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Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of…

Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War

by Marc Egnal

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  1. At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis by Shearer Davis Bowman (2010)
  2. Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation by John Majewski (2009)
  3. Lincoln and the Decision for War by Russell A. McClintock (2008)
  4. The Road to Disunion: The Secessionists at Bay 1776-1854 by William W. Freehling (1990)
  5. The fragile fabric of Union : cotton, federal politics, and the global origins of the Civil War by Brian D. Schoen (2009)
  1. The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War by James Oakes (2014)
  2. Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848-1865 by Paul Quigley (2011)
  3. The grand design : strategy and the U.S. Civil War by Donald J. Stoker (2010)
  4. Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in the Southern Slaveholders' New World Order by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (2008)
  5. America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder After the Panic of 1837 by Alasdair Roberts (2012)
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    The Age of Lincoln by Orville Vernon Burton (jrgoetziii)
    jrgoetziii: Egnal's scholarship is outstanding-but how to explain the apparent irrationality, at times, of the Southern approach to the Civil War?

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An interesting take on the cause of the US Civil War, Egnal argues that it was economics, far more than slavery or states rights that set the two regions on a collision course. Thoroughy researched and full of facts and figures, he also weaves in stories of individuals to make his case. I am not sure I buy into it 100%, but it certainly thought-provoking and worth the read. ( )
  ScoutJ | Mar 31, 2013 |
Great detail about the formation of the Republican party and its economic goals and priorities and how the South became alienated from the Northern economy and its westward expansion. Egnal has been accused of ignoring slavery as the cause of the war; however, I feel he details the real economic conflicts between the backward, isolated agrarian plantation/slave system of the South and the vibrant expanding Industrial North.

For example, Egnal tells of a the son of a rich Virgina planter who studies the new science of Soil Management, Crop Rotation and the use of modern agricultural equipment, such as steam powered tractors and harvesters. He finds huge improvement in crop yields if soils are limed and then fertilized with manure. He travels to South Carolina where the same crops have been grown on the same land for many generations, cutting crop yields by 75%. He tries to educated the plantation owners in more up to date farming techniques, and discovers they will not invest in new equipment because the slave laborers are considered unable to learn how to maintain and operate modern farming equipment. The Carolina planters also considered the use of manure as a fertilizer to be "crude" and unworthy of a gentleman farmer. They would rather buy cheap land and move their slave-based farming system in the West - Arkansas, West Texas, Missouri and beyond. ( )
  THARVEYME | Nov 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080909536X, Hardcover)

Clash of Extremes takes on the reigning orthodoxy that the American Civil War was waged over high moral principles. Marc Egnal contends that economics, more than any other factor, moved the country to war in 1861.
Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, Egnal shows that between 1820 and 1850, patterns of trade and production drew the North and South together and allowed sectional leaders to broker a series of compromises. After midcentury, however, all that changed as the rise of the Great Lakes economy reoriented Northern trade along east-west lines. Meanwhile, in the South, soil exhaustion, concerns about the country’s westward expansion, and growing ties between the Upper South and the free states led many cotton planters to contemplate secession. The war that ensued was truly a “clash of extremes.”
Sweeping from the 1820s through Reconstruction and filled with colorful portraits of leading individuals, Clash of Extremes emphasizes economics while giving careful consideration to social conflicts, ideology, and the rise of the antislavery movement. The result is a bold reinterpretation that will challenge the way we think about the Civil War.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:28 -0400)

Clash of Extremes emphasizes economics while giving careful consideration to social conflicts, ideology, and the rise of the antislavery movement. The result is a bold reinterpretation that will challenge the way we think about the Civil War.

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