Free Trade and Protectionism in America: 1822-1890
Edited by Lars Magnusson
Introduction by Lars Magnusson
Routledge – 2000 – 1,360 pages
This collection gives immediate access to an extensive range of nineteenth century American writings on trade issues. Many of the pieces selected are rare even in America. Each has been carefully retypeset so that the collection as a whole is attractively presented and easy to read.
Early American economics is often criticised for lacking the theoretical sophistication of European economics. The picture which emerges from these texts is more complex. It seems that far from being of universal application, the ideas of the English classical economists did not fit neatly in the context of nineteenth century America, and it is much harder to draw a sharp doctrinal divide between the protectionists and the free traders.
The texts reproduced discuss:
*'the American system' of protection for infant industries
* the North/South divide in the US, made manifest by the slavery question and the civil war
* the role of institutions in the development of American economic thought.
Taken together they raise a number of critical questions about the standard interpretation of the general controversy on free trade and protection in the nineteenth century.