The early USA was no free-market paradise, but a land of debt, protests & crackdowns—like today! (MUST-READ NEW BOOK)

From William Hogeland:

Greetings, all,

Please join me for what I hope will be a lively party/talk/signing on Wednesday, October 24, 7-8 p.m., to launch my new book Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation. The event will be held at that great independent bookstore BookCourt, 163 Court Street, Brooklyn, U.S.A. It will involve banjo-thumping and caterwauling (not “The Cuckoo” this time), but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum, and some sort of adult beverage will be served. I’ll tell startling tales from Founding Finance, consider aloud why we don’t know them already, and sign copies. Hoping for a freewheeling hour in my old neighborhood.

(This is a free and public event, and all are welcome. Don’t hesitate to invite others who might be interested, forward this e-mail, and post to your networks.)

Regarding Founding Finance: It 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 American founding’s critical path, the stuff that really made us who we are. (The book is published by University of Texas Press, in Mark Crispin Miller’s “Discovering America” series.)

Little-known founding-era episodes that may sound eerily resonant:

  • Predatory lending in a real-estate bubble about to pop
  • Upscale investors’ feverish speculation 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! — more

This is not, in other words, another book about founding conflicts between Americans and England. We won that war. These are stories of the founding war between some Americans and other Americans, a war between ordinary people and the consolidated elite 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 strange tales, sometimes grim and sometimes funny, featuring oddball characters both famous and obscure, in hopes of making an entertaining election-year dissent from Tea Party and “constitutional conservative” claims on the American founding — and from a lot of liberal preconceptions too.

Further info on Founding Finance events to come (events in Boston, Kansas City…). You can check my Facebook author page, follow me on Twitter, skim my blog, and/or receive a very few more of these blasts by not unsubscribing. In the meantime, I hope you’ll come to BookCourt on October 24!


William Hogeland

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