Department of Economics
Economic History of the U.S. to 1865
Location: Frances Searle,
Instructor: Prof. Joseph P. Ferrie
Office Hours: T 3:30-5PM, and by appointment
COURSE DESCRIPTION: The course examines the economic
development of the United States from colonial times to the
Civil War. It focuses on both long-term economic trends
(such as economic growth and the development of labor and
product markets) and the economic causes and
consequences of particular events (the Revolution, the settlement of the
West, the Civil War).
PREREQUISITES: Economics 310-1, 311, and 281, or
permission of the instructor.
TEACHING METHOD: Two lectures per week.
EVALUATION METHOD: (1) Two exams in class (Oct 20th and Nov 22nd); (2) a final
paper proposal; (3) a final paper on a topic
chosen in consultation with the instructor; and
(4) two "referee reports" on articles chosen from the supplementary
readings indicated with an asterisk (*) below. Final grade: exams 25%
each, paper proposal 5%, final paper 35%,
referee reports 5% each.
Note: The dates for the exams and the due dates
for the paper proposal and final paper cannot be changed
TEXTS: Hughes and Cain, American Economic History,
6th edition (Addison-Wesley, 2003) [HC in the list of lectures and
under any circumstances. Students
who fail to meet these deadlines for any reason (exam
problems, family emergencies, printer problems,
general ennui) will be allowed to take an incomplete only
with the permission of the Office of Studies and
make up the work in the next quarter when the course is
given (Fall 2007). Without that permission, a
failing grade will be assigned for the missing work.
readings below]; and a packet of all the other readings
available through the Library's Electronic Reserve system.
readings are required. "*" indicates the reading can be used as
the subject for one of the 2 referee reports (see below).
FINAL PAPER: Each student will independently write a
15-30 page quantitative paper incorporating significant original research .
The paper describe an issue in U.S. economic history, propose a
hypothesis relating to
that issue, and provide a quantitative test
of that hypothesis. A literature review or qualitative discussion will
not be sufficient, but students can expand on
done by others scholars, provided that in the process they replicate that previous work while making their own
Students are free to choose any topic
dealing with the economic history of the U.S. through
1865. Topics must be approved by the
instructor by the end of 3rd week (Thursday,
Oct 6th). After the second class in 6th week (Thursday, Oct 27th), students will turn in
a proposal containing: 1) a one page description of the proposed
research; 2) a detailed outline of the entire
paper; 3) a tentative
bibliography; and 4) some tentative results (a single table will be
sufficient). The paper proposals will be graded. Some
sources are listed at http://www.econ.nwu.edu/faculty/ferrie/
in "Publicly Available Data." Other useful sources
Statistics of the United States. The paper
should be free from spelling and grammatical mistakes, typed in a
12-point font with one
inch margins all around. On matters of style,
consult Strunk and White, The
Elements of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style.
Any material other than the student's own
original work must be identified with a footnote or endnote. Choose the
citation style you
prefer, but be sure it is possible to go back and
locate the material in the original sources.
Due: via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) in PDF,
Word, or WordPerfect, Monday, Dec 5th, 12 noon.
REFEREE REPORTS: Each student will take two articles
from the supplementary readings indicated with an asterisk (*) below
and for each write a short (no more than two pages single-spaced)
essay in the form of a report to the journal in which the
author is seeking to publish the article. The report should contain a
brief recapitulation of the article's
hypotheses, an explanation
of the article's importance, a description of its evidence and methods,
and a statement of its strengths and weaknesses.
Due: via email (email@example.com) in
PDF, Word, or WordPerfect, Monday, Oct 17th and Monday, Nov 14th, noon.
LECTURES AND READINGS: The lectures and readings are complements.
Students are expected to
have completed the assigned readings before each
lecture in order to be prepared to participate in discussion.
Week 1 (Sep 20-22): Initial Conditions and The
(1) HC pp. 1-43.
(2) Thornton, "Population History of
Native North Americans," pp. 9-30, in Haines and Steckel, A
History of North America
(3) Hughes, "A Matter of Pedigree,"
pp. 20-45, Chapter 2 in Hughes, The Governmental Habit Redux (1991).
Week 2 (Sep 27-29): The Colonial Experience
(1) HC pp. 44-62.
* (2) Galenson, "The Rise and Fall of Indentured
Servitude in the Americas: An Economic Analysis," Journal
of Economic History (1984).
* (3) Galenson, "The Market Evaluation of Human
Capital: The Case of Indentured Servitude," Journal of
Political Economy (1981).
* (4) Menard, "From Servant to Freeholder: Status
Mobility and Property Accumulation in 17th Century
Maryland," William and Mary
Paper topics approved by Thursday, Oct 6th
Week 3 (Oct 4-6): The Revolution and The
Constitution, and The Early National Period
(1) HC pp. 63-80, 127-140.
* (2) Jones, "Wealth and Growth of the Thirteen
Colonies: Some Implications," Journal of Economic History
* (3) Egnal and Ernst, "An Economic
Interpretation of the American Revolution," William & Mary
* (4) McGuire and Ohsfeldt, "An Economic Model of
Voting Behavior Over Specific Issues at the Constitutional
Convention of 1787," Journal of Economic History (1986).
Week 4 (Oct 11-13): Territorial Expansion,
Transportation, the Growth of American Business and Product Markets
(1) HC pp. 83-102, pp. 141-162.
* (2) Rothenberg, "The
Market and Massachusetts Farmers, 1750-1855," Journal of Economic
(3) Atack and Passell, "The Beginnings of
Industrialization," Chapter 7 in A New Economic View of American
First exam in class, Thursday, Oct 20th
Week 5 (Oct 18): Early Industrialization; Population
Redistribution, Immigration, and Economic Growth
(1) HC pp. 200-224, pp. 103-126.
* (2) Margo, "Regional Wage Gaps and the Settlement of the
Midwest," Explorations in Economic History (1999).
(3) Margo, Wages and Labor
Markets in the United States, 1820-1860 (2000), Chapter 6 ("Wages
During the Gold Rush").
* (4) Ferrie, "The Entry into the U.S. Labor
Market of Antebellum European Immigrants, 1840-60," Explorations
in Economic History (1997).
Paper proposals due via email to
firstname.lastname@example.org by 9PM Thursday, Oct 27th
Week 6 (Oct 25-27): The Financial System
(1) HC pp. 225-251 .
* (2) Rockoff, "The Free Banking Era: A
Re-Examination," Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking (1974).
Week 7 (Nov 1-3): Economic Mobility; Agriculture
in the North and South
(1) HC pp. 163-181.
(2) Ferrie, 'Yankeys Now:' Immigrants
in the Antebellum U.S., 1840-60 (1999), Chapter 7 ("Economic Mobility and
Geographic Persistence, 1850-60").
Week 8 (Nov 8-10): The Economics of Slavery
(1) HC pp. 182-199.
(2) Fogel, Without Consent or
Contract (1989), pp. 72-80 and pp. 123-142.
* (3) Steckel, "A Peculiar Population: The
Nutrition, Health, and Mortality of American Slaves From Childhood
to Maturity," Journal of Economic History (1986).
Week 9 (Nov 15-17): The Economics of Slavery
(continued) and the Economics of the Civil War
(1) HC pp. 255-274.
(2) Atack and Passell, "The
Economics of the Civil War," Chapter 13 in A
New Economic View of American
Second exam in class, Tuesday, Nov 22nd
Week 10 (Nov 29-Dec 1): No Lectures, Reading Period
Exam Week: Final papers due via email (email@example.com) in PDF, Word, or
WordPerfect, 12 noon, Monday, December