Exceptional Business, American Style

Part of History Courses

Professor Larry is an expert about a range of topics. Check out our current and upcoming courses. Send a message if you'd like to see Professor Larry address something new!

Part of History Courses

Professor Larry is an expert about a range of topics. Check out our current and upcoming courses. Send a message if you'd like to see Professor Larry address something new!

Exceptional Business, American Style
Course filed in American History , History of Entrepreneurs, Economics and Business

Why, for the better part of 200 years, did American businesses perform so well? Why did a nation with no empire abroad surge to the top of world production, manufacturing, and trade in the space of less than 100 years, and then 50 years later so dominate the world that it seemingly was the only nation on the globe with a vibrant economy? Yet how did that same dominant status erode, then how did America’s businesses recover (at least partially)?

The answers are all in this course, which traces the foundations of American success in “American exceptionalism,” including its basis in laws, and follows the lives and careers of over 100 top entrepreneurs.

This course teaches you all about...

A. America’s colonial origins

           1. Causes of exploration

           2. Exploration as a business

           3. Mercantilism

           4. The three exploring powers and the dominance of New Spain

           5. America’s tiny colonies and their success

B. Tobacco, Furs, Printing: America’s Early Entrepreneurs

           1. William Byrd, II, Benjamin Franklin, John Jacob Astor, Paul Revere

           2. Britain and “Benign Neglect” as a condition of business

           3. Burdens of being British

           4. The Breakup

C. America’s Constitutional Foundations: The Four Pillars of Exceptionalism

           1. Christian (mostly Protestant) tradition

           2. Common law

           3. Private property with written titles and deeds

                       a. Land Ordinance of 1785

                       b. Northwest Ordinance

           4. The Constitution as a business document

           5. Free market economics

                       a. Adam Smith: a market economic theory

D. Early America’s Setting for Business Success

           1. Alexander Hamilton

           2. John Fitch

           3. Washington and Adams’s neutrality

           4. Jefferson’s expansion

           5. John Marshall and the legal framework for success

E. The Firebell in the Night: How the Missouri Compromise Changed American Business

           1. Rise of the “news” paper

           2. The post office

           3. Banks and private money

           4. The Transportation Revolution

                       a. Roads

                       b. Canals and steamboats (Fulton and Vanderbilt)

                       c. Railroads

                       d. Pony Express

                       e. The Managerial Revolution

           5. Financing growth

                       a. Biddle and the BUS

                       b. Jackson’s “war”

           6. Mexico’s mistake, America’s gain

           7. Slavery as “the” issue

F. The onset of the Civil War and Property Rights

           1. Rise of the Republicans; Calculating the Value of the Union

           2. Wartime economies

                       a. Homestead and Morrill

                       b. Railroads

                       c. Banking

           3. New entrepreneurs: Carnegie, Rockefeller, Weyerhaeuser, Kellogg, Post

           4. A prostrate South and black entrepreneurs: Free Frank, Andrew Jackson Beard

           5. Sharecropping: a terrible best alternative

G. Post-war Agrarian Issues: Farmers Meet Laborers

           1. Transcontinental Scandals

           2. J. P. Morgan and the Great Railroad Rescue

           3. The Managerial Revolution spreads

           4. Discontent and the lure of “cheap money”: Populists and the Silver Issue

           5. Grover Cleveland and the Great US Bailout

H. Rise of the Progressives

           1. Sherman and Trust Busting

           2. TR and the anti-trust crusade

           3. Income Taxes and the Fed

           4. Business and WW I: The “Dollar A Year Men” and Bernard Baruch

           5. Henry Ford and a car for the common man

I. Interim for Progressivism

  1. Harding, Coolidge and Mellon and tax cuts
  2. Rise of 20th century industries: electricity (Insull), cars (Alfred Sloan and GM), radios (Sarnoff), Advertising (BBD&O and The Man Nobody Knows.
  3. The Great Crash and its Myths (John Maynard Keynes)
  4. Hoover’s bumbles and the Great Depression

J. FDR and the Raw Deal

           1. Alphabet Soup agencies

           2. How the Minimum Wage made the Depression permanent

           3. Ida Rosenthal, Samuel Insull, Walt Disney

K. The War bails out the economy: Not a demand-side response

           1. Henry Kaiser, Andrew Jackson Higgins, Preston Tucker, Howard Hughes

           2. All out for defense: the Industrial tsunami

L. The “Golden Accident” and American World Dominance

           1. Marshall Plan rebuilds America’s competitors

           2. Autos, steel, and the rise of television

           3. Juan Trippe and the expansion of American ideas

           4. Ruth Handler’s doll

J. The 60s Decline, 70s Malaise

           1. IBM and its rise to world domination

           2. Troubles and undercurrents

           3. Ralph Nader and the reaction to big business

           4. LBJ’s Great Society and its destruction of business

           5. Nixon: We’re all Keynesians

           6. OPEC and the oil weapon

           7. The Phillips Curve and the end of Keynesianism

           8. Fred Smith and Fed Ex

           9. Deregulation of airlines and energy

K. Reagan’s Morning in America

           1. Reviving the economy through Reaganomics

           2. The “new economy,” Apple, Microsoft

           3. Deindustrialization

           4. Winning the Cold War

           5. Momentum for a decade

L. An Economy in Transition

           1. NAFTA’s damage

           2. Silicon Valley’s promise

           3. Y2K’s scare

           4. Information overload

           5. 9/11's impact

           6. Storm clouds of the Big Short and the Housing bubble

           7. Obama’s bailout nation

           8. On the brink: Trump pulls the US back from the abyss

           9. Economic revival

Share