The following editorial appeared in The New York Times in 1867. In it a reader named Carl Bensen presents what he feels is the real cause of the South's stagnation--the threat of the confiscation of property, as posed by Radical Republicans such as Thaddeus Stevens.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
Allow one who has read with much interest and general assent your
various articles on the conquered Territories, (formerly regarded as
the United States,) to suggest that there is an impoverishing element
at work, the full force of which you have not quite appreciated.
The great cause which prevents Northern capital from being attracted to the South is not the unsettled condition of labor, or the prevalence of military rule, or any other of the reasons assigned by you, though all these contribute; it is the fear of confiscation. A lender wants security; a purchaser wants title; how can the borrower or seller give them with confiscation hanging over his head? Money here commands eighteen per cent per annum on first class city property, although the laws respecting foreclosure, &c, are more advantageous to the lender than in New York. On plantation property money, even the smallest sum, cannot be raised on any terms. The not unnatural reply to the applicant, "How can you give security against THADDEUS STEVENS?"
Now, I am not green enough to suppose that this statement will have any particular influence. When LOUIS NAPOLEON wants to go to war he tells his subjects that he will not allow vulgar interests to stand in his way; and our Congress has shown pretty conclusively, on diverse occasions, that it does not care for any interests so vulgar as commercial or financial prosperity. Still it is as well that the fact should be known.
CHARLESTON, S.C., March 1, 1867
Source: The New York Times, March 10, 1867, page, 5.