Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #4

Within the post war period, American businesses sought out creative advertising  tactics to boost their sales and profits and in turn, America’s then, rehabilitating economy. Lizbeth Cohen in “Culture: Segmenting the Mass” (from her book The Consumers’ Republic) discusses and elaborates on this, stating that  the notion of a “… unified, often referred to as  the “middle-class,” market where the mass consumers shared a consistent set of tastes and desires”(Cohen, 295), was abandoned and instead replaced with the marketing strategy of  Market Segmentation that catered products to the general populace of American  consumers based on their notable social and class differences, in which, ultimately affected their economic interests. This strategy was effective in its task to provide improved and stable profits as it allowed for an expansive range of products to sell. Case in point, being, the family owned cosmetic company, Estee Lauder’s, move to segment their market geared towards men through the introduction of a male line of Aramis toiletries around 1965 that brought them plenty of profit on top of what they were already gaining from cosmetic products for women (Cohen, 296). Specified marketing has now become an integral aspect in the maintaining of the American economy, with it extending into today’s world. The rise of technology brings about new digital inventions such as social media in which, among many other purposes, serves the mass consumption of products and content under our modern economy. Platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok through their use of analytic programs to gather general data on the age, race and gender demographics of their users are able to accurately speculate and determine the content and products  their users are likely to engage with. Such a system generates a constant cycle of mass consumption that either boosts or depletes our economy, depending on whether the outcome of such cycles have to deal with overproduction, (too much supply and little to no demand) or not.

Blog Post #3

“The Making of Radical Reconstruction” details both the concerns raised and the initiative prompted by the American government, or more specifically, the Radical Republican party, towards the development of policies that would serve as beneficial towards the reconstruction of the South and the reunion of a divided U.S. following the Civil War in the mid to late 1800’s. In extension to this, the author, Eric Foner implies that, despite much effort having been made in an unified front in such a process as lengthy and thought provoking as the literal reforming of a society that has been built on the very institution it no longer can legally maintain, members of the same congressional party (that is, the Radical Republicans) were  bound to experiencing some internal conflict or differences that interfered with the pacing of the overall establishment of reconstruction in the South. For instance, “The preeminent Radical leaders, Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner, differed in personality and political style…On the economic issues of the day no distinctive or unified Radical position existed. Stevens,…favored an economic program geared to the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs, including tariff protection, low interest rates, plentiful greenback currency, and promotion or internal improvements. On the other hand, Radicals like Charles Sumner… attuned to orthodox laissez-faire economic theory, favored a low tariff, the swift resumption of specie payments, and minimal government involvement in the economy”(Foner, 105-106). Due to their own varying individual and collective interests regarding the vision they had of the future of the economic (and assumably social and political) atmospheres of the South, as well as the fact that majority of them, the, “Congressional Radicals viewed economic issues [—of both the North and more particularly,—the South] as secondary [concerns] to those of [the general issues regarding] Reconstruction” (Foner, 106). It can be inferred that the policies that would otherwise address the future of the labor force, economic system and/or overall economy in terms of the reconstruction of the South were left unattended for a time.

Blog Post #2


  • How does this reading add to your knowledge of the subject, or challenge or contradict what you previously thought about this aspect of American or global history?

Black women under the context of racism and misogyny have and continue to experience discrimination and violence at the hands of both men and women, who, in society’s’ standards, prove to be superior to them whether it be in terms of race or gender. White women, being that they are one of the main enforcers of such an issue encountered by Black women, although are faced with inarguable challenges due to the fact that they are women existing in a patriarchal society, are otherwise liberated in the fact that they are White. In this way can, White women enable acts of aggression or discrimination amongst individuals of varying races, and so they have. In fact, as of, in our modern world,  in many pre-dominantly White feminist spaces where the seemingly harmless and rather empowering notion of “women needing to stick together” or “women supporting women” is routinely brought up in a performative manner, conversations surrounding the struggles of Women of Color or Black women are also constantly being deliberately distorted or outright silenced by such self-proclaimed White feminists, who in their radical beliefs concerning women’s rights, in most cases, also, fail to consider equality amongst women of color and Black women.Therefore, historically speaking, it comes as no shock to me, as indicated and supported in “Out of the House of Bondage, Ch. 1, The Gender of Violence” by Thavolia Glymph, that my knowledge that White women have hid behind, weaponized and profited off of their idealized sense of womanhood (being that they are seen as soft, delicate, caring and harmless etc.) while simultaneously partaking in the violent reinforcement of the institution of slavery and white supremacy against their Black women counterparts during the Antebellum era of the American South stands correct. An example of this can be seen in the upholding ideology or rather mythos that the ladies and/or mistresses of such a slaveholding society as ours in the 17th to 19th century, were deemed graceful, “…a positive influence on the slave system,…[and] the best friends slaves could hope to have.” (Glymph 23-24), when,  it has been noted in slave testimonials, mainly brought up by formerly enslaved Black women, that “…slave mistresses had in fact slapped, hit, and even brutally whipped their slaves – particularly slave women or children,…” (Glymph, 26). This example, adds onto my previously stated knowledge on the dynamics between White women and racism as it demonstrates the contradicting perspectives surrounding their involvement in and maintenance of  the institution of slavery during the Antebellum era of the American South, which on one hand wrongfully depicts White women as compassionate and harmless, while rightfully, on the other, as calculating, spiteful and possibly worse than their, slave-master husbands, in regards to their treatment of their enslaved Black men and specifically women subjects.

Blog Post Assignment #1

  • What was the historic transformation, or change over time, that the author is describing in the reading?…


It is often presumed that the progression of our current state of economy, -Free market Capitalism-, has been  stagnant throughout modern history, with the trading  systems of the Old World being the foundation of Capitalism itself.  The concept of Capitalism has always been prevalent in much of the world’s past economies and societies, with profit being a main source of motivation for the seemingly unwavering ambitions of the nations of the Old World, however, it must be noted that Capitalism, -as done so in James Fulcher’s’ “Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction”-, and all that it entails has been shaped over time to become what it is now;”…the investment of money in the expectation of making a profit [or capital]” (Fulcher 2), as it has had differing phases and/or forms that has been accommodated to the time and place in which it was being practiced in. Fulcher throughout the text, implies this.


The earliest form of Capitalism, Merchant Capitalism, -as indicated by Fulcher- was the accumulation of profits through trading systems. It occurred within the 17th century in Europe. With it, travel and the means to travel were necessary for this kind of Capitalism to take place. And thus, expeditions involving the movement of large cargo ships and crews led by nationally representative trading companies that were “controlled and administered” by rich merchants were launched to help exchange and transport goods between various European, Asian and African countries. These expeditions despite being successful and efficient in their tasks, were not exempt from risk. An example of this is the expeditions led by the East India Company of England in 1601-1608, where,-after a few successes were accomplished in acquiring spices from the East Indies for trade-, some of the ships that were sent on these ventures such as, Susan, Hector and Ascension  were either found ” …lost at sea…with most of [their] crew found dead [or]…wrecked… [which ultimately led to] the investors [people who funded the expeditions] in this expedition [to lose] all their capital.”(Fulcher 1). Merchant Capitalism given all the risks that occurred under it, continued to serve as the economic system many of the Old World followed until the establishment and integration of the New World and the various kinds of products it had to offer into the international economy, which in a century or so later, following the 17th, brought about Industrialization and Capitalist Production.


Capitalist Production has been donned as more significant to the overall establishment of our modern day Capitalism than other forms of Capitalism themselves because Capitalist Production, as Fulcher implies, “…depends on the exploitation of wage labour, which also fuels the consumption of the goods and services produced by capitalist enterprises.”(Fulcher 18). Capitalist Production which sought out labor as a form of product in contrast to the more traditional kinds of product to the greater scale of the economy, is what eventually led to Financial Capitalism.


Financial Capitalism, -the obtaining of money profits through financial operations or systems-, when involving risk, unlike it’s predecessor, Merchant Capitalism and  although still possible and impactful, risk, weighs differently and less so.This is possible through, as Fulcher describes as “Speculation,…[which] occurs when something is bought in the expectation of selling it, without increasing its value by processing it in some way, at a higher price in the future…it is…a way of avoiding risk.” (Fulcher 17).  Financial Capitalism, given that it was created in the late 19th century, in all its more modern methods and techniques like the stock market and banking, is more reflective of and influential towards our current form of Free Market Capitalism.


Fulcher makes note that Capitalism through all of its phases and gradual changes was and still is transformative as markets, products and the means to invest money into them for profit will always be changing.