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Financial Founding Fathers: The Men Who Made America Rich Hardcover – May 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226910687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226910680
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this spry, smart history, Alexander Hamilton, Albert Gallatin, Stephen Girard, Nicholas Biddle and Andrew Jackson emerge as fully human characters-rather than a set of financial theories or beliefs-struggling to set the economic machine of America in motion. Wright and Cowen use biography to address financial history, showing, say, how Alexander Hamilton's life influenced his theory of finance, and how Hamilton's theory of finance influenced the United States. Readers will find that financial markets and instruments at the time were surprisingly sophisticated, and fully relevant to the discussion of finance today. Hamilton's genius lay in his Bank of the United States, established to allow America one day to compete with the foremost powers of Europe, and the story of his successors-Gallatin, Girard, and Biddle, who wisely navigated Hamilton's Bank-take readers through crises brought on by such familiar factors as speculative booms and busts, war debts, political opposition and special interests. If there is any flaw to this compelling account of the nation's early finances it is that the authors seem to lack faith in their subject's entertainment value, gilding the lily with human interest stories and catchy chapter titles like "Apocalypse No." Illuminating and ingratiating, this glimpse into the economics of the nation's first century could very well serve as required reading for students of American history and economics.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"The early financial history of the United States merits additional popular and scholarly attention, and Wright and Cowen provide biographical information on nine founders of America's financial and economic systems, from Alexander Hamilton to Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle.… The book emphasizes biographical information with limited explanation of financial and economic arguments.… This book is useful for large public libraries so that general readers may understand formative economic ideas in American history."
(Library Journal)

"Wright and Cowen, who have separately written important scholarly works on the financial history of the early republic, here repackage their research for readers of popular history, and do so impressively."
(David Liss Washington Post)

"The narrative seems natural, not stretched to cover a framework that skews the examples. You will enjoy this book and it can be used for a wide range of audiences from a supplementary reading for undergraduates to a departure for discussions in seminars to a good read on your flight home from a conference."
(Gerald Gunderson EH-Net)

"This book, a welcome addition to the literature, meets its objective of providing an accessible introduction to the importance of the nation's financial infrastructure to its economic and political success."
(Timothy Cuff American Historical Review)

"The Financial Founding Fathers works. I would recommend if for beginning students and anyone interested in a non-technical introduction to the financial history of the Young United States."
(Russell R. Menard History)

"Seeking a readership beyond academia, Wright and Cowen tell a story that is brisk yet richly detailed. . . . For nonspecialists and teachers like this reviewer who slight financial history, there are many fine anecdotes and some real surprises."
(Lendol Calder The Historian)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dchiarella56 on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book tells about the Treasury office through the years from Hamilton to Jackson. I liked the book a lot. Met some new people who i did not know about. Robert Morris stands out as a person who helped save the country from financial disaster. The Banks need to reread this book to understand they are a tool to help the common man in America. This book should be required reading for finance majors in American companies.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adam Smith on February 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Economists and citizens need to read this book! It's chapter on the financial crisis of 1837 saved me millions of $ in 2007 and 2008. Read this book and you'll have a much better appreciation of financial systems, in both their strengths and weaknesses.

Adding to the economic history, the book weaves in the personal histories of the founders. Quirky and eccentric, they, like Hamilton, somehow washed up on the shores of what was to be the United States--and they and their ideas prospered. These distinct and eccentric founders built a new system. How did they do it? The book lends great insight into the distinct country that was the United States. People everywhere must have dreams, but in the U.S. a financial system developed to fund those dreams.

Let's hope we still have remnants of the liberty in that early U.S. and people somewhere like those early founders.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on August 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides very good explanations of how the early American economy was financed. Would be a good gift for a college student majoring in Economics.

However, I did not think the interesting concept at the core of this book was helped by the extended digressions into the private lives of the men chosen by the authors to illustrate their public policy points and financial explanations.

Stephen Girard is titled "The Saint" for both helping his fellow citizens during an epidemic and funding a school for white male orphans. At one point, Girard's complicity in slavery (in that he owned a coffee plantation) is mentioned as his "one asterisk to our dubbing him for sainthood." Two pages later, Girard is described as having bribed customs officers, evaded taxes, violated usury laws, and manipulated shipping records to gain better insurance rates. Some Saint.

The authors are better with the history of financial transactions and banking, than political history. For example, they call John C. Calhoun "illustrious" with " a distinguished career", while I think this Southern senator helped propel our country into the bloodshed of the Civil War through his long career of defending slavery as an institution and state's rights as his political God.
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More About the Author

Robert E. Wright is the Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College SD.
http://faculty.augie.edu/~rwright/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Wright

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