What did the Richmond Enquirer say about the “hucksters”?
The Man of the Hour
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“The hucksters are a small class of disreputable persons,” the Enquirer declared, being mostly shirkers of military service, who, combining together, are able to command the market and exact any price they choose from the necessity of the people.” Those prices had, indeed, risen sharply.
The beginning of the war was not too bad because ships were still evading the Northern blockade, but as blockade runners succumbed, one by one things became desperate. In the winter of 1864, flour rose to $200 a barrel, and cornfield beans rose as high as $60 per bushel. “How the middle and poor classes of citizens supply themselves with the necessaries of life, is a wonder,” the Enquirer declared. It did not make it any easier to know that the Northern cities were suffering the reverse: a flood of cheap commodities made the purchases of everyday life easier for all but the poorest of the working people.