What Economic History Is.In beginning the study of economic history it will be well for us to recall what has been said in a preceding chapter as to the nature of the subject which is before us. The history of literature, the history of government, the history of religion, and other histories which the student can readily call to mind have one thing in common: they are all of them histories of man. Each of them, however, treats of man in one particular line of his activities. It is the same with economic history. Its subject is man, but it deals primarily, not with his government or his worship, but with his efforts to get a living. Many who have held a narrow view of our subject have objected sneeringly that it is but a "bread and butter" science. Even if this were a just view of the subject, economics would still be worthy of our most careful study. But as a matter of fact, it means much more than bread and butter. It is plain on a moment's reflection that every kind of activity, however sublime, depends to some extent upon material things. And so this subject of oursman in his effort to acquire and to use material things, to satisfy his wants, or, in other words, to get a living is of interest to everybody, and is closely connected with every kind of human effort.

General Survey. At the beginning of our review of the history of man's economic efforts we are struck by the fact that all the manifold ways of getting things may after all be reduced to two: man must either find things or make them. Of course the two ways often combine in varying proportions, and in our own experience the two are constantly shading into each other; but for purposes of present clearness we may well make the distinction. Now, uncivilized man find8 the things he uses; civilized man adds to finding the art of making. Indeed, material civilization consists largely in wanting many things and in learning how to make and to use them.

The economic activity of man before the dawn of recorded history is enshrouded in so much of mystery that we can do little more than conjecture regarding it. We have evidence to show that prehistoric man obtained his material goods, as the beasts do, simply by taking possession of natural products, exercising little or no control over nature, and protecting himself from the elements only by caves or by the simplest contrivances.

Historical Stages. The period of civilization just mentioned is something so remote, something about which our knowledge is so uncertain and fragmentary, that we are scarcely able to treat it as a separate stage in economic evolution at all. We may, therefore, pass directly to a study of the regular stages, beginning with the time when men had learned to kindle fires, to eat meat, and to live in some kind of political communities, however imperfect. Starting thus, we divide the course of man's economic development regarding it from the standpoint of his means of procuring goods into five stages, as follows:

(1)The hunting and fishing stage.
(2)The pastoral or nomadic stage.
(3)The agricultural stage.
(4)The handicraft stage.
(5)The industrial stage.

The evolution of economic society may, from a somewhat different but not antagonistic point of view, be divided into the four following stages:

(1)The stage of independent economy.
(2)The stage of town economy.
(3)The stage of national economy.
(4)The stage of imperial or even of world economy.

Again, looking at the same development from the standpoint of man's ways of exchanging goods when produced, we may similarly distinguish the three following stages:
(1)The stage of " truck " or barter economy.
(2)The stage of money economy.
(3)The stage of credit economy.Still again, we may view economic evolution from the point of view of wage-earning labor, going back to the period when enemies taken in battle were slaughtered, and passing on to the time when the lives of the conquered were spared in order that the victors might hold the vanquished as slaves. We then have the four following stages:
(1)Slaughter of enemies taken in battle.
(2)Slavery and serfdom, along with some free labor, the latter governed by custom operating through contract.
(3)Free labor, regulated by individual contract, but with increasing resort to group contract, and with legal protection of labor. Slavery gradually disappearing.

(4) Collective bargaining, regulated increasingly by statute.

These classifications may now be brought together in a single table, in which the historical relation of the various classifications will be shown, the first classification given the one in the second column of the table being regarded as the principal one.