James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  continued so until the autumn of 1862. “People are getting dreadfully poor here,” wrote Phillips Brooks from Philadelphia. 1 The New York Tribune referred to “our paralyzed industry, obstructed commerce, our overloaded finances and our mangled railroads.” 2 All sorts of economies were practised. Coffee and sugar rose enormously in price. Many families mixed roasted dandelion root with pure coffee while others made their morning beverage from parched corn or rye; some substituted brown for white sugar. One by one luxuries disappeared from the table and few were ashamed of their frugal repasts. The wearing of plain clothes became a fashion as well as a virtue. The North was for the most part a community of simple living. Opera was only occasional, theatres were few and the amusements took on a character adapted to the life. A popular lecture, a concert, a church sociable with a charade turning on some striking event of the war, a gathering of young men and women to scrape lint for the wounded, a visit perhaps to a neighboring camp to witness a dress parade of volunteers—these were the diversions from the overpowering anxiety weighing upon the people. Personal grief was added to the national anxiety. “In many of our dwellings,” wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe, “the very light of our lives has gone out.”  2   With great trials were mingled petty inconveniences arising from derangement of the country’s finances. Gold began to sell at a premium in January, 1862, and disappeared from circulation; but this was no hardship to the mass of the people for gold had not been used largely as currency and there was a ready substitute for it in State bank-notes and the United States legal tenders. But the advance in gold was followed by a similar advance in silver. Silver change
Note 1. June 29, 1861. [back]
Note 2. Aug. 5, 1862. [back]