Laissez-Faire Capitalism In The 20th Century

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When I started this monograph I assumed it would be possible to identify the various schools such as revisionist, post revisionist and New Left historians which would cover the sweeping changes of laissez-faire capitalism in the 20th Century. When I began to redefine my thesis, I found that there were omissions by the Conservative (revisionists) historians for the Progressive timeline from the early 20th century forward to the New Deal era. There appears to be a failure to “connect the dots” between legislation done at the beginning of the 20th century through the New Deal era to today’s headlines. While historians like Shlaes, Pells and several others cover the New Deal era and the political thinkers of the “Brain Trust”; they failed to…show more content…
These key assets are can be described as funding instruments, either credit, cash, stocks or bonds. Prior to the Civil War; the bulk of wealth in the United States was concentrated into the physical assets of slavery. The advent of railroads required the massive infusion of resources; physical resources, a labor pool, and most importantly capital. Many of the railroads in the United States prior to the Civil War were underfunded and quickly went bankrupt. While there were state subsidies for railroads before the Civil War, it often led to financial disaster in many states. Consequently States outlawed further public subsidies to reign in their losses. The design and expansion of the trans-continental railroad required a massive infusion of wealth which was beyond the capabilities of all the financial resources of the time. Only the intervention of the Federal government could serve the long term financial interests of the railroads like the Union…show more content…
Other revisionist historians saw a differing opinion of the “gilded age” of railroads. Historian Gabriel Kolko has argued that railroad men utterly failed to control destructive competition and that, as a matter of self-interest; they became the chief proponents of federal regulation throughout the period from 1877 to 1917. Robert Wiebe saw the late-nineteenth century in a similar light and made the "search for order" the central theme of progressive economic thought. These revisionists see self-interest rather than high-minded regard for the "public welfare" as the genesis of federal regulation: to that extent, revisionism is perhaps a victory for
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