One hundred and fifty years ago, inflation hit the South quicker than the Federal Army did. Among the various supplies whose price soared in mid-November of 1861 was alcohol products and paper, among a multitude of other “necessary” items throughout the South.
According to an 1861 Arkansas newspaper, a South Carolina correspondent noted that, “…it [Bourbon] is positively distressing to one with a sympathizing nature, to see the straits to which the soldiers are occasionally reduced by the want of their accustomed stimuli.” The report continued, “Liquor of any kind is a rarity, and the more difficult it is to obtain, the greater its abuse.”
Among other rarities in the South during the opening year of the War was paper. According to the same news source, another article related that the newspaper rates would have to increase due to the scarcity of paper, due to the Union blockade. The rate increased to two dollars and fifty cents per year: “We are forced to this by the great enhancement in the price of printing paper and the great depreciation in the value of all kinds of paper money.”
Regarding the price of printing paper, “The public printing, owing to the reduction in prices made at the last session of the General Assembly [of Arkansas], the great increase in the cost of paper and labor, and the depreciated currency we receive from the treasury, has become an expense to us instead of profit.”
As the War continues, paper will become increasingly rare; many Southern papers will suffer the consequences of increased rates for printing supplies and will eventually find themselves out of business. This, among other variables, shows why Southern newspapers during the War are few and far between.