“Founding Finance” Officially Published

I’m happy to announce publication of my book Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation. It’s from University of Texas Press, in the “Discovering America” series edited by Mark Crispin Miller (pub. date: October 15, 2012).

The subjects of the book will not all be news to readers of this blog.¬†Founding Finance¬†ranges like a bull in a china shop through those critical years 1765-1795, turning up dire conflicts among 18th-century Americans over finance and economics. These are the conflicts that, while shockingly little-known, I think played directly into — no, they were — the decisive arc of the American founding, the stuff that really made us who we are.

Little-known founding episodes that may sound eerily resonant:

  • predatory lending in a real-estate bubble about to pop
  • feverish speculation by upscale investors in dubious debt instruments
  • foreclosure crises sending ordinary families into poverty and dependence
  • popular uprisings against government complicity in wealth concentration
  • militarized crackdowns on democratic approaches to finance
  • and — of course! — much, much more

This is not, in other words, another book about founding conflicts between Americans and England. We won that war. This is about the founding war between some Americans and other Americans, a war over money, debt, and government’s role in public and private finance. A war we refuse to believe formed us, a war we’ve never stopped fighting.

I offer these wild tales, featuring oddball characters both famous and obscure, in hopes of articulating an entertaining election-year dissent from Tea Party and “constitutional conservative” claims on the American founding — and from a lot of liberal preconceptions too.

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