Home  »  Volume XVIII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART III  »  § 7. The Early Nineteenth Century

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIV. Economists

§ 7. The Early Nineteenth Century

The first quarter of the nineteenth century saw but little change in the general character of economic discussion. The United States continued to be overwhelmingly an agricultural country and it was only toward the end of this period that New England was beginning to be affected by the industrial transition which was responsible for the growth of economic science in Great Britain. Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, of which the first American edition had appeared in 1789, was now reprinted in 1811 and 1818; Ricardo’s Principles appeared in an American edition in 1819, and J. B. Say’s Treatise on Political Economy was translated in 1821. None of these, however, seems to have aroused much attention or interest. The first American work with an independent title was An Essay on the Principles of Political Economy (1805), which was a rather insignificant treatise on banking and public revenue. Somewhat similar were L. Baldwin’s Thoughts on the Study of Political Economy as Connected with the Population, Industry, and Paper Currency of the United States (Cambridge, 1809) and A. V. Johnson’s Inquiry into the Nature of Value and Capital (New York, 1813). More significant was Daniel Raymond’s The Elements of Political Economy (1820), which disclosed an acquaintance with the English writers and which laid the foundations for the defence of the protective system, afterwards elaborated by List. The influence of Malthus is perceptible in A. H. Everett’s New Ideas on Population (1823), in which the invincibly optimistic attitude of youthful America is revealed.

The chief lines of discussion were therefore largely a continuation of the preceding period. The interest temporarily manifested in industry is attested by George Logan’s A Letter to the Citizens of Pennsylvania on the Necessity of Promoting Agriculture, Manufactures and the Useful Arts (1800) and the Essay on the Manufacturing Interests of the United States (Philadelphia, 1804). Agricultural problems were treated by Thomas Moore in The Great Error of American Agriculture Exposed (Baltimore, 1801); James Humphrey’s Gleanings on Husbandry (Philadelphia, 1803); John Roberts’s The Pennsylvania Farmer (Philadelphia, 1804); and, above all, by John Taylor’s Arator (Georgetown, 1814) and J. S. Skinner’s The American Farmer (Baltimore, 1820). Colonel Taylor, of Virginia, is also to be noted for his earlier Enquiry into the Principles and Tendencies of Certain Public Measures (Philadelphia, 1794) and his later Tyranny Unmasked (1822). A growing interest was now taken in statistical presentation. Worthy of notice are S. Blodgett, Jr.’s Thoughts on the Increasing Wealth and Natural Economy of the United States (1801) and Economica (1806); Timothy Dwight’s Statistical Account of Connecticut (1811); R. Dickinson’s A Geographical and Statistical Review of Massachusetts (1813); and Moses Greenleaf’s Statistical View of Maine (1816). Widely read were Adam Seybert’s Statistical Annals (1818), D. B. Warden’s Statistical, Political, and Historical Account of the United States (3 vols., 1819), John Bristed’s Resources of the United States (1818), and William Darby’s Universal Gazetteer (1827) and View of the United States, Historical, Geographical, and Statistical (1828). We may also mention that the discussion on the recharter of the bank was responsible for Dr. Erick Bollman’s Paragraphs on Banks (Philadelphia, 1810) and the Letters of Common Sense Respecting the State Bank and Paper Currency (Raleigh, 1811).