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Grant number: FA-232982-16

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Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor
University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)

America Under the Hammer: Auctions and Market Culture, 1700-1850

An economic, social, and cultural study of the role of auctions in early America.

The auction was everywhere in early America—so prevalent that it was a common touchstone for politicians, novelists, and abolitionists, who drew upon auction experiences to critique the pricing of everyday life. I use the auction as a critical yet overlooked window into the roots of American capitalism. As an integrated economic and cultural history, my project brings together the more usual suspects such as banks and brokerages with men and women who have been often overlooked in the history of American economies. These actors—auctioneers, bidders, spectators, and people put up for sale who operated in the spaces between free trade and government-regulated pricing—shaped the boundaries of the economy and capitalism’s ethics of exchange. By conceptualizing the auction as institution, practice, and symbol, the project offers a new way to understand the development of the American economy.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
U.S. History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$33,600 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 8/31/2016