At The American Interest we’ve been commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with a series of on line and print articles. The September/October print issue is now out and features an article on the consequences of the war by Allen C. Guelzo at Gettysburg College. It’s a great read; as a native South Carolinian this paragraph caught my eye (numbers are in Civil War era dollars when gold cost $16 an ounce]:
[T]he war cost the South $5-$8 billion. If the slave-holding states had agreed to a slave buyout plan instead of going to war, then those billions could have freed every slave at market value, funded the purchase of forty acres and a mule for every slave family, with $3.5 billion left over.
The horrendous quality of the South’s political leadership in the decades following the Missouri Compromise (as opposed to the talents of its military elite) is one of the untold stories of American history. The calamitous record of Southern diplomacy during the war, the disastrously written Confederate Constitution, Jefferson Davis’ poor wartime leadership, the sniping among the states: it takes a lot of stupidity to wreck a section as well endowed by nature as the American South. The Confederate generation and their fathers were up to the task; the South hasn’t quite finished digging itself out of the ruins even today.Anyway, read the whole piece here.