Economic Factors of the Civil War

Topics: Confederate States of America, American Civil War, Union Army Pages: 5 (1469 words) Published: February 1, 2008
The Civil War's outcome could have gone either way, on one hand you have the North, which had the industrial advantage, and the South on the other who had a home field advantage and better generals too. The war pitted brother against brother and father against son, and lost many wives their sons and or husbands. The victory of the North was due to many economical factors that hindered, and ultimately defeated the South.

The North was the industrial part of the country. It depended on its' factories for most of it's revenues. The factories where mostly textile factories that processed cotton into cloth, then clothing, and processed and made other products. Between 1790 and 1860, commercial agriculture replaced subsistence agriculture in the North, and household production was replaced by factory reproduction. Massive foreign immigration from Ireland and Germany greatly increased the size of the Northern cities. From 1960 to 1965 the U.S got about three hundred thousand immigrants from Ireland and four hundred thousand immigrants from Germany (Bailey: 450). The massive immigration also meant cheap workers for the factories.

In the South, slavery impeded the development of industry and cities. It also discouraged technological innovation. The South did not industrialize like the North did they remained reliant on agriculture. By remaining reliant on agriculture like cotton and tobacco, they were also indirectly relying on the North. Everything the South grew they would ship to the North to be processed. They would send the cotton over to be processed into thread and then from thread into cloth and from cloth into clothes. After the process is done it is shipped around the world.

This "balance" was disrupted by political and economical differences between the North and South. The North was pushing for a protective tariff in order to help keep most of the business within the country not in imports. The South didn't want any tariffs on bought goods. Another factor that led to shift in balance was the fact that the South didn't want restrictions on where new slaves can be brought to, yet they demanded federal jurisdiction over slaves who escaped into the North.

When the South seceded from the Union in 1861 the Civil War officially started. The South had the advantage of fighting defensively on its own land (the battle at Bull Run is a great example of this defensive fighting) and it did not have to win in order to preserve the Confederacy-it just had to fight to a draw. However the North held three fourths of the nation's wealth, and three fourths of the nation's railroad system (Spark Notes: Civil war). It also had nearly twice as large a population than the South as more and more immigrants arrived in the North from Europe.

The South right away counted on foreign intervention to win the war for them, but the common people of Britain supported the North, hoping to extinguish slavery. The British manufacturers depended upon cotton from the South, but before the war from 1857 to 1860, a surplus of cotton had developed in Britain (Calkins: 144). This allowed Britain to function without purchasing cotton from the South. In 1861, the cotton supply ran out and many British factory workers were laid off. As Union armies penetrated the South, they sent cotton to Britain. "King Wheat" and "King Corn", which were produced in great quantities in the North, proved to be more powerful than King Cotton. Therefore, Britain didn't want to break the blockade to gain cotton, because if it had, it would have lost the granary from the North, ultimately crushing the South's hopes for intervention of foreigners.

In order to centralize finances and pay for the war, the South was forced to take extreme measures, many of which violated the rights for which it had argued so fiercely before seceding. Taxes were imposed in August 1861 and The Confederate Congress authorized the printing of over half a billion dollars in 1861 and 1862....
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