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Conservatives Versus WildcatsA Sociology of Financial Conflict$
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Simone Polillo

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785099

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785099.001.0001

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Institutions and the Struggle over Creditworthiness in the nineteenth-Century united States

Institutions and the Struggle over Creditworthiness in the nineteenth-Century united States

Chapter:
(p.71) 3 Institutions and the Struggle over Creditworthiness in the nineteenth-Century united States
Source:
Conservatives Versus Wildcats
Author(s):

Simone Polillo

Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804785099.003.0004

This chapter discusses the case of the United States in the 19th century, as part of a more general investigation of how the boundaries that define creditworthiness are delineated in democratic regimes. At the time, the creditworthiness of U.S. citizens was assessed and conceptualized on an individual basis, but this was a political construction, deriving from the nature of the polity, which was decentralized. As a consequence of political decentralization, and specifically fiscal decentralization, bankers strived to gain the support of local political authorities to construct boundaries around the allocation of credit which could be attached to sound banking. In the states of the North, where state governments were democratic, this dynamic was very different than in the states of the South, where relationships between banks and state authorities, relationships grounded in the slave economy, were more exclusionary.

Keywords:   19th century United States, Creditworthiness, Individualism, Decentralization, Political Authority, Democracy, Slavery, Political Economy of Northern States, Political Economy of Southern States, Fiscal Sociology

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