This is the argument in Hogeland’s forthcoming book, Founding Finance—a title in “Discovering America,” the series that I edit for the University of Texas Press.
How Radical Economics Led to U.S. Independence
By William Hogeland
Big historical events often come to seem inevitable, and little today seems more inevitable in retrospect than America’s declaring independence on July 4, 1776.
So it can be startling to recall that well into the spring and early summer of that year, the Continental Congress meeting at the State House in Philadelphia was by no means committed to declaring independence. Until the last minute, powerful men in the Congress still hoped to negotiate a settlement with England.
Even more surprising may be that without a crew of lower-class Philadelphia organizers, collaborating secretly with independence-minded gentlemen in the Congress, the declaration never would have occurred. Most outlandish of all: Those down-at-the-heels outsiders had ideas about economics and finance — some today would call them “socialist” — far more radically democratic than anything espoused by better-known founders.