Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England

Article excerpt

From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England. By Margaret Ellen Newell. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1998. 329 pp. illus. $39.95 (hardcover)

On the tenth anniversary of Margaret Ellen Newell's path-breaking book, her work still stands as an exemplary piece of economic history. Using strong, compelling writing, Newell crafts a highly readable book about the development of the economic life and character of New England. Throughout, Newell successfully addresses interesting questions. Why is culture an important aspect of economic history? What aspects or attributes of culture are important to understanding economic history? Newell argues that social relations and institutions made up important aspects of economic development in New England.

The book is amply sourced and illustrated. The citations are clear, many referring to key works in the field, both contemporary and historical. Newell, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University, was trained at Brown and the University of Virginia. Her sources reveal deep research into what can be a somewhat arcane and dull aspect of history.

One of the many strengths of Newell's book is that she does not shy away from offering a challenging interpretation of economic history. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Newell's work is the thesis mat economic thought changed in dramatic ways in New England before the American Revolution. Further, she argues that these economic changes had an impact on die course of the Revolution itself.

Newell's description and analysis of banks and use of paper currency is thorough, though slightly esoteric. In these sections Newell concentrates on specific points about currency and land banks in Massachusetts. …

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