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Building Empire State Political Economy Early Republic Murphy Book


Winner of the 2016 James Broussard First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

BUILDING THE EMPIRE STATE examines the origins of American capitalism by tracing how and why business corporations were first introduced into the economy of the early republic. Brian Phillips Murphy follows the collaborations between political leaders and a group of unelected political entrepreneurs, including Alexander Hamilton and Robert R. Livingston, who persuaded legislators to use monopolies and corporate charters to build New York's financial and transportation infrastructure. 


Through sustained attention to the Bank of New York, the Manhattan Company, Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston's steamboat monopoly, the Erie Canal, and the New York & Erie Railroad, Murphy traces the ways political entrepreneurs marshaled political and financial capital within an economy of influence to win support for their private plans and interests. The political, economic, and legal consequences organizing the marketplace in this way continue to be felt in the vast influence and privileged position held by corporations in the present day.


(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)



Building the Empire State: 

Political Economy in the Early Republic

"We need more books like Brian Murphy's study of the politics of economic development in New York during the early republic." - Naomi R. Lamoreaux, Journal of the Early Republic
"Murphy, who has a background in political journalism, has a horse sense for politics that makes this book important reading for scholars inclined toward economics, law, or more formal political history."- Hannah Farber, William and Mary Quarterly
"For economic historians with an interest in the complicated intricacies of institutional change this volume has much to offer."  - Ed Perkins,
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