Sixty Percent of 1860 U.S. Export Income From Cotton

Drew

Major
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Oct 22, 2012
The Union wasn't making any money from these exports though. They weren't taxing exports and weren't taxing the money that was made from those exports.

Ryan

Nonsense. The money was flowing through northern banks (who were demonstrably doubtful of emancipation). Plus, the shipping industry and myriad suppliers were making money hand over fist.

"Preserve the Union!"
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
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The Union wasn't making any money from these exports though. They weren't taxing exports and weren't taxing the money that was made from those exports.

Ryan

Well, yes and no. The cotton export trade was very important to the profitabilty of Northern banks and other commercial institutions. The Confederacy's best friends in the North were the New York bankers.
 

rpkennedy

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Well, yes and no. The cotton export trade was very important to the profitabilty of Northern banks and other commercial institutions. The Confederacy's best friends in the North were the New York bankers.

On that point, I generally agree. My argument is that the government generally wasn't making out on those kinds of deals. One would have to show that the government's motivation was to help Northern economic interests in order to argue that it was the primary reason for the fight for Union.

Ryan
 

AndyHall

Colonel
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Dec 13, 2011
southstreet1858.png

Canal boats (foreground) and blue-water sailing ships crowd the waterfront near South Street in lower Manhattan in this 1858 view by Franklin White of Lancaster, New Hampshire. From Johnson and Lightfoot, Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs.


It's not clear to me how successful secession would have changed the larger economics of foreign trade. It wouldn't have given the southern states their own large and viable merchant marine; it wouldn't have given them the maritime industry and infrastructure needed to support it, and it wouldn't have given them the deep pockets of capital necessary to bankroll all of it. If the South had been able to do those things, they wouldn't have been relying on Yankee bankers, Yankee shipbuilders, and Yankee ship owners to make their export economy viable in the first place.

ETA: It might have made the South more reliant on British or French banks and shipping, rather than northern U.S. sources for those things, but that hardly seems like an improvement. Frying pan, fire, etc.
 
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rpkennedy

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View attachment 129943
Canal boats (foreground) and blue-water sailing ships crowd the waterfront near South Street in lower Manhattan in this 1858 view by Franklin White of Lancaster, New Hampshire. From Johnson and Lightfoot, Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs.


It's not clear to me how successful secession would have changed the larger economics of foreign trade. It wouldn't have given the southern states their own large and viable merchant marine; it wouldn't have given them the maritime industry and infrastructure needed to support it, and it wouldn't have given them the deep pockets of capital necessary to bankroll all of it. If the South had been able to do those things, they wouldn't have been relying on Yankee bankers, Yankee shipbuilders, and Yankee ship owners to make their export economy viable in the first place.

Not to mention looking down on those same bankers, shipbuilders, ship owners, and merchants.

Ryan
 

Bruce Vail

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Joined
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On that point, I generally agree. My argument is that the government generally wasn't making out on those kinds of deals. One would have to show that the government's motivation was to help Northern economic interests in order to argue that it was the primary reason for the fight for Union.

Ryan

Well, again, yes and no. The government's major source of income in those years was the tariff on imported goods. If cotton exports provided 60 percent of the foreign exchange needed for imports, then that is an important piece of change.

I think there is a good argument to be made that the capitalist class in the North supported the war for self-serving reasons that had nothing to do with slavery or freedom. But this argument doesn't do anything to answer the question of what motivated the abolitionists or other anti-slavery folk, or why millions of working-class Northerners rallied to the Union even though they didn't care anything about slavery.
 

unionblue

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Nonsense. The money was flowing through northern banks (who were demonstrably doubtful of emancipation). Plus, the shipping industry and myriad suppliers were making money hand over fist.

"Preserve the Union!"

Drew,

How were they making this money "hand over fist?"

Because those who grew cotton in the South and making millions themselves didn't take the time and effort to create their own banks, improve their own ports or build their own ships.

Why bother? We'll grow the white gold and hire all those northern geeks to finance and ship it for us.

All for the Union (when it's profitable and suits us)!

Unionblue
 
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Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
View attachment 129943
Canal boats (foreground) and blue-water sailing ships crowd the waterfront near South Street in lower Manhattan in this 1858 view by Franklin White of Lancaster, New Hampshire. From Johnson and Lightfoot, Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs.


It's not clear to me how successful secession would have changed the larger economics of foreign trade. It wouldn't have given the southern states their own large and viable merchant marine; it wouldn't have given them the maritime industry and infrastructure needed to support it, and it wouldn't have given them the deep pockets of capital necessary to bankroll all of it. If the South had been able to do those things, they wouldn't have been relying on Yankee bankers, Yankee shipbuilders, and Yankee ship owners to make their export economy viable in the first place.

Well, certainly Southern banks would have looked to London and Paris to replace the New York financing. Likewise they could have relied more heavily on European shipowners. But your point is well taken. There is no reason to believe that a successful Confederate States of America would have changed the fundamental economics of the cotton trade.
 

DaveBrt

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Mar 6, 2010
Location
Charlotte, NC
View attachment 129943
Canal boats (foreground) and blue-water sailing ships crowd the waterfront near South Street in lower Manhattan in this 1858 view by Franklin White of Lancaster, New Hampshire. From Johnson and Lightfoot, Maritime New York in Nineteenth-Century Photographs.


It's not clear to me how successful secession would have changed the larger economics of foreign trade. It wouldn't have given the southern states their own large and viable merchant marine; it wouldn't have given them the maritime industry and infrastructure needed to support it, and it wouldn't have given them the deep pockets of capital necessary to bankroll all of it. If the South had been able to do those things, they wouldn't have been relying on Yankee bankers, Yankee shipbuilders, and Yankee ship owners to make their export economy viable in the first place.

ETA: It might have made the South more reliant on British or French banks and shipping, rather than northern U.S. sources for those things, but that hardly seems like an improvement. Frying pan, fire, etc.
Southern newspapers talk about opening their ports "to the ships of the world." Notice, they do not say Southern ships.

There were many in the South that thought that Southern ports could draw European ships direct, bypassing New York, if that was where the cotton was located. So the implication was that there would be some kind of mechanism to get European ships in and keep some/most US ships out. New ports were being developed to handle this new trade, like Morehead City, NC, Brunswick, GA, Fernandina and Jacksonville, FL.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Southern newspapers talk about opening their ports "to the ships of the world." Notice, they do not say Southern ships.

There were many in the South that thought that Southern ports could draw European ships direct, bypassing New York, if that was where the cotton was located. So the implication was that there would be some kind of mechanism to get European ships in and keep some/most US ships out. New ports were being developed to handle this new trade, like Morehead City, NC, Brunswick, GA, Fernandina and Jacksonville, FL.

That's interesting because here in Texas (where ALL cotton was going out by sea, no rail connection), just over half of it went coastwise (i.e., to other U.S. ports), with 45% going overseas. I don't know what percentage of Texas cotton that went to New Orleans or other U.S. ports initially eventually made its way to other countries. That situation may not have been typical, but from Texas, foreign cotton exports were doing quite well.

Right offhand, I'm not sure how much of that 45% foreign export of cotton went on foreign-flagged vessels.
 

brass napoleon

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I think there is a good argument to be made that the capitalist class in the North supported the war for self-serving reasons that had nothing to do with slavery or freedom.

Yes, the capitalist class was very concerned, but you've got it backwards. The capitalist class in places like New York City, where loads of money were made on cotton, were the most vocal Northerners AGAINST the war. They advocated doing anything and everything to appease the South. In fact, New York City's Mayor Fernando Wood advocated that NYC secede from the Union itself.
 

Bruce Vail

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Joined
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Yes, the capitalist class was very concerned, but you've got it backwards. The capitalist class in places like New York City, where loads of money were made on cotton, were the most vocal Northerners AGAINST the war. They advocated doing anything and everything to appease the South. In fact, New York City's Mayor Fernando Wood advocated that NYC secede from the Union itself.

Not really. The New York capitalists wanted very much to avoid war and the disruption of profitable businesses, but they all came on board as the war progressed. Fernando Wood indeed suggested that NYC become a neutral free port, but he didn't have much support and the idea never gained any traction.
 

OpnCoronet

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Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Well, yes and no. The cotton export trade was very important to the profitabilty of Northern banks and other commercial institutions. The Confederacy's best friends in the North were the New York bankers.


So, are you agreeing that Lincoln and his acolytes, resisted secession as a matter of maintaining business as usual ?
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
So, are you agreeing that Lincoln and his acolytes, resisted secession as a matter of maintaining business as usual ?

I can't speak to Lincoln's motivations, but I do agree that most of the Northern capitalist class supported the war because they wanted to continue to profit from the cotton trade.
 

brass napoleon

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Not really. The New York capitalists wanted very much to avoid war and the disruption of profitable businesses, but they all came on board as the war progressed. Fernando Wood indeed suggested that NYC become a neutral free port, but he didn't have much support and the idea never gained any traction.

Agreed, once the war was underway and there was no turning back, the cotton capitalists generally realized that their best interests were with a speedy Union victory. But until the war reached the point of no return, they were decidedly in favor of unmitigated appeasement of the South, especially regarding that pesky slavery question.
 
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