The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837

By James Roger Sharp | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

Banking Before the Panic

I

A DISTINGUISHED economic historian has singled out the years from 1823 to 1843 as constituting a "critical period" in the country's economic development. "If one were to date the beginning of acceleration in the economy's growth and the years when industrialization began," he contends, "it would be this period."1

The banks of this early ante-bellum era, unchallenged as the largest and most important corporate and financial institutions in the emerging nation, were both products and producers of this growth.2 As late as 1831, the New York Stock Exchange listed no industrial corporations whatsoever, and by 1835 the list included only "eight coal and mining companies, three gas-lighting companies, and four others. . . ."3 In 1838, a Georgian rather accurately stated that society was in-

____________________
1
Douglass C. North, The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790-1860 ( Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1961), 189. More controversial than the timing of the acceleration of the United States' economic growth are the causal factors. For the latest statement concerning economic growth in this country, see Stuart Bruchey , The Roots of American Economic Growth, 1607-1861: An Essay in Social Causation ( New York, 1965). Bruchey argues that economic growth cannot be analyzed in quantitative terms. "How does one measure the effects of an increase in vertical social mobility upon incentives to produce," he asks. See Chapter I.
2
See the review by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., of Walter B. Smith Economic Aspects of the Second Bank of the United States, in American Historical Review, LIX ( October, 1953), 140-41. Schlesinger shows that although banking operations of the times were highly inflationary, the growth rate of the country far outstripped the rising prices. In the twenty years before the Panic, prices rose by less than one!fifth, while the national income increased by two thirds.
3
Bruchey, Roots of Economic Growth, 152.

-25-

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The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Graphs and Maps xiv
  • Song from a Jackson Barbecue September 25, 1839 *
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - The Democratic Party and the Politics of Agrarianism 3
  • Chapter II - Banking Before the Panic 25
  • The West 51
  • Chapter III - Mississippi 55
  • Chapter IV - Mississippi Constituencies 89
  • Chapter V - The Southwest 110
  • Chapter VI - Ohio 123
  • Chapter VII - Ohio Constituencies 160
  • Chapter VIII - The Northwest 190
  • The East 211
  • Chapter IX - Virginia 215
  • Chapter X - Virginia Constituencies 247
  • Chapter XI - The Southeast 274
  • Chapter XII - Pennsylvania and New York 285
  • Chapter XIII - The Northeast 306
  • Conclusion 321
  • Appendices 331
  • Notes to Tables 342
  • Bibliography 351
  • Index 379
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