American Civil War Debt: An International Perspective
The American Civil War cost the federal government $3.2 billion. Much of the money was raised from the sale of Union bonds. While the bulk of bond sales occurred domestically, the marketing of such securities did cross the Atlantic to new buyers in England, France, the German states, Switzerland, Belgium, Russia, Austria, Ireland, the Italian States, Poland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The spread of such sales abroad reveals the emergence of the German economy centered in Frankfurt, Berlin, and Hamburg. Drawing on archives from England, France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, and the Netherlands, my book project entitled Bonds of War narrates the global history of U.S. debt. This particular seminar paper focuses on the importance of the German market. Among other factors, the German interest drew on extensive abolitionist sentiment and shared ideologies stemming from the Revolution of 1848. The paper therefore explores these parallels and how it impacted later transatlantic nineteenth century finance.