1st Edition

Britain and America, 1850–1939 A Study of Economic Change

By Philip S. Bagwell, G. E. Mingay Copyright 1970
    330 Pages
    by Routledge

    First published in 1970, Britain and America 1850–1939 is a key text for anyone seeking to trace and interpret the development of the two great trans-Atlantic economies.

    The authors present a comparative survey of the economic development of Britain and America. The book compares and contrasts the economic and social progress of the two countries in the period of rapid industrialization and dramatic social change between 1850 and 1939. Throughout, the authors explain the interaction of the two economies upon each other and give reasons – social and political as well as economic – for the outstanding differences in the economic life of the two countries.  

    Separate chapters give a comprehensive account of agriculture, transport, trade unions, banking, overseas trade, industry, and social problems. Among the individual topics considered are the economic significance of the Civil War, the influence of the railways, migration of labour and export of capital, the retardation of the British economy, the great slump of the 1930s and the New Deal. The authors support their arguments with numerous statistical tables, charts, and diagrams. This book will be of interest to students and researchers of economics and history.

    1. Introduction: the British and American economies in the nineteenth century  2. Internal transport  3. Agriculture  4. International trade and the movement of factors 1850–1914  5. The money and capital markets  6. Industrial developments 1850–1914  7. Trade unions  8. Social progress 1850–1939 9. The Atlantic economy 1914–29  10. The nineteen-thirties  


    Philip S. Bagwell was an eminent British transport and labour historian. On these subjects, he had been consultant to the BBC for schools history TV Broadcasts. He spent his teaching career at the Polytechnic of Central London, now the University of Westminster. His main academic contribution was in the field of British railway history. His first book, published in 1963, was a commissioned history of a trade union Railwaymen: A History of the NUR.

    G. E. Mingay was Emeritus Professor of Agrarian History at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He served as the President of the British Agricultural History Society. His other works include The Victorian Countryside (1981) and The Transformation of Britain, 1830–1939 (1986) and The Unquiet Countryside (1989).

    Reviews of the first publication:

    “The book contains a number of interesting observations comparing and contrasting the economic history of the two countries.”


    James H. Soltow, Journal of American History, Volume 59, Issue 1


    “Professors Bagwell and Mingay have done well what they intended to do. Their book provides a comparative analysis of the process of growth in Britain and the United States from the mid-nineteenth century to mid-twentieth century. Historical statistics are used to good effect in examining various features of growth.”


    John F. Hanieski, The Journal of Economic History, Volume 31, Issue 3