Today, everyone takes paper money for granted. But in 1860, the notion of currency backed by nothing more than the full faith and credit of a government seemed far-fetched, acclaimed journalist Roger Lowenstein reports in this intriguing history of the origins of the US fiscal system. During the Civil War, the North’s adoption of a centralized currency and an income tax – and the South’s inability to follow suit – proved decisive to the war’s outcome, the end of human enslavement in the United States and the nation’s economic development. Lowenstein offers a fascinating, in-depth look at how competing 19th-century economic philosophies transformed the United States’ future.
Lowenstein describes how, in 1860, the US federal bureaucracy reflected Founder Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a hands-off government.