Bonds of War

How Civil War Financial Agents Sold the World on the Union

By David K. Thomson

Bonds of War

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 4 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6661-7
    Published: April 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6660-0
    Published: April 2022

Civil War America

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How does one package and sell confidence in the stability of a nation riven by civil strife? This was the question that loomed before the Philadelphia financial house of Jay Cooke & Company, entrusted by the US government with an unprecedented sale of bonds to finance the Union war effort in the early days of the American Civil War. How the government and its agents marketed these bonds revealed a version of the war the public was willing to buy and buy into, based not just in the full faith and credit of the United States but also in the success of its armies and its long-term vision for open markets. From Maine to California, and in foreign halls of power and economic influence, thousands of agents were deployed to sell a clear message: Union victory was unleashing the American economy itself.

This fascinating work of financial and political history during the Civil War era shows how the marketing and sale of bonds crossed the Atlantic to Europe and beyond, helping ensure foreign countries’ vested interest in the Union’s success. Indeed, David K. Thomson demonstrates how Europe, and ultimately all corners of the globe, grew deeply interdependent on American finance during, and in the immediate aftermath of, the American Civil War. 

About the Author

David K. Thomson is assistant professor of history at Sacred Heart University.
For more information about David K. Thomson, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"This book is deeply researched, nuanced in its arguments, and original in its conception. It is destined to become an essential source on both Civil War finance and the development of American financial markets more broadly."—Sharon Ann Murphy, Providence College

"Thomson’s important book, based upon impressive research in archives around the world, is a must-read for historians interested in how financial markets work and how investors give meaning to their transactions."—Brian Luskey, West Virginia University