‘Advanced’ agriculture must be advanced relative to something and by some criteria. There is no consensus on what those criteria are, though certainly high yields per acre, and perhaps per labor hour, would be likely choices. Meanwhile, attempts to change or remove supposedly ‘backward’ farmers have recurred over the last few centuries, sometimes causing catastrophes. This article distinguishes between ‘advanced organic agriculture’ which was commercialized, often specialized, intensive in its use of labor and/or capital, and relatively high-yielding per acre but was not a big user of machinery or products of modern chemical industries and ‘energy-intensive agriculture’ which appeared in a few places in the 1800s, but reached most of the world only after 1945.
Peter M. Jones
The agricultural history of the Ancien Régime is inseparable from the socio-economic history of France between 1660 and 1789 if only for the reason that husbandry remained the principal wealth-generating activity and by far the largest sector of the economy. Even after 1789 this situation would not alter radically. Notwithstanding the collapse of Bourbon absolutism, the broad thrust of change in the countryside proceeded without major interruption. The agrarian history of western Europe in the early modern period provides scant evidence of climactic moments, and researchers are in general agreement that its rhythms can only be discerned over a time span of many decades. In France specifically there were no agricultural breakthroughs in the eighteenth century—whether in land-use, tenurial practice, agronomic technique, or institutional reform.
John A. Mears
When striving to delineate the contours of the human experience, world historians must highlight the major turning points in the existence of our species. Among the momentous watersheds through which human beings have passed since their appearance over 100,000 years ago, none has been more profound in its consequences than the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, a form of subsistence usually defined as different combinations of systematic crop cultivation and livestock raising. This article explains agricultural origins, recurring agricultural patterns in the post-classic world, and the industrialization of modern agriculture.
Alan L. Olmstead and Paul W. Rhode
This chapter examines the crucial roles of biological learning and mechanization in facilitating the long sweep of American agricultural expansion and productivity growth. It also explores the major debates concerning the relationship between agricultural growth and overall economic development, the sources and impacts of the twentieth-century decline of the agricultural sector, the role of government policies, and the directions of current and promising future research. The chapter highlights the roles of biological innovation and mechanization in driving territorial expansion and productivity growth. It also investigates the forces behind the structural change affecting the role of agriculture in the US economy.
Richard H. Steckel
Anthropometric history arose in the 1970s and gained momentum as a supplement to traditional economic measures of the standard of living. he discovery of very large number of measurements of height have allowed social scientists to use heights as a summary measure of health from conception to maturity. Though dominated by genes, individual height is sensitive to diet, work effort, and disease, while income and its distribution affect average height within a population. Among the interesting results from hundreds of studies are (1) Americans were taller than Europeans during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; (2) health declined during the early decades of industrialization in the United States (and elsewhere); (3) children bore the appalling brunt of slavery; (4) Plains Indians were tall during the nineteenth century. The superabundance of height records and surprising new insights into the standard of living bode well for the future of this research.
Over the course of American history and economic development, market activity and the systems underlying and governing this activity have coevolved to address the changing fundamentals of human interactions within the marketplace and beyond. The growth of the American economy and its regulation are deeply intertwined. This chapter discusses these coevolutionary forces in the context of the development of American antitrust laws and the expanding reach of government regulation throughout American economic history. Antitrust and regulation are addressed together because they complement each other in their ability to address ex-ante incentives, primarily through regulation, and ex-post corrections and adjustments, primarily through antitrust suits and related legislative action, that may in turn result in new regulation. The chapter focuses on government regulation of industry in two arenas: price and entry regulation with market power (antitrust issues), and regulation of other market failures, especially environmental, health, occupational safety, and product quality regulation.
Archaeology provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of slavery that combines analyses of archaeological findings with careful readings of traditional primary sources of historiography. Excavations of sites where enslaved people once lived and worked yield residue of things produced, consumed, and discarded by the former occupants of these sites. This article discusses plantation spatial organization and the built environment of slavery; slave consumption, production, and exchange; religious expressions; slave resistance; and future directions in the archaeology of slavery.
This article reviews the transfer of goods and services between the continents bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It shows that the demands of long-distance trade, particularly but not solely across the Atlantic, encouraged innovation in technologies and methods, transformed commercial institutions, and required traders to develop novel ways of managing their businesses. After regaining independence from Spain in 1640, Portugal created a transatlantic trading system that was more vigorous than what had existed before 1580. The long eighteenth century witnessed a precipitate decline of France as an Atlantic commercial power and a steady rise of England. Paradoxically, France's Atlantic trading burgeoned, at least at first. While Britain and France struggled for Atlantic control, the Netherlands flourished, albeit in slightly different channels than before. The increase in the efficiency of shipping, the dematerialisation of finance, and the spread of information were substantial results of a burgeoning Atlantic trade. They also forced changes in traders' and governments' ideas about how commerce should be managed.
There would have been no Atlantic world without trade. Throughout this period, the consumption of American-produced sugar, tobacco, and coffee, as well as the use of American gold and silver for money, was common throughout Europe. At the same time, the settlement of colonial emigrants and transported slave populations continued to grow and to transform the agriculture and environment of the Americas and western Africa. By the mid-eighteenth century the characteristic trading patterns of the Atlantic world were well established. The main exports at the beginning of the period from the New World were gold and silver from the mines of Mexico and Peru, as well as sugar and tobacco grown in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the Chesapeake, together with furs and cod from Canada and forest products from New England. We should not forget that people were also traded; European traders purchased an ever-increasing number of slaves in Africa for export to the Americas. Britain emerged as the dominant trading, military, and investment force by the nineteenth century.
The United States Congress created the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The System consists of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC; twelve Federal Reserve Banks; and thousands of member commercial banks. This entry describes the evolution of the system and of monetary policy from its foundation through 2013.
The US economy developed from an agricultural one mired in debt to an engine of growth between 1790 and 1913. The nation’s bourgeoning financial system was at the heart of this transformation. Growing from three banks in 1790 to more than 22,000 in 1913, the United States became the worldwide leader in private banking. This path, however, was not always smooth, and experiments with various forms of money creation and regulation subjected the nation to periodic panics. Despite a number of missteps, the approach led to financial development and monetary stability. We review this history and key research that defines the literature. Topics include early central banking, free banking, the National Banking System, and the founding of the Federal Reserve. We also offer a guide to areas that now generate considerable research interest, including finance and growth, the roles of banks and other intermediaries, crises, and the rise of deposits.
J. R. McNeill
One important way in which people have altered environments, and thereby altered their own ecological contexts and their own history, is through biological exchange. Biological exchange can refer to any number of things. In this article, it means above all else the long-distance transfers of crops, domesticated animals, and disease-causing microbes, or pathogens. This choice is intended to emphasize biological exchanges that carried the greatest and most direct historical significance. The article aims to explore the role of the most important biological exchanges for human history. Biological exchange was sometimes carried out intentionally and sometimes accidentally. Faster and more frequent transport and travel continue to promote biological exchange. The long-term process of biological globalization continues, and will inevitably continue. In biological history, four or five centuries is the merest flash. In the long run, strange and unforeseen things will happen.
This chapter presents a history of the organization of American enterprise, from the first corporations to the emergence of large, vertically integrated conglomerates. It begins with a discussion of the monopolistic privileges of early corporations, and efforts to reform the process by which corporations were created. It then presents a discussion of the alternative organizational forms that became available to entrepreneurs. Finally, it analyzes the rise of “big business” in the late nineteenth century, and the legal and institutional context within which those enterprises began to emerge. The discussion of each is focused on the changing nature of the problems faced by entrepreneurs, and the changing legal and institutional environment in which they operated. Among the topics discussed are the evolution of corporation law, the choice of organizational form, recurring problems in corporate governance, the role of financiers in corporate governance, and the emergence of pyramidal holding company structures.
Paul W. Rhode
The role of capital accumulation in the process of long-run income growth has been the subject of great debate. The classical and early neoclassical economists viewed capital accumulation as the fundamental driver of growth. Economists informed by the Solow growth model (and its successors) and by twentieth-century growth accounting exercises assign capital accumulation a much more marginal role. This now standard view takes certain constancies for granted: the rate of capital formation (i.e., the saving rate), the capital-output ratio, capital’s share of income, and the rate of return on capital (i.e., the interest rate). This chapter documents the historical evolution of capital in the American economy and challenges the conventional thinking. It shows that the role of capital accumulation in economic growth is dynamic and has changed dramatically over the past three centuries.
Daniel Thomas Cook
The academic study of children as consumers took root in the 1960s and did not begin in earnest until the 1970s, when the paradigm of ‘consumer socialization’ took hold among psychologically oriented business scholars. In the 1980s, some discussion of the history of children's consumption and popular culture began to appear in edited volumes and journal articles, with full treatments of some aspects of that history coming into view in the 1990s. Even as children's consumer culture takes centre stage in contemporary media reports, political punditry, and academic scholarship, the history of children's consumption remains largely unrecognized in, or otherwise marginal to, both histories of childhood and histories of consumption. Children's consumer lives or the popular culture of childhood most often occupy a side or subsidiary position in the overall historiography of childhood as in, for instance, recent works by Steven Mintz and Hugh Cunningham. It appears that, in a time of severe economic depression, both parents and commercial actors looked to childhood and the ‘child’ as promising bearers of hope for the future.
Already in the early modern period, urban elites defined the city as a place of civilization and cultural progress in stark opposition to the brute nature and barbarism associated with the countryside. To what extent is it possible to generalize about the differences in material surroundings and daily life between city and country? Are these differences, where they exist, the result of different attitudes and behaviour with regard to consumption? These questions raise the issue of the relationship between home consumption and the degree to which households were integrated into the market, but they point also to the consumption choices and consumer preferences that can be seen in the probate inventories of material goods owned by urban and rural populations. In the contemporary imagination, crowded cities are opposed to a spacious countryside. In reality, dwelling was more complex in early modern Europe. This article compares home, possessions, and diet in city and country in Western Europe between 1600 and 1800, and considers urban and rural dress as well as food consumption in town and country.
This chapter examines the following questions: How did the institution of slavery pose an insurmountable obstacle to sectional compromise? What were the “economic costs” of the war to the North and the South? How did the emancipation of four million slaves impact the American economy? What was the economic legacy of the war? The chapter argues that the war was indeed what Charles and Mary Beard termed a “Second American Revolution.” The presence of the “slave power” defeated all efforts at compromise. The wartime expenditures and loss of 750,000 men placed an economic burden that lasted into the twentieth century. Emancipation and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 were the enduring accomplishments of the war.
Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Sasu Siegelbaum
The history of sport can be considered an arena in which struggles over ways of doing things have worked themselves out, sometimes to the advantage of one class but occasionally to the benefit—or detriment—of more than one class. Sport has its antitheses—amateur versus professional, competitive versus noncompetitive, the individual versus the team—each of which contains class dimensions. In this chapter, players, fans, owners, governing bodies, and the media are treated as representatives, projections, or embodiments of classes and class fractions, struggling amongst themselves and occasionally against each other. The chapter emphasizes the formative influence of Great Britain and its class structure from the Industrial Revolution onward on the emergence of specific sports, the codification of rules, leagues, and fan bases. It analyzes the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of players as workers, their representation, and the particular dynamics between class and fan affinities.
Underpinning the transformation of the Scottish countryside during the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, and forming a vital precondition for the Improving Movement, were far-reaching changes in the structure and layout of farms, and in the nature of the farm community. When first coined as a description of the changes that swept across the Highlands and Islands over the second half of the eighteenth first half of the nineteenth century, the meaning, chronology, and distribution of the clearances were all clearly defined. ‘Clearance’ was seen as a term that best captured the sudden and socially disruptive way in which many traditional communities in the Highlands were swept aside to make way for sheep. Establishing the build-up of market responsiveness is important when we come to look at the restructuring of towns. This article, which discusses Scotland's clearances and the transformation of the Scottish countryside, focusing on the Lowlands, Southern Uplands, and Highlands and Islands, also examines the persistence of small farms, crofts and townships, and the spread of new husbandries.
Despite being embedded in the practices and discourses of daily life, comfort and convenience are not terms around which theories and studies of consumption have traditionally revolved. Over the last decade or so, the tides of intellectual fashion have begun to turn, bringing the mundane into view and highlighting previously invisible dimensions of consumer culture. In reviewing changing interpretations of comfort and convenience, this article captures some of the processes through which the contours of social life are simultaneously sustained and transformed. It also examines how interpretations of comfort and convenience come to be as they are today, and in understanding the types of consumption and demand they entail. This more substantive angle is important in that contemporary definitions of physical well-being and temporal order imply and rely upon forms of resource consumption which are unsustainable in the longer run or on a global scale. The article concludes by considering time and timing, convenience and compromise, convenience and the time–space profiles of practice, and changing patterns of consumption in relation to comfort and convenience.