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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

This Day in History: April 9th, 1865: Lee Surrenders

On occasion we like to delve into historical events that occurred on the day of our particular writing and bring out an economic or financial relevancy..

Today is special day in US History.. April 9th...  1865

Confederate General Robert E Lee is forced to surrender to General Grant and for all intent and purposes, the US Civil War concluded

And those of the Blue & the Grey became friends again and everyone lived happily ever after..

Ugh..
There isn't a period of history we care about and have studied more than the War of Southern Independence, as Southerners back then called it, and its amazing how inept educators have been for generations in properly teaching students the War Between the States..

Of course when most history teachers in high school are nothing more than high school football and basketball coaches fulfilling state educator minimums to be allowed to coach, or teachers of the most boring, lackadaisical sort, you're going to find students themselves bored and woefully shortchanged.

Everything involving the Civil War is simplified to the point of mental retardation..  Union- Good; Confederacy- Bad!  All those who fought for the North- Heroes; All those who fought for the south- Villains.. 

Well, except for two.. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  We're all allowed to give them respect without being hypocritical because supposedly they were anti-slavery even though they really weren't..

Try giving public acknowledgement of someone like Nathan Bedford Forrest, the greatest cavalry commander in North American military history and you're branded in hateful terms.. But Lee?  Oh, he was such a gentleman..  ~rolls eyes
And oh yes.. the issue of Slavery.. That's why the war was fought wasn't, as so we've been vigorously taught and ingrained into our brains.  Makes everyone feel good knowing we won a moral war to liberate a whole race of people..

Shame its all a bunch of hokum..

Few to none take the time to teach the real reasons for the war and they were All economic, not social or moral..

For instance, back in the antebellum south, plantation owners found it more profitable to ship their cotton across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool than to merchants in the North and not only did this frustrate Northern business owners who made their living in cotton but also Investors.

Cotton back then as in now was a publicly traded commodity like corn, wheat and OJ.  And the way the market keeps its control of the value of a commodity is to make sure there are strict controls of supply/demand at the farming level.   
This is why, for instance, the US government pays farmers Not to use their land, or to destroy their crop.. It keeps prices for such commodities in the control of the middle men and more specifically, the traders and Investors to determine price.

Northern merchants and businessmen also wanted to destroy the Southern economic model because they didn't feel they could adequately compete with slave labor.  Sure, northern business owners would use mostly immigrant labor, pay them a couple pennies a day as they lived lives of filth and squalor not good enough for pigs...

But Heyyy.. If we're paying some stupid Irish immigrant or free-slave 3cents a day and the slave owner is paying his workforce zero, you better believe that would be quite irksome to the businessman paying 3 cents.  

Of course it didn't matter to Northerner that the slave owner was paying for the worker's food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment as necessary or that only 1% of all Southerners owned more than 3 slaves...  They wanted that economic system destroyed.
Most people don't know this but the financial Panic of 1857 was triggered by the Dred Scott decision, a Supreme Court verdict earlier that year that said if a Southerner stepped foot on free soil with his negro, those property rights were to be respected, and not that the slave was to be free.

Silver miners in Arizona and New Mexico became scared senseless that the influx of Southerners into the state with their slaves as their free workforce would destroy their mining businesses, so they dumped Huge numbers of silver on the open market, thus devaluing it and causing the Panic.

Bet you knew little to nothing of this.. How could you.. it was never taught..  You'd have to have read many books, journals, 'Civil War Times' magazines and other periodicals while fully immersing yourself in the subject to learn truths beyond the nonsense taught in schools..

Or how about this factual Truth-- the Emancipation Proclamation had little to nothing to do with freeing the slaves.  It was a strategic instrument meant to galvanize a nation tired of war by making it 'moral' and to motivate hundreds of thousands of enlistees to re-enlist by the end of 1862.
The Proclamation was sat on for months until it could be tied into a 'victory' i.e. the bloody slaughter stalemate at Antietam treated as political necessity as a 'win'..  

And it did not free any slave in the border states such as Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware.  They were purposely kept out so to avoid them seceding..  It only applied to states which were part of the Confederacy to which the Union had no legal jurisdiction...

See what a scummy politician Lincoln was?  But everyone gives his trickery a pass because everyone agrees with his ultimate goal-- Union by force if need be...

As a leader, you really can do anything you want no matter how egregious or illegal and everyone will let you get away with it if they like you or agree with your cause.. 
So today in history the Civil War ended.. 4 years of fighting.. 620,000 total deaths with another 400,000+ wounded..  

In dollars and cents, the U.S. government estimated Jan. 1863 that the war was costing $2.5 million daily. A final official estimate in 1879 totaled $6.19 billion.  This is the equivalent of over $22 Trillion spent today..

The Confederacy spent perhaps $2.1 billion.   By 1906 another $3.3 billion already had been spent by the U.S. government on Northerners' pensions and other veterans' benefits for former Federal soldiers.

The physical devastation, almost all of it in the South, was enormous: burned or plundered homes, pillaged countryside, untold losses in crops and farm animals, ruined buildings and bridges, devastated college campuses, and neglected roads all left the South in ruins for generations...
And really all for what-- Geographic conquest? A shotgun marriage of forced unity for the sake of ego?

Oh yes we forgot.. it was a 'moral' war.. Sorta like liberating the Kuwaits from Iraq in 1991 and the Iraqi people from Saddam in 2003

Ends justify all means and economic/human costs..