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Home | Mises Library | 2. Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Mercantilism in America

2. Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Mercantilism in America

  • Liberty and American Civilization
June 6, 2006

Tags U.S. HistoryInterventionism

Alexander Hamilton wanted the colonies to be just like Britain, but without a king. He pushed mercantilism in America by arguing that public debt was positive and central banking was necessary.

High tariffs, especially on manufactured goods, are an almost universal feature of mercantilist policy. Yet it was just that system that the colonists had rejected by seceding from Britain. The goal of mercantilist economic policies was to build up the state and benefit a small group of elite merchants and government bureaucrats.

Murray Rothbard, representing the Austrian School of economics, describes it this way:

Mercantilism, which reached its height in the Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, was a system of statism which employed economic fallacy to build up a structure of imperial state power, as well as special subsidy and monopolistic privilege to individuals or groups favored by the state. Thus, mercantilism held exports should be encouraged by the government and imports discouraged.

Lecture 2 of 10 from the Steven Berger Seminar: Thomas DiLorenzo on Liberty and American Civilization.

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