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Cotton CapitalistsAmerican Jewish Entrepreneurship in the Reconstruction Era$
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Michael R. Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479879700

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479879700.001.0001

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The War Years

The War Years

Chapter:
(p.58) 2 The War Years
Source:
Cotton Capitalists
Author(s):

Michael R. Cohen

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479879700.003.0003

Chapter 2 focuses on the Civil War years. In the early years of the war, a Union blockade brought legal trade to a standstill, and for merchants who relied on trade networks between the North and the South, the blockade was catastrophic. But with soaring demand for cotton around the globe, economic opportunities abounded. Some merchants stockpiled cotton, and some wisely avoided Confederate currency, which would turn out to be worthless after the war. But once Ulysses S. Grant’s troops declared victory after the bloody battle of Vicksburg, which opened the Mississippi River for commerce, the landscape changed, and new opportunities emerged. With New Orleans and the Mississippi River in Union hands, legal cotton trade resumed between the North and South, and merchants flocked to the interior towns that facilitated this commerce. They also established or reestablished trade networks that closely resembled those that had emerged in the antebellum years. While the resumption of trade was slowed by a plethora of factors, by the end of the Civil War, firms that had saved capital, reestablished North-South networks, or both, were on sound footing, prepared to face head on the vicissitudes of the postbellum economy.

Keywords:   Civil War, blockade, networks, merchants

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