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Great review.

A minor point; I had always thought that the North could never allow the South to secede as this would have given them control over the lower reaches of the Mississippi, which was the trade gateway to the northern heartlands.

Such control by the South would have made the North's westward ambitions futile

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 01:19:24 PM EST

In 1861 the Mississippi River Valley was the only transportation route for transporting bulk cargo (wheat, etc.) to market.  From western Pennsylvania it was cheaper to ship down the Ohio River, to the Mississippi, transfer the cargo from river boat to ocean sailing ship in New Orleans, across the Gulf, up the Atlantic coast to New York than shipping it overland.  For Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc., it was the only route to get their products to a paying market.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 01:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
QED

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 02:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even had that not been the case, the prospect of having an embittered, economically dysfunctional British puppet state on your border is hardly an encouraging thought.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 02:39:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting What/If.

The British empire had outlawed chattel slavery and had gone as far as interdicting the slave trade to South America, using the Royal Navy.  Could Southern slavery continued if they had become a "British puppet state?"

A "no" is supported by the fact one of the principal reasons the British Empire did not intervene was slavery.

A "yes" is supported by the fact the BE was acquiescent of the caste system of India.  From what I can gather, they didn't like it but they didn't like it enough to try to force its abandonment.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:02:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, public opinion in Bratian was against slavery, but the Empire was built on racial supremacy policies, including land theft, forced labor and genocide being visited on un-white people (including, but not limited to, people today acknowledged as white like the irish). So chattel slavery was banished as such, but practises close to it was allowed. Could the South adopted to that? Perhaps not given their propaganda.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:39:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
South couldn't.  The economic argument is easiest to make.  So ...

Slave prices doubled from $900 in 1820 to $1,800 1861. To translate that, in 1850 the average slave cost $40,000 in today's money.  There were (1861 census) 3,950,528 slaves in the south equaling $7,110,950,400 or $158 billion in today's money.  US GDP in 1860 is estimated to have been $88,713,000,000 so the capital value of slaves represented ~8% of the US GDP.  Roughly 65% of Southern capital was directly tied-up with slavery and something like 95% was directly and indirectly tied-up in slavery; where indirect includes such as fulling mills, cotton ginning, railroads, etc.

For all intents and purposes cotton production from chattel slavery was the Southern economy although they were still involved in tobacco production, rice production in South Carolina, and sugar production in Louisiana.  But all these latter paled in comparison to King Cotton whose value was ~$1.3 billion in 1860 dollars.

The South's economic capital was tied-up in slavery.  The South's income was derived from slavery.  

The South could have adjusted to "free" (sic) labor Crop Sharing -- which is what they did after 1865.  But the return on investment to the Ruling Elite would have been much lower and they would have lost the money in their capital investment in slaves, meaning they would have had to start a cycle of capital formation and appreciation from nothing -- which is also what happened after 1865 and why the South was an economic basket case until the 1950s and economically backward even today.  

My own opinion is the South could have gotten British intervention in 1861 or 1862 by abandoning slavery but what would be the use of getting British intervening in the Civil War if the Planter Class had to wreck their slave-based economy when the "point" of fighting the Civil War was to maintain slavery?  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 06:19:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK solved the problem by paying its slave-owning class £20 million in compensation/bribes after abolition - which was 40% of GDP at the time, so the eqv. of roughly £1 trillion today.

I can't imagine the UK agreeing to adopt the South after that, if only because the South might have expected something similar.

Arguably Lincoln could have saved money overall by suggesting the same trick in the US and paying the South to abolish and mechanise. The total cost of the Civil War was around $7bn nominal, which was very close to 100% of nominal US GDP at the time.

Excellent book review, btw.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 19th, 2014 at 05:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK solved the problem by paying its slave-owning class £20 million in compensation/bribes after abolition - which was 40% of GDP at the time

I find it was 40% of government expenditure, not of GDP. I find GDP in the mid-1830s was about Ł500 million, thus government expenditure was a tenth of GDP and the slavery emancipation compensation fund was about 4% of GDP (about half of what ATinNM estimated for the US). I suspect your figure of about $7bn for US GDP is government expenditure, too, given that ATinNM wrote above that 1860 US GDP was estimated at $88bn. At any rate, the war expenditure (here estimated at $6bn on the Union side and $2bn on the Confederate side, without veterans' benefits) was about the same as the value of the slaves as estimated by ATinNM. IIRC the Team of Rivals book had an estimate on the money actually intended for Lincoln's 1861 compensation scheme, I'll check it in the evening when I get home.

On the beneficiaries of the compensation in Britain, I found this:

Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition - Home News - UK - The Independent

Academics from UCL, including Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many "very ordinary men and women" and covered the entire spectrum of society.

Dr Draper added that the database's findings may have implications for the "reparations debate". Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families.

Among those revealed to have benefited from slavery are ancestors of the Prime Minister, David Cameron, former minister Douglas Hogg, authors Graham Greene and George Orwell, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and the new chairman of the Arts Council, Peter Bazalgette. Other prominent names which feature in the records include scions of one of the nation's oldest banking families, the Barings, and the second Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, an ancestor of the Queen's cousin. Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Feb 19th, 2014 at 06:01:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC the Team of Rivals book had an estimate on the money actually intended for Lincoln's 1861 compensation scheme, I'll check it in the evening when I get home.

Lincoln foresaw just $400 per slave when he attempted a test run in the state legislature of Delaware (which rejected the scheme), and calculated that buying all the slaves in the pro-Union slave states would then cost the same as running the war for 87 days. At $400 per slave, the compensation for all the slaves (including those in the South) would have been $1.6 billion.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 19th, 2014 at 06:47:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would distinguish between active and open support for a civil war party and indirect control over an already established state. In the latter case, the British government would have to pay much less attention to domestic public opinion on slavery. At any rate, Europeans playing "divide and rule" after the completion of secession was an expressed fear of Unionists.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 06:38:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starting in the 1840s railroads came to be important, especially for producers not located on navigable rivers. One route involved rail from Baltimore to a navigable port on the Ohio River, and then by barge or riverboat to New Orleans.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:00:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes/But.

The US railroad system was in its infancy:

and note it was most developed where river traffic was least developed.  Moreover, one can argue the rail road's main purpose was to ship cargo to a river port.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:08:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot the "But" part.  :-)

The railroads were primarily used to ship manufactured goods from Ohio to the Eastern and Southern markets and ship raw materials to feed those factories.  Shipping raw materials to the factories in the Northeast, e.g., coal, was also a factor.

The North didn't have the river systems.  A "fake" river system - canals - were used but rail roads out competed them when the goods had to be transported farther than 200 miles.  

For passenger service the railroads won hand's down.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:17:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not easily deduced from the RR map is the tremendous importance of Buffalo New York.  Located on Lake Erie it was a major center of grain trading.  What "killed" the trade was the completion of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. Rail's initial use was very much to ship products to river ports and/or to create rail portages between rivers and lakes. But the Arkansas was not navigable much beyond Little Rock and the Missouri was highly seasonal above Council Bluffs, Iowa. Rail really came into its own with the trans-continental lines begun during and finished after the Civil War.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:26:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:37:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say rather than infancy, US railways already entered elementary school age. For the purposes of the discussion on access to the West, the trans-Appalachian lines matter, and all three that still matter today were essentially in place (the former NYC, Pennsylvania RR, and B&O routes, though the first wasn't yet consolidated), as well as the Erie.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 07:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Checking the status of railroads (transport on which I presume was costlier) I ran across this tidbit, with railroad-steamboat competition, Lincoln and influence peddling at the highest level, all in a couple of paragraphs.

First Transcontinental Railroad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas C. Durant, who was building the cross-Iowa railroad (the M&M), was literally banking that the Omaha route would be chosen and began buying up land in Nebraska.

In 1857, Durant hired private citizen Abraham Lincoln to represent the M&M in litigation brought by steamboat operators to dismantle Government Bridge, the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River. The bridge's drawspan was difficult for steamboats to navigate, and many felt the bridge had been built intentionally so.[60] In August 1859, Lincoln, at the behest of M&M attorney Norman Judd, traveled to Council Bluffs to inspect M&M facilities that were to be used to secure a $3,000 loan Lincoln was to hold. On the visit, Lincoln rode the SJ&H railroad and visited railroad locations in Missouri and Kansas before going to Council Bluffs. During the visit, Lincoln was to spend two hours with M&M engineer Grenville M. Dodge at the Pacific House Hotel discussing the merits of starting the railroad in Council Bluffs, and was to visit Cemetery Hill there to look over the proposed route.[61]

Lincoln's ties to Council Bluffs were further strengthened by the fact that he had won the 1860 Republican nomination on the third ballot when the Iowa delegation switched its vote to him.[62] In contrast, Lincoln was to get only 10 percent of the Missouri vote in the 1860 Presidential Election.

While the Pacific Railroad Act was to award the eastern contract to the newly formed Union Pacific, it was left up to then-President Lincoln to formally choose the location for the railroad to start, and Lincoln in 1862 was to follow the advice of his former client.

That quote aside, what I really was looking at is how the buillding of transcontinental railroads went into full steam with the war. So had the north lost the south they would have had railroads up and runing within a couple of years, with which they could have projected power.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:17:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Letting the South go and building a rail/canal network rather than fighting the Civil War would have been the cheaper option for the North.  Alas for the Economic Determinists, major political decisions are, more often than not, made for other reasons.  Having said that, much of the "fury of the Northmen" in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin during the Civil War sprang from their assessment without free access to the port of New Orleans they would become impoverished.

   

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 03:32:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two fascinating books on this are Empire Express and Railroaded, both of which I read last year, and which I was too lazy to diary despite their immediate relevance to a lot of issues of interest here at ET.  Railroaded is especially good.
by Zwackus on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 at 07:13:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to comment this in general. Railroads are key in the Lost Cause narrative of Lincoln as a tool of capitalist interests (and this even found its way into "communist" accounts of US history, the source I heard it from).

When I finally checked up on the matter, the best source I found was Abraham Lincoln as a Railroad Attorney, a 17-page essay by James W. Ely Jr., a professor of law as well as history. I won't review that, but the most important counter to the Lost Cause narrative is that he represented cases both for and against the railroads, taking cases as they came.

Checking some additional sources, the Wikipedia account of the Council Bluffs visit seems severely distorted:

  1. Norman Judd wasn't an exclusive lawyer for M&M.
  2. Nor was Norman Judd merely an attorney: he was a key Illinois Republican (before that Democrat) operative and Lincoln's campaign manager. (Judd's loyalty is similar to Stanton's with respect to its negative origins. In 1854, Judd led a small group of Illinois state congressmen who broke away from the Democrats over the issue of slavery but foiled Lincoln's Senate nomination on a joint anti-slavery ticket, forcing Lincoln's Whigs to accept one of theirs instead. Lincoln however refused to treat him as a traitor, earning both the merger of Judd's anti-slavery Democrats into the Whig-dominated new state Republican party, and personal loyalty.)
  3. Lincoln inspected no "M&M facilities" but 17 parcels of land owned by himself and Judd since 1857.
  4. The occasion in 1859 was that Lincoln invoked an earlier agreement with Judd that Judd buy his half of the land, but with no cash at hand, Lincoln "loaned" the purchase price with fixed interest (which was paid to Lincoln's widow by 1867), retaining the lands as collateral. In short, he wouldn't profit from any future land price increases or compensation due to future rail construction.
  5. Nor was Greenville M. Dodge an "M&M engineer" in 1859, though he did work a lot as a freelancer surveyor for M&M (alongside ventures like a bank and a coach company), and his pioneering 1850s surveys for a transcontinental railroad received private funding from Durant.
  6. The meeting between Dodge and Lincoln was a chance meeting: Dodge, a resident of Council Bluffs, was in attendance at a public meeting Lincoln held and was introduced thereafter. The discussion was one-way (Lincoln thoroughly querying Dodge about his ideas).

A rough itinerary of Lincoln's four-day visit to Council Bluffs can be read here; the account of the Lincoln-Dodge meeting is here; details on Norman Judd's connections to Lincoln can be read here. Two bios on Greenville Dodge discussing his work in the 1850s (the second mentioning an 1858 attempt at selling the transcontinental railroad idea to East Coast financiers meeting total lack of interest) are here and here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 21st, 2014 at 03:10:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to add to the 3rd point: it is possible that Lincoln and Judd decided in 1857 to purchase land in Council Bluffs in the expectation of future expropriations for a railroad line (though it's unlikely that they were already thinking of a transcontinental line), but a railroad from Chicago reached Council Bluffs in 1867 only, and the Missouri bridge to Omaha (the starting point of Durant's own Union Pacific) wasn't built until 1873.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 22nd, 2014 at 05:52:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's typically "Grenville Dodge."  That's how it's spelled on his gravestone.

There is an old joke that the modern American legal system was created to sort out disputes between banks and railroads in the mid-19th Century and hasn't changed since.  Suffice it to say it was difficult to have a successful law practice and not be involved in railroad cases.

by rifek on Thu Jan 30th, 2014 at 08:28:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's typically "Grenville Dodge."  That's how it's spelled on his gravestone.

And in all of my sources, too. Ooops, sub-conscious mis-reading.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jan 31st, 2014 at 07:54:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I said "typically" because there are records where it was spelled "Greenville."  His middle name got spelled a couple of different ways, too.
by rifek on Fri Jan 31st, 2014 at 10:54:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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