A Primer on “The Civil War”

  • The Southern Taxpayer: Tariffs were the main source of all Federal revenue from 1790 to 1914. Southern Democrats wrote and passed the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and kept reducing rates, so that the 1857 rates were down to about 15%, a move that boosted trade so overwhelmingly that revenues actually increased from just over $20 million in 1840 to more than $80 million by 1856. By 1860, these American tariff rates were 90 percent of all federal tax revenues.
  • American Exporter: Cotton was already America’s leading export by 1821. By 1850, Southern cotton accounted for nearly 60 percent of the nation’s total exports. The South relied on the West for much of their food and livestock, and on the North Atlantic states for most of their clothing and machinery. By 1860, it provided more than two-thirds of the country’s exports.
  • The Cotton Triangle: New York shipped Southern cotton to Europe, returned with immigrants and European goods, brought those goods to the South, and thence returned to NYC with cotton through the packet shipping system. There was no South-Europe leg of the “cotton triangle”. US foreign trade rose in value from $134 million in 1830 to $318

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(The opinions in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Southern Nation News or SN.O.)

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