American Business History from Cotton to Foreclosure

History 100AC

Spring 2018
Section: 
1
Instructor: 
Location: 
145 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
MWF 12-1
Class Number: 
32323
Units: 
4

When President Calvin Coolidge declared in 1925 that “the chief business of the American people is business,” he was not making a historical argument, though it would have been a defensible one. Nearly a century earlier, French visitor, Alexis de Tocqueville, made a similar observation. Indeed, America was colonized by joint-stock corporations! Understanding the history of American business can therefore unlock a great deal about America itself. How did capital exchange become capitalism and how did capitalism affect American lives? How have capitalist markets been constructed socially and legally? What has been the historical relationship between capitalism and gender, race, freedom, and inequality? We will explore these questions on a chronological journey from seventeenth-century cotton trading to twenty-first century foreclosure.