08/06/07 - maybe

In today's excerpt - a different approach to ending the American Civil War that was resoundingly rejected before it was ever tried. The expense of the civil war immediately reached unimaginable levels as compared to previous wars, and Abraham Lincoln's government was forced into constant innovation to pay for it—including such enduring innovations as the income tax and the greenback. Late in the war, in the midst of this dire need and the financial innovation required to meet it, Lincoln briefly put forward another idea:

"Around the same time, Lincoln was considering yet another tax increase, aimed at financing an initiative to end the war later that spring. He hoped to raise $400 million to give compensation to states of the Confederacy—on a state-by-state basis—if they freed their slaves and agreed to end the war. A state would receive the first half of its funds when it had ceased 'all resistance to the national authority', and the second half if it ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, freeing all slaves, by July 1, 1865. Lincoln's cabinet unanimously objected to the proposition, although the president pointed out that the amount requested was roughly equivalent to the likely cost of continuing the war for another one or two hundred days, and that an early peace would save countless lives and a great deal of property. The president never submitted the plan to Congress."


Robert D. Hormats


The Price of Liberty: Paying for America's Wars from the Revolution to the War on Terror


Times Books, Henry Holt and Company, LLC


Copyright 2007 by Robert D. Hormats


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