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Free Enterprise: An American History

“Free enterprise” is an everyday phrase that connotes an American common sense. Lawrence B. Glickman traces the phrase from its many 19th-century meanings to its conservative reformulation, which began in the 1920s, and became dominant in the 1930s when the phrase in opposition to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” This book is a whirlwind tour of a keyword that has had immense rhetorical power in modern American history and that scholars have yet to critically examine. Glickman’s book provides a compelling example of how historians can study the historical construction of common sense and is a welcome contribution to intellectual history, political history, and the history of capitalism.

Date & Time

Feb. 24, 2020
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location

6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Free Enterprise: An American History

“Free enterprise” is an everyday phrase that connotes an American common sense.  Lawrence B. Glickman traces the phrase from its many 19th-century meanings to its conservative reformulation, which began in the 1920s, and became dominant in the 1930s when the phrase in opposition to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal.” This book is a whirlwind tour of a keyword that has had immense rhetorical power in modern American history and that scholars have yet to critically examine. Glickman’s book provides a compelling example of how historians can study the historical construction of common sense and is a welcome contribution to intellectual history, political history, and the history of capitalism.

Lawrence B. Glickman, is the Stephen and Evalyn Milman Professor in American Studies in the Department of History at Cornell University. In addition to Free Enterprise: An American History (2019), he has written or edited four other books, including Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America (2009) and A Living Wage: American Workers and the Making of Consumer Society (1997). He writes regularly for popular publications, including the Washington Post, Boston Review, and Dissent.  His article, “The Racist Politics of the English Language” was named one of the most-loved essays in Boston Review in 2018. He also is active on Twitter @larryglickman.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest and the George Washington University History Department for their support.