Abstract

Abstract:

This article explores the ways in which Philadelphia banker Nicholas Biddle financed the political economy of cotton and slavery. Most historians have focused on Biddle's political interactions with President Andrew Jackson during the Bank War, either ignoring or minimizing the banker's southern investments in the late 1830s. By examining the complexities of the antebellum era credit system, we can see how Biddle and his business partners provided financing for, functioned within, and extracted profits from a region that depended to a significant extent on the commodification of land, cotton, and slaves. Biddle invested in the South because he saw the expansion of the Cotton Kingdom in lands once occupied by Native Americans and that would soon be worked by enslaved African Americans as consistent with his own nationalistic assumptions and as crucial to the recovery from the Panic of 1837, the bank's profits, and the restoration of American credit abroad.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2169-8546
Print ISSN
0031-4587
Pages
pp. 33-65
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-22
Open Access
No
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