The South Supporting the North
A few days ago, I posted a query on this site asking for documentation for the assertion that the Southern States paid a disproportionate share of the pre-1860 Federal budget while receiving a pittance of the benefits of that budget.
My thanks to Edward Harding and Raymond Settle for furnishing the following information, which I now post here for everyone’s use:
"Before the revolution [the South] was the seat of wealth, as well as hospitality….Wealth has fled from the South, and settled in regions north of the Potomac: and this in the face of the fact, that the South, in four staples alone, has exported produce, since the Revolution, to the value of eight hundred millions of dollars; and the North has exported comparatively nothing. Such an export would indicate unparalleled wealth, but what is the fact? … Under Federal legislation, the exports of the South have been the basis of the Federal revenue…..Virginia, the two Carolinas, and Georgia, may be said to defray three-fourths of the annual expense of supporting the Federal Government; and of this great sum, annually furnished by them, nothing or next to nothing is returned to them, in the shape of Government expenditures. That expenditure flows in an opposite direction – it flows northwardly, in one uniform, uninterrupted, and perennial stream. This is the reason why wealth disappears from the South and rises up in the North. Federal legislation does all this."
—-Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, 1828; cited at page 49 of The South Was Right!, by James Ronald Kennedy & Walter Donald Kennedy
[found at]
South Carolina Governor Robert Barnwell Rhett had estimated that of the $927,000,000 collected in duties between 1791 and 1845, the South had paid $711,200,000, and the North $216,000,000. South Carolina Senator James Hammond had declared that the South paid about $50,000,000 and the North perhaps $20,000,000 of the $70,000,000 raised annually by duties. In expenditure of the national revenues, Hammond thought the North got about $50,000,000 a year, and the South only $20,000,000.
[found at; citing When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Succession by Charles Adams]
As Adams notes, the South paid an undue proportion of federal revenues derived from tariffs, and these were expended by the federal government more in the North than the South: in 1840, the South paid 84% of the tariffs, rising to 87% in 1860. They paid 83% of the $13 million federal fishing bounties paid to New England fishermen, and also paid $35 million to Northern shipping interests which had a monopoly on shipping from Southern ports. The South, in effect, was paying tribute to the North.
Clifton Palmer McLendon