The Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States (review)

The Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States (review) JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Summer 2012) their power and privilege in the first place. Life insurance, Sharon Murphy explains, would serve as ``a countervailing force against these dramatic societal changes'' (3). That is true. But insurance was itself a dramatic change: It was certainly not a force of reaction. Securitizing one's own life might seem to embody conservative ``middle-class'' values. In fact, it showed just how much early modern foundations of property and citizenship were now being turned upside down by the market as individuals assumed exclusive responsibility for their own security through profit-driven commercial agencies rather than the transcendent structures of household or common weal. Insurance accordingly remade individual lives into a fungible form of capital--``the best property a man has,'' as another industry promoter effused--and so became a means for the market's penetration into those regions of life hitherto protected from pecuniary scheming, as the double entendre of Murphy's title implies.4 By turning risk into a commodity, furthermore, protection from the dangers of the market became a market itself. Risk emerged as an investment, which consequently encouraged the creation of more risk, and then more insurance, in a perpetuum mobile of value swaps that define http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

The Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States (review)

Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 32 (2) – May 5, 2012

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
ISSN
1553-0620
Publisher site
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Abstract

JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Summer 2012) their power and privilege in the first place. Life insurance, Sharon Murphy explains, would serve as ``a countervailing force against these dramatic societal changes'' (3). That is true. But insurance was itself a dramatic change: It was certainly not a force of reaction. Securitizing one's own life might seem to embody conservative ``middle-class'' values. In fact, it showed just how much early modern foundations of property and citizenship were now being turned upside down by the market as individuals assumed exclusive responsibility for their own security through profit-driven commercial agencies rather than the transcendent structures of household or common weal. Insurance accordingly remade individual lives into a fungible form of capital--``the best property a man has,'' as another industry promoter effused--and so became a means for the market's penetration into those regions of life hitherto protected from pecuniary scheming, as the double entendre of Murphy's title implies.4 By turning risk into a commodity, furthermore, protection from the dangers of the market became a market itself. Risk emerged as an investment, which consequently encouraged the creation of more risk, and then more insurance, in a perpetuum mobile of value swaps that define

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: May 5, 2012

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