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  • Cathy Matson, Richards Professor Emerita of American History in the History Department at the University of Delaware

    Richards Professor Emerita of American History
    University of Delaware


    ​Cathy Matson  teaches courses in the early modern Atlantic World, colonial North America, the Revolutionary Atlantic, and material life in early America.  She is currently completing a study of Philadelphia’s Revolutionary and early national economic culture and material networks with the Atlantic world down to 1815.  A second book in progress is about the economy of color during the eighteenth century.   Another  long-term project compares the regional economies of New York City and Philadelphia from roughly 1720 to 1820. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1985. Publications include A Union of Interests(1990; repr. Ppb. 1997); Merchants and Empire (1998; Ppb. 2002; repr. 2007); editor plus chapter 1 of The Economy of Early America: Achievements and New Directions (2005, 2007); The American Experiment (2001; 2nd ed., 2005; 3rd ed. 2008), and numerous articles on American economic culture and political economy.  Dr. Matson is also the director of the Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company in Philadelphia.



    • The American Experiment: A History of the United States, Volume 2: Since 1865 With Steven M. Gillon (Cengage Learning, 2001; 2nd ed., 2005; 3rd ed. 2008)
    • Merchants and Empire: Trading in Colonial New York (Johns Hopkins University Press,1998; Ppb. 2002; repr. 2007))
    • A Union of Interests: Political and Economic Thought in Revolutionary America With Peter Onuf (University Press of Kansas, 1990; repr. Ppb. 1997)

    Edited Volumes

    • The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions (Penn State University Press, 2011).

    Articles and Book Chapters

    • “Mathew Carey’s Learning Experience: Commerce, Manufacturing, and the Panic of 1819,” in Early American Studies, 11 (Fall 2013), 455-485.
    • “Imperial Political Economy: An Ideological Debate and Shifting Practices,” William and Mary Quarterly (Jan. 2012), 35-40, part of a special forum on “Rethinking Mercantilism. ”
    • “A Port in the Storm: Philadelphia’s Commerce During the Atlantic Revolutionary Era,” in Thomas Bender, et al., eds., Revolution: The Atlantic World Reborn (New York and London: N-Y Historical Society, 2011), pp. 65-90.
    • "Flimsy Fortunes: Americans’ Fascination with Paper Speculation and their Familiarity with Panics,” in Special Issue of Common-Place, Michael Zakim, ed., (April, 2010), Vol. 10, #3.
    • “Permeable Empires: The Commercial Exchanges of New York with Spanish Possessions Before 1800,” for Nueva York, 1613-1945, ed. Edward Sullivan, (Yale, 2010), chapter 2, 82-95.
    • “Economic Networks of Dutch traders and the British Colonial Empire, 1624-1783,” in Willem Frijoff and Jaap Jacobs, ed., Four Centuries of Dutch-American Relations, 1609-2009 (Amsterdam and New York, 2009).
    • “Accounting for War and Revolution: Philadelphia Merchants and Commercial Risk, 1774-1811,” in Margaret Jacobs, ed., The Self Perception of Early Modern Capitalists (Palgrave, 2008), chap 8.
    • “Philadelphia in the Early Republic: Qualified Recovery,” in Ann Wagner and Donald Fennimore, eds., Silversmiths to the Nation, Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, 1808-1848 (Winterthur Museum Publications, 2007), chapter 1.





The American Experiment: A History of the United States, Volume 2: Since 1865Matson, CathySteven M. GillonCengage Learning2008<p>​Approaching the American history survey course in an innovative way, this mid-length text features a more expansive definition of political history that includes all forms of politics, not just electoral politics, while simultaneously incorporating cultural history. With the specific aim of expanding history beyond elite actors, The American Experiment emphasizes everyday work, family life, customs, and objects of cultural history to address its four themes: the role of government, American identity, the broad concept of "culture," and America and the world. The Third Edition features an enhanced thematic approach that helps students understand America's development as an experiment in politics, culture, and identity, within a global context.</p>
The Economy of Early America Historical Perspectives and New DirectionsMatson, CathyThe Pennsylvania State University Press and the Library Company of Philadelphia2006<p>In recent years, scholars in a number of disciplines have focused their attention on understanding the early American economy. The result has been an outpouring of scholarship, some of it dramatically revising older methodologies and findings, and some of it charting entirely new territory—new subjects, new places, and new arenas of study that might not have been considered “economic” in the past.</p><p><em>The Economy of Early America</em> enters this resurgent discussion of the early American economy by showcasing the work of leading scholars who represent a spectrum of historiographical and methodological viewpoints. Contributors include David Hancock, Russell Menard, Lorena Walsh, Christopher Tomlins, David Waldstreicher, Terry Bouton, Brooke Hunter, Daniel Dupre, John Majewski, Donna Rilling, and Seth Rockman, as well as Cathy Matson. </p>
Merchants and Empire: Trading in Colonial New YorkMatson, CathyJohns Hopkins University Press1998<p>​n <em>Merchants and Empire</em>, Cathy Matson examines the economic ideas and behavior of New York City's commercial wholesalers, especially the middling merchants who, as a majority of active traders, affected the character of city commerce over its colonial years. Although less prominent in transatlantic dry goods commerce than the great traders, this middling majority spread dissenting economic ideas and flouted political authority time and again when the benefits to their interests were clear. Indeed, middling or lesser merchants fashioned a plausible alternative to mercantilism, and contributed significantly to the challenges Americans offered to British rule in the final colonial years.</p>
A Union of Interests: Political and Economic Thought in Revolutionary AmericaMatson, CathyPeter OnufUniversity Press of Kansas1997<p>From the onset of the Revolution in 1776 to the inauguration of the federal government in 1789, the American political culture was transformed. The movement for an effective continental republic is here linked to the groundswell for development and economic freedom set off by the Revolution. A Union of Interests reconstructs the discourse of American federalism, a discourse grounded in the debate over the role of government in the regulation of the economy. </p><p>Cathy Matson and Peter Onuf integrate analyses of economic ideas and interests with many of the critical problems facing the union after the war—such as jurisdictional disputes, threats of secession, and new prospects for frontier settlement. The revolutionary ideology that had justified the creation of sovereign states under the Articles of Confederation seemed increasingly "artificial" in light of the pressing need to create a "natural," extended republic that would be truer to the changing circumstances of the American people. The authors demonstrate that the movement for the Constitution drew upon increasingly popular political-economic ideas that sought to reconcile the apparent conflicts between a national interest and the "enlightened" self-interest of citizens. A pivotal chapter argues that the Constitutional Convention was itself both a product of this broad public discussion about America's future and a contribution to it in which the founders debated the limits to which they should compromise their distinct goals to fit this emerging vision.</p>

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