Marc-William Palen

The 'Conspiracy' of Free Trade

The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalization, 1846-1896

Cambridge University Press 2016

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in EconomicsNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network August 30, 2016 Christienna Fryar

Accounts of late-nineteenth-century US expansionism commonly refer to an open-door empire and an imperialism spurred by belief in free trade. In his new book...

Accounts of late-nineteenth-century US expansionism commonly refer to an open-door empire and an imperialism spurred by belief in free trade. In his new book The “Conspiracy” of Free Trade: The Anglo-American Struggle over Empire and Economic Globalization, 1846-1896 (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Marc-William Palen challenges this commonplace. Instead, he notes, American adherents to Richard Cobden’s free-trade philosophy faced off against and ultimately lost to a powerful version of protectionist economic nationalism inspired by German-American economic theorist Friedrich List. The success of Listian protectionism spurred closed-door, aggressive US expansionism and also challenged free-trade orthodoxies in Britain, where political-economic policy also shifted toward protectionism by the end of the nineteenth century.

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