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Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War Paperback – January 5, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
This is not the most readable of books! Economic history does not leap off the page. There are no ringing phrases, heroic defenses or gallant charges to keep us involved. What we have is a series of intelligent well-supported arguments that support the author's thesis. The author using politics and economics demonstrates how the United States moved from a vertical North/South nation to a horizontal East/West nation. This movement destroyed the element of comprise that held off war for so many years. While allowing the growth of a northern party, bring it to national dominance in 1860.
In a series of well-presented logical chapters, we see how the vertical alignment of America created comprises. The two national political parties, Whigs and Democrats, had strengths in both the North & South. The Mississippi River system moved goods between the regions establishing dependence between them. The slave owning plantations feed cotton to the mills in the north. Northern merchants handled the international shipping for the South. One nation existed that needed comprises to maintain this system of trade.Read more ›
HILL AND WANG, 2010
HARDCOVER, $30.00, MAPS, TABLES, NOTES, INDEX, 432 PAGES
Between the years 1800 and 1860, arguments between the North and South grew more intense. One of the mainquarrels 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. Taxes were also levied on many Southern exports, an expense that wasn't 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. The North and the West didn't agree on what was more important economically. The West focused on the canals and transportation necessary to get their products to market easier and to receive products from other parts of the country. Some Northerneers were invested in the cotton market (which involved many slaves) and were more concerned with getting the cotton to their mills to produce material for clothes. These tensions usually played out in politics at the local and national levels. Even within the political parties, economics caused problems.Read more ›
Over and over again, Mr. Egnal demonstrates how Slavery near breaks the Union, and only the economic dependency of North upon South forces the Northern States to disagreeable compromise.
By constant recitation of the role that Slavery played in shaping events, (and how the North agonized over compromise), the body of the text argues effectively against the thesis stated.
Mr. Egnal does an thorough job of showing how the South became a less significant part of the North’s economy. As that process accelerated, the North became less willing to accept the expansion of slavery in return for economic gain. The wealthier the North became and the less trade depended on the South, the easier it was to stand against compromise. This was not so much an economic motive to suppress slavery as it was removal of an incentive to abandon principle.
The book documents that, by the time of the rise of the Republican Party, you find a fairly consistent Northern consensus on three issues. First, that the Free States had the right to outlaw Slavery within their borders. Second, the expansion of Slavery to new territories was unacceptable. Third, that individual Northern States had the right to refuse to return runaway slaves who reached their borders.
The author then shows that the Slave State leaders understood that accepting this consensus meant the eventual dismantling of their society; possibly sooner than later.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a review from a non-American with little prior exposure to the history of the US Civil War. The book gives a very well researched and closely described view of the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Shane Atkinson
It's okay. I expected a better digression on how economics influenced the origins of the war. Not too many facts and associations between cause and effect.Published on November 3, 2013 by Francisco Mariategui
Egnal's effort to resurrect the economic interpretation of the causes of the Civil War falls flat. He begins by sketching out what he calls the "idealistic view" of the... Read morePublished on March 22, 2013 by Bill
This book gives a great perspective of what cause the Civil War, even though I don't agree with the author's argument it is still a very interesting read.Published on February 4, 2013 by MissMia09
Mark Egnal makes a significant contribution to civil war literature by exploring the economic underpinnings of secession and civil war. Read morePublished on November 16, 2011 by Zon Toro
"Clash of Extremes" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Egnal's book interview ran here as the cover feature on February 22, 2010.Published on February 26, 2010 by ROROTOKO
So long as it stays close to its main theme, this study of the antebellum economy is ingenious, penetrating, and very readable. Read morePublished on January 22, 2010 by margot