Capitalism in Early America

Better Essays
Capitalism in Early America

Many different people have defined capitalism over the years. It has been defined as a political entity, economic entity and as a social entity. Max Weber and Karl Marx argue different theories concerning the emergence of capitalism. While it is unsure whether the economic system emerged first or the cultural values and ideology that allowed for the formation of capitalism emerged first, one thing is for certain, capitalism is tied to cultural values and ideology. This essay will explore the social changes that capitalism caused in early America by discussing: violence; crowds, mobs, and committees; food riots and price controls; the American Revolution; and the Constitution. . The adverse effect on society that capitalism caused was violence. Capitalism caused an ideology to emerge in early America that cannot be described with any one word. Capitalism caused people to become dependent upon an economic system that cherished two things: money and the power that wealth provided. When that economic system and its prize were threatened, the reaction was often one of violence. The Salem witchcraft trials are an example of such violence.

When the people of Salem realized that their neighbors, who lived closer to the water, were becoming wealthier and therefore, more powerful than they were, violence erupted in the form of accusations. These accusations were that certain people in Salem were practicing witchcraft on other members of the community. Several people were executed based on accusations that some historians now say were based on the economic prosperity of certain members of the Salem community and the economic disparity of other members. The members of this community, who had once ...

... middle of paper ...

...power was unequal. The values and ideology that come with capitalism put the power in the hands of a few, in this case white men, and relegate all else to a lesser status to protect that power.

The values and ideology that are present in a capitalist society make wealth and power the most desired goals. These values in early America caused violence among neighbors, formed new social entities such as crowds and committees, and gave rise to the Revolution and the Constitution. The social effects of capitalism in early America is immeasurable but obviously had far reaching. The fact that our nation is built upon such values and ideology can explain much about the condition in which we all live today. Wealth and power have become the most important end result all the way from the people who live in the ghetto to the man who runs this country, President Clinton.
Get Access