The Wealth of a Nation A History of Trade Politics in America

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2018-05-01
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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The United States is entering a period of profound uncertainty in the world political economy--an uncertainty which is threatening the liberal economic order that its own statesmen created at the end of the Second World War. The storm surrounding this threat has been ignited by an issue that has divided Americans since the nation's founding: international trade. Is America better off under a liberal trade regime, or would protectionism be more beneficial? The issue divided Alexander Hamilton from Thomas Jefferson, the agrarian south from the industrializing north, and progressives from robber barons in the Gilded Age. In our own times, it has pitted anti-globalization activists and manufacturing workers against both multinational firms and the bulk of the economics profession.

Ambassador C. Donald Johnson's The Wealth of a Nation is an authoritative history of the politics of trade in America from the Revolution to the Trump era. Johnson begins by charting the rise and fall of the U.S. protectionist system from the time of Alexander Hamilton to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. Challenges to protectionist dominance were frequent and often serious, but the protectionist regime only faded in the wake of the Great Depression. After World War II, America was the primary architect of the liberal rules-based economic order that has dominated the globe for over half a century. Recent years, however, have seen a swelling anti-free trade movement that casts the postwar liberal regime as anti-worker, pro-capital, and--in Donald Trump's view--even anti-American. In this riveting history, Johnson emphasizes the benefits of the postwar free trade regime, but focuses in particular on how it has attempted to advance workers' rights. This analysis of the evolution of American trade policy stresses the critical importance of the multilateral trading system's survival and defines the central political struggle between business and labor in measuring the wealth of a nation.

Author Biography

C. Donald Johnson is the Director Emeritus of the Dean Rusk Center for International Law and Policy at the University of Georgia. Previously, Ambassador Johnson was a partner at the law firm of Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in the law related to international trade and investment, national security and foreign policy issues.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Battle in Seattle and Adam Smith

Part One: From Hamilton to Smoot-Hawley - The Rise and Fall of the U.S. Protectionist System
Chapter One: A Genuine American System
Chapter Two: Crisis, Compromise, and Free Trade in the Jacksonian Democracy
Chapter Three: Civil War and Robber Barons
Chapter Four: The Gilded Age of Protectionism
Chapter Five: Trade Reform in the Progressive Era
Chapter Six: The Roaring Twenties and the Path to Smoot-Hawley

Part Two: The Transformation - The Creation of a Liberal Economic Order
Chapter Seven: FDR and Cordell Hull
Chapter Eight: The Brain Trust
Chapter Nine: The Dawn of the Multilateral Trading System
Chapter Ten: The Anglo-American Special Relationship
Chapter Eleven: The Postwar Atlantic Alliance
Chapter Twelve: The Birth of GATT
Chapter Thirteen: The Havana Charter
Chapter Fourteen: A New Economic Order?
Chapter Fifteen: The Aftermath: Labor's Love is Lost


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