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America's First Great DepressionEconomic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837$
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Alasdair Roberts

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450334

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450334.001.0001

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Freedom, Order, and Economic Crisis

(p.203) Conclusion
America's First Great Depression

Alasdair Roberts

Cornell University Press

This concluding chapter discusses the changes to the American political community resulting from the First Great Depression. These include institutional change: new restrictions on the role of state governments, undertaken to reassure foreign investors and avoid a reprise of default; an expansion of police power, in response to domestic disorders caused by economic disruption; and an expansion of presidential power, partly as a consequence of legislative dysfunction, and partly because of the need to manage increasingly fragile relations with a more powerful nation, Britain. It then compares the 1836–1848 economic crisis to the most recent one that began in 2007. It concludes that Americans now have an intimation of what politics will be like in a world in which it is no longer the hegemon. It is a difficult kind of politics, unfamiliar to those born in the era of dominance.

Keywords:   First Great Depression, economic crisis, US economy, Britain, institutional change, state government, foreign investment, police power, presidential power, American politics

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