In addition, some secessionists were interested in preserving the "Southern way of life. In addition, some accepted the myth of the happy, subservient slave, who was not quite a human being and would benefit from the civilizing influence of Southern gentility. At the foundation of the "Southern way of life," however, was its oppressive economic system.
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In addition to reducing millions of Americans to the status of chattel, it made it very difficult for non-landed, unskilled Whites to succeeded in the face of labor competition from slaves. Part of the "Southern way of life" was the European flavor and aspirations of the planter class.
This cultural influence grew out of and was fed by the long-standing mutual economic relationship between England and the South. In order to ensure that the British market for Southern cotton remained open, Southern planters and others had to maintain relatively sizable importation of goods from Britain. At the same time, the European influence on Southern gentile society; in education, fashion, arts, and other fields; created a large demand for European imports.
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An imbalance in this relationship, such as would be caused by the abolition of slavery or increases in tariffs, would have cultural implications for the South. Economics and the Union Victory Despite the advantages the Confederacy had in well-trained officers and dedication to a cause, it was inevitable that the Union would win the war. The only hope for the Confederacy would have been that the Union would not resist secession, or that foreign nations would assist the Confederate cause.
Once the Union decided to fight for unity and European nations chose to remain largely neutral, there was little long-term hope for the Confederacy.
South Carolina - African Americans - Economic Effects of the Civil War
The Union's resources, although far from unlimited, were much greater than the Confederacy's resources, and would eventually last longer. The Union had more than double the population of the Confederacy including slaves , and almost four times the number of men of combat age. In addition to being more industrialized than the South see "Contrasting Economies" Section , the North had better infrastructure.
By the time of the Civil War, an extensive railroad system had been built, with new lines through the Northwest being added. In the South, disputes between states prevented the construction of interstate railroad systems. In all, the North had 20, miles of railroad compared to the South's 9, miles. The long-standing shipbuilding industry in New England ensured that the North would have a large merchant marine, as well as easy access to naval resources.
Because of interstate conflicts, there were few continuous interstate railroad systems through the South. In addition, although there was a small Southern industry producing naval stores, there were few merchant ships or naval vessels in the South. In the North, the US government was able to fund the war effort with the nation's treasury. To raise more funds, the US government raised taxes on goods and services and set high imports tariffs;. In addition, the Treasury issued paper money "greenbacks" which was not backed by gold, but by government credit, thus reducing the amount of specie necessary for a given amount of money.
The US government also raised money by selling bonds to individuals and banks. The Southern economy, with its agricultural emphasis and relative lack of industrialization, did not have the money or capacity to support a war effort.
Causing the Civil War
Because of the Union blockade, Southern imports fell drastically, reducing the amount of import customs duties the Confederate government could collect. Thus, farmers and planters had little income with which to pay taxes. Because of issues of states rights, central Confederate taxation was too controversial to be effective, and the states were not contributing enough to the Confederate coffers to support its needs. The existence of slavery in the South and the unlikeness of Confederate victory made foreign governments generally reluctant to loan money to the Confederacy.
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The Confederacy tried to raise money by borrowing from its citizens, in exchange for Confederate bonds. Prices shot up, and many basic foods were out of the price range of most Southerners. In the spring of , bread riots began in many Southern cities, the worst being the Richmond Bread Riot of April 2, More than a thousand women marched and rioted in downtown Richmond, shouting "bread or blood. By the end of the war, the South was economically devastated, having experienced extensive loss of human life and destruction of property.
Poverty was widespread, and many resented the many Northerners and Southerners who took advantage of the needy in the South as the war came to an end.
These conditions made it more difficult for the nation to heal the wounds which its union had suffered. Conclusion It is clear that economics was only one factor in the Civil War. Nevertheless, the economic tension between North and South contributed greatly to political tensions. In addition, economic realities were largely responsible for the Union's victory. While regional tensions and conflicts remained, the end of the Civil War signaled the beginning of the United States' development, economically and otherwise, as one nation.
Economics and the Civil War. The war is significant to the settlement of the west as it allowed the government to pass two important acts. Before the war, the southern states and northern states disagreed over how the American West should be settled. The northern states wanted ordinary, free individuals and families to be able to create their own farms. However, the southern states wanted slavery to be legal in the west.
This made it difficult to pass any formal acts regarding the American West as the vote was always split. However, in , the southern states withdrew from the USA to create their own Confederacy. This meant the northern states were now able to pass any acts they wanted. In , two important acts were passed which had huge impact on the settlement of the west — The Homestead Act May and the Pacific Railroad Act July Join s of fellow History teachers and students all getting the tutor2u History team's latest resources and support delivered fresh in their inbox every morning.
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Roger L. Ransom, University of California, Riverside
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