Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England

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9780674000995: Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England
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New England's economy has a history as dramatic as any in the world. From an inauspicious beginning--as immigration ground to a halt in the eighteenth century--New England went on to lead the United States in its transformation from an agrarian to an industrial economy. And when the rest of the country caught up in the mid-twentieth century, New England reinvented itself as a leader in the complex economy of the information society.

Engines of Enterprise tells this dramatic story in a sequence of narrative essays written by preeminent historians and economists. These essays chart the changing fortunes of entrepreneurs and venturers, businessmen and inventors, and common folk toiling in fields, in factories, and in air-conditioned offices. The authors describe how, short of staple crops, colonial New Englanders turned to the sea and built an empire; and how the region became the earliest home of the textile industry as commercial fortunes underwrote new industries in the nineteenth century. They show us the region as it grew ahead of the rest of the country and as the rest of the United States caught up. And they trace the transformation of New England's products and exports from cotton textiles and machine tools to such intangible goods as education and software. Concluding short essays also put forward surprising but persuasive arguments--for instance, that slavery, while not prominent in colonial New England, was a critical part of the economy; and that the federal government played a crucial role in the development of the region's industrial skills.

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About the Author:

Peter Temin is Elisha Gray II Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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The economy of New England experienced far-reaching changes over the centuries and led the way in the transformation of an American agrarian economy to a manufacturing powerhouse. This process of change is the subject of this well-knit collection of essays by economists and historians, edited by Temin (economics, MIT). The essays trace the fortunes of venture capitalists and investors in 18th-century New England, which, lacking staple crops to trade, made overseas ventures the foundation of the region's economy. In the early 19th century, Yankee ingenuity made New England the nation's leader in manufacturing, beginning with cotton textiles and machine tools. Eventually, other sections of the country forged ahead of New England in terms of factory output. Showing great ingenuity, however, New England reinvented itself as an important producer of less tangible but still valuable products and services, such as higher education and, in our own time, computer software. A scholarly work that effectively synthesizes much available information, this is recommended for the economic history collections of academic libraries.
-Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Publisher: Harvard University Press, 2002
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