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Enterprising America

Businesses, Banks, and Credit Markets in Historical Perspective

The rise of America from a colonial outpost to one of the world’s most sophisticated and productive economies was facilitated by the establishment of a variety of economic enterprises pursued within the framework of laws and institutions that set the rules for their organization and operation.
To better understand the historical processes central to American economic development, Enterprising America brings together contributors who address the economic behavior of American firms and financial institutions—and the associated legal institutions that shaped their behavior—throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Collectively, the contributions provide an account of the ways in which businesses, banks, and credit markets promoted America’s extraordinary economic growth. Among the topics that emerge are the rise of incorporation and its connection to factory production in manufacturing, the organization and operation of large cotton plantations in comparison with factories, the regulation and governance of banks, the transportation revolution’s influence on bank stability and survival, and the emergence of long-distance credit in the context of an economy that was growing rapidly and becoming increasingly integrated across space.

Table of Contents

William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo
I. Business Organization and Internal Governance
1. Revisiting American Exceptionalism: Democracy and the Regulation of Corporate Governance: The Case of Nineteenth-Century Pennsylvania in Comparative Context
Naomi R. Lamoreaux
2. Corporate Governance and the Development of Manufacturing Enterprises in Nineteenth-Century Massachusetts
Eric Hilt
Comment: Claudia Rei
3. The Evolution of Bank Boards of Directors in New York, 1840?1950
Howard Bodenhorn and Eugene N. White
II. Bank Behavior and Credit Markets
4. Did Railroads Make Antebellum US Banks More Sound?
Jeremy Atack, Matthew S. Jaremski, and Peter L. Rousseau
5. Sources of Credit and the Extent of the Credit Market: A View from Bankruptcy Records in Mississippi, 1929–1936
Mary Eschelbach Hansen
III. Scale Economies in Nineteenth-Century Production
6. Economies of Scale in Nineteenth-Century American Manufacturing Revisited: A Resolution of the Entrepreneurial Labor Input Problem
Robert A. Margo
7. Were Antebellum Cotton Plantations Factories in the Field?
Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode
Author Index
Subject Index

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