Northwestern University
Department of Economics
Economics 323-1
Economic History of the U.S. to 1865
Fall, 2005-06
Time:              TTh 2:00-3:20PM
Location:        Frances Searle, Room  2-107
Instructor:       Prof. Joseph P. Ferrie
Office:            Andersen 318
Phone:            1-8210
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.

TEXTS: Hughes and Cain, American Economic History, 6th edition (Addison-Wesley, 2003) [HC in the list of lectures and
readings below]; and a packet of all the other readings available through the Library's Electronic Reserve system.
All 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 work previously
done by others scholars, provided that in the process
they replicate that previous work while making their own contribution.
Students are free to choose any topic
dealing with the economic history of the U.S. through 1865. Topics must be approved by the
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 data
sources are listed at
in "Publicly Available Data." Other useful sources include Historical
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 ( 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 artic
le'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 ( 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 Institutional Framework
    (1) HC pp. 1-43.
    (2) Thornton, "Population History of Native North Americans," pp. 9-30, in Haines and Steckel, A Population
           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

*  (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 Quarterly (1973).

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 (1984).
*  (3) Egnal and Ernst, "An Economic Interpretation of the American Revolution," William & Mary Quarterly (1972).
*  (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 History (1981).
    (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 in California
          During the Gold Rush").
*  (4) Ferrie, "The Entry into the U.S. Labor Market of Antebellum European Immigrants, 1840-60," Explorations
          in Economic History

Paper proposals due via email to 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 ( in PDF, Word, or WordPerfect, 12 noon, Monday, December 5th