Friday, April 17, 2009

The Market Revolution

I’ve begun reading Charles Sellers’s The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846. The Marxist terminology makes me a little nervous, and the book is extremely dense and, I think, assumes a general working knowledge of the period – probably not the place to start if you have no background. But that said, the book is superb. Sellers’s research is prodigious, his insights both startling and then, in retrospect, perfectly logical when you go back and follow his train of thought. He writes well enough, if a bit abstractly, that he keeps you riveted: a slow-motion page-turner.

As a brief excerpt, I offer the following, which features some statistics that are both surprising and depressing when you consider our modern-day monstrosity:
Excluding Congress and the military, the entire government establishment at Washington, from President to doorkeeper, numbered only 153 people at the beginning of Jefferson’s administration and would increase to only 352 by 1829. In 1815 the President paid out of his own pocket the single secretary who assisted him; the Attorney General had neither clerk nor office; the Supreme Court convened for two months a year in a Capitol Hill boarding house; and during the summer only the clerks and bureau chiefs remained in the muggy capital to keep the wheels of state slowly turning.


  1. The wheels of state still turn slowly, but somehow it takes a whole lot more people to make them turn. Nice quote!

    Andrew @ Civil War Navy

  2. The Market Revolution is not without historical facts, but Sellers ruined this tome with his blatant value judgments. If Sellers had been honest, he would have admitted his Marxist bias in advance. He didn't, so I was astonished to find little or no serious criticism of this work. Someone should have ripped Sellers for this pile of dung he calls history.You can't read 5 pages without stumbling on Seller's Marxist bias. The chapter on the origins of Mormonism is simply opaque--not a page worth reading simply because it's unintelligible.

  3. In other words, Andrew, your gut was telling you what I'm now affirming: The Market Revolution consisted of 10,000 or so "progressive" opinions which Sellers shaped into one big "progressive" lie, i.e., that the early American Republic was just another example of class warfare which, of course, those nasty old racists and "capitalists" won because they're all just low-life, "greedy," and "heartless" scumbags. In the tradition of Charles Beard, Sellers confuses and conflates his opinions with historical fact. Sellers was a moron selling an idiotic work of fiction that simply mimics and repeats the endless socio-babble of his mentor, Karl Marx.


Related Posts with Thumbnails