The National Era

John Joseph Wallis

in Government & The American Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226251271
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226251295 | DOI:
The National Era

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When Americans decided in favor of independence in the spring of 1776, they faced many difficult decisions. They declared themselves to be independent states. The biggest issue facing the United States between 1790 and 1860 was internal, not external. How were Americans to govern themselves? How were power and policies to be shared between the national and state governments? This chapter documents the ways in which the national and state governments interacted in the new federal system and illuminates the constant tensions that developed regarding which level of government would have responsibility for which facets of policy. Disagreements about the rights of states, the enslavement of African Americans, and various economic issues eventually culminated in the Civil War. In order to understand the government's role in economic development, the chapter examines its size and structure before the Civil War, then discusses the sources of growth in the American economy. It also considers the main policies of the national and state governments, identifying what each level did to promote economic development.

Keywords: United States; national governments; state governments; African Americans; Civil War; economic development; enslavement; rights

Chapter.  16180 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic History

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