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The Economics of the Civil War
LewRockwell.com ^ | January 13, 2004 | Mark Thornton and Robert Ekelund

Posted on 01/13/2004 9:01:35 AM PST by Aurelius

Dust jackets for most books about the American Civil War depict generals, politicians, battle scenes, cavalry charges, cannons[sic] firing, photographs or fields of dead soldiers, or perhaps a battle between ironclads. In contrast our book {[url=http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?userid=2XGHOEK4JT&isbn=0842029613&itm=7]Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War Mark Thornton, Steven E. Woodworth (Editor), Robert B. Ekelund[/url]features a painting by Edgar Degas entitled the "Cotton Exchange" which depicts several calm businessmen and clerks, some of them Degas’s relatives, going about the business of buying and selling cotton at the New Orleans Cotton Exchange. The focus of this book is thus on the economic rationality of seemingly senseless events of the Civil War – a critical period in American history.

What caused the war? Why did the Union defeat the Confederacy? What were the consequences of the War? The premise of the book is that historians have a comparative advantage in describing such events, but economists have the tools to help explain these events.

We use traditional economic analysis, some of it of the Austrian and Public Choice variety, to address these principal questions and our conclusions generally run counter to the interpretations of historians. In contrast to historians who emphasize the land war and military strategy, we show that the most important battle took place at sea. One side, the blockade runners, did not wear uniforms or fire weapons at their opponents. The other side, the blockading fleet, was composed of sailors who had weapons and guns but they rarely fired their cannons in hopes of damaging their opponents. Their pay was based on the valued of captured ships. Historians often have argued that the Confederacy lost because it was overly reluctant to use government power and economic controls, but we show the exact opposite. Big Confederate government brought the Confederacy to its knees.

Some now teach that slavery was the sole cause of the Civil War – an explanation that historians have developed in the twentieth century. However, this analysis does not explain why the war started in 1861 (rather than 1851 or 1841) and it fails to explain why slavery was abolished elsewhere without such horrendous carnage.

We emphasize economics and politics as major factors leading to war. The Republicans who came to power in 1860 supported a mercantilist economic agenda of protectionism, inflation, public works, and big government. High tariffs would have been a boon to manufacturing and mining in the north, but would have been paid largely by those in the export-oriented agriculture economy.

Southern economic interests understood the effects of these policies and decided to leave the union. The war was clearly related to slavery, but mainly in the sense that Republican tariffs would have squeezed the profitability out of the slave-based cotton plantation economy to the benefit of Northern industry (especially Yankee textiles and iron manufacturing). Southerners would also have lost out in terms of public works projects, government land giveaways, and inflation.

The real truth about wars is that they are not started over principle, but over power. Wars however, are not won by power on the battlefield, but by the workings and incentives of men who go to work in fields and factories, to those who transport, store and sell consumer goods, and most especially to the entrepreneurs and middlemen who make markets work and adapt to change. This emphasis and this economic account of tariffs, blockade and inflation, like the focus of Degas’s "Cotton Exchange" reveals the most important and least understood aspect of war.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dixie; dixielist
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1 posted on 01/13/2004 9:01:35 AM PST by Aurelius
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"Big Confederate government brought the Confederacy to its knees" bump.
2 posted on 01/13/2004 9:05:29 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Non-Sequitur
"Big Confederate government brought the Confederacy to its knees" bump

All well and good, but I think the real question here is "Did Stonewall Jackson own slaves?" (fleeing as fast as my feet will carry me....)

3 posted on 01/13/2004 9:08:09 AM PST by Jokelahoma (Animal testing is a bad idea. They get all nervous and give wrong answers.)
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To: Jokelahoma
All well and good, but I think the real question here is "Did Stonewall Jackson own slaves?" (fleeing as fast as my feet will carry me....)

No, the question is whether Thomas Jackson's slaves were financially impacted by the Morril Tariff.

4 posted on 01/13/2004 9:11:01 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Aurelius
Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War Mark Thornton, Steven E. Woodworth (Editor), Robert B. Ekelund
5 posted on 01/13/2004 9:15:14 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: shuckmaster; Aurelius; Tauzero; JoeGar; stainlessbanner; Intimidator; ThJ1800; SelfGov; Triple; ...
*ping*
6 posted on 01/13/2004 9:16:57 AM PST by sheltonmac (http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38123a4375fc.htm#30)
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To: Non-Sequitur
The Morril Tariff?
7 posted on 01/13/2004 9:18:02 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
However, this analysis does not explain why the war started in 1861 (rather than 1851 or 1841) and it fails to explain why slavery was abolished elsewhere without such horrendous carnage.

It wasn't abolished everywhere at that time, of course, and sometimes when it was (e.g., Haiti) there was violence involved. Robert Fogel, in Without Consent or Contract, contends that had the Confederacy survived slavery would've persisted for decades not just there but in Brazil and the other places it still existed in 1865 as well.

8 posted on 01/13/2004 9:20:08 AM PST by untenured
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To: Aurelius
I sanyone watching the new PBS series on "Reconstruction"? It's pretty typical stuff:

They went to great lengths to say that Andrew Johnson hated the rich plantation owners, but did not explain why his version of Reconstruction heavily benefited the rich southern whites. They didn't really explain the differences in the parties that led Lincoln (Republican) to free the slaves, and Johnson (Democrat) to try to disenfranchise the freed slaves. Also glossed over various unconstitutional aspects. I believe one condition of re-admittance to the Union was ratification of the 14th Amendment. Well, that's ONE way to get three-fourths of the states to ratify an amendment!

Reconstruction is a difficult topic and no one comes out smelling great, but PBS pretty much presented it as "Blacks=victims, Whites=evil". Big surprise.

9 posted on 01/13/2004 9:25:04 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (France delenda est)
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To: Aurelius
Revisionist BS. Do you really think men will fight and die over tarriff policy? Men will fight to preserve their families, their culture, and their way of life.

If you look at the events leading up to the Civil War--the rioting in Boston, the fighting in Kansas, the demented activities of John Brown--in every case, slavery is the issue. Both the South and the North knew this, even though they tried to wrap themselves in more uplifting propoganda.
10 posted on 01/13/2004 9:25:52 AM PST by proxy_user
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To: proxy_user
Gee, the Boston Tea Party and American Revolution of 1776 come to mind. The Whiskey Rebellion under Washingtons administration, also. While slavery was a major issue, it was not the only issue.
11 posted on 01/13/2004 9:30:34 AM PST by dixierat22 (keeping my powder dry!)
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To: proxy_user
Thank you for you opinion. Who knows? You might even be right.
12 posted on 01/13/2004 9:38:36 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: *dixie_list; U S Army EOD; CurlyBill; w_over_w; BSunday; PeaRidge; RebelBanker; PistolPaknMama; ...
bump
13 posted on 01/13/2004 9:42:03 AM PST by stainlessbanner (Grits and Gravy - Gittchoo some!)
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To: proxy_user
Some people fight and die over "regime change", so I am not sure I buy your premise.
14 posted on 01/13/2004 9:42:21 AM PST by JohnGalt (You don't believe we're on the Eve of Destruction?)
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To: *dixie_list; U S Army EOD; CurlyBill; w_over_w; BSunday; PeaRidge; RebelBanker; PistolPaknMama; ...
bump
15 posted on 01/13/2004 9:42:59 AM PST by stainlessbanner (Grits and Gravy - Gittchoo some!)
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To: Aurelius
Why did you insert "sic" after "cannons"?
16 posted on 01/13/2004 9:46:17 AM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: Aurelius
The real truth about wars is that they are not started over principle, but over power.

Good point.

17 posted on 01/13/2004 9:47:55 AM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: Aurelius
The Morril Tariff?

Yeah, it was proposed by Seymore Morril, Whig from Montana. It was voted down in 1860 in favor of the Morrill Tariff.

18 posted on 01/13/2004 10:03:36 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Arthur McGowan
Because the plural of "cannon" is "cannon"; hearing it or reading it with the "s" on the end particularly grates on my ear. Just indulging a personal peeve.
19 posted on 01/13/2004 10:15:46 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Arthur McGowan
cannon is BOTH singular & plural, though it is frequently an un-used plural form.

free dixie,sw

20 posted on 01/13/2004 10:21:48 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: proxy_user
the ONLY MAIN issue was FREEDOM for dixie.

that is the plain unvarnished TRUTH.

the damnyankee apologists want to say that chattel slavery was the issue, as it makes their merciless,hateFILLED,imperialist war against the new dixie republic and the THOUSANDS of atrocities against innocent civilians & helpless CSA POWs look better. the damnedyankee apologists,otoh, KNOW better.

free dixie,sw

21 posted on 01/13/2004 10:26:20 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: JohnGalt
also true.<P.free dixie NOW,sw
22 posted on 01/13/2004 10:26:54 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: stand watie
Dishonest abe raised an army to invade our states. All we wanted was to be left alone, we had no desire to bother the states that remained in the union. Instead, a tyrant with little regard for the Constitution waged a war that resulted in the deaths of 600,000 men and of the republic our founders gave us.
23 posted on 01/13/2004 10:32:50 AM PST by rebelyell
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To: Aurelius
Because the plural of "cannon" is "cannon"; hearing it or reading it with the "s" on the end particularly grates on my ear. Just indulging a personal peeve.

As it was for one of my former editors, who was fond of letting anyone who misused that [or the terms pom-poms or shrapnel] that the only time the plural of cannon should conclude with the letter *s* was when it was in a quotation, or in conjunction with the plural term *artillerymens*, as per: The artillerymens pulled their cannons over the hill.

He seemed quite pleased with me when I picked up the John Beidler journalism award for 1991, for which the accompanying presentation plaque includes a small brass cannon. And if I ever get another one of them, I'll have two of those little cannon.

-archy-/-

24 posted on 01/13/2004 10:38:16 AM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: rebelyell
EXACTLY so!

lincoln, the GREAT spiller of innocent blood,stone RACIST,tyrant & CHEAP politician was no better than wee willie klintoon, in any regard.

free dixie,sw

25 posted on 01/13/2004 10:38:19 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: stand watie
It is truly a disgrace that American children are taught that he was a great president.
26 posted on 01/13/2004 10:46:00 AM PST by rebelyell
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To: rebelyell
YEP, it IS!

SADLY, i fear the children of generation Z will be taught that we willie klintoon was a great POTUS & a MORAL man.

free dixie,sw

27 posted on 01/13/2004 10:50:47 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: rebelyell
YEP, it IS!

SADLY, i fear the children of generation Z will be taught that we willie klintoon was a great POTUS & a MORAL man.

free dixie,sw

28 posted on 01/13/2004 10:52:25 AM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: rebelyell
All we wanted was to be left alone, we had no desire to bother the states that remained in the union.

It should be noted that you were being left alone until you got frisky and shot up Fort Sumter. You didn't think that we wouldn't be a little miffed at that?

29 posted on 01/13/2004 10:54:07 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: archy
I see that the online MSN dictionary gives the plural as "cannons" and a 1954 Funk & Wagnalls allows either form without preference. Just a sign of the degeneracy of the times in which we live.
30 posted on 01/13/2004 10:56:51 AM PST by Aurelius
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To: Non-Sequitur
You didn't think that we wouldn't be a little miffed at that?

LOL, Non Seq, I thought you were old, but I did not think you were so old you were at Ft Sumter. Sorry, couldn't resist it.

31 posted on 01/13/2004 10:58:39 AM PST by Mark17
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To: Mark17
LOL, Non Seq, I thought you were old, but I did not think you were so old you were at Ft Sumter.

A common error. I'm not really that old, I'm just wise beyond my years.

32 posted on 01/13/2004 11:02:35 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Non-Sequitur
Yes, we know. You think the u.S. owned Ft. Sumter because it was, up until Dec. 20th 1860, a military base for that country. The simple fact that it is in the state of South Carolina means nothing to you.
33 posted on 01/13/2004 11:03:41 AM PST by rebelyell
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To: Aurelius
Well, I'm just glad it wasn't because you thought it was supposed to be "canons."
34 posted on 01/13/2004 11:06:46 AM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: rebelyell
You think the u.S. owned Ft. Sumter because it was, up until Dec. 20th 1860, a military base for that country.

The U.S. did own Fort Sumter. It was built by the government on land deeded to the government free and clear by the South Carolina legislature. The legal ownership was not in question.

The simple fact that it is in the state of South Carolina means nothing to you.

No. Why would that make a difference?

35 posted on 01/13/2004 11:08:13 AM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Aurelius
Some now teach that slavery was the sole cause of the Civil War – an explanation that historians have developed in the twentieth century

Oh, no! Here we go again!

"One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. "-Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865.

That was in the nineteenth century, last time I looked.

36 posted on 01/13/2004 11:13:11 AM PST by Jim Noble
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To: proxy_user
Do you really think men will fight and die over tarriff policy? Men will fight to preserve their families, their culture, and their way of life.

If the tarriff policy effects their families, their culture and their way of life. What about the American Revolution? What is it you think got the colonists so riled up?

37 posted on 01/13/2004 11:52:27 AM PST by PistolPaknMama (pro gun Mother's Day 2004! www.2asisters.org)
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To: Jim Noble
Just out of curiosity, which is worse: Citing Lincoln to rebut a post from LewRockwell.com, or citing Jonah Goldberg?

< munching popcorn, because this beats pay per view for action and drama any day >

38 posted on 01/13/2004 11:53:48 AM PST by Jokelahoma (Animal testing is a bad idea. They get all nervous and give wrong answers.)
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To: Jokelahoma
Just out of curiosity, which is worse: Citing Lincoln to rebut a post from LewRockwell.com, or citing Jonah Goldberg?

Jonah.

No contest.

39 posted on 01/13/2004 12:31:25 PM PST by Jim Noble
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To: Aurelius
Why did almost ALL confederates that never owned slaves go to war..? ..State rights... which were suborned more and more by the north.. thats why..
40 posted on 01/13/2004 12:35:19 PM PST by hosepipe
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To: Aurelius
Why did almost ALL confederates that never owned slaves go to war..? ..State rights... which were suborned more and more by the north.. thats why..
41 posted on 01/13/2004 12:35:27 PM PST by hosepipe
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To: Non-Sequitur
A common error. I'm not really that old, I'm just wise beyond my years.

LOL, aaaagggghhhh, I am outta here, back to the threads on dating, and Why I went to the Philippines for a woman.

42 posted on 01/13/2004 12:36:47 PM PST by Mark17
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To: hosepipe
Why did almost ALL confederates that never owned slaves go to war..? ..State rights... which were suborned more and more by the north.. thats why..

So why did all the Union soldiers go to war?

43 posted on 01/13/2004 12:37:48 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Jim Noble
Wow, that's pretty serious, seeing as how "The Emancipator" supposedly single-handedly repressed several states and started a Civil War and killed 600,000 people himself (I wonder if he had Presidential aides to help him reload?), and all Jonah "The Excommunicator" ever did was call them "angry, cat-kicking libertarians" who engage in an "endless torrent of overwrought, mutually contradictory self-parody". It's not like he killed anyone! Whodathunkit?

Dang... popcorn's cold. Guess I'll pop more. This rabblerousing is hungry work.

44 posted on 01/13/2004 12:46:42 PM PST by Jokelahoma (Animal testing is a bad idea. They get all nervous and give wrong answers.)
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To: Arthur McGowan
FYI, in the 18-19th centuries it often was : canons.

i wonder when exactly the spelling of many words "standardized"????

free dixie,sw

45 posted on 01/13/2004 2:21:51 PM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: Jim Noble
otoh, you are quoting a liar,tyrant,war criminal & damnyankee CHEAP politician, so we can discount your source.

lincoln was nothing more or less than the evil twin of wee willie klintoon, separated by 130 years.

NEITHER could be trusted with the truth and/or your sister/mother/wife. period,end of story.<P.free dixie,sw

46 posted on 01/13/2004 2:24:42 PM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: Jim Noble
otoh, you are quoting a liar,tyrant,war criminal & damnyankee CHEAP politician, so we can discount your source.

lincoln was nothing more or less than the evil twin of wee willie klintoon, separated by 130 years.

NEITHER could be trusted with the truth and/or your sister/mother/wife. period,end of story.

free dixie,sw

47 posted on 01/13/2004 2:24:57 PM PST by stand watie (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. -T. Jefferson)
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To: stand watie
Well, the notion that the War of the Southern Rebellion had something to do with slavery certainly antedates the twentieth century.

Yes, the cite from honest Abe was provocative, but surely you do not dispute that there are others?

Maybe the Declaration of Causes of the South Carolina Convention will jog your memory:

"...they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to enloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes..."

48 posted on 01/13/2004 3:26:31 PM PST by Jim Noble
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To: Jim Noble
Thank you for your mention of the Declaration of Causes. I have bookmarked the four documents for later study.
49 posted on 01/13/2004 3:50:18 PM PST by kilowhskey
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To: Non-Sequitur
[ So why did all the Union soldiers go to war? ]

Because they were told to... that the United States was being attacked... to preserve the union.. by force.. suborning the soverignty of the other states... as it is today.. and that states were not soverign entities.. makeing the United States a democracy... as it is now.. and no longer a republic.. long since defunct..

You do know america is a de-facto democracy don't you... the american constitution was given as a limitation of the federal government not as an entitlement to mess with state inherent rights <<-- also long since a mirage.. yeah!.. a democracy(mob rule) is what we are in the U.S.A. a republic is only is a mirage in the minds of SOME republicans as they plug on to preserve what don't even exist anymore.. pity too... to be so delusional.. democrats are not illusional they know america is a democracy... and not a republic... its the republicans that should slapped and slapped again until they start speaking this fact BUT that would require actions they are cowards to face...

Speaking the truth would make the democrats rise up and gnash their teeth for being so exposed.. and probably kill the messager.. republicans being the cowards they are is probably the reason for the gibberish they mouthe..

And thats the truth... as I see it..

50 posted on 01/13/2004 4:05:45 PM PST by hosepipe
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