* Special attention is paid to the nature, scope and limitations of Marx's critique and to the critique of Ricardo's Principles.
* Provides a clear illustration of the contents of the texts in a way that enables readers to understand the intellectual influences on Marx
* Clarifies Marx's own view of what he was trying to achieve through his critique of political economy
* The themes of value, income distribution and the law of motion of capitalism are traced to their origins.
But Northern and Southern thinkers alike feared that the pursuit of wealth in a market economy might lead to the replacement of the independent producer by the wage laborer. A worker without property is a potential rebel, and so the freedom and commerce that give birth to such a worker would seem to be incompatible with preserving the content citizenry necessary for a stable, republican political order.
Around the resolution of this dilemma revolved the great debate on the desirability of slavery in this country. Northern protectionists argued that independent labor must be protected at the same time that capitalist development is encouraged. Southern free trade economists answered that the formation of a propertyless class is inevitable; to keep the nation from anarchy and rebellion, slavery—justified by racism—must be preserved at any cost.
Battles of the economists such as these left little room for political compromise between North and South as the antebellum United States confronted the corrosive effects of capitalist development. And slavery's retardant effect on the Southern economy ultimately created a rift within the South between those who sought to make slavery more like capitalism and those who sought to make capitalism more like slavery.