For a while, it seemed impossible to lose money on real estate.
But then the bubble burst. The financial sector was paralyzed and
the economy contracted. State and federal governments struggled to
pay their domestic and foreign creditors. Washington was incapable
of decisive action. The country seethed with political and social
unrest. In America'sFirst Great Depression,
Alasdair Roberts describes how the United States dealt with the
economic and political crisis that followed the Panic of 1837.
As Roberts shows, the two decades that preceded the Panic had
marked a democratic surge in the United States. However, the
nation's commitment to democracy was tested severely during this
crisis. Foreign lenders questioned whether American politicians
could make the unpopular decisions needed on spending and taxing.
State and local officials struggled to put down riots and
rebellion. A few wondered whether this was the end of America's
Roberts explains how the country's woes were complicated by its
dependence on foreign trade and investment, particularly with
Britain. Aware of the contemporary relevance of this story, Roberts
examines how the country responded to the political and cultural
aftershocks of 1837, transforming its political institutions to
strike a new balance between liberty and social order, and uneasily
coming to terms with its place in the global economy.
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