Throughout the 19th century, many Americans regarded British foreign investment as a corrupting influence on their exceptional republican virtue. The parallels to Chinese investment in the United States today seem almost irresistible. A recent and much-cited report by the Rhodium Group, an economic analysis firm, begins by framing contemporary Chinese investment in the historical context of previous foreign investment in the United States. 1 In the too-good-to-make-up category, China is pouring so much money into Louisiana that al-Jazeera has dubbed it “China’s Louisiana Purchase” (the original Louisiana Purchase was financed by the British). Currently, JP Morgan’s “Sons and Daughters” program in China—a special hiring track for the children of China’s elites—is under investigation by the FBI and SEC for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. So too is Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and prominent Republican donor, for bribing Chinese officials to approve his company’s operations. A Chinese billionaire, a Dominican ambassador to the United Nations, and an Antiguan president of the UN General Assembly have been arrested on bribery charges connected to business ventures in China and abroad. As a whole, these and other charges of corruption surrounding Sino-U.S. financial ties today seem to echo those surrounding British investment in the 19th-century United States.
Like all historical analogies, however, this one demands close scrutiny. Historians are in the business of trying to understand and explain the past on its own terms, and reading it backwards through the prism of contemporary concerns is a surefire way of distorting it. Even seemingly simple words—like “corruption”—can dramatically change their meanings over time. As the great historian of the American revolutionary era Gordon Wood has written, “Although the vocabulary of the period was familiar, I found the meaning of much of that vocabulary strange and peculiar, and I learned that words such as ‘liberty,’ ‘democracy,’ ‘virtue,’ or ‘republicanism’ did not possess a timeless application.”2 This is not to say that the past cannot be studied to inform the present, but it does mean that rigorous consideration of historical context is required to do so.
Consider, for instance, the case of the Massachusetts Whig Daniel Webster—a poster boy for the nexus of British and American financial power that so many 19th-century Americans denounced as corrupt. In 1842, as Secretary of State, Webster negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which, by resolving several contentious issues between the United States and Great Britain, made the United States a more attractive climate for British investors. Since 1831, Webster had been on the payroll of Barings, the great British bank that became the official financial agent of the U.S. government for dealings in Britain in 1803. Webster’s negotiating partner, Lord Ashburton, had served as the head of Barings. Before his elevation to the peerage, he was known as Alexander Baring.3 Although Webster negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty with a Baring while a consultant to Barings, he was not prosecuted for his relationship with the bank.4 Conflict-of-interest rules in the 1840s were not what they are today.
Taking the past as much as possible on its own terms, then, what did 19th-century Americans mean when they accused British investment of “corrupting” the United States?
The 19th-century American notion of corruption had its origins in early modern republican thought.5 Rooted in classical humanism, the republicanism inherited by Americans emerged as a critique of the Prime Ministership of Robert Walpole in early 18th-century England. From the perspective of his republican opponents, Walpole perfected techniques for creating networks of dependents through patronage and for distributing wealth and power to the benefit of himself and his supporters. Those alienated by Walpole’s conduct fashioned a powerful new strand of republican thought, often referred to as “country” ideology (because it purported to speak for the “country” as against Walpole’s “court”), to criticize his rule. One of the most important words these early 18th-century republican thinkers used to describe Walpole’s behavior was “corrupt.” While it certainly included the prevailing contemporary connotations of wickedness and venality, the term meant something much more. “When the language of the eighteenth century is translated into modern terms,” Gordon Wood writes, “the obsession with luxury, vice, and corruption becomes an obsession with America’s social development, the way in which the society was moving and maturing, the distinctions of prestige and status that were arising, the rate and the nature of mobility, and the distribution of power and wealth.”6 Not merely a commentary on moral character, the 18th-century republican notion of “corruption” indicated a comprehensive critique of the prevailing system of political economy.
This “country” republican thought, with its emphasis on corruption, was both adopted and adapted by Americans. During the late colonial period, many Americans came to believe that Britain was corrupting the colonies as Walpole had corrupted Britain, and independence was the only way to salvage the possibility of remaining virtuous.7 But widespread agreement about the need for independence co-existed with no less pervasive disagreement about the proper political economy of the post-independence Republic. While Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists hoped to freeze in place the existing, and from their perspective natural, socio-economic hierarchy, the Jeffersonians sought to establish an egalitarian republic with substantial socio-economic mobility, at least for free white men. In the 1790s, Jeffersonian republicans came to fear that the Federalists were recreating a Walpolean political economy, in which an alliance between political and economic elites deprived ordinary Americans of access to economic opportunity. Understanding the Federalists’ political economy to be crypto-British, they attacked it as corrupt.8 This attack proved successful in the election of 1800, which set the U.S. political economy on a more egalitarian, and thus less “corrupt,” path.
The Jeffersonian victory stimulated demand for capital among ordinary Americans. Hamilton’s policies were designed to maintain the existing social hierarchy in part by preventing those at the bottom of the social order from accessing capital.9 The Jeffersonians, by contrast, were committed to democratizing economic opportunity. They sought capital to fund local banks, which (unlike Hamilton’s national bank) would issue credit on a democratic basis. The local banks, in turn, were expected to play a critical role in funding western land purchases and the construction of a national transportation infrastructure, both of which would expand economic opportunity.10
Even as the Jeffersonian triumph increased popular demand for capital, it undermined the ability of the public sector to meet it—and thereby increased U.S. dependence on private British capital. Jeffersonian republicans regarded the government, especially the Federal government, as a far greater threat than the private market to the egalitarian, virtuous society they sought.11 In the pre-industrial, pre-globalized, and in many respects pre-capitalist economy of the early 1800s, republican thinkers could conceive of private wealth as powerful enough to corrupt only when in alliance with government.12 This fear made a European-style tax state a political non-starter. As a result, those seeking capital had to look to state governments and to private capital, which, given the financial realities of the day, meant British capital. But of course British capital was ideologically repulsive to republicans for the same reasons that public-sector investment was repulsive. Republicans’ desire for capital-intensive projects thus posed a dilemma: They could pay low taxes or avoid dependence on British capital, but not both.
Predictably, republicans chose low taxes, which meant that they had to resort to British capital. The patterns of British investment changed accordingly. In the 1790s, British investment had been heavily concentrated in Federal debt and in the corporate stock of the Bank of the United States (both closely associated with Hamilton); relatively minor investments existed in state government debt, state banks, trade, manufacturing, and land.13 Beginning in the 1810s, British investment in U.S. Federal debt began to decline in both relative and absolute terms, while rising rapidly in the Second Bank of the United States (chartered in 1816), state banks, and state government debt.14 Overwhelmingly, the debt issued by state governments was to finance transportation projects—mostly turnpikes and canals in the 1820s and 1830s, and increasingly railroads from the 1830s on.15 British capital financed the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and remained critical to U.S. territorial expansion, as well as to the growth of the cotton trade from the early 19th century on.16 As Cleona Lewis has noted, cotton plantations required large amounts of capital, and the chain of credit secured by Southern planters “usually led back to London for a considerable portion of the funds thus furnished.”17
The republican response to the influx of British investment began to diverge along evolving party lines. Notwithstanding the Democrats’ efforts to depict the National Republicans and then the Whigs as neo-Federalists, both major parties genuinely opposed the socio-economic hierarchy favored by Hamilton and sought the equality of economic opportunity for white men that they rightly associated with Jeffersonian republicanism.18 But the consensus among the parties on this end can be obscured in hindsight by their disagreement over the means to achieve it, a disagreement that the twin crises of the Panic of 1819 and the Missouri debate of 1819–1821 catalyzed and sharpened.19 On one side of the spectrum, Americans who gravitated toward the National Republican and then the Whig banner tended to blame the Panic and ensuing depression on global developments that the United States could neither control nor resist. The remedy, they reasoned, was to empower the Federal government to lead the development of a stronger, more integrated domestic economy less vulnerable to foreign disruption. On the other end of the spectrum, Americans who gravitated toward the Democratic banner tended to blame the Panic and ensuing depression on the irresponsible and self-interested policies pursued by monied elites, concentrated in the Northeast and in Britain, to enrich themselves without regard to the people. From this perspective, the remedy was to break the power of these monied elites.20
In the context of this emerging partisan split, accusations about the corrupting influence of British capital on the United States began to proliferate among Democrats. The accusations targeted not only Britain but also the Democrats’ political opponents at home, and they should be interpreted as only one battle in the larger ongoing struggle over the direction of the U.S. political economy. The Democrats, to be clear, wanted the projects requiring British capital as surely as did the Whigs. But they had different ideas about who should receive the capital—the Federal government and federally chartered corporations like the Bank of the United States for the Whigs, state governments and state-chartered corporations like state banks for the Democrats. Thus, on the one hand, the Democrat-in-chief Andrew Jackson vigorously denounced British capital and the monied Americans it enriched in his battle against the Second Bank of the United States. In his 1832 message vetoing the bank recharter bill, Jackson wrote, “It appears that more than a fourth part of the [corporate stock of the bank] is held by foreigners”—“mostly British,” he clarified a few paragraphs later—“and the residue is held by a few hundred of our own citizens, chiefly of the richest class.” But on the other hand, the dependence of state governments on British capital for transportation projects sharply increased during Jackson’s time in office. As Jay Sexton has written, this was no coincidence: “Denied federal assistance for vitally important internal improvements, state legislatures—aware of the political consequences of raising taxes—had no choice” but to turn to international private capital markets for assistance.21 The Democrats’ fear that taxes and the Federal government would corrupt the United States forced them into reliance on British capital, which they nevertheless also denounced as corrupt.
British capitalists’ willingness to invest in the United States came to an abrupt halt with the Panic of 1837.22 Over the next five years, eight states (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania) and one territory (Florida) defaulted on their debts. British investment in the U.S. did not begin to recover from the aftermath of this Panic for a decade, during which time the relevant economic and ideological context changed dramatically.23 The previous wave of British investment had gone mainly to state banks, turnpikes, and canals. Although in the new wave, beginning in the late 1840s, state government debt remained important, foreign capital went increasingly to private railroad corporations. In 1853, the Secretary of the Treasury reported that 76 of the 244 railroads he had questioned disclosed that they had received foreign investment.24 On the eve of the Civil War, it has been estimated that 90 percent of foreign investment in the United States came from Britain.25
In addition to these changing sectoral patterns, there were also changing sectional patterns to British investment. For a variety of reasons, British investors in the aftermath of the Panic of 1837 increasingly favored the North over the South. “The business-like habits of the people of the northern states,” wrote the British investment guru Alexander Trotter in 1839, “are calculated to inspire confidence in their engagements.”26 An important factor in this emerging judgment was the geographical pattern of state repudiations and resumptions of debt owed to British investors. Over the course of the 1840s, six of the eight defaulting states—Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Louisiana—resumed payment of their debts to greater and lesser degrees. Only Mississippi, Arkansas, and Florida (which became a state in 1845) did not. It was not lost on British investors that all three were Southern.27 This sectional pattern of British investment established in the 1840s and 1850s persisted through the Civil War, during which both sides vigorously attempted to attract British capital, the North with considerably more success than the South.28
The shape of British investment and U.S. reactions to it changed after the Civil War due to shifts in both the national and international political economy. At the national level, the war turned the North into what Richard Franklin Bensel has termed a “party-state.” Thanks to the secession of the South and the wartime marginalization of the Democratic Party in the North, the Republican Party was in almost total control of the Federal government.29 It used its unfettered power over policy to foster the development of industrial capitalism. Under Republican rule during the war and Reconstruction, the Federal government recommitted the nation to the gold standard, strengthened the tariff, and removed legal barriers to the creation of a national market. As Bensel has argued, all of these policies tended to redistribute wealth from the predominantly rural, Democratic South and West to the largely Republican Midwest and Northeast, where U.S. industrial and financial power was concentrated.30 These policies, along with the legacy of the fight over the Union and slavery, contributed to a close, though by no means perfect, match between sectional and partisan affiliation.
There were also important changes in the international political economy. The end of the Civil War coincided with the beginning of what scholars now term the first era of globalization. As a result of falling transportation costs at sea thanks to steamships and on land thanks to railroads, as well as of the development of a real-time global communications grid in the form of cables and, later, wireless, national economies became ever more tightly integrated into and dependent upon the global economy.31 For all its relative industrial decline, Britain unquestionably remained the hegemon of globalization—while the United States, for all its relative industrial growth, unquestionably remained a second- or third-tier global economic power. The United States had a relatively primitive financial services industry, no real-time global communications system, no ocean-going merchant marine, and a negligible blue-water navy. In consequence, Americans effectively relied on the British government and British companies to finance and insure their trade, to carry their cargoes and real-time communications across the oceans, and to keep the sea lanes open. Moreover, despite the evolution of domestic capital markets, the United States, like other developing countries, still relied on Britain for investment capital.32 To attract capital in a competitive global marketplace the United States had to adapt its policies to international market discipline. To a considerable degree, therefore, globalization eroded the economic sovereignty of the United States.
The emerging structure of the national and international political economy bred different levels of dependence on Britain within the United States. Although all sections of the United States relied on British capital, the national policies necessary to attract it had different sectional impacts, enriching the Northern industrial and financial core at the expense of the Southern and Western extractive periphery. As Edward Crapol put it, the South and West “understood that their sections were not only colonial in relation to the northeastern American metropolis, but were also at the colonial end of an imperial relationship with Great Britain.”33 In those sections, the gold standard—the preeminent requirement of the international financial order dominated by Britain and the national financial order dominated by the Northeast—became a symbol of their dual dependence.34
These different levels of dependence shaped the competing post-bellum visions of political economy in the United States. To critique the double dependency of the South and West, the Democratic Party turned to the old Jeffersonian republican vision of a nation of independent farmers and manufacturers. Given, however, that Jeffersonian republicanism had been designed for a society in which productive property was widely distributed, not concentrated in the hands of wealthy industrialists and capitalists, the Democrats also made changes to it. Of these, the most important was that the Federal government, which had once loomed as the largest threat to republican ideals, now seemed the only potential savior against the new primary threat: the private capitalists whom republicans had once empowered as the less threatening alternative to government. Indeed, it was now the Democrats who pushed for an income tax—a direct, internal tax of the kind so feared by Jeffersonian republicans—as a progressive, redistributive alternative to the Republican tariff.35 In seeking to refurbish Jeffersonian republicanism for the era of industrial capitalism, therefore, the Democrats developed a new ideology that Elizabeth Sanders has termed “agrarian statism.”36 The Republican Party, by contrast, sought to preserve the independent position of the North and Midwest within the national economy while ending their dependence on Britain within the international economy. To succeed, however, they would have to overcome Democrats still deeply committed to the old Jeffersonian egalitarianism, and therefore still deeply distrustful of central banks, large standing armed forces, and the other items on the Republicans’ policy agenda.
It is in this context of a perceived dual threat to their republican independence—one from without, one from within—that Southern and Western denunciations of British investment as corrupt must be understood. The problem was not that British investors ignored the South and West at the expense of the North. On the contrary, whereas British investment in railroads in the 1850s had typically gone to the North and Midwest, it shifted south and west after the Civil War.37 Rather, the problem was that the railroads, more than anything else, pushed poor Americans on the periphery into new conditions of dependency. In the South especially, railroads brought market relations to backcountry regions previously characterized by subsistence or local-market farming. The new market relations in turn increased farmers’ need for capital, thrust them into new patterns of debt, and, in the event of market downturns, drove them off their land into tenancy. It only made matters worse that they (correctly) associated the railroads with the Republican Reconstruction governments, which they hated for related political, economic, and racial reasons.38 In the West, the power of the railroads was omnipresent. The main economic activities of that region were railroad construction, farming, ranching, logging, and mining, the last four of which required railroads to move goods to market.39 None of them qualified as subsistence activities, and even the beer in Western saloons was brought in by rail after the 1880s.40
British investment in Western lands also attracted loud accusations of corruption. The bulk of British land purchases was for cattle ranching, which peaked in the 1880s. In 1880, there were 800,000 cattle in Texas and 250,000 in Wyoming. Three years later, the figures were over 5 million and 1 million, respectively.41 The British also invested heavily in Western mines. No less than “seventeen Anglo-British companies launched between 1895 and 1898 had ‘Cripple Creek’”—a major gold mine in Colorado—“in their name.”42 Finally, the British invested heavily in land through mortgage companies, though no one knows how heavily.43 These mortgages, which could earn the lenders 9–12 percent, frequently went to small farmers who needed the credit.44 When an agricultural depression began in the United States in the late 1880s, many farmers defaulted on their mortgages and lost their lands. They did not especially care that many mortgage companies in debt to British financiers went under, too.45
The Democratic “agrarian statists” who felt exploited by their “corrupt” American and British enemies mounted a vigorous legislative and legal response, but one directed at private capital in general rather than at the British in particular.46 The Alien Land Law (sometimes called the Alien Property Act) of 1887 was the exception to the rule.47 Aimed squarely at the British, the 1887 Act prohibited the ownership of land in the territories (not the states) by foreign corporations and by foreigners not intending to become citizens. But “it proved . . . largely a statement of pious intentions. Ten years later there had apparently not been a single forfeiture of land under its provisions.”48 More typical were the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, which gave the Federal government new powers to regulate private capital. These laws emerged from the search by Jeffersonian republicans on the extractive periphery for a new set of tools to deal with a world of concentrated private wealth and power that their counterparts in the early 19th century could not foresee, even as the success of their attack on government and taxation had done so much to make possible.49 Corruption, as Jeffersonian republicans understood it by the late 19th century, was no longer a matter only of improper contact between public and private individuals, but of improper conduct by private individuals—the setting of discriminatory rates by railroad corporations, for instance, or the manipulation of financial data.50 It was endogenous, not exogenous, to the market. Accordingly, government had ceased to be the only source of corruption and needed to become part of the solution to it.
Republican ideology had thus come full circle. The power of “corrupt” British investment, and of private capital more broadly, for which early 19th-century republican anti-government, anti-tax ideology was so largely responsible, now seemed more threatening than the Federal government and an income tax. For all that neo-Jeffersonian republicans denounced British capitalists as corrupt and regarded the “money power” as the root of their misery, the situation was largely of their predecessors’ own making. They wanted capital and they did not want to provide it themselves by paying higher taxes—but they did not like the terms on which capitalists provided it. To insist on their responsibility is not an indictment: They, and not a conspiracy of elites, were responsible precisely because they believed in and created a genuine, albeit from a modern perspective limited, democracy.
Studying the accusations of corruption against British investment in the 19th-century United States yields no direct “lessons” for analyzing charges of corruption against Chinese investment today. But it does provide grounds on which to consider potential similarities and differences between the past and the present, and it suggests certain lines of inquiry about contemporary U.S. reactions to Chinese investment.
Compared to the 19th century, the degree to which contemporary accusations of corruption against Chinese investors are grounded in law—especially the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977—is striking.51 Daniel Webster, as we saw, was not charged with any violation of the law. Today, he would almost certainly be prosecuted on conflict-of-interest charges. Speculatively, at least two related reasons for this turn to law may be identified.
First, the Federal government had far less ability to “see” the national or international economy in the 19th century than it does today. The state must detect illegal acts in order to prosecute them, and its detective abilities then were primitive compared to what they are now.
Second, the government’s capacity to prosecute economic activity deemed to be corrupt has also grown since the 19th century. Many of the agencies critical to making a case under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or indeed under any other law targeting corrupt business activity, were not established until the 20th century—the Department of Commerce in 1903, the Bureau of Investigation (which would become the FBI) in 1908, the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1933. Whether there has been any net, as opposed to gross, increase in the government’s ability to detect or prosecute corrupt economic activity is another matter, given that the volume and complexity of economic activity in which the government is interested has grown along with the government.
Another striking difference between the 19th century and the present concerns the relative U.S. position in the global power rankings. Even after the Civil War, when the United States began to experience relative growth at Britain’s expense in terms of industrialization, it remained peripheral to Britain in terms of globalization. Now, although the United States is experiencing relative decline in terms of industrialization to China’s benefit, it remains the hegemon in terms of globalization. Whereas the apparatus of global finance once reduced U.S. economic sovereignty, it came to reduce that of other countries to the U.S.’ benefit—and now the spinning wheel seems primed to point yet another way. Indeed, only in recent years has the flow of capital from China—as opposed to the other way around—become a matter of concern in the United States.52
Put a bit differently, the 19th-century United States was more like contemporary China than like the contemporary United States, which is more like 19th-century Britain than like the 19th-century United States.53 The United States spent the 19th century doing most of the things that it now denounces China for doing—stealing intellectual property, protecting its domestic economy at the expense of the global hegemon’s, ignoring the environmental consequences of economic development, engaging in exploitative labor practices, and so on. It was, in other words, a developing country, much as China is today. Within the 19th-century global balance of power, the extra-territorial legal reach of a developing country like the United States was limited. The U.S. was only beginning to build the capacity to regulate its own market at the end of the century; it was hardly in a position to attempt to regulate the global market. Now, it can even prosecute foreign nationals for business activities carried out on foreign soil.54 Its extra-territorial reach, and its ability to ignore the sovereignty of other nations, has grown tremendously.
The history of U.S. accusations against 19th-century British investment as corrupt also suggests some questions for today. In the 19th century, such accusations revealed at least as much about the values and interests of the accusers as they did about the behavior of the accused. So we may ask: What values and interests are behind corruption accusations against Chinese investment today? In the 19th century, accusations of corruption against British investment reflected anxiety about the compatibility of democracy and capitalism. Is a similar anxiety behind the charges against Chinese investment today?
In the 19th century, perceptions of dependence shaped U.S. accusations against British investment. To what degree do accusations against Chinese investment today reflect concern about the U.S. decline relative to and growing dependence on China? (Note that related anxieties led to similar, if brief, attitudes toward a “rising” Japan in the 1980s.) In the 19th century, the demand for foreign capital came from ordinary Americans, not just wealthy elites. What Americans demand foreign capital today? In the 19th century, the reliance on British capital was the consequence of the republican stigmatization of the Federal government and high taxes. Are there alternatives to Chinese capital today, and if so, why are they not chosen? Have those same stigmas perhaps re-surfaced?
The study of the past cannot answer these questions, but it does suggest that asking them is important. The past also provides a richer context with which we might broaden our appreciation of the factors that play in complex political assessments, debates, and policy analysis. Americans ignore that context at their peril.
1 National Committee on US-China Relations and Rhodium Group, “New Neighbors: Chinese Investment in the United States by Congressional District,” May 2015, p. 8.
2 Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (University of North Carolina Press, 1969), p. viii.
3 Jay Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, 1837–1873 (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 31–6.
4 Although Webster’s political enemies—including one against whom he had led a House inquiry for corruption in 1826—arranged for a House select committee to investigate Webster for “official misconduct” while Secretary of State, his relationship with Barings was not part of the investigation. See “Official Misconduct of the Late Secretary of State,” 9 June 1846, House select committee, 29th Congress, 1st session, Report 64; Kenneth R. Stevens, “The Webster-Ingersoll Feud: Politics and Personality in the New Nation,” Historical New Hampshire 37, no. 2/3 (Summer/Fall 1982); and Robert V. Remini, Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (W.W. Norton, 1997), pp. 616–17.
5 There is an enormous, rich historical literature on the history of republican thought. For an introduction, see Daniel T. Rodgers, “Republicanism: The Career of a Concept,” Journal of American History 79, no. 1 (June 1992).
6 Wood, Creation of the American Republic, p. 113.
7 Wood, Creation of the American Republic, pp. 107–14.
8 Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (W.W. Norton, 2005), pp. 41–94.
9 See Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (Vintage Books, 1993); Andrew Shankman, “‘A New Thing on Earth’: Alexander Hamilton, Pro-Manufacturing Republicans, and the Democratization of American Political Economy,” Journal of the Early Republic 23, no. 3 (Autumn 2003).
10 See Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War (Princeton University Press, 1957), 147–48.
11 I owe this line of argument to John Lauritz Larson, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
12 See Andrew Shankman, Crucible of American Democracy: The Struggle to Fuse Egalitarianism and Capitalism in Jeffersonian Pennsylvania (University Press of Kansas, 2004), 240–3, on the analytical problems of describing both the early-19th-century world of widely distributed productive property and the late-19th-century world of highly concentrated productive property as “capitalist.”
13 Mira Wilkins, The History of Foreign Investment in the United States to 1914 (Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 36–44.
14 Wilkins, The History of Foreign Investment, pp. 53–5, 61–2.
15 For a brief overview of early railroad development, see Larson, Internal Improvements, pp. 227–33. On investment in the 1820s and 1830s, see Lance Davis and Robert Cull, International Capital Markets and American Economic Growth, 1820–1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 12–13, 20–21.
16 Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), pp. 106–7, 114.
17 Cleona Lewis, America’s Stake in International Investments (Brookings Institution, 1938), p. 14. On the role of the state banks and British capital in meeting the credit needs of planters, see ibid, pp. 14–15.
18 Andrew Shankman, “John Quincy Adams and National Republicanism,” in A Companion to John Adams and John Quincy Adams, ed. David Waldstreicher (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), esp. pp. 267–72.
19 Wilentz, Rise of American Democracy, pp. 202–40.
20 Daniel S. Dupre, “The Panic of 1819 and the Political Economy of Sectionalism,” in The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions, ed. Cathy Matson (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006), pp. 263–93, esp. pp. 277–88.
21 Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy, p. 23.
22 On the impact of the Panic, see Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 66–72.
23 Davis and Cull, International Capital Markets, 6; Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp.72–76.
24 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 76–81.
25 Davis and Cull, International Capital Markets, p. 17.
26 Quoted in Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy, p. 71.
27 Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy, pp. 69–73
28 Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy, pp. 82–189.
29 Richard Franklin Bensel, Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859–1877 (Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 10.
30 Richard Franklin Bensel, The Political Economy of American Industrialization, 1877–1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2000).
31 See Kevin H. O’Rourke and Jeffrey G. Williamson, Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy (MIT Press, 1999).
32 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 153–55, 587.
33 Edward Crapol, America for the Americans: Economic Nationalism and Anglophobia in the Late Nineteenth Century (Greenwood Press, 1973), p. 69.
34 See Bensel, Political Economy of American Industrialization, pp. 355–456; Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, p. 574.
35 Elizabeth Sanders, Roots of Reform: Farmers, Workers, and the American State, 1877–1917 (University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 174–75, 223–27.
36 Sanders, Roots of Reform, pp. 7–8.
37 Davis and Cull, International Capital Markets, p. 24.
38 Eric Foner, A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863–1877 (Harper & Row, 1990), 162–68; Sexton, Debtor Diplomacy, pp. 229–39.
39 Richard White, “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A New History of the American West (University of Oklahoma Press, 1993), pp. 242–69.
40 White, Your Misfortune, p. 276.
41 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, p. 300. See also White, Your Misfortune, pp. 220–27.
42 Davis and Cull, International Capital Markets, p. 32. See also Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, p. 242.
43 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, p. 507.
44 For the profit margin, see Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 503, 507.
45 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 507–508
46 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, p. 585.
47 Wilkins, History of Foreign Investment, pp. 580–82
48 White, Your Misfortune, p. 262.
49 Sanders, Roots of Reform, pp. 3–4,173–77.
50 Richard White, “Information, Markets, and Corruption: Transcontinental Railroads in the Gilded Age,” Journal of American History 90, no. 1 (June 2003).
51 I am grateful to Richard Franklin Bensel for suggesting this line of analysis to me.
52 Rhodium Group, “New Neighbors,” p. 6.
53 See Katherine Epstein, “Scholarship and the Ship of State: Rethinking the Anglo-American Strategic Decline Analogy,” International Affairs 91, no. 2 (March 2015).
54 See Daniel Patrick Ashe, “The Lengthening Anti-Bribery Lasso of the United States: The Recent Extraterritorial Application of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” Fordham Law Review 73, no. 6 (May 2005).