On Market Revolution in the US

During the revolutionary period until the first half of the 19th century, farmers produced crops for their own consumption. Because they needed to depend and work for themselves, the self-sufficient farmers developed a sense of individualism rooted in self-reliance. At that time, they did not have a private notion of freedom which includes choice and the desire to get ahead. Hence, there was no competition.Due to the lack of technologies that would hasten the production, transfer the goods to farther places, and communicate with possible customers outside of their location, farmers did not regard agriculture as an opportunity to gain wealth.

Starting in 1850 however, certain occupational technologies were invented like the steel plow and reaper that enabled farmers to grow and harvest more. In addition, railways, steamboats and other modes of transportation as well as communication technologies like the telegraph, which allowed real time communication, were developed. Because of the inventions, they began to produce more and sell and transport products to other states that paved for an expansion of market relations, which resulted to competition. This huge economic transformation is called the Market Revolution.  And as these social and material changes happened, socio-psychological transformations occurred. The Americans’ notion of freedom became privatized in that they saw economic opportunity, the ability to engage in market relations; physical mobility, to travel anywhere; and political participation in the system as part of their freedom. In other words, choice became an integral component of their concept of freedom.

Discovering new freedoms, Americans felt they were called by God to conquer territories and spread their ideals and notions of freedoms which resulted to the annexation of California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and other Mexican territories after the Mexican-American war of 1848; after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed. Moreover, the emerging market attracted people from other ethnic groups to come to the US, so massive ethnic diversification in the country emerged. Due to cultural diversity, the whites developed the Anglo-Saxon complex, a belief that only those coming from the Saxon race are considered Americans, self-governed and self-reliant. This created white supremacy that resulted to racial inequalities and slavery during the market revolution, casting other ethnicities to the periphery.

Legal and economic exclusions were made in an attempt to flush African Americans out of the city. Foreign Miner’s tax was collected from Chinese migrants to keep them from mining gold.  Institution of Slavery became more rigid as it was considered a necessity to the cotton industry and the overall booming economy.

Although choice resulted from the Market revolution, it was removed from the rights of other ethnicities. The mexicans who became citizens of the country were not immuned to the prejudice. Theirs was in the form of land and livelihood grabbing. The Chinese Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans found survival on their own difficult. For this reason, they created organizations where they could share a bit of what they had to their brethren. For Chinese Americans, it was the Tong and Kongs. For African Americans, it was the Mutual Benefit Societies. And for Mexican Americans, it came in the form of Mutualistas and Barrios. Through these societies, they maintained their new culture and created a culture that was based on their American experiences. Through these societies, they created a sense of shared identity.

The material and social changes during the Market Revolution led to socio-psychological changes that evolved the American mind: adding the concept of choice to individualism and forming competition and limited government. But in the same importance, it shaped counter-cultural American identities.



Categories: Musings, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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