The New Deal in Chicago and the Midwest

What did the New Deal look like in Chicago and the greater Illinois region? Who were its champions and opponents? By Ashley Johnson Introduction In November of 1933, Franklin Roosevelt won the American presidency during one of America and the world’s gravest economic depressions. As he gazed out at hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers[…]

The 19th Century Labor Movement That Brought Black and White Arkansans Together

In 1888, small farmers, sharecroppers, and industrial workers organized to fight inequality. Today, when Americans think about the tradition of political protest to protect democracy, they often recall the mid-20th century, when millions of Americans participated in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. But the roots of American grassroots political activism[…]

George Pullman: The Sleeping Car King and a Labor Uprising

George Pullman’s unbending business acumen made him a mogul but also inspired the greatest labor uprising of the 19th century. George M. Pullman literally raised Chicago from the mud. He introduced luxury to the nation’s rail lines. He even created a model company town for his workers—a feat that prompted some to proclaim him the[…]

A 20th-Century Economic History of Iran

Examining Iran’s economic history pre- and post-revolution. Introduction Prior to 1979, Iran’s economic development was rapid. Traditionally an agricultural society, by the 1970s the country had undergone significant industrialization and economic modernization.[1][2] This pace of growth had slowed dramatically by 1978 as capital flight reached $30 to $40 billion 1980 US dollars just before the revolution.[3] After the Revolution[…]

China and Hong Kong in the Canton Trade System

After their victory in the first Opium War, the British acquired Hong Kong under the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. Hong Kong held 3,000 Chinese scattered in small fishing villages until the mid 19th century. The city itself is a small island in the mouth of the Pearl River, 76 miles southeast of Canton. Its waterfall[…]

The Narrow World of the Artists of China’s Early Modern Canton Trade System

The new vistas of China available after the development of the East India trade attracted many Chinese and foreign artists. John Webber (1750–1793) accompanied Captain Cook on his third voyage to the South Seas and visited Macau in 1779, publishing his book Views in the South Seas in 1780. Thomas Daniell (1749–1840) and his nephew[…]

Ancient and Medieval China’s Silk Road

The European explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324 CE) traveled on these routes and described them in depth in his famous work. Introduction The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes, formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce between 130 BCE-1453 CE. As the Silk Road was not[…]

Investiture: Medieval Nobility Cashing in on Church Appointments

It began as a power struggle between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV in 1076. Introduction The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was a conflict between church and state in medieval Europe over the ability to appoint local church officials through investiture.[1] By undercutting imperial power, the controversy led to nearly 50 years of civil war in Germany. According to historian Norman[…]

Carucage: Land Taxes in Medieval England

Introduced by Richard I in 1194, the taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed. Introduction Carucage[a] was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size—variously calculated—of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement[…]

How the Ancient Egyptian Economy Laid the Groundwork for Building the Pyramids

In the shadow of the pyramids of Giza lie the tombs of the courtiers and officials who built these vast structures. In the shadow of the pyramids of Giza, lie the tombs of the courtiers and officials of the kings buried in the far greater structures. These men and women were the ones responsible for[…]

Circular Economies and Repurposing in the Ancient World

Recycling on a large scale is a Bronze Age invention. The circular economy is typically seen as the progressive alternative to our wasteful linear economy, where raw materials are used to make the products that feed today’s rampant consumerist hunger, which are then thrown away. The idea of the circular economy only took off in the 1980s,[…]

The Rise of the Small Business Owner in Progressive Era Culture

Analyzing the role that Progressive Era writers played in restoring the image of the small business owner. Introduction Small business owners played a key role in the rise of postwar conservatism. New historians of capitalism have shown how business activism shaped the politics of the postwar era, funded the rise of movement conservatism, and endeavored[…]

‘Hidden Persuaders’: Advertising and Manipulation in the 1950s

Vance Packard’s ‘Hidden Persuaders’ was an exposé of the new techniques of mass manipulation developed by 1950s advertisers. Introduction In 2014, Facebook revealed details of an experiment they had carried out in collaboration with Cornell University. Researchers modified the type of content that appeared in some users’ newsfeeds. For one group, the Facebook algorithm was[…]

Trade in Medieval Europe

The full range of consumer goods of the period was set out to tempt the shopper and small retailer. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Trade and commerce in the medieval world developed to such an extent that even relatively small communities had access to weekly markets and, perhaps a day’s travel away, larger but less frequent[…]

North Africa’s Place in the Mediterranean Economy of Late Antiquity

The Mediterranean Sea was the economic focal point of the Roman Empire. By Michael GoodyearJ.D. CandidateUniversity of Michigan Law School Introduction The Mediterranean Sea was the economic focal point of the Roman Empire. Rome’s armies first established an empire across these waters beginning back in the times of the Roman Republic. In 200 CE, the Mediterranean[…]

The Economy of Ptolemaic Egypt

The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivaled fertility of the Nile. By Arienne KingHistorian Introduction Ptolemaic Egypt rapidly established itself as an economic powerhouse of the ancient world at the end of the 4th century BCE. The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivalled fertility of[…]

Free Trade in the Ancient Middle East

For a long time, Baghdad was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. Today many people believe that free markets and industrialization are new inventions. In fact, during the early Middle Ages a market model developed in the Islamic world. Europeans envied the economic, scientific and intellectual progress taking place in the Middle East[…]

Rich and Poor: Economic Thought from Thomas Aquinas to John Locke and Adam Smith

Starting with the medieval poor/rich-topics in the Aquinian tradition of the theological economy of charity, following a relatively unknown line of thought. Introduction In pre-classical economics, division of income was traditionally represented as an antithesis of rich and poor. Specific income classes were only defined in “classical” economics: landed property owners drew rents, capital investors[…]

Safavid Trade during the 17th Century: Iran’s Transit Economy

Analyzing the role that the Safavid economy played within the rapidly developing global economic system. By Connor J. HamelCompetitive Intelligence AnalystAccenture Federal Services Introduction The seventeenth century ushered in a plethora of changes in global trade patterns. These fluctuating trade patterns began to generate nascent economic, political, and social trends the likes of which had[…]

Guilds: Drivers of Manufacturing and Commerce in the Middle Ages

Guilds dominated local politics and influenced national and international affairs. Introduction Guilds existed throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Guilds were groups of individuals with common goals. The term guild probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon root geld which meant ‘to pay, contribute.’ The noun form of geld meant an association of persons contributing money for some common purpose. The root also[…]

The End of China’s Canton Trade System

Despite their common interests, relations between the foreigners and the Chinese community grew more tense during the early 19th century. Despite their common interests, relations between the foreigners and the Chinese community grew more tense during the early 19th century. The increasing amount of trade and larger number of ships inevitably brought more conflict. The[…]

The Canton Trade System in China in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Canton’s foreign quarter, sited between the city wall and the river, fit comfortably into the classic design of south Chinese cities. Canton Trade Introduction During the passage from Macau up the Pearl River foreigners passed through densely populated agricultural lands and market towns, but they never saw a major city until they reached Guangzhou. We[…]

The Midwest Farmers Movement That Challenged Gilded Age Capitalism

In the 19th century, the Grange was an agricultural brotherhood that sought to foster mutual self-reliance and free themselves from middlemen and monopolies. Perhaps you’ve seen them on a leisurely weekend drive through the countryside—small white structures with the sign “Grange Hall.” Although the Grange is now a mere shadow of its former self, its[…]

Economic Relations Between Europe and the World in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras

A vivid picture of the emergence of the global market and the beginnings of global competition. Introduction This article sketches the beginnings and central trends in the development of economic ties between Europe and regions outside Europe from 1450 to 1950. The focus is on the increasing diversity and volume of goods exchanged, and the[…]

America in the 1920s: Growth of the Middle Class and a Consumer Economy

The 1920s was a decade of increasing conveniences for the middle class. The 1920s was a decade of increasing conveniences for the middle class. New products made household chores easier and led to more leisure time. Products previously too expensive became affordable. New forms of financing allowed every family to spend beyond their current means.[…]

The Middle Classes in the 19th Century: Etiquette and Upward Mobility

Examining the expansion of the middle classes in the 19th century that led to a new emphasis on upward mobility, etiquette and conspicuous consumption. Introduction For centuries the aristocracy had been the most powerful section of British society. But from the last quarter of the 18th century, the middle classes began to grow in power[…]

Agricultural Markets and the Great Depression

Eighty years ago, the publication of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath shocked the world with its description of starvation in the midst of plenty. By Dr. Rasheed SaleuddinPost-Doctoral Research FellowUniversity of Cambridge It took an estimated 2.3 billion metric tonnes of grain to feed the world in 2011 – that’s 6,300,000 tonnes per[…]