From Slave South to New South: Public Policy in Nineteenth-Century Georgia

By Peter Wallenstein | Go to book overview

2
STATE POWER AND TAX-FREE FINANCE

GROWTH IN state power characterized the early republic. Soon after the War of 1812, American states -- both northern and southern -- began great new projects in economic growth and social welfare. No longer did state governments undertake to do little more than protect each citizen's life, liberty, and property. By successfully tapping new and richer means of financing public activities, states released themselves from the more restricted roles that had marked their earlier behavior. With state support, canals flourished, as did railroads and then schools.

The "rise of the common man" and the spread of political democracy sum up the dominant perceptions of the Age of Jackson. Just as important as the extension of suffrage or the hoopla of electioneering, however, was a remarkable growth in the range of government activities -- the behavior that the growing electorate could shape.1 Focusing on state finance in antebellum America permits the integration in one analysis of such disparate facets of the period as public schooling, railroad development, Indian removal, and relations between the federal government and the states.


An American System

Historians have told how states promoted economic growth and development in pre-Civil WarAmerica. They have written of widespread state investment in banks, canals, and railroads. Some ventures were jointly public and private, such as the mixed enterprise of Virginia. Some, on the other hand, like New York's Erie Canal and Georgia's Western and Atlantic Railroad, were exclusively public enterprises. But such accounts of the "American System" as historian Robert A. Lively termed it, tell only part of the story.2

The American system of public investment in banking and transportation sought twin objectives. Not only should citizens benefit from the general prosperity that state-fostered economic growth would bring, but those investments

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From Slave South to New South: Public Policy in Nineteenth-Century Georgia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps, Figures, and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Society And Politics 7
  • 2 - State Power And Tax-Free Finance 23
  • 3 - The Accommodation Of The Public 32
  • 4 - Tax Upon The Time And Labor Of Our Citizens 40
  • 5 - Creating A New Revenue System 49
  • 6 - What Disposition Shall Be Made Of The Money? 61
  • 7 - Great Objects Of The State's Charity 74
  • 8 - Depriving A Whole Race 86
  • 9 - Rich Man's War 99
  • 10 - Rich Man's Fight 110
  • 11 - Confederate Context 121
  • 12 - Power And Policy 131
  • 13 - Freed Men And Citizens 140
  • 14 - All The Children Of The State 152
  • 15 - Higher Education For A New South 160
  • 16 - Railroads, Debt, And Reconstruction 170
  • 17 - A Tax Base Without Slaves 183
  • 18 - Conscripts, Convicts, And Good Roads 196
  • Epilogue: From Eighteenth Century To Twentieth 208
  • Essay On Primary Sources 215
  • Notes 219
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 273
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