Even as his armies were winning on the battlefield, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was losing the Civil War through his miscalculations about economics, politics, and international relations.
Historian Bud Bowie, professor of military history at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, examines some of the fatal fallacies held by Davis in Jefferson Davis and His Cause on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library, 14 W. 10th. His presentation is part of the Kansas City Public Library's Civil War Sesquicentennial series, produced in conjunction with the CGSC.
One of the crucial mistakes made by Davis - indeed by most Southerners -- was to believe that the cotton industry was so vital to the world economy that the North would never wage war on the South.
He shared the opinion of U.S. Sen. G.H. Hammond from South Carolina who wrote:
"What would happen if no cotton were furnished for three years? England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her. No, you dare not make war upon cotton! No power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king."
But the North did make war on the South. The cotton trade was shut down, strangling the Confederacy's economy. Davis' hope that England and France would offer military and economic aid was not realized - the working classes of those two countries were fiercely anti-slavery.
Even worse for the long-term economic viability of the South, England increased production of cotton in Egypt, India and other parts of the Empire to compensate for dwindling imports from America.
"Davis seemed a logical guy, but he fundamentally did not understand complex modern finance," says Bowie.
"Confederate fiscal policy went from bad to worse. In 1861 they were running a 40 percent inflation rate. By 1864 it was up to 600 percent. Davis never understood that you couldn't just keep printing money. He didn't understand wage and price controls or foreign policy."
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.