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Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877

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This book describes the impact of the American Civil War on the development of central state authority in the late nineteenth century. The author contends that intense competition for control of the national political economy between the free North and slave South produced secession, which in turn spawned the formation of two new states, a market-oriented northern Union an This book describes the impact of the American Civil War on the development of central state authority in the late nineteenth century. The author contends that intense competition for control of the national political economy between the free North and slave South produced secession, which in turn spawned the formation of two new states, a market-oriented northern Union and a southern Confederacy in which government controls on the economy were much more important. During the Civil War, the American state both expanded and became the agent of northern economic development. After the war ended, however, tension within the Republican coalition led to the abandonment of Reconstruction and to the return of former Confederates to political power throughout the South. As a result, American state expansion ground to a halt during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book makes a major contribution to the understanding of the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the legacy of the war in the twentieth century.


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This book describes the impact of the American Civil War on the development of central state authority in the late nineteenth century. The author contends that intense competition for control of the national political economy between the free North and slave South produced secession, which in turn spawned the formation of two new states, a market-oriented northern Union an This book describes the impact of the American Civil War on the development of central state authority in the late nineteenth century. The author contends that intense competition for control of the national political economy between the free North and slave South produced secession, which in turn spawned the formation of two new states, a market-oriented northern Union and a southern Confederacy in which government controls on the economy were much more important. During the Civil War, the American state both expanded and became the agent of northern economic development. After the war ended, however, tension within the Republican coalition led to the abandonment of Reconstruction and to the return of former Confederates to political power throughout the South. As a result, American state expansion ground to a halt during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book makes a major contribution to the understanding of the causes and consequences of the Civil War and the legacy of the war in the twentieth century.

43 review for Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julian Haigh

    An analysis of statist structures in the lead-up to, development during and Reconstruction from the American Civil War on both the Confederate and Union sides. This book deals with slavery as merely a subset of systemic differences between an industrializing North and the plantation-south. It emphasizes the political bases of support (not class-based politics but systemic economic), the use of monetary policy for the industrializing interests of the North and the developing structure of the Amer An analysis of statist structures in the lead-up to, development during and Reconstruction from the American Civil War on both the Confederate and Union sides. This book deals with slavery as merely a subset of systemic differences between an industrializing North and the plantation-south. It emphasizes the political bases of support (not class-based politics but systemic economic), the use of monetary policy for the industrializing interests of the North and the developing structure of the American banking system and Treasury departments. I'm reading the Battle for Bretton Woods concurrently and finding much explained in how the world economic system is set up through a better understanding of the systemic choices that America took in its own development. So much had confused me in understanding American politics in the later 19th Century, has been cleared up by this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    Pretty disappointing overall. The author's so interested in providing statistical tables of votes in the House of Representatives (and dividing all votes into "statist" or "antistatist" positions) that he often neglects to identify what actual laws are passed and enacted, what they did, and how they operated. His entire description of the money market operations of the Treasury department in the last half of the book seem extremely confused, and he doesn't connect that description with most of t Pretty disappointing overall. The author's so interested in providing statistical tables of votes in the House of Representatives (and dividing all votes into "statist" or "antistatist" positions) that he often neglects to identify what actual laws are passed and enacted, what they did, and how they operated. His entire description of the money market operations of the Treasury department in the last half of the book seem extremely confused, and he doesn't connect that description with most of the info from the first half of the book or form a coherent story out of it. Some interesting takeaways though. I had no idea how borderline treasonous Buchanan's administration was. His General-in-Chief Winfield Scott said after secession the government should just allow the fragments of "the great Republic to form themselves into new Confederacies." Scott's secretary took all the notes on security arrangements from a secret meeting and gave them directly to Southern politicians. The Secretary of War John Floyd tried to transfer arms to the South from a Pittsburgh arsenal before mob action stopped him. The Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb of Georgia was widely rumored to be harboring an active "disunion plot" inside the very cabinet. The fact that the republic survived at all until Lincoln came into office is kinda amazing. Also, his discussion of the Confederate government is pretty interesting. It was basically more centralizing and controlling than the federal government. By 1863 it had given the Secretary of the War total discretion to exempt certain groups from the ubiquitous draft, which the South started a year before the North, and which allowed him to basically control all labor movements in the Confederacy. By the end of the war the central government in Richmond was basically running the whole Railroad system using both impressment and labor controls. It also taxed slave overseers (exempt from the draft by law) to pay for poor relief to families with soldiers at war. The Confederate government collected the funds and then distributed them to the states, an early grant-in-aid program ahead of its time. By the end of the war almost 1/3 of families in some states were receiving relief, though in increasingly worthless Confederate currency. Still, despite a few interesting tidbits, I wish the book had been better organized and better written.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book... It's such a landmark in political economy and in Civil War historiography. That said, it's a dense book and not one for the general reader. In fact, it may not even be for many students of the Civil War. This book... It's such a landmark in political economy and in Civil War historiography. That said, it's a dense book and not one for the general reader. In fact, it may not even be for many students of the Civil War.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    "...deals incisively with issues that are very much alive today, particularly the tension between the states and the federal government..." -- Washington Post Book World, 8 Feb 09 "...deals incisively with issues that are very much alive today, particularly the tension between the states and the federal government..." -- Washington Post Book World, 8 Feb 09

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marvin Kierstead

    Very thorough. Although highly detailed, an informative account of USA financing the cost of prosecuting the war.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Elrick

    Extensive research. The only thing that got me was the length - the book itself is a leviathan of research!

  7. 5 out of 5

    William Adler

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

  9. 5 out of 5

    Glen

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shrike58

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kerry B

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sterling

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Ermer

  15. 4 out of 5

    Willow Croft

  16. 4 out of 5

    Poliwalk

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

  18. 4 out of 5

    NK Finney

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Emett

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew 'Smitty' Smith

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gary Entz

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deena Abu-lughod

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

  25. 4 out of 5

    Billy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michael Block

  27. 5 out of 5

    Morgen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Geoffery

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erich

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Edward Waverley

  33. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Sadler

  34. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

  35. 4 out of 5

    Drew Tucker

  36. 4 out of 5

    Luke

  37. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  38. 4 out of 5

    Shawn Gude

  39. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  40. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  41. 4 out of 5

    Gnarly Authenticity .

  42. 5 out of 5

    Sean Rosenthal

  43. 5 out of 5

    Michael Petrovich

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