If you had been put in charge of the South at the end of the Civil War, what practical policy could
you have implemented that would have enabled faster economic growth in the South before
In One Kind of Freedom, Ransom and Sutch explain slow economic growth as the product of
flaws in the economic structure adopted by the South after the War. Key flaws they identified
were the replacement of plantations by sharecropping and the replacement of banks in the
financing of agriculture by country stores. You should develop a policy that would have
meaningfully reduced the harmful effects of one or both of these flaws.
Keep the following in mind:
1. Your policy can (but is not required to) redistribute wealth or physical assets. This means
seizing property from some and giving it to others. However, this can only be done
once, at the very end of the war. Once reconstruction ends, this becomes impossible.
2. You cannot expect that the rest of the country would have been willing to spend large
amounts of their tax money on the South. Minor administrative costs could be covered
without problem, but if your plan requires large expenditures, you must find a source for
those expenditures in the South.
3. Your policy may (but is not required to) include new laws prohibiting certain behavior.
Laws have to prohibit specific actions, not motivations, beliefs, or attitudes. A violation
must be objectively verifiable. To be practical, a law must be enforceable. This means
that there must be a reasonable expectation that a violation will be detected and
4. Your policy may (but is not required to) include features encouraging certain actions
through monetary incentives. This would require an identified source of funding. The
actions must be objectively verifiable, but identification would not be a problem. Those
responsible for rewarded actions can be expected to self-identify.
5. Your policy can (but is not be required to) create new infrastructure. Debt (borrowing)
can be used to finance the infrastructure’s construction, but a source of new revenue will
have be identified to repay the debt over time.
6. Your policy should not require your continued participation.
7. Your policy is likely to have opposition, but you can assume it would not result in armed
Your assignment is to identify and defend a policy whose objective is just faster economic
growth. The policy might have other positive effects, such as correcting injustice, but that is not
part of this assignment. A good paper will explain at least one mechanism by which the flawed
structures inhibited growth and explain how the proposed policy would have altered that
mechanism. Evidence in support of your position may be found in sources other than One Kind