Many thousands of volumes have been previously written relative to the political
and socioeconomic events leading up the the Civil War. In addition, a vast number of
references are readily available which deal with this terrible conflict itself; from tactics,
to battles, leaders, etc. Most every aspect of the Civil War has been studied from
The brief comments contained herein will be limited to Confederate Finance and
resulting documents related thereto; such as Confederate Treasury Notes, Bonds, Interim
Deposit Receipts and the like. There are a great many persons who are far more
knowledgeable in this field than I. I would be remiss if I did not here mention the name of
the late Dr. Douglas Ball, whose knowledge of such matters far exceeded that of any
individual I have ever known.
In 1861, Edward R. Pollard wrote-"The whole cotton crop of America, in 1860, was
4,675,770 bales, and of this, 3,697,727 bales were exported." The remainder was used
here in the States; most in the industrialized States of the Northeast.
Thousands of jobs depended upon this commodity, which was considered to be essential
to the way of life both in the North and abroad by Southern leaders. Thus, cotton was
"King" and the anticipated control and influence the South maintained over the product
worldwide was considered to be the primary governing factor in financing the entire
Southern war effort. In a misdirected effort to drive the price of cotton up;
President Davis, at the urging of Secretary of the Treasury Christopher G. Memminger,
imposed an embargo upon the export of cotton abroad. Unfortunately, for the exporters of
Southern cotton and the financing of the Southern cause, the Union blockade of Southern
ports was effectively in place by the time the embargo was lifted. Large, slow moving
cargo ships were incapable of penetrating the blockade and the sleek, much faster
"blockade running" vessels were far too small to carry cargo of any significance.
Consequently; the South had no means of acquiring hard specie (gold or silver) in order
to obtain much needed arms, supplies, etc. abroad. As the Southern States were
primarily agrarian States, with little on no industrial capacity, the scene was set for
the coming of the many and varied forms of Confederate fiscal paper encountered today.
The South was doomed to finance the Civil War with Paper; the faith of it's citizens and
the forlorn hope of European intervention.
The first Confederate Treasury notes were contracted for with the American Bank
Note Company of New York when the CSA Capitol was at Montgomery, Alabama. This
arrangement quickly fell apart, in part due to the inability of the American Bank Note
Company to produce enough notes and primarily due to the fact that the U.S. Government
considered this an act of treason. From this point, (early 1861) matters went downhill and
the Secretary of the Treasury found himself in the position of attempting to acquire notes
and other fiscal documents from untried and inexperienced printers.
Needless to say, and without writing a treatise herein, the Southern attempt to
finance the War based solely upon Treasury notes and bonds was doomed from the start.
However; as a result of horrific inflation and other matters, we as collectors of these
numismatic treasures, are today left with an interesting and intriguing array of material to
acquire. While some material may be much more rare than others; all is fascinating.
We hope that you will find something of interest in these pages and it is our pleasure to
help in any manner possible.
Please feel free to ask questions, or inquire about any matter which may be of interest
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