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Wealth by state - 1860

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by USS ALASKA, Aug 23, 2018.

  1. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    wealth-by-state-1860.jpg

    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~prael/maps/wealth-by-state-1860.jpg

    Was told by a host ( @jgoodguy ) that econ topics could be covered on this forum "...at least until management catches on and makes us do real history." :smile:

    Been doing some reading trying to get a better handle on the economic situation in the antebellum US. Found the attached map. For whatever reason, I thought the representation would have been reversed. Granted, this is an average but the states that would become the Confederacy outstrip the heavy industrial states of PA and NY by up to 12 times. When @DaveBrt writes about southern railroads being funded by local subscription, I guess I now know where the money came from...

    Had no idea southern white males were so wealthy compared to their northern counterparts...on average...

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     

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  3. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    Turn 40% of the white working class in the northern areas into capital assets. That's about 8 million people. Add that to the distribution of wealth. That would show a different map.
     
  4. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    All these comparisons are based on counting something as an asset that is not an asset in New York, London, or Paris.
    Banks might lend on slaves as security, but slaves are not bonds, or gold bullion. The New York bank cannot take the slaves in a liquidation and sell them in Albany. The map is good though. It shows the distortion caused by counting the slaves as assets instead of people.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  5. JOHN42768

    JOHN42768 Captain Trivia Game Winner

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    Very surprising outlook
     
  6. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Not surprising at all.
     
  7. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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  8. mofederal

    mofederal Captain

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    I would it is not very surprising. Missouri had some wealth, but not as much as the deeper southern states.
     
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  9. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    I was thinking along those lines but would have thought that the capitol investment in raw material assets, machinery and production facilities in the North would act to balance that out. I'm wrong again...
    86

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
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  10. Lusty Murfax

    Lusty Murfax Sergeant

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    The Ozarks are relatively unproductive and comprise roughly 45% (I have a geosciences degree, but am too lazy to look it up.) of the geographic area of the State. You can make the case that in the mid-19th century the trees, lead and zinc deposits found there were valuable. However, by most standards agricultural production, business and manufacturing were concentrated in other parts of the State. Its hard to grow things in sticks and rocks. The Ozarks skewed the economic aspects of our State downward. Ah well, at least they produced more than their share of fiddle players.
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Captain

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    You don't know what you're talking about, *edited*. Cotton was the mid 19th century's most important commodity. It's only about slaves to you, it was about cotton to Southern planters, others producing it and those in the North and Europe buying it.

    Cotton was American's most valuable export in 1860. Source is here. I appreciate sources and would like to see yours.

    It's no wonder that those in the South producing this stuff were among the wealthiest Americans. When they tried to secede, the North insisted on, "preserving the Union." Oh, you bet they did and you can keep telling yourself it was on principle alone.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2018
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  12. demiurge

    demiurge Corporal

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    The reason slaves were the 'greatest material interest in the world' was cotton. No one disputes this. But it underlies, not rebukes, the point.

    As to greed being the primary reason, there's one thing and one thing easily that disputes this - the 13th amendment. If it were about greed, the slaves wouldn't have been freed. They were.

    Finally, your chart does show something very interesting - within 20 years of the Civil War farming exports exploded: provisions, cattle and bread. All by at least a factor of 10, while tobacco and cotton were near stable levels.

    Turns out cotton wasn't necessary for the wealth of the nation. By this time India was becoming an equal exporter in world markets.
     
  13. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    The slaves were freed mostly because it would destroy corporate farming (plantations) and because the slaves were in the south.
     
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  14. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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  15. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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  16. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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  17. Lusty Murfax

    Lusty Murfax Sergeant

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    The Richmond.edu maps are an affront to cartographers everywhere.
     
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  18. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    Agreed sir - but it wasn't the only thing driving the expanding economy...

    a0f6205541e701b495da495d980f58a8.jpg

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/a0/f6/20/a0f6205541e701b495da495d980f58a8.jpg

    And while the above chart is about manufactures, not exports, it also doesn't show the wealth generated by coal and iron ore mining, shipping and ship building, and the like. Cotton was huge, no doubt, and it accelerated parts of the economy that supported it, or were supported by it, (which were many). But it wasn't a driving factor of such great importance that the economy would have collapsed without it. Been smaller and slower growing, but advancing none the less.
    155

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
  19. Drew

    Drew Captain

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    USS ALASKA, I appreciate the state of manufacturing. Cotton, as I have shown, was the largest cash export from the United States in 1860. The overwhelming majority of it was sold to Europe, not Northern textile manufacturers.

    Do not underestimate the value of the majority of a developing nation's export income (yes, the U.S. was a developing nation in 1860).

    To re-state, most of the United States' export income came from cotton in 1860, not shoemakers or corn cobs.

    Preserve the Union!
     
  20. Drew

    Drew Captain

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    Yes, hindsight is the gift that keeps giving. No one had this information in 1860.

    I've posted exhaustively on the nature of commodity booms. Everyone thinks it will go on forever and it doesn't. I haven't the energy to revisit the phenomenon here, again.
     
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  21. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    https://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php

    When the value of slaves is subtracted, as a step towards including them in the calculation of per capita wealth, the advantage in per capita wealth of the south is nearly eliminated.
     
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