Abstract of my Paper for the BHC 2010

1 03 2010

I am going to be presenting at the upcoming Business History Conference in Athens, Georgia. I’m going to be on a very exciting panel called “Rhetoric of Liberalism”. My co-panellists include some high calibre scholars, so I’m honoured to be presenting along with them.

G.1 Rhetoric of Liberalism
Meeting Room F/G

Chair: Ben Waterhouse, University of North Carolina
Discussant: The Audience

Andrew Smith, Laurentian University
Accepting Financial Globalization: The Canadian Debate on British Investment, 1836-1875

Thomas Finger, University of Virginia
Natural Theology of Free Trade in the Nineteenth Century

Stephen Gross, University of California, Berkeley
Information, Uncertainty, and Trust in German-Balkan Trade: A Case Study of the Leipzig Trade Fair, 1920-1930

Colin F. Wilder, University of Chicago
Before Law and Economics: What the Modern Natural Law Tradition Had to Say about Commercial Affairs

Here is the abstract of my paper:

Accepting Financial Globalization: The Canadian Debate on British Investment, 1836-1875

Prior to the creation of the Canadian federation in 1867, British North America was a collection of separate British colonies with their own currencies, laws, and banking systems. The integration of the financial systems of the different colonies was a crucial part of the building of the Canadian nation-state. The “Bank Act of 1871” is widely regarded as having laid the legal foundations of the modern Canadian banking sector.  By 1900, Canada’s banking sector was dominated by a few large corporations, each of which had a branch network extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In contrast, the United States was served by a plethora of small banks.

Today, business historians often contrast Canada’s banking sector with that of the United States. This paper will examine the making of the 1871 banking law. It will show that banking legislation in Canada was shaped by the following forces: the powerful examples that had been set by the 1844 Bank Act in England and the 1863 National Bank Act in the United States; the rivalry between Toronto and Montreal for financial supremacy; and the hostility of a large section of the Canadian electorate to financiers. Attitudes to British investment also informed the debate about banking law.   This paper aims to refine our understanding of the development of financial systems in North America. It will also explore the role of classical liberalism in Canadian politics after 1867.

This paper is based on a mixture of printed primary sources and archival materials. The individuals mentioned most frequently in the paper are: Sir John A. Macdonald; Alexander Galt; Sir Francis Hincks; Edwin King; John Rose. The companies mentioned are: the Bank of Montreal; the Commercial Bank; the Bank of Upper Canada; the House of Baring.



2 responses

8 06 2010
Colin Wilder

Dear Andrew,
It was a pleasure meeting and talking financial history with you at the BHC. I just tracked back to this page from academia.edu and a related google search. I hope things are well with you in Canadia!

14 06 2010

Hi Colin. It was a pleasure talking to you. Hope to see you at the next BHC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: