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Civil War, U.S.

The American Civil War raged between the northern and southern states from 1861 to 1865. The total number of dead on both sides—620,000—marks the conflict as the bloodiest in American history. However, the aspect of the war that is of particular concern to libertarians is its impact on liberty. The Civil War ironically represents the simultaneous culmination and repudiation of the principles of the American Revolution.

Before the war, the United States, already one of the world's most prosperous countries, possessed one of the most limited governments. There were only two sources of national revenue: a low tariff and the sale of public lands. These income sources had been more than adequate to cover the minuscule peacetime budgets, which peaked at $74.2 million in 1858. That ...

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