Economic Factors of the Civil War Assignment

Economic Factors of the Civil War Assignment Words: 1501

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 ton 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).

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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 industrialized 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 nutcrackers depended upon cotton trot the South, but bettor the war from 1857 to 1860, a surplus of cotton had developed in Britain (Calking: 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, cause 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. However, because the Confederacy lacked the specie reserves that the Union had built up over time, this action resulted in runaway inflation. Not many people wanted o deal with the South because of its unknown currency the North had a well- established banking system and therefore could be relied on more than the South. To add to the Southern disadvantages, the North possessed an extensive railroad network, which gave it superiority in transportation.

The North had twenty one thousand seven hundred miles of railroad tracker compared to nine thousand in the South (Calking: 144). Even when the South had food available, soldiers went hungry because of the poor supply lines. The breakdown of the Southern railroad system began early in the war and got worse as the Union troops cut or destroyed he railroad tracks. Transportation in the South collapsed during the Civil War. The North’s water blockade severely hampered the South’s economy. Cotton capitalism had lost out to industrial capitalism.

Before the war, the South had been dependent on imports and trade for many everyday things. When the federal blockade began to limit Southern access to these products that included food, medicine and clothing, the Confederate army began to suffer, and their battle ability deteriorated as well. By 1863 the lack of certain essential items became a real morale problem for the South. Food, medicine, uniforms, and ammunition were some of the items in short supply and sacrifice was common among Southerners by now. Some common sacrifices included church bells that where cast into cannons and clothing so it could be used for bandages.

Many soldiers weren’t even dying on the battlefield but of starvation and sickness. A major problem facing the Confederacy was the shortage of resources. With much of its economy based largely on cotton and slaves, the South had continuous money problems, and the range of supplies with which it could give its troops and the villain population was very limited. In their crop-based economy, hard money was rare and the relative scarcity to modern dictators in the South made weapons production almost impossible. Moreover, though the South produced large amounts of cotton.

The South’s capacity to produce textiles from raw materials did not match that of the North. The South was as ill equipped to clothe its soldiers, as it was to arm them. For much of the war, the army was dependent on stealing supplies from the North and or blockade running with ships like the mighty Virginia. Since such practices ere not dependable, the Confederate army was often underfed, underselling with ammunition, and even forced to strip the bodies of dead enemies for their uniforms, guns, and or ammunition.

Also, many Confederate soldiers had wives and children back home who were starving. This made loyalty to the army extremely difficult for a man. These factors rendered the Confederate army unable to perform at its highest level through much of the war. While the South was starving the North was enjoying an economic boom. The North increased tariffs and excise taxes to financially support the war, and also created the iris income tax ever; three percent on all incomes over eight hundred dollars (Calking: 146).

In early 1861 Congress passed the Merrill Tariff Act, which was a high protective tariff that increased duties five to ten percent. The increases were designed to raise additional revenue and provide more protection for the North’ s prosperous manufacturers. Before the Civil War the federal banking system was specie-based and was not far- reaching, so the Washington Treasury issued green-backed paper money. In order to increase bond sales the nation backed the paper money with its fluctuating gold supply. Eventually bond sales financed about sixty six percent of the war effort.

The North was making more money than ever and the value of a green-backed dollar was never the same because of the fluctuating gold supply. The fact that the North’s population was twice the size of the South’s really helped the North win the Civil War. For instance, when President Lincoln chose General Grant to lead the assault on the Confederate capital of Richmond. Grant had one hundred thousand men and engaged Lee in a series of battles in the wilderness (Bailey: 480). On June 3, 1864, Grant ordered the frontal assault on Cold Harbor exulting in thousands of Union soldiers being killed within a matter of minutes.

However, Grant’s strategy of losing two men and killing one Confederate worked. He eventually captured Richmond and cornered Lee, forcing the Confederates to surrender on April 9, 1855. In the long run the war strengthened the United States of America’s future economy. The South lost because it didn’t think the situation over. They were at a disadvantage in manpower, transportation, specie, food, and factories. The South could have won if they had industrialized because an agricultural economy isn’t enough to keep a country going.

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Economic Factors of the Civil War Assignment. (2021, Dec 07). Retrieved April 15, 2024, from