Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Bouncing Baby News

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

It’s a great joy to announce the birth of our son, Jack Warren.  Jack appeared on the scene on Wednesday, 3/18 at 3:50 p.m.  He weighed 7.3 pounds and stretched a full 21 inches.  His mother is recovering well from surgery, and both are set to come home tomorrow.   Please send good vibrations to both mother and son!

Underspending on the Military

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Lately I have been listening to an excellent series of lectures, by Mark A. Stoler, on the subject of American diplomatic history. One of the points he brings up, following his lecture on Civil War diplomacy, is that the United States underspent on the military in the years after the war. For all the nation’s industrial and economic progress between the 1860s and 1900, the U.S. Government spent less than one percent of its Gross National Product on the army and navy.

Apparently rising powers tend to underspend militarily, “whereas declining powers tend to overspend militarily in a desperate attempt to defend their entire empire when they no longer have the economic power to do so.” (Here Stoler is drawing on the ideas of historian Paul Kennedy.)

I’m not even halfway through Stoler’s course, but I wonder: having come to appreciate a strong military between 1861 and 1865, why did the United States government let its military spending drop off to almost nothing? After conquering the Confederacy, did the U.S. believe it had nothing to fear from European powers? On one hand, we might reject such thinking as nothing short of foolhardy. The Spanish-American War and World War I, as it turned out, were looming ahead. But considering that the U.S. did not have to enter those conflicts, was it really so absurd to reduce military spending to a trickle? What economic gains might have been lost, during the second half of the nineteenth century, had the U.S. overspent on soldiers, guns, and warships?

From the Ashes…

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Welcome to the blog formerly known as Civil War Literature. Last fall, a major database failure erased a couple hundred posts on the subject of Civil War fiction, poetry, song, film, and the like. The collapse corresponded with my family’s move across the city of Erie, and so I decided to let the rubble settle for a few months.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to restore the site as best I can. I will archive those posts from “the old days” that I was able to salvage. New posts will arrive as and when I have something interesting (or at least coherent) to say. In keeping with the site’s broad URL, the new posts will probably vary in subject. The literature of the war will remain an important interest of the site, but other topics will be addressed as well.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to restore the site, or at least to clean up the debris.