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Equal to the Severest Trials: Mr. Madison’s War

Equal to the Severest Trials: Mr. Madison’s War

Chapter:
(p.108) Chapter Four Equal to the Severest Trials: Mr. Madison’s War
Source:
A Hercules in the Cradle
Author(s):
Max M. Edling
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226181608.003.0005

The War of 1812 is often treated as a monumental failure ofwar administration. Chapter four argues that in the sphere of war finance, this reputation is exaggerated. The financing of the war represents an important step forward compared to the chaotic financing of the War of Independence. The federal government funded the War of 1812 by selling long-term war bonds in a manner similar to the method used by its opponent Britain to finance the Napoleonic War. The difficulties experienced by Treasury secretary Albert Gallatin and his successors had less to do with American principles of war finance than with the fact that Gallatin underestimated war costs and that Congress was slow to adopt new taxes. Despite problems, the war signaled that in the fiscal and financial sphere the United States was now equipped with governmental institutions that would allow the American republic to wage war in a manner similar to contemporary monarchies.

Keywords:   Albert Gallatin, federal government, United States, war bonds, war finance, War of 1812

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