Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XII, Part II (1899)
Libby, Orin G.
A study of the Greenback movement, 1876-84, pp. -543 PDF (3.9 MB)
A STUDY OF THE GREENBACK MOVEMENT, 1876-84. ORIN G. LIBBY, PH. D. Instructor in History, University of Wisconsin. The economic interpretation of history is one of the most fruitful contributions of modern historical criticism. It is pe- culiarly valuable for its concreteness, furnishing a ready means for comparison with results already reached in other lines, and for speedily ascertaining the relative value of the new and the old. The abstract proposition, with its finespun logic, its care- fully drawn deductions, and its infallible conclusions, is thus relegated to the limbo of mediaeval rubbish. Its place is now filled by a really scientific laboratory method. It is not a new idea in history or political economy, that en- vironment modifies man and finds expression in his institutions, his laws, and his daily economic life. The detailed statis- tical proof of this in an actual case is not so common, nor is it easy to demonstrate the rigid working of cause and effect upon a given community in so narrow a field. What can be shown to be true for a series of centuries, is not so readily discerni- ble for a single generation. Yet the tendencies of human life should be susceptible of concrete expression for any period of time, however imperceptible their movement, if only the proper cross section be made and a sufficiently high magnifying power be applied. Such a favorable time for the study of the economic causes of political action may be found in some great upheaval of public opinion, which re-arranges for a moment a consider- able portion of certain most susceptible communities along the magnetic lines of self interest. The old and steadily conserva- tive forces of tradition are for the time paralyzed in some favor- able localities and the elemental human desires reassert them- selves irresistibly. Not all of these disturbances are economic, _rr
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