My posts will resume this week after a few weeks off to travel to the U.K.–next installments will be on American foreign policy in the Civil War, the subject of my current research in London at the British Library and The Rothschild Archive.The global capital market expanded in the 19th century and it was especially important in the development of the American South and Midwest. It is striking that of the nearly 30,000 miles of railroad track in the United States in 1860, over 22,000 of it were laid in the 1850s, nearly all of it in the South and Midwest. These two regions dominated the boom of the 1850s. British and European capital financed a significant amount of this expansion. Their relative experience in these years and through the Panic of 1857 shaped their identities as much as the political crisis over slavery. In the coming weeks we’ll look at these questions in more detail.