Sunday, April 03, 2011

Capitalism and Slavery

This, from the Disunion series on the NY Times, argues that capitalism wasn't incompatible with slavery and that the economic causes of the American Civil War are greatly exaggerated.  Because the Northern and Southern economies were so linked, people expected economic disaster as a result of secession.
Of course, the dire predictions did not come to pass. The northern economy did not collapse without access to Southern markets, a monopoly on cotton did not make the Confederacy invulnerable and economic self-interest did not forestall a bloody conflict. Yet by reminding us of slavery’s importance to the nation as a whole, these prognostications suggest that the Civil War was hardly the result of the inherent hostility of capitalism to slavery.