The Panic of 1857 and the Coming of the Civil War
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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In a bibliographic essay appended to their masterful work The Civil War and Reconstruction, James C. Randall and David H. Donald noted that the one monograph that dealt with the Panic of 1857 was "inadequate." The problem from Randall and Donalds perspective was that although the economic aspects of the Panic of 1857 had received attention, the political ramifications had not. The only published works that have focused upon the relations...
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In the long and arduous process of putting this manuscript into finished form, I have incurred a great number of intellectual and personal debts. Winton U. Solberg, Walter L. Arnstein, Clark C. Spence, Richard C. Rohrs, LeRoy H. Fischer, H. James Henderson, and Kenneth M. Stampp read the manuscript in various stages of completion and offered useful suggestions (frequently, it must be confessed, concerning length). A number of...
ONE: A Pensive Nation
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The course of political, social, and economic developments in the United States for the three decades prior to 1860 largely determined the effects that the Panic of 1857 had upon sectional attitudes. The economic conditions that the Panic exposed, and which became the justification for certain sectional appeals, were in large part the results of an economic growth based...
TWO: Panic Stalks Wall Street
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The course the Panic took between late August and mid-October had a significant bearing upon the manner in which Americans reacted to the crisis. Due to a bountiful harvest, most Americans anticipated a rewarding fall trade and expected any monetary difficulty to remain isolated in New York City. When the financial problems overwhelmed commerce and...
THREE: Public and Political Reactions
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The financial turmoil of 1857 instigated a wide-ranging and angry debate over economic policy. This discussion surprisingly did not influence the sectional controversy over slavery, at least for the time being. Although many southerners and a few abolitionists pressed the financial crash into service for their pro- and antislavery causes, the general public's reaction, as well...
FOUR: Economic Thought and the Panic of 1857
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The financial crisis of 1857 reinvigorated a long-standing controversy over appropriate national economic policy—that is, whether the nation should establish free trade in its international dealings with the world or erect high tariff barriers to protect certain types of business activities. For much of the 1850s the quarrel over free trade or protectionism had lain dormant, but its reawakening in 1857 had distinct repercussions for the sectional...
FIVE: Two Panics in Congress
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The process of converting the economic issues produced by the Panic of 1857 into topics of sectional acrimony began with the convening of the first session of the Thirty-fifth Congress on December 7, 1857. At the same time that legislators pondered appropriate remedies for the business depression, they also struggled with the treacherous question of admitting Kansas...
SIX: The Elections of 1858
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It was during the elections of 1858 that Panic-related economic issues finally emerged and began to influence the course of sectional controversy. The rise of protectionist sentiment in Pennsylvania not only added an economic dimension to the debate over the expansion of slavery but also reinforced an essential point of contention between the North and the South: the different attitudes and goals that a slaveholding society and a free labor...
SEVEN: A Retrenchment Congress
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Three political circumstances contributed to sectional tensions at the beginning of 1859 that were the distinct legacies of the Panic of 1857. Pennsylvania Democrats experienced the first in the congressional elections of 1858 when so many voters in the state accepted the opposition premise that a high tariff was a cure for economic depression. The second was a result of the presence of concrete economic issues whose resolution seemed...
EIGHT: Economic Resurrection and the Rights of Labor
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The functioning of the economy in 1859 and 1860 buttressed many of the sectional arguments that the financial crash of 1857 had evoked. Southerners found much evidence in the slow recovery of northern businesses to confirm their opinion that the welfare of the North depended upon trade with the South; they believed that this circumstance could be used with telling force in the political battle over slavery. The outbreak of...
NINE: The Election of 1860
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The Panic of 1857 shaped the presidential campaign of 1860 in a number of ways. The Panics most obvious effect was the injection of specific economic policy questions into the controversy between North and South. For most of the 1850s sectional agitators had used economic arguments for and against slavery, but the onslaught of depression in late 1857 transformed the subject of federal policy from a debate over sectional favoritism...
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A study of the Panic of 1857 does not dislodge the primacy of slavery as the cause of the American Civil War.' Following the monetary collapse, the all-absorbing topic of debate continued to be slavery throughout the North and the South. The Panic of 1857 reintroduced some economic programs into political...
A: Party Victors in Selected Northern State Congressional Contests, 1856–1860
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B: Democratic Vote Losses in the Election of 1860 in Pennsylvania Counties Changing Party Preference
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 1999