Abstract

In nineteenth-century America and the Atlantic world, the "rule of three" was usually regarded as the endpoint of a basic mathematics education. This essay considers the importance of the rule as a technology that enabled broader access to the calculations necessary to participate in the increasingly global market economy. Used by workmen, women, and even the enslaved, the rule and related tools translated basic literacy into practical numeracy. By doing so, it offered a diverse range of people the ability to negotiate more effectively. At the same time, however, the rule's spread helped to legitimate particular types of exchange and commensuration, and with them the emerging capitalist economy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 529-544
Launched on MUSE
2017-06-20
Open Access
No
Archive Status
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