By Leonard N. Neufeldt
This significant examine brings to gentle Thoreau's relation to the complicated financial discourse of his time and position. in particular, it examines the impression of ameliorations in monetary pondering and behaviour that happened in antebellum New England and the US; those changes on the point of language; and Thoreau's expertise of those differences. Neufeldt situates Thoreau in major monetary stipulations of his time, investigating how those stipulations contained him at the same time he sought to include them. utilizing Walden and "Life with no Principle," as major examples, the publication considers the questions of why and the way Thoreau, who used to be greatly formed by means of his tradition and its conventions, additionally contested the constraints of these conventions and used his to rework a few of them. Thoreau's identification as a literary artist who seemed his writing as his cultural vocation is on the middle of the dialogue.
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Extra resources for The Economist: Henry Thoreau and Enterprise
With the vision of money-frantic western miners before him, the speaker asks himself "why / might not sink a shaft down to the gold within me, and work that mine" (Reform Papers, p. 164). In both passages the mining image refers principally to self-culture and a literary vocation, concepts that, in Thoreau's case, were inseparable, recipro- 12 Introduction cally constitutive, and central to his rationale for his life. Thus to "work the country's mines" is both a personal rejection of apparently attractive new alternatives for young Concordians and a recommitment to his own private business, a business demonstrated by the literary tour de force on Hosmer, Concord, and the question of enterprise.
Yet Old Hickory also intoned in his strange farewell address that the "planter, the farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer all know that their success depends upon their own industry and economy, and that they must not expect to become suddenly rich by the fruits of their toil" (Presidents, 4:1524). In this speech—dark with references to the evil coercion of "monied corporations," "monopoly," "exclusive privilege," speculation, paper money, and paper stocks—the overseer of the early halcyon days of enterprise appealed to the producing groups of the old order to recover the rights they had allowed to slip away.
12 Kate McKean's 1864 Manual of Social Science—which abbreviated, simplified, and popularized Henry C. Carey's pioneering, three-volume Principles of Political Economy (1840) (and which went through at least eight editions by 1888)— agrees with Bowen in the general and specific use of enterprise. Bowen's text also contains the earliest American usage I have been able to find of the terminology private enterprise in its modern sense. According to the OED, private enterprise was first used in 1844 in a report on activities that the British East India Company (a virtual monopoly) had left to others.