Liberal Capitalism

Liberal Capitalism is the ideology, which delivers the satisfaction of personal achievement (Anderson 2007). It competed with other ideologies on which of them best produced for prosperity and economic growth. Debates on equality raged from the 18th to the 19th centuries. A central figure was Alexander Hamilton. He presented a program, which would tie the interests of the moneyed to the federal government in order to regulate the bonds of deference and paternalism. A homespun economy would evolve to counteract imperial corruption as an alternative commercial philosophy or trend (Zakim 2001). It would grow out of, and rest on, a civil society and the energy of independent householders. There would be no monopolization in the society they created (Zakim). Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury and a close confidant of George Washington.

The homespun principle introduced a new characteristic, democracy (Zakim 2001). Sophisticated people appeared in public in clothing, which were previously and exclusively that of laborers and servants. They began to express their individual selves in what they wore. Homespun turned into a symbol of civic membership and erased the difference in clothing between the rich and the poor. It accorded full citizenship to those previously considered devoid of virtue and accordingly clad. It moved necessity to the center of political life. The humble household became the basis of sovereignty. Civic virtue depended on a person's proximity to the source of production of basic necessities. The new setup raised the manual laborer to the level of the philosopher and the statesman. It was described as an unprecedented development in America (Zakim).

The deepening rift between the colonies and England between the 1760s and 1770s led to the belief that Americans should be less dependent on England for manufactured goods (Lowell National Historical Park 2002). This found expression in manufacturing homespun cloth in lieu of imports from England. But manufactured cloth outside the home was viewed as relief for the poor. Poor families in Boston and Philadelphia were employed to work and spin to earn their daily bread. Many pre-Revolutionary Americans were, thus, suspicious about manufacturing. After independence, Americans needed access to British industrial resources to expand the colonies. But English laws forbade the export of machinery and the emigration of machine operators. This was the condition until Samuel Slater, an English immigrant, brought and introduced British cotton technology to the New World. He was attracted to the promise of prosperity in America. He disguised as a farmer in order to enter it and introduced textile technology by memory. This was the Arkwright water frame. He established the first permanent American cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island for mill owner Moses Brown in December 1790. They employed nine children with ages ranging from 7 to 12 for the carding and spinning processes. Slater trained a full generation of millwrights and textile workers. This led to the rapid expansion of textile mills in the early 19th century and spread across New England and Massachusetts. Lowell mills and those established after them grew into competitive industries. These small spinning mills in the rural areas set the landscape for early industrialization. From only 100 workers in 1800, there were 61 cotton mills with 31,000 a decade later throughout the United States. The main manufacturing centers were Rhode Island and Philadelphia (Lowell National Historical Park).

Textile operations were limited to carding and spinning until Francis Cabot Lowell brought in a workable power loom (Lowell National Historical Park 2002). The mill turned into an integrated factory where the entire textile production operation was in one place and under one roof. With the expansion and spread of textile mills throughout the country, a national debate on the place of manufacturing in American society evolved. Thomas Jefferson favored the "yeoman ideal" of a rural Republic. Central to it was the independent and democratic farmer. He expressed apprehension about factory workers' loss of economic independence. On the other hand, Alexander Hamilton supported and led those who promoted manufacturing. He and they envisioned prosperity from the oncoming industrial development. The philosophical debate intensified after 1830 when textile factories and the number of workers increased even more (Lowell National Historical Park).

Within the framework of liberal capitalism, the traditional household became and remained the center of economic activity (Zakim 2001). Alexander Hamilton was the first to recognize the position of family manufacturers in his post-independence development plans. In…