from stolen lands and stolen labor was concentrated, centralized, and
made available to mostly Republican business tycoons.Where are U.S.
economics headed? Before we can truly know where we may be going, we
where we have been and where we are now! That is a basic concept in
path-finding. All other things concerning the landscape through which
may change but the points where one has been and where one stands in
present are fixed – or can be fixed in the mind. The history of the
through these points tells of straight lines, curves, angles, and
how obstacles and barriers were surmounted. Therefore keeping
accurate records and making measurements of those turns and twists is
important. Given that all of us have the same destination of “freedom”
economic prosperity based on just opportunity and equitably compensated
for all residents of the U.S., path finding (at this moment)
answers to the question of what has been the history of U.S. economics
relationship to individual effort and government involvement.
With the issue of U.S. economic history, Wikipedia begins
following true statement: “The economic history of the United States
has its roots in European colonization in the 16th, 17th, and 18th
From that point on Wikipedia – reflecting the popular miasma and false
mythology about U.S.
economic history – obfuscates and bends the truth. There is an early
the truth of war, stolen land, the importation of pandemic diseases,
corruption of local indigenous ways with alcohol, and the development
dependency on goods manufactured thousands of miles away. But in
economic success, the exploitation of stolen land and the near genocide
First People inhabitants are unspoken, assumed virtues. The enslavement
black people and the stealing of their labor are subsumed in a
“entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to investing in material and
capital.” It takes no mental effort to know that Europeans in Europe
were no less entrepreneurial or less industrious than the European
arrived on U.S.
shores. The difference was stolen land and stolen labor. It is falsehood
to attribute U.S.
early economic success to entrepreneurial spirit. This
of the past is still fixed in too many minds and was the background of
Presidential campaign tiff about “You didn’t build that.”
major crux of that tiff had to do with the recognition of the role of
government, which was the actual intent of Obama’s misconstrued
History is clear that government played a major role in U.S.
“success.” From the very beginning, these colonial exploration efforts
sponsored and sanctioned by European government powers, including the Vatican.
exploitation would not have happened without governmental involvement.
the patronage of monarchs and republics, private companies were issued
corporate charters. “These chartered companies go back into the
period. Chartered companies enabled States to use private resources for
exploration and trade beyond the means of the limited resources of the
treasury, which is a liberal form of indirect rule.” The charter
out the terms under which the company could trade; defined its
influence, and described its rights and responsibilities.” Much of the
“success” was due to growing tobacco, rice, and indigo for export and
that avenue for business would not exist without governments and their
At no time in the economic history of the U.S. were the government
businesses – beyond the size of very small farms – independent actors
their goals separately. “No, you didn’t build that by yourself, ever!”
Everywhere we scratch the historical surface
it seems that government is there picking winners and losers and
sanctioning horrendous oppression and injustice
Over the years, there did
develop small farm and small business enterprises all over the country
were locally self-sustaining; these were the folks who were the focus
Jefferson Democracy movement that opposed what government did for the
businesses and corporations. The New England states, which were fed by
local enterprises and did not grow crops for export, benefited from the
construction of slaving ships, whaling, rum production (which led to
textile industry), and the various publically supported kinds of mills.
governments subsidized roads, bridges, inns,
and ferries. All of this derived from and depended in major part on
and the stolen labor of enslaved people in the South.
The invention of the
cotton gin made “cotton king” and exploded the economics of slavery and
international trade. The Federal government expanded exploration West
Lewis and Clark Expedition and military campaigns against the
holders. States and local governments continued to subsidize roads and
waterways such as the Cumberland Pike and the Erie
Following the lead of Alexander Hamilton, Government stepped in to
and currencies that favored standing armies and big business.
ships, and other efforts expanded government’s involvement in the U.S.
is the evidence for an “American Exceptionalism”
based on the self-made, independent corporate entrepreneur! Everywhere
scratch the historical surface it seems that government is there
winners and losers and sanctioning horrendous oppression and injustice.
government was paying its bills with land grants; giving out the land
armies had stolen and the land that Jefferson had illegally purchased
had doubled in size thanks to the Haitian slave Revolt. The Louisiana
Purchase was the acquisition by the U.S in 1803 of 828,000 square
miles of France's
claim to the territory
That territory “contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa,
Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska; parts of Minnesota that were west of
Mississippi River; most of North Dakota; most of South Dakota;
Mexico; northern Texas; the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado
the Continental Divide; Louisiana west of the Mississippi River,
city of New Orleans; and small portions of land that would eventually
part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.” The U.S. paid $11,250,000 plus cancellation
worth $3,750,000, for a total sum of less than 3 cents per acre for the
slave revolt in Haiti
impending war with Britain
led France to sell
entire territory to the U.S.
It was not France’s
to sell; the lands belonged to indigenous tribes.
Path finding requires answers to the question
of what has been the history of U.S. economics in relationship to
individual effort and government involvement
rest of the nation was acquired, also illegally, from Mexico
because of slavery. Mexico,
it threw off the Spanish colonizer, had outlawed slavery. The
Railroad also went south and Mexico
refused to extradite runaway slaves. The Alamo
was an attempt by slave owners and slave traders to steal Mexican land
convert it to slave territory. When this failed, a war with Mexico was instigated and the defeated
were forced in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to give the
the Rio Grande
boundary for Texas, the ownership of California, and a large area comprising New Mexico, Arizona,
Nevada, Utah, and parts
of Wyoming and Colorado. Mexico
had failed to conquer the tribes in much of this area but with the
enslaved black troops, the Buffalo Soldiers, the U.S.
eventually did so.
rapid economic development following Union government expenditures
Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S.
industrial economy. By 1890,
the USA leaped
ahead of Britain
first place in manufacturing output. Lincoln’s
Treasury Secretary, Chase, monetized and capitalized the U.S.
The capital from stolen lands and stolen labor was concentrated,
and made available to mostly Republican business tycoons. The Gilded
followed, followed by the Depression, followed by The New Deal and
II. The rest is wrinkles on a theme and is within the ken of living
Of the 6.5 million
immigrants who survived the crossing of the Atlantic and settled in the
between 1492 and 1776, only 1 million
were Europeans. The remaining 5.5 million were African. The U.S.
and enslaved approximately 1/5 of this number but hung on to this
institution the longest. To relegate the impact of slavery in the
history of the U.S.
to vague references is unacceptable. But to attribute the economic
largely to “entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to investing in
human capital” is unforgivable! Stolen land and enslaved people
[Note: Nafsi ya Jamii
is the Swahili phrase that
translates in English to
“The Soul Community”]
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Wilson Riles, is a former Oakland, CA City Council
Member. Click here to contact Mr.