The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that an implication of Holcombe’s (2002) model is a “revolution trap.” This paper extends Holcombe’s model adding Klein’s concept of entrepreneurship as judgment concerning the use of heterogeneous political capital. The authors use the case of the USA presidential election of 1800 to demonstrate the utility of the extension, and to discuss how political entrepreneurship served to prevent a revolution trap. The political entrepreneurship of 1800 established the precedent of peaceful transition of power in the USA, which opened the door to the rapid economic development of the early nineteenth century.
This is a historical case study using letters, newspapers, pamphlets, and other pieces of empirical evidence to highlight an important moment of political entrepreneurship.
Many contemporary observers predicted that the USA would devolve into continuous revolution, which the authors argue Holcombe’s (2002) model predicts. However, political entrepreneurship ended the revolutionary period in the former British North America. Moreover, the political entrepreneurship ending the election crisis established the precedent of peaceful political succession. This precedent comparatively elevated the returns of productive, market entrepreneurship (Baumol, 1990). As a result, the USA experiences a prolonged period of entrepreneurially driven economic growth.
To the authors knowledge, no one has developed the implication of a “revolution trap” from Holcombe’s (2002) model, nor has anyone applied Klein’s (2008) model to extend Holcombe’s model of political entrepreneurship. Although the disputed presidential election of 1800 has been extensively researched, no one has analyzed the election and its resolution from the perspective of political entrepreneurship.
Campbell, N. and Witcher, M. (2015), "Political entrepreneurship: Jefferson, Bayard, and the election of 1800", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 298-312. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEPP-01-2014-0004Download as .RIS
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