PEOPLE PROFITED, some unduly, from the Civil War as from all wars and other times of rapid expenditure of government funds. A common perception is that the corruption and taking of excess profits (profiteering) came about in part because the secretary of war, Simon Cameron, was a conniver and a hack whose sloppy practices allowed profiteers to foist on the government defective weapons, uniforms, and other equipment in violation of President Abraham Lincoln's order that all contracts be sent out for competitive bids.

Actually, it was somewhat more nuanced than that. There is little evidence about procurement and profiteering in the South, but profiteering presumably occurred there as it did in the North, especially during the war's early stages. The initial phase of war is chaotic, ...

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