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The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870

Daniel R. Mandell

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An important examination of the foundational American ideal of economic equality—and how we lost it.

The United States has some of the highest levels of both wealth and income inequality in the world. Although modern-day Americans are increasingly concerned about this growing inequality, many nonetheless believe that the country was founded on a person's right to acquire and control property. But in The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870, Daniel R. Mandell argues that, in fact, the United States was originally deeply influenced by the belief that maintaining a "rough" or…

An important examination of the foundational American ideal of economic equality—and how we lost it.

The United States has some of the highest levels of both wealth and income inequality in the world. Although modern-day Americans are increasingly concerned about this growing inequality, many nonetheless believe that the country was founded on a person's right to acquire and control property. But in The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870, Daniel R. Mandell argues that, in fact, the United States was originally deeply influenced by the belief that maintaining a "rough" or relative equality of wealth is essential to the cultivation of a successful republican government.

Mandell explores the origins and evolution of this ideal. He shows how, during the Revolutionary War, concerns about economic equality helped drive wage and price controls, while after its end Americans sought ways to maintain their beloved "rough" equality against the danger of individuals amassing excessive wealth. He also examines how, after 1800, this tradition was increasingly marginalized by the growth of the liberal ideal of individual property ownership without limits.

This politically evenhanded book takes a sweeping, detailed view of economic, social, and cultural developments up to the time of Reconstruction, when Congress refused to redistribute plantation lands to the former slaves who had worked it, insisting instead that they required only civil and political rights. Informing current discussions about the growing gap between rich and poor in the United States, The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America is surprising and enlightening.

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The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870

Daniel R. Mandell

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Reviews

Reviews

Mandell successfully recovers the often obscured legacy of economic equality and moral economy that emerged from the English Civil War, as it informed debates about proper republican polity during the American Revolution... Highly recommended.

Widening economic inequality has been one of the most striking and significant problems facing the United States during the past half-century... Mandell's useful book belongs on the reading lists of the scholars, elected officials, and others who will be engaged with figuring out a path ahead.

Specialists and researchers will find Mandell's sophisticated and insightful analysis deeply engaging, yet the book's writing is so clear that it could be assigned to advanced undergraduates. The fact that economic inequality is one of the great issues of the twenty-first century makes Lost Tradition especially timely and important.

Mandell usefully recovers the many and varied attempts to forge a link between economic and political equality in American culture from colonial times to the Reconstruction era, and he reminds readers that there have been numerous cries for greater economic justice since.

Tracing the concept of economic equality among individuals and families in the United States with clarity and consistency, Mandell transcends the distinctions usually made among intellectual, social, and economic history. Addressing both theory and practice, he succeeds in writing for both his fellow scholars and a larger literate, curious public.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
328
ISBN
9781421437118
Illustration Description
13 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. English Origins
Chapter 2. Indians and Anglo-American Egalitarianism
Chapter 3. Revolutionary Ideologies and Regulations
Chapter 4. Wealth and Power in the Early

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. English Origins
Chapter 2. Indians and Anglo-American Egalitarianism
Chapter 3. Revolutionary Ideologies and Regulations
Chapter 4. Wealth and Power in the Early Republic
Chapter 5. Raising Republican Children
Chapter 6. Clashes over America's Political Economy
Chapter 7. Separating Property and Polity
Chapter 8. Reviving the Tradition
Chapter 9. Reconstruction and the Rejection of Economic Equality
Epilogue
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Daniel R. Mandell

Daniel R. Mandell is a professor of history at Truman State University. He is the author of Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts, King Philip's War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, End of Indian Sovereignty, and Behind the Frontier: Indians in Eighteenth-Century Eastern Massachusetts, and The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870.