Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era 1837-1873

Overview

The United States was a debtor nation in the mid-nineteenth century, with half of its national debt held overseas. Lacking the resources to develop the nation and to fund the wars necessary to expand and then preserve it, the United States looked across the Atlantic for investment capital. The need to obtain foreign capital greatly influenced American foreign policy, principally relations with Britain. The intersection of finance and diplomacy was particularly evident during the Civil War when both the North and ...

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Overview

The United States was a debtor nation in the mid-nineteenth century, with half of its national debt held overseas. Lacking the resources to develop the nation and to fund the wars necessary to expand and then preserve it, the United States looked across the Atlantic for investment capital. The need to obtain foreign capital greatly influenced American foreign policy, principally relations with Britain. The intersection of finance and diplomacy was particularly evident during the Civil War when both the North and South integrated attempts to procure loans from European banks into their larger international strategies. Furthermore, the financial needs of the United States (and the Confederacy) imparted significant political power to an elite group of London-based financiers who became intimately involved in American foreign relations during this period. This study explores and assesses how the United State's need for capital influenced its foreign relations in the tumultuous years wedged between the two great financial crises of the nineteenth century, 1837 to 1873.

Drawing on the unused archives of London banks and the papers of statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic, this work illuminates our understanding of mid-nineteenth-century American foreign relations by highlighting how financial considerations influenced the formation of foreign policy and functioned as a peace factor in Anglo-American relations. This study also analyzes a crucial, but ignored, dimension of the Civil War - the efforts of both the North and the South to attract the support of European financiers. Though foreign contributions to each side failed to match the hopes of Union and Confederate leaders, the financial diplomacy of the Civil War shaped the larger foreign policy strategies of both sides and contributed to both the preservation of British neutrality and the ultimate defeat of the Confederacy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sexton's analysis demonstrates that he spent a great deal of time reading and analysing primary source documents from the period. ... Interesting and well-researched." —Marc D. Weidenmier, EH.net

"An outstanding synthesis of diplomatic and business history. ... A gracefully written book, full of original research, Debtor Diplomacy shows that financiers were major players in mid-nineteenth-century Anglo-American relations. Not least among their achievements was helping to create the foundations of the so-called special relationship." —Business History Review

"This book provides a good overall survey and many new insights. It is an enjoyable read throughout, and should be useful for scholars and students alike." —Journal of American Studies

"Jay Sexton's carefully wrought and judicious analysis of the interconnection between finance and diplomacy is a major contribution to the history of foreign relations during the Civil War. ... The author proves the value of bringing fresh thinking to old problems. Debtor Diplomacy is a well-written and enterprising addition to the nineteenth-century bookshelf." —American Nineteenth Century History

"[T]his history of the financial diplomacy of the mid-nineteenth century will long serve as the standard work on a topic of monumental importance." —Dustin Walcher, H-Diplo Roundtable

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780190212582
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Sexton is University Lecturer in American History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is the author of The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America and the co-editor of The Global Lincoln.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Finance and Foreign Relations in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
1. The Baring Years, 1837-1861
2. Union Finance and Diplomacy
3. Confederate Finance and Diplomacy
4. 'Were it not for our Debt,' 1865-73
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

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