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Trade & Commerce

They created towns and became the center of Western life, enabling wheat, cattle, and minerals to flow out of the West

Half a century after engines touched pilot to pilot at Promontory, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad, the imprint of the Iron Road was nearly everywhere in the American West. Some enthusiastic real estate promoters and railway officials even claimed that the railroads invented the West—or at least the national image of the West. Read more >>

In one day, the stock market plummeted 22 percent shortly after the author became Chairman of the Federal Reserve

I’d scrutinized the economy every working day for decades and had visited the Fed scores of times. Nevertheless, when I was appointed chairman in August 1987, I knew I’d have a lot to learn. That was reinforced the minute I walked in the door. Read more >>

Banker J. P. Morgan rescued the dollar and bailed out the nation

For all his previous successes, President Herbert Hoover proved incapable of arresting the economic free fall of the Depression— or soothing the fears of a distressed nation

On March 4, 1929, Herbert Hoover took the oath of office as the thirty-first president of the United States. America, its new leader told the rain-soaked crowd of 50,0000 around the Capitol and countless more listening to the radio, was “filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort and opportunity.” Read more >>

It was the nation’s biggest business, it was well organized as a Detroit assembly line, and it was here to stay. It was slavery. David Brion Davis, A lifelong student of the institution, tells how he discovered—and then set about teaching—its vast significance.

Foreign trade—import and export alike—has been indispensable in building America from the very start, and many of our worst economic troubles have arisen when that trade wasn’t free enough. A historic overview.

It is not a coincidence that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and what would one day be the world’s wealthiest nation should both have burst upon the global scene in 1776. Read more >>
Not long ago, while I was in the midst of preparations for an exhibition on early American trade with India, an extraordinary memento of that trade serendipitously appeared at the Peabody Museum of Salem in Massachusetts. Read more >>

For two hundred years the United States patent system has defined what is an invention and protected, enriched, and befuddled inventors. As a tool of corporate growth in a global economy, it is now more important than ever.

In a decision of far-reaching significance, a federal circuit court in 1985 ruled that the Eastman Kodak Company had infringed the instant-camera patents held by Polaroid. Read more >>

While New York families were spending fortunes inherited from fathers and grandfathers, the Chicago rich had to start from scratch, both making and lavishly spending money within one generation

She lived only six years, but it was a history-packed career

Old rivermen used to talk of the first time the steamboat Yellow Stone reached the fur-trading posts on the upper Missouri. Read more >>

The opium trade is remembered as a British outrage: English merchants, protected by English bayonets, turning China into a nation of addicts. But Americans got rich from this traffic—among them, a young man named Warren Delano. He didn’t talk about it afterward, of course. And neither did his grandson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Edward Delano arrived at Macao off the South China coast aboard the American vessel Oneida on December 7, 1840. His initial impression of the tiny Portuguese colony was reassuring. Read more >>
ANY CHILD KNOWS that the amount of fun in a game is likely to be inversely proportional to its educational value. Read more >>

We built a merchant marine despite the opposition of the Royal Navy, went on to develop the most beautiful of all sailing ships, and held our supremacy for years. But how do we measure up today?

AMERICA is in the midst of a revival of interest in things nautical—nineteenth-century nautical. Read more >>
Though he invariably has his way with the small-town girls in a thousand indestructible smutty stories, the actual life the traveling salesman led was not nearly so gleeful. Read more >>

Once again, Americans are learning the delicate art of trading with the biggest market on earth. Here’s how they did it the first time.

As American merchant ships call again at the China coast, they are following in the ghostly wake of a sailing ship of 360 tons burden which arrived at Whampoa Reach, the anchorage for Canton, on August 28, 1784—188 days out of New York. Read more >>

A Classic Riddle of the Sea From an Absorbing New Book

Early in the afternoon of December 4, 1872, at a point about midway between the Azores and Portugal, the Nova Scotian brigantine Dei Gratia was proceeding on a southeasterly course when her master, David Reed Morehouse, sighted Read more >>

The Curious World of the Trademark

Millions of readers have been pleasured by the writings of John Steinbeck, but there was no joy in the Atlanta headquarters of the Coca-Cola Company when the Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist’s The Wayward Bus reached the executive suite. Read more >>

An excerpt from a new bicentennial history of his native state

HOW AND WHY THE UNITED STATES GOT INVOLVED IN THE MIDDLE EAST

In October, 1973, Arab states clapped an embargo on oil shipments to the United States. All at once the nation had to go on daylight-saving time, throttle back on the highways, and turn down thermostats. Read more >>

“57 VARIETIES” WAS ONLY A SALES SLOGAN, BUT H. J. HEINZ UNDERSTOOD FROM THE START THAT THERE WAS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR HONEST PRODUCTS AND WELL-TREATED WORKERS

Pittsburgh, God knows, was no fourth-century Athens, but around 1900 it did have a remarkable group of industrial leaders. Read more >>

In the early days of giveaways the pocket mirror was a handy means of promoting a product: the advertisement was on one side, the customer on the other

Who Is the Fairest of Them All? Read more >>
The Pacific Ocean is vast and lonely. Read more >>

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