Calculating the Value of the Union: Slavery, Property Rights, and the Economic Origins of the Civil War

Calculating the Value of the Union: Slavery, Property Rights, and the Economic Origins of the Civil War

by James L. Huston
     
 

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While slavery is often at the heart of debates over the causes of the Civil War, historians are not agreed on precisely what aspect of slavery--with its various social, economic, political, cultural, and moral ramifications--gave rise to the sectional rift. In Calculating the Value of the Union, James Huston integrates economic, social, and political history to

Overview

While slavery is often at the heart of debates over the causes of the Civil War, historians are not agreed on precisely what aspect of slavery--with its various social, economic, political, cultural, and moral ramifications--gave rise to the sectional rift. In Calculating the Value of the Union, James Huston integrates economic, social, and political history to argue that the issue of property rights as it pertained to slavery was at the center of the Civil War.

In the early years of the nineteenth century, southern slaveholders sought a national definition of property rights that would recognize and protect their ownership of slaves. Northern interests, on the other hand, opposed any national interpretation of property rights because of the threat slavery posed to the northern free labor market, particularly if allowed to spread to western territories. This impasse sparked a process of political realignment that culminated in the creation of the Republican Party, ultimately leading to the secession crisis.

Deeply researched and carefully written, this study rebuts recent trends in antebellum historiography and persuasively argues for a fundamentally economic interpretation of the slavery issue and the coming of the Civil War.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers will appreciate this book's exhaustive treatment of the role that property rights played in the demise of the Second Party System and the coming of the Civil War."
American Historical Review

"For persuasively conveying the eminence of property rights in the drive toward secession and the Civil War, and for its engaging literary style, [this] book is strongly recommended."
The Historian

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807861684
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
07/21/2004
Series:
Civil War America
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
457,722
Lexile:
1710L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Huston's work provides a valuable synthesis of economic ideas and their role in the Civil War. . . . Huston profitably synthesizes the many strands of antebellum economic thinking and offers a fresh and intriguing perspective on the war.—Journal of Illinois History

For persuasively conveying the eminence of property rights in the drive toward secession and the Civil War, and for its engaging literary style, [this] book is strongly recommended.—The Historian

Readers will appreciate this book's exhaustive treatment of the role that property rights played in the demise of the Second Party System and the coming of the Civil War.—American Historical Review

Huston expertly dissects the political rhetoric to reveal that antebellum Americans primarily put forward differing conceptions of property when debating slavery.—Journal of Southern History

It will surely stand as a lasting contribution to the ever-expounding literature on the causes of the sectional schism. . . . Calculating the Winds of the Union: Slavery, Property Rights, and the Economics Origins of the Civil War is another large step toward answering exactly how slavery caused the Civil War.—Georgia Historical Quarterly

No historian writing today surpasses James L. Huston in breadth of research or in analytical power. In Calculating the Value of the Union, he undertakes the daunting task of presenting a fresh interpretation of the causes of America's Civil War and succeeds wonderfully. This book will have a major impact on our understanding of the sectional conflict.—Stanley Harrold, author of Subversives: Antislavery Community in Washington, D.C., 1828-1865

After a considerable period of neglect, the origins of the Civil War are back on the historical agenda, and James Huston's foray into this subject is extremely welcome.—Civil War History

Meet the Author

James L. Huston is professor of history at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. His books include Securing the Fruits of Labor: The American Concept of Wealth Distribution, 1765-1900.

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