Who We Are: America’s Fight for Universal Progress, from Franklin to Kennedy: Volume I – 1750s to 1850s

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This book demonstrates that most of what is currently taught as American history is either false, or woefully inadequate and misleading.

If you want to know the inside story of how America became the most powerful manufacturing nation in the world, this is the book to get.

You will learn that the American Revolution was about something very different than you thought, or than you were taught. It introduces a new way of thinking about the first 100 years of the existence of our republic.

For example, author Anton Chaitkin shows that contrary to current popular belief, America was not built on “free trade”, but rather through a policy of protectionism and economic nationalism.

Some of the conclusions in the book are so surprising, you may find yourself thinking, “no, that can’t be true”. Crucially important, every key idea is extensively documented with original and authoritative sources, so you can easily verify for yourself.

From the beginning, there was a ferocious struggle between Hamilton and Jefferson over economic policy. Should the U.S. remain as an agrarian society as Jefferson demanded, or rather, as Hamilton advocated, should the new nation become a manufacturing economy?

(A similar struggle has played out over the last 50 years. Should the U.S. become a post-industrial society {as has indeed occurred}, or should we remain and continue as a manufacturing economy?)

Contrary to most currently popular portrayals, Ben Franklin played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution, not only in America, but also in England. Indeed, Franklin was the mentor and guide to the crucial people who created the Industrial Revolution in England. And it was Franklin’s American protegés who went on to become the organizers of the American Industrial Revolution, building the first canals, steam engines, and railroads.

“Who We Are” gives us a direct account (from Franklin’s pen) that Lord Hillsborough confessed to him: Britain’s policy was to suppress manufacturing in the colonies. Again and again, we see the ‘jealous’ (as Hillsborough describes it) British Empire aggressively attempting to crush fledgling industries in their colonies and in the new United States. What was the instrument to accomplish this? Free trade!

Addressing the crucial question: were the men who led the American Industrial Revolution motivated by base greed, as so many revisionist historians have asserted? Or, were they rather driven to risk their fortunes and good names because of noble aspirations for progress? This question threads its way through the entire narrative. Chaitkin probes and examines the issue, using direct quotes from the people involved and contemporary sources. He proves that these were enlightened men, motivated by the intent to bring the benefits of progress to everyone.

As you read the book, you will learn that long before socialism or communism ever existed, there was a titanic struggle over the policies of a national bank and protective tariffs (Hamilton’s policies).

In a surprise to most modern readers, it turns out the building of the first canals, the creation of the coal industry, and the financing for the building of the first railroads were all government initiated projects. Meanwhile, private industry was also vitally important. In the “American System of Economics”, there is a true partnership between government policy and private initiative.

In short, this book fundamentally overturns much of what is taught as American history in high schools and universities.

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Who We Are: America’s Fight for Universal Progress, from Franklin to Kennedy: Volume I – 1750s to 1850s
Who We Are: America’s Fight for Universal Progress, from Franklin to Kennedy: Volume I – 1750s to 1850s
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