This groundbreaking account of the development of American business from the colonial period to the present explains that the history of the United States can best be understood not as a search for freedom—but as a search for wealth and prosperity.
The Land of Enterprise charts the development of American business from the colonial period to the present. It explores the nation’s evolving economic, social, and political landscape by examining how different types of enterprising activities rose and fell, how new labor and production technologies supplanted old ones—and at what costs—and how Americans of all stripes responded to the tumultuous world of business. In particular, historian Benjamin Waterhouse highlights the changes in business practices, the development of different industries and sectors, and the complex relationship between business and national politics.
From executives and bankers to farmers and sailors, from union leaders to politicians to slaves, business history is American history, and Waterhouse pays tribute to the unnamed millions who traded their labor (sometimes by choice, often not) or decided what products to consume (sometimes informed, often not). Their story includes those who fought against what they saw as an oppressive system of exploitation as well as those who defended free markets from any outside intervention. The Land of Enterprise is not only a comprehensive look into our past achievements, but offers clues as to how to confront the challenges of today’s world: globalization, income inequality, and technological change.
Benjamin C. Waterhouse is a historian of American politics, business, and capitalism. Waterhouse graduated from Princeton University and received his PhD in history from Harvard University. He is currently an associate professor and Grauer Scholar at the University of North Carolina. He lives in Chapel Hill with his wife Daniela and their two children. He is the author of Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA and The Land of Enterprise: A Business History of the United States.