Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon
Northern Christians and Market Capitalism, 1815-1860
Drawing on diverse primary sources, Davenport identifies three distinct Christian responses to market capitalism: assurance from clerical economists who believed in the righteousness of economic development; opposition from contrarians who resisted the changes around them; and adaptation by the pastoral moralists who modified their faith to meet the ethical challenges of the changing economy. Delving into the minds of antebellum Christians as they considered themselves, their God, and their developing American economy, Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon is an ambitious intellectual history of an important development in American religious and economic life.
“An important contribution to a much-neglected but very important subject. No other author has set out to do what Davenport accomplishes, which is a systematic study of how key representatives of America’s rising tide of religion attempted a theoretical understanding of, and practical response to, America’s rising tide of commerce.”
“Stewart Davenport conscientiously and insightfully re-creates the world of the nineteenth-century political economists, who taught that the principles of international trade manifested, like the laws of biology and physics, the intelligent design of a Divine Creator.”
“Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon is an illuminating and original examination of religious thought about political economy in nineteenth-century America, and thereby of deep and enduring conflicts within market societies.”
“Scholars have endlessly written about antebellum Protestant thinking about slavery. Now, finally, Friends of the Unrighteous Mammon turns a spotlight on a new, crucial question: how did antebellum Protestants parse capitalism? For anyone who seeks to understand the political economy of the antebellum era—or, indeed, the complex entanglement of Christianity and capitalism today—this book is critical. I, for one, am very grateful to Stewart Davenport for having written it.”