The Economics of the Civil War

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8. The Civil War and the Growth of Government

  • Economics of the Civil War

Tags U.S. HistoryWar and Foreign PolicyPolitical Theory

03/09/2005Mark Thornton

Black reconstruction after the Civil War did much better than the dire predictions made. The black population recovered quickly. Many moved to urban areas. They deliberately had fewer children. Mortality declined. Income increased. No government assistance was handed out.

Black women became homemakers and educators. Most of the former slaves shared tenancy with the landowners, splitting crops at the end of the season. But, in 1896 the Supreme Court upheld Jim Crow laws. This set economic convergence of the races back. “Separate but equal” remained doctrine until its repudiation in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education.

Lincoln’s burgeoning of governmental agencies was a direct consequence of the Civil War. It was the first New Deal. The war crisis allowed government to ratchet up its scope and power. The war was really the origin of central state authority in America.

Lecture 8 of 8 from Mark Thornton's The Economics of the Civil War, presented to the Auburn University Academy for Lifelong Learners.



Contact Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows.

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