A History of American Economic Life

A History of American Economic Life

A History of American Economic Life

A History of American Economic Life

Excerpt

Even if a love of gain, the motive commonly ascribed to textbook writers, drove them to their original exertions, it would hardly explain their hardihood in facing the mingled anguish and monotony of a revision. Luckily, in the case of American economic life, a more compelling and more creditable reason for rewriting is at hand. Within the last decade scholarly research and publication in this area have been so great that it has become one of the most active fields in the larger one of American history. The establishment of the Economic History Association, the publication of its journal, the generously sponsored activities of the Committee on Research in Economic History--all these have united with the increased interest in economic affairs flowing from novel relations between government and business to accomplish this result. New scholarship rather than "more history" is thus a justification for a second revision of this book.

I have tried to embody the results of this quickened activity in my narrative. The bibliographies at the end of the volume do not, however, reveal the total of my indebtedness to others. Through good fortune I have read many articles, theses, and books in manuscript and participated in several verbal sessions, some controversial but all friendly, on the themes of economic history. To these unacknowledged sources I owe much and I hope those who have thus contributed to my enlightenment will appreciate why it is impossible to list them all. No similar unfeasibility need make the contributions of my wife, Ruth Babson Kirkland, anonymous. She has typed the manuscript, read proof, and helped compile the index.

As I have written before, those genuinely interested in how this revision differs from its predecessors can satisfy themselves only by an examination of the text. In reorganizing or rewriting nearly three quarters of the original material, I have sought to remember that people are the prime movers in economic affairs and that they are the fashioners of the economic institutions which have always been my interest. On the other hand, perhaps over- influenced by the preoccupations of the present and the recent past, I have tried to give new emphasis to the relationships between business and government. Lest this be regarded as a complete capitulation to the "frame of reference" dogma, let me add that I am more than ever convinced that he who would write current history cannot succeed without a knowledge of and an . . .

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