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Manufacturing Advantage

War, the State, and the Origins of American Industry, 1776–1848

Lindsay Schakenbach Regele

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How manufacturing textiles and guns transformed the United States from colonial dependent to military power.

In 1783, the Revolutionary War drew to a close, but America was still threatened by enemies at home and abroad. The emerging nation faced tax rebellions, Indian warfare, and hostilities with France and England. Its arsenal—a collection of hand-me-down and beat-up firearms—was woefully inadequate, and its manufacturing sector was weak. In an era when armies literally froze in the field, military preparedness depended on blankets and jackets, the importation of which the British Empire had…

How manufacturing textiles and guns transformed the United States from colonial dependent to military power.

In 1783, the Revolutionary War drew to a close, but America was still threatened by enemies at home and abroad. The emerging nation faced tax rebellions, Indian warfare, and hostilities with France and England. Its arsenal—a collection of hand-me-down and beat-up firearms—was woefully inadequate, and its manufacturing sector was weak. In an era when armies literally froze in the field, military preparedness depended on blankets and jackets, the importation of which the British Empire had coordinated for over 200 years. Without a ready supply of guns, the new nation could not defend itself; without its own textiles, it was at the economic mercy of the British. Domestic industry offered the best solution for true economic and military independence.

In Manufacturing Advantage, Lindsay Schakenbach Regele shows how the US government promoted the industrial development of textiles and weapons to defend the country from hostile armies—and hostile imports. Moving from the late 1700s through the Mexican-American War, Schakenbach Regele argues that both industries developed as a result of what she calls "national security capitalism": a mixed enterprise system in which government agents and private producers brokered solutions to the problems of war and international economic disparities. War and State Department officials played particularly key roles in the emergence of American industry, facilitating arms makers and power loom weavers in the quest to develop industrial resources. And this defensive strategy, Schakenbach Regele reveals, eventually evolved to promote westward expansion, as well as America’s growing commercial and territorial empire.

Examining these issues through the lens of geopolitics, Manufacturing Advantage places the rise of industry in the United States in the context of territorial expansion, diplomacy, and warfare. Ultimately, the book reveals the complex link between government intervention and private initiative in a country struggling to create a political economy that balanced military competence with commercial needs.

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Manufacturing Advantage

Lindsay Schakenbach Regele

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Reviews

An original and fascinating book that rewards the reader with discerning insights into the genesis of American industry... The author writes with verve and a captivating command of nuance, insight, breadth and in-depth analysis... In sum, both historians and economists would benefit from closely engaging with the arguments in this fine addition to the bookshelf on the early sources of American industrial supremacy.

Manufacturing Advantage is an important addition to the field of policy history and an equally important contribution to scholarship in several other historical disciplines, including business history, history of technology, and military history. Her analytical framework of "national security capitalism" offers an important new perspective for scholars in the above fields.

A pathbreaking, long-awaited study for scholars of the early republic. Manufacturing Advantage is well researched and well written.

Manufacturing Advantage retells an iconic story in an unconventional way. By locating New England's nineteenth-century industrial revolution in a global context, Schakenbach Regele shows how public policy and the state shaped the business strategy of the region's leading small arms and textile manufactures—with consequences that reverberated not only across the region but also around the world.

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. "Our Naked Troops"
Chapter 2. The Political Economy of Guns and Textiles
Chapter 3. Embargo and War
Chapter 4. Financing Industry through

Series Editor's Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. "Our Naked Troops"
Chapter 2. The Political Economy of Guns and Textiles
Chapter 3. Embargo and War
Chapter 4. Financing Industry through Florida
Chapter 5. Managing New Markets
Chapter 6. Industrial Manifest Destiny
Conclusion
Appendix A. Terms Related to Textiles
Appendix B. Terms Related to Firearms
Notes

Author Bio