Tariffs and the American Civil War
Tariffs, Sectionalism, Secession, and Civil War
Tariffs and the American Civil War
Sectionalism, Secession, and Civil War
Tariffs fueled sectionalism, which was followed by secession
and the American Civil War.
A tariff is a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports
Between the years 1800 and 1860, arguments between the North and South
grew more intense, which was known as Sectionalism. One of the main quarrels was about taxes paid on foreign goods: this tax was referred to as a tariff. Southerners believed that these tariffs were unfair and aimed toward
them because they imported a wider variety of goods compared to the North's imports.
South Carolina would eventually disavow one such tariff in what would become known as the Nullification Crisis. Taxes were also levied on many Southern exports, an expense that was not
always applied to Northern goods of equal value; an awkward economic structure allowed states and private transportation companies
to accomplish this. Consequently, this affected Southern banks because they found themselves paying higher
interest rates on loans made with banks in the North. The situation grew worse after several "panics", including one in 1857
that affected more Northern banks than Southern banks. Southern financiers found themselves burdened with high payments just
to save Northern banks that had suffered financial losses through poor investments. See also American Tariffs and Sectionalism.
Recommended Reading: What Hath God
Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United
States) (Hardcover: 928 pages). Review: The newest volume in the renowned Oxford History
of the United States-- A brilliant portrait of an era that saw dramatic transformations in American life The Oxford History
of the United States is by far the most
respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York Times bestsellers,
and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the
period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the
United States expanded to the Pacific
and won control over the richest part of the North American continent. Continued below…
Howe's panoramic narrative portrays
revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads,
canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations
prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from
an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture.
In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines
the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs--advocates of public
education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans--were the true prophets
of America's future. He reveals the power
of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and
other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion -- Manifest Destiny -- culminates
in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico
to gain California and Texas for the United States. By 1848, America had been transformed. What Hath God Wrought provides a monumental narrative
of this formative period in United States
The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (Paperback), by David M. Potter. Review: Professor Potter treats an incredibly complicated
and misinterpreted time period with unparalleled objectivity and insight. Potter masterfully explains the climatic events
that led to Southern secession – a greatly divided nation – and the Civil War: the social, political
and ideological conflicts; culture; American expansionism, sectionalism and popular sovereignty; economic and tariff
systems; and slavery. In other words, Potter places under the microscope the root causes and origins of the Civil War, the
conflict that caused the greatest loss of life in the history of the continent. He also conveys the subjects in
easy to understand language which makes the work a welcome addition to any library. This study is not at all some boring
piece on American history, but it is nice read on the mindset of the nation and what caused the American Civil War.
Delving beyond surface meanings and interpretations, this book analyzes not only the history, but the historiography
of the time period as well. Continued below…
Professor Potter rejects the historian's
tendency to review the period with all the benefits of hindsight. He simply traces the events, allowing the reader a step-by-step
walk through time, the various views, and contemplates the interpretations of contemporaries and other historians. Potter
then moves forward with his analysis. The Impending Crisis is the absolute gold-standard of historical writing… This
simply is the book by which, not only other antebellum era books, but all history books should be judged.
Recommended Reading: When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession. Review: As a historian, I have learned that the heart of any great work
in history lies in the ample and accurate use of primary sources, and primary sources are the great strength of this work.
While countless tomes have debated the perceived moral sides of the Civil War and the motivations of the various actors, this
work investigates the motives of the primary players in the era and in their own words and writings. This gives the work an
excellent realism and accuracy. The author, Charles Adams, has earned a reputation as one of the leading economic historians
in the field, particularly in the area of taxes. He utilizes this background to investigate the American Civil War, and comes
to some very striking conclusions, many that defy the politically-correct history of today. His thesis postulates that the
Civil War had its primary cause not in slavery or state's rights, but rather in cold, hard economic concerns. Continued below...
He shows that
the North used its supremacy in Congress to push through massive tariffs to fund the government, and that these tariffs fell
much harder on the export-dependent South than upon the insular north. In fact, the total revenue from the "Compromise" Tariffs
on the 1830s and 40s amounted to $107.5 million, of which $90 million came from the South. The majority of the revenue, moreover,
was spent on projects “far from the South.” According to Adams, this disparity
finally pushed the South to seek its own independence. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that the South enacted extremely
low tariffs throughout the war, whereas the north enacted the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which enacted tariffs as high as 50
percent on some goods. Adams also chronicles the oft-overlooked
excesses of the Lincoln Administration, and compares them to the actions of Julius Caesar. Using the letters and reports of
the times, he tells how Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, trod
roughshod over the Constitution, jailed thousands of U.S.
citizens who dared disagree with him and even wrote a warrant for the arrest of the Chief Justice of the United States.
Adams also ably uses the viewpoints of British and other
Europeans to describe different contemporary views on the struggle. These provide excellent outside insight. On the whole,
readers will find the book a superb and scholarly analysis, providing fresh insights into the motivations and causes of the
defining war in American history. AWARDED 5
STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org
Recommended Reading: Prelude to Civil War:
The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836.
Review: When William Freehling's Prelude to Civil War first appeared in 1965 it was immediately hailed as a brilliant and
incisive study of the origins of the Civil War. Book Week called it "fresh, exciting, and convincing," while The Virginia
Quarterly Review praised it as, quite simply, "history at its best." It was equally well-received by historical societies,
garnering the Allan Nevins History Prize as well as a Bancroft Prize, the most prestigious history award of all. Now once
again available, Prelude to Civil War is still the definitive work on the subject, and one of the most important in antebellum
studies. It tells the story of the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, describing how from 1816 to 1836 aristocratic
planters of the Palmetto State tumbled from a contented and prosperous life of elegant balls and fine Madeira wines to a world
rife with economic distress, guilt over slavery, and apprehension of slave rebellion. It shows in compelling detail how this
reversal of fortune led the political leaders of South Carolina
down the path to ever more radical states rights doctrines: in 1832 they were seeking to nullify federal law by refusing to
obey it; four years later some of them were considering secession. Continued below…
As the story unfolds, we
meet a colorful and skillfully drawn cast of characters, among them John C. Calhoun, who hoped that nullification would save
both his highest priority, slavery, and his next priority, union; President Andrew Jackson, who threatened to hang Calhoun
and lead federal troops into South Carolina; Denmark Vesey, who organized and nearly brought off a slave conspiracy; and Martin
Van Buren, the "Little Magician," who plotted craftily to replace Calhoun in Jackson's esteem. These and other important figures
come to life in these pages, and help to tell a tale--often in their own words--central to an understanding of the war which
eventually engulfed the United States. Demonstrating how a profound sensitivity to the still-shadowy slavery issue--not serious
economic problems alone--led to the Nullification Controversy, Freehling revises many theories previously held by historians.
He describes how fear of abolitionists and their lobbying power in Congress prompted South Carolina's leaders to ban virtually any public discussion
of the South's "peculiar institution," and shows that while the Civil War had many beginnings, none was more significant than
this single, passionate controversy. Written in a lively and eminently readable style, Prelude to Civil War is must reading
for anyone trying to discover the roots of the conflict that soon would tear the Union apart.
Recommended Reading: The Real Lincoln:
A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Description: It hardly seems possible that there is more to say about someone who has been subjected
to such minute scrutiny in thousands of books and articles. Yet, Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln manages to raise fresh and morally probing questions, challenging the image of the martyred
16th president that has been fashioned carefully in marble and bronze, sentimentalism and myth. In doing so, DiLorenzo does
not follow the lead of M. E. Bradford or other Southern agrarians. He writes primarily not as a defender of the Old South
and its institutions, culture, and traditions, but as a libertarian enemy of the Leviathan state. Continued below...
and his war responsible for the triumph of "big government" and the birth of the ubiquitous, suffocating modern U.S. state. He seeks to replace the nation’s memory
of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator” with the record of Lincoln as the “Great Centralizer.”
Reading: The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln--Teddy Roosevelt--Wilson How the Income Tax Transformed
America (432 pages) (Simon & Schuster). Review:
A major work of history, The Great Tax Wars is the gripping, epic story of six decades of often violent conflict over wealth,
power, and fairness that gave America
the income tax. It's the story of a tumultuous period of radical change, from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War through the
progressive era under Theodore Roosevelt and ending with Woodrow Wilson and World War I. During these years of upheaval, America was transformed from an agrarian society into a mighty industrial nation, great fortunes
were amassed, farmers and workers rebelled, class war was narrowly averted, and America
emerged as a global power. Continued below...
Tax Wars features an extraordinary cast of characters, including the men who built the nation's industries and the politicians
and reformers who battled them -- from J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie to Lincoln, T. R., Wilson, William
Jennings Bryan, and Eugene Debs. From their ferocious battles emerged a more flexible definition of democracy, economic justice,
and free enterprise largely framed by a more progressive tax system. In this groundbreaking book, Weisman shows how the ever
controversial income tax transformed America
and how today's debates about the tax echo those of the past. About the Author: Steven R. Weisman has
covered politics, economics, and international affairs for The New York Times for more than thirty years. Previously a deputy
foreign editor at the Times, he now writes editorials for the paper about government, politics, and international subjects,
including the battles over taxes in the last two presidential elections. He lives with his wife, Elisabeth Bumiller, and family
in the Washington, D.C.,
Reading: Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics
of the Civil War (The American Crisis: Books on the Civil War Era). Review: What role did economics play in leading the
United States into the Civil War in the
1860s, and how did the war affect the economies of the North and the South? Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation uses contemporary
economic analyses such as supply and demand, modern market theory, and the economics of politics to interpret events of the
Civil War. Simplifying the sometimes complex intricacies of the subject matter, Thornton and Ekelund have penned a nontechnical
primer that is jargon-free and accessible. Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation also takes a comprehensive approach to its topic.
It offers a cohesive and a persuasive explanation of the how, what, and why behind the many factors at work on both sides
of the contest. Continued below...
most books only delve into a particular aspect of the war, this title effectively bridges the gap by offering an all-encompassing,
yet relatively brief, introduction to the essential economics of the Civil War. This book starts out with a look at the reasons
for the beginning of the Civil War, including explaining why the war began when it did. It then examines the economic realities
in both the North and South. Also covered are the different financial strategies implemented by both the Union and the Confederacy to fund
the war and the reasons behind what ultimately led to Southern defeat. Finally, the economic effect of Reconstruction is discussed,
including the impact it had on the former slave population. This book includes the related Tariff Acts, Tariff Panics,
and so-called excessive Tariffs... what is presently referred to as “High Taxes and Taxation.” It is an interesting
read for the casual reader as well as the Civil War buff!