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Home | Library | Roger Williams’s Unintentional Contribution to the Creation of American Capitalism

Roger Williams’s Unintentional Contribution to the Creation of American Capitalism

June 24, 2011

Tags U.S. EconomyU.S. History

Questioning the roots of capitalism is a favorite sport among historians and literary critics alike. Certainly the establishment of a trading colony by John Smith in Jamestown, Virginia may be nominated as the event responsible for introducing the concept of free-trade to the new world; but in the lasting religious/cultural influence of the puritans, a severe obstruction to the spread of capitalist economics through New England had taken root. As I will show, puritan settlers in New England, previous to Williams’ influence, were effectively unanimous in their opposition to market economics. Further, one of the cornerstone arguments in this debate concerning origins is Max Weber’s suggestion, which complicates matters, that there was something distinctly different in Protestantism that led to the onset of capitalism: namely, the belief that good works and productivity were evidence of the soul’s being in a state of grace.


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References

Libertarian Papers, Vol. 3 (2011), Article No. 17