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From Market-Places to a Market Economy the Transformation of Rural Massachusetts, 1750-1850

by Winifred Barr Rothenberg

  • ISBN: 9780226729534
  • ISBN10: 0226729532

From Market-Places to a Market Economy the Transformation of Rural Massachusetts, 1750-1850

by Winifred Barr Rothenberg

  • List Price: $81.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 11/01/1992
  • ISBN: 9780226729534
  • ISBN10: 0226729532
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Description: In this pioneering work, Winifred Barr Rothenberg documents the emergence of a market economy in rural Massachusetts decades before America's first industrial revolution and argues that a process of market-led growth in agriculture was a necessary precursor to industrialization. Through original and extensive research using farm account books, administration accounts at probate, and town tax valuations, Rothenberg makes a significant contribution to the long-standing and vigorous debate about the pace, pattern, and genesis of growth in the early American economy. Rothenberg powerfully disputes the dominant historiography of the last two decades, which describes the early New England village as a "moral economy" insulated from the exigencies of the market. Contrary to the prevailing view, Rothenberg shows that farmers were engaged in a variety of market relations in the late eighteenth century. Through innovative use of little used archival material, Rothenberg finds that the relevant economic magnitudes - farm commodity prices, wages for day and monthly farm labor, and the determinants of rural wealth holding - behaved as if they had been formed in a market. This ground breaking discovery reveals how an agricultural economy that lacked both an important export staple and technological change could experience market-led growth. To understand this impressive economic development, Rothenberg discusses a number of provocative questions. By what process does a proliferation of market-places become a market economy? How and when did the rural economy of New England become involved in markets for farm produce, farm labor, and rural capital? What were the consequences of the "spread of themarket" for agricultural labor productivity and for the industrial transformation of the region? Rothenberg's thorough investigations demonstrate that markets for farm produce, farm labor, and rural capital emerged between 1785 and 1800, at the same time that labor productivity grew dramatically. By linking market integration to labor productivity growth, Rothenberg confirms that Massachusetts agriculture and the preindustrial economy that rested upon it were transformed by a burgeoning market economy soon after the American Revolution.
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