Capitalism and Society
A Journal of the Center on Capitalism and Society
Ed. by Phelps, Edmund / Bhidé, Amar
Throughout its history, the United States has been the beneficiary of a worldwide in-migration of entrepreneurial talent. This article surveys finance, one of the many sectors in which immigrants made a conspicuous impact. Part I demonstrates the dominant role of immigrants in forming public financial policies from 1775 to 1817. Part II surveys 12 merchant and investment banking firms founded during the nineteenth century by individual immigrants or family groups, and traces their histories until 1914. Part III suggests, from this small sample, a series of hypotheses and tentative conclusions about their experiences and influence. Part IV compares the financial environment of the nineteenth century with that of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The article ends with a supporting appendix that describes 19 additional immigrants or immigrant families and their firms.
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