History of American Capitalism

Michael Crowder at Online

Wed, May 13 at 7:30 p.m.   |   75
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors

What does it mean, historically speaking, to label the United States capitalist at its origins?

Capitalist social and economic relations define the American nation-state, and this Think Olio session explores the history of capitalism in American life from the 17th century until today. By the mid-twentieth century, eminent historians of early America largely agreed that capitalism “came in the first ships” of European colonists to North America, but were the British North American colonies and later the United States always irrevocably capitalist?


What does it mean, historically speaking, to label the United States capitalist at its origins? Is there in fact an American capitalist system to speak of, or did there exist two, simultaneous capitalism(s) in eighteenth and nineteenth-century America, one rooted in “free” labor, the other in chattel slavery? How did the American capitalism(s) of the Civil War-era shape America’s emergent industrial and corporate capitalist relations in the twentieth centuries—and do they still today? This Think Olio session explores these major questions, providing ways of thinking about historical American capitalism in a modern twenty-first-century context.

Teacher: Michael Crowder

Michael Crowder received his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, CUNY, in 2019. He works as Public Historian and lecturer at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College, and is currently writing a new history of Thomas Paine, the American Revolution, and the origins of American progressivism.

Venue: Online

Zoom link will be sent upon signup.

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Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

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Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.