He concludes that increased agricultural production in 1781 helped Americans win the war (along with British ineptitude), but economic independence as envisioned by men like Robert Morris was more difficult to attain than political independence, and was not really evident until later during the War of 1812, by which time a truly national economy had emerged.

At the beginning of the Revolution, the British North American colonies produced a sizable agricultural surplus. Buel suggests, for example, that 22.7 percent of all grains were exported in 1775. At this time, all thirteen colonies were self-sufficient in the production of foodstuffs and most of the necessities of life, with the possible exception of parts of New England, which imported some wheat and flour. During the Revolution some of these surpluses declined, and overall harvests generally fell in the period from 1778 to 1780. This was true in all the major grain-producing regions, including New York, Pennsylvania, and the Chesapeake. Apparently, a number of factors played a role. The Hessian fly spread from Long Island in 1777, and a more widespread impact began to be felt in 1778. Afterward, other reasons existed, too. There was a shift from wheat to corn in Virginia in an effort to be more self-sufficient. Due to the war, agricultural surpluses from frontier areas were sometimes more costly and difficult to ship. Lucrative alternative markets in the West Indies attracted surpluses of rice from the Lower South that might have provided supplies to the army in the north. Rice production also was hampered by British disruption of the slave economy and by the completion of the conquest of Georgia and South Carolina in 1780. Shipping of rice to the north was hindered by privateering in shipping routes to those destinations. Also, in 1778 and following years, French agents competed with Americans for the surpluses, often outbidding them with better access to bills and specie that served as preferred means of payment.

A number of other factors caused decreasing surpluses. However, Buel believes that arguments about the diversion of agricultural labor into the army and soil exhaustion fail to explain the reduction of agricultural surpluses. He maintains that reduced trade, at least partly due to the Royal Navy’s blockade of the coast, plus misguided monetary and financial policies of the states and the Continental Congress, led to decreased production and thus lowered surpluses. The Royal Navy threatened American shipping and reduced trade first in New England, and then in all major American ports at one time or another after March 1776. Access to foreign shipping did not reduce the impact of the blockade. Buel spends a good deal of time examining the links between trade and monetary and financial policies. Reduced imports led to decreased demand to hold currency. In addition, increased amounts of state and national currency had been issued to pay for the war because the states were reluctant to increase taxes, leading to increased expectations of inflation. All these factors led to increased rates of depreciation of the currency, and reduced incentives to produce for the market.

Attempts by the Americans and French to replace imports of British goods with French were not entirely successful. French goods tended to be higher priced and of lower quality, and credit was less available. The French lacked a marketing network like the Scottish stores in the Piedmont, and different languages and cultures complicated trade. The preferred return cargo, tobacco, was high priced due to reduced production. Shipping in the Chesapeake was a problem due to the ease of blockading, and declining currency values complicated these problems. These factors, together with the increased costs of trade due to the British blockade meant the French failed to replace the British in trade with the American states; and these reasons explain why much of the trade in textiles and other manufactured goods reverted back to Britain after the War.

Buel discusses many of the specific reasons for the increased costs of trade and shipping. American governments, both the states and Congress, tried to contend with Britain’s naval power by building deep-water navies, and galleys to protect harbors and coastal areas. There were some successes, especially in 1779, but problems increased after that time. There were difficulties in raising manpower and financing the building of such naval vessels. Americans had other disadvantages, such as the lack of copper-bottom ships, inferior armaments, and a shortage of naval stores. The response of American merchants to the high risks of shipping contributed to higher costs. They spread risk by reducing shares in any particular ship or venture, and dividing goods among different vessels; by using smaller vessels; by arming vessels, which sacrificed cargo space and required additional crew; and by building “sharp” vessels for speed rather than “clunks” for transport efficiency.

The ability of the British to seize American ports was even more devastating than the higher costs of shipping and trade caused by the blockade. Disruption of the existing commercial network destroyed the efficiencies this network had brought. These included the more prominent roles played by more distant ports like Boston and St. Eustatius (because of the occupied and/or blockaded mid-Atlantic ports of New York and Philadelphia) and the increased use of land transport. Inflation of the continental currency, and the attempted regulation of prices and wages of seamen, affected trade and agricultural production negatively. Loyalist privateering reinforced the effectiveness of Britain’s sea borne efforts to throttle the American economy.

For all these reasons, the time from the autumn of 1778 to the spring of 1780 was the low point of the War for the Americans. Rochambeau’s expedition brought the infusion of French money and stimulation to the New England economy in the summer of 1780, though French purchase sometimes reduced the surpluses available to the American army. A revival of agricultural production in the Delaware and Chesapeake regions followed from increased plantings in the fall of 1780. Factors, in this revival may have been the hope of increased demand from Cuba and other Caribbean areas, together with elections in Pennsylvania that gave greater voice to political policies which favored market solutions (and higher prices). A consequence was resurgence in Philadelphia’s trade in 1781 when tonnage entering that port increased to 42 percent of its prewar level. It also led to increased supplies in 1781 for the army, a necessary condition for victory at Yorktown. This was fortunate because the British blockade put increased pressure on the American economy in 1782. Although it failed to cripple the mid-Atlantic region’s trade, it reduced the central position Philadelphia held in it. However, by that time, the British were tiring of the war. The Americans had outlasted British naval supremacy.

Buel goes on to discuss monetary and financial problems that were to plague the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation through the 1780s. Only slowly would a truly national economy and economic independence emerge as peace allowed recovery and a search for political solutions. In all, this is an excellent book that offers new evidence about the American revolutionary economy.

James F. Shepherd is professor of economics at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington. His books include Shipping, Maritime Trade, and the Economic Development of Colonial North America (Cambridge University Press, 1972), and The Economic Rise of Early America (Cambridge University Press, 1979) — both with Gary M. Walton. His current research concerns the agricultural history of the Columbia Plateau in the Pacific Northwest.

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Subject(s):International and Domestic Trade and Relations
Geographic Area(s):North America
Time Period(s):18th Century