Abraham Lincoln and the Union: A Chronicle of the Embattled North

By Nathaniel W. Stephenson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER IX
THE CRUCIAL MATTER

IT is the custom of historians to measure the relative strength of North and South chiefly in terms of population. The North numbered 23,000,000 inhabitants; the South, about 9,000,000, of which the slave population amounted to 3,500,000. But these obvious statistics only partially indicate the real situation. Not what one has, but what one is capable of using is, of course, the true measure of strength. If, in 1861, either side could have struck swiftly and with all its force, the story of the war would have been different. The question of relative strength was in reality a question of munitions. Both powers were glaringly unprepared. Both had instant need of great supplies of arms and ammunition, and both turned to European manufacturers for aid. Those Americans who, in a later war, wished to make illegal the neutral trade in munitions for

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