No sooner did the war and the attendant blockade become a certainty than the speculators, with swift and concerted action, possessed themselves of almost the entire stock of salt, bacon, and leather, and withdrew them from market. Scarcely a country store or backwoods tan-yard escaped their visitation. A clique of half a dozen men obtained and held control of the only two nail factories in the Confederacy. By this means the speculators not only hastened and heightened the general stringency and distress, but through the exorbitant prices they were enabled to charge gave the first blow to the currency. In fact, into such a vast evil did speculation soon grow that efforts were made, in the convention called in North Carolina in 1861, to suppress it entirely by means of fines, imprisonment, and confiscation. The measure failed, except in respect to salt, as did that to limit the growing of tobacco and cotton; Virginia having restricted the planting of the former, and South Carolina and Georgia that of the latter. Nor was the detestation in which both practices were universally held much more efficacious. Speculation grew ever fiercer and more unfeeling. Although those who grew large crops of cotton and tobacco were discountenanced and regarded as half traitors, many persisted in raising and accumulating these staples, till the return of peace brought fabulous prices for all such stores as had been fortunate enough to escape the tithing, impressing, and burning agents of the Confederate government.
Dodge, David; “Domestic Economy in the Confederacy,” The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 58, Issue 346; pp. 229-243; August 1886; Boston: Atlantic Monthly Co.
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