German Merchants in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic

German Merchants in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic

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This study brings to life the community of trans-Atlantic merchants who established strong economic, political and cultural ties between the United States and the city-republic of Bremen, Germany in the nineteenth century. Lars Maischak shows that the success of Bremen's merchants in helping make an industrial-capitalist world market created the conditions of their ultimate undoing: the new economy of industrial capitalism gave rise to democracy and the nation-state, undermining the political and economic power of this mercantile elite. Maischak argues that the experience of Bremen's merchants is representative of the transformation of the role of merchant capital in the first wave of globalization, with implications for our understanding of modern capitalism, in general.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 7 b/w illus. 3 maps 14 tables
  • 1139083643
  • 9781139083645

Review quote

'Lars Maischak's research on Hanseatic merchant capitalism and its transatlantic economic networks marks a signal achievement in Atlantic World scholarship. By integrating German Hanseatic networks into the Atlantic economy of antebellum America and northern Europe, Maischak throws light on a much-neglected component of nineteenth-century transnationalism. Alive to the cultural attitudes that shaped the business practices of merchant communities, Maischak deftly deploys numerous lenses to study how cosmopolitan conservative patrician traders, in abetting the rise of industrial world markets, brought about their own decline. This insightful and wide-ranging discussion elegantly restores the economic and sociopolitical world of merchant capitalists, whose compelling story runs counter to the dominant narratives of nation-states and industrialization. Well written and conceptually smart, this book speaks to numerous discussions in nineteenth-century studies.' James M. Brophy, University of Delaware 'Painstakingly tracing the transnational community of Hanseatic merchants living in Bremen, New York, and Baltimore, Lars Maischak recovers the global dimensions of the antebellum American economy. Deftly managing German and American sources and tracing German-American ties beyond the marketplace to the political and intellectual clubs and associations of New York and Baltimore, Maischak convincingly demonstrates that the origins of American industrial capitalism in the nineteenth century depended on institutions and practices developed in a transnational context. In the process he explains how this community of elite merchants helped transform an Atlantic marketplace into a global one.' Christian J. Koot, Towson University 'Lars Maischak's study of the merchants of Bremen in Germany and North America is an excellent work of nineteenth-century history. Deeply researched and elegantly argued, the book's trans-Atlantic perspective offers intriguing insights into a wide variety of topics: from the gendered administration of family property to the doctrines and practice of nineteenth-century conservatism, and from a consideration of the supporters and opponents of nationalism to an analysis of the financial and economic transition from mercantile to industrial capitalism.' Jonathan Sperber, University of Missouri '... a detailed expose ... [Maischak's] work significantly pushes scholars of the antebellum United States and of circa-1848 Germany to extend their narratives.' Kristin L. Condotta, H-Soz-u-Kult
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Table of contents

Index of tables, graphs, and maps; Glossary; Prologue; Introduction; Part I. Moorings of the Hanseatic Network: 1. Prudent pioneers: Hanseats in trans-Atlantic trade, 1798-1860; 2. The Hanseatic household: families, firms, and faith, 1815-64; 3. Cosmopolitan conservatives: home-town traditions and Western ideas in Bremish politics, 1806-60; Part II. Exchanges: In a Transnational World: 4. Free labor and dependent labor: from patronage to wage labor and social control, 1815-61; 5. International improvement: Hanseats, Hamiltonians, and Jacksonians, 1845-60; 6. Nations, races, and empires: Hanseats encounter the other, 1837-59; Part III. Decline of a Cosmopolitan Community: 7. The end of merchant-capital: crisis and adaptation in a world of industrial capitalism, 1857-90; 8. Decisions and divisions: Hanseatic responses to nation-making wars, 1859-67; 9. Patriarchs into patriots: Hanseats in a world of nation-states, 1867-1945; Conclusion; Appendix: maps; Sources; Bibliography.
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