Cost of owning a slave versus free farm worker cost

lurid

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Joined
Jan 3, 2019
That's somewhat catch 22, wouldn't say slavery stagnated a agricultural economy....but the deep South never diversified much from a agricultural economy

Edit-added- But obviously to refer to an economy, that provided the number one export for the entire nation as stagnent, would be unrealistic. Not to mention besides cotton, US production of rice, sugar, and tobacco were also heavily based on the same slave economy, and virtually every other segment of US agriculture used it to varying degrees also.

You are misrepresenting the #1 export thing like it was infinitely significant. The U.S. had a closed economy during that time, which cotton exports were worth about 5% of the GDP. It was a small micro chip on a vast macro pie, which maybe somewhat significant but was not remotely indispensable. Rice, sugar and tobacco were on the decline. Perhaps not stagnated yet, but stagnation was definitely looming.

cotton gdp.png
 

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
I think that slavery was only profitable to the large plantation owners. IF they had hired free men and women and paid them a wage, they would have had money to spend. Leather goods, clothing, foods, seed, hardware, shoes, livestock. Now you have the an economy where everyone gets to share in the rewards. Small businesses pop up, industry! That didn't happen and the North had a thriving economy and the South had a stagnant economy. During reconstruction and the Jim Crow era Southern workers flocked to the North to get jobs and again the South was left with a stagnant economy. Now, the South is rising out of the ashes and people are moving back in to the South. Is that theory too off base?

Your theory is not too off base, you are just not applying it totally correct. I assure you that the recent economic expansion in the south had little to do with the south per se, but rather northern and western companies that are given crazy economic incentives to set up shop in that region. I have the data, the automobile industry, aviation to Amazon amongst other companies to get $200-300 million tax exempt, incentives and bonds. People move there to follow those jobs. Don't take my word for it, do your own homework.
 
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Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
You are misrepresenting the #1 export thing like it was infinitely significant. The U.S. had a closed economy during that time, which cotton exports were worth about 5% of the GDP. It was a small micro chip on a vast macro pie, which maybe somewhat significant but was not remotely indispensable. Rice, sugar and tobacco were on the decline. Perhaps not stagnated yet, but stagnation was definitely looming.

View attachment 335473
No I wasnt misrepresenting what was the No 1 export at all, as it was, nor did I say it was infinitely significant at all...…..that would be your misrepresentations.

What I did say was merely to represent an economy that accounted for the No 1 specific export (cotton) and to the whole export class (agricultural products) for a nation as stagnant……...would be in fact misleading......

Another thing some tend to overlook is while cotton is virtually exclusively based on slave economy. lets look at what is considered a northern agricultural product, say wheat......…about 28% of US production of wheat also came from states using slave economies. 51% of US Indian corn...….slave state economies...….The slave economy contributed to virtually every segment of US agriculture production. Not just the "southern" cotton, tobacco, and rice
 
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Peter Stines

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Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Take a look at the tax rolls for the southern states and counties before the war and the slave schedules for the same. My kin were living in Galveston and the tax rolls show the value of slaves varied from year to year. The slave schedules list the owner, the number of slaves, gender and age. Here in Chambers County the average resident was not a slave owner. In fact the majority owned no slaves at all. Maybe they were too poor, didn't need them or because of their convictions/morals. The late Kevin Ladd documented the numbers in his book CHAMBERS COUNTY TEXAS IN THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES. In 1859 it shows 1,508 residents and 160 actual families. 128 tax payers with 344 slaves. In 1860 there were 430 slaves valued at $302,215 with average slave at $703. This was divided among 59 actual slave owners. The largest slave owner in this county at the time was a "Dr. Campbell" who owned 33. Others owned 1 or 2. Chambers County raised a LOT of cattle and horses during that time.
 

Peter Stines

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Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
So what you are saying is that slavery did not stagnate the South's economy. Thanks for your reply.
I would like to learn more about the interrelationships between a farmer and his slave, in the old south. Some would have you believe that slaves were beaten and raped every day and that their lives were one constant hell. If anyone says that the relationship was anything less, in our new society, they are racist.
In studying history you can have an open mind and be surprised at what you find or you can try and make history meet a preconceived agenda and not be surprised.
The Workforce Project produced a multi-volume set titled THE SLAVE NARRATIVES OF TEXAS. Writers interviewed former slaves and recorded their accounts exactly as they were spoken. It's surprising how many slaves expressed genuine affection for their masters/owners and family. But (a) If they were treated reasonably well (b) did not have to perform the back breaking labor as in the cotton fields but rather worked indoors. (c) They understood where their food, clothing and shelter was coming from it makes a bit more sense. Maybe they spoke highly of their owners for reasons we don't/couldn't understand from their perspective. :unsure:
 

Peter Stines

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Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Odd as it might seem, Chambers County wasn't highly affected by the war. It's almost as if they were ignored. They got a scare when Galveston was surrendered so they built an earthworks called Ft. Chambers where they had several cannons. (Nothing of note happened there) As I understand it local slaves were hired to work there but actual numbers are not known. I read one slave memoir where he mentioned getting married on the plantation and their owners gave them money, new clothes and a cow and calf and some chickens.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
The Workforce Project produced a multi-volume set titled THE SLAVE NARRATIVES OF TEXAS. Writers interviewed former slaves and recorded their accounts exactly as they were spoken. It's surprising how many slaves expressed genuine affection for their masters/owners and family. But (a) If they were treated reasonably well (b) did not have to perform the back breaking labor as in the cotton fields but rather worked indoors. (c) They understood where their food, clothing and shelter was coming from it makes a bit more sense. Maybe they spoke highly of their owners for reasons we don't/couldn't understand from their perspective. :unsure:

TBF many interviewed for the WPA honestly wouldn't have had to perform back breaking labor in the cotton fields, the WPA interviews were conducted so late after the war, many of the interviewed were just children when they were slaves, and not old enough to have been field hands.
 

Peter Stines

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Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
TBF many interviewed for the WPA honestly wouldn't have had to perform back breaking labor in the cotton fields, the WPA interviews were conducted so late after the war, many of the interviewed were just children when they were slaves, and not old enough to have been field hands.
Even if they were children they would have seen the results in the adults.
 

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
No I wasnt misrepresenting what was the No 1 export at all, as it was, nor did I say it was infinitely significant at all...…..that would be your misrepresentations.

What I did say was merely to represent an economy that accounted for the No 1 specific export (cotton) and to the whole export class (agricultural products) for a nation as stagnant……...would be in fact misleading......

Another thing some tend to overlook is while cotton is virtually exclusively based on slave economy. lets look at what is considered a northern agricultural product, say wheat......…about 28% of US production of wheat also came from states using slave economies. 51% of US Indian corn...….slave state economies...….The slave economy contributed to virtually every segment of US agriculture production. Not just the "southern" cotton, tobacco, and rice

The member in post #11 specifically gave the chronologically order of the economic contraction of the south to its economic expansion. Don't know what era you are discussing with your claims? The south's economy was indeed stagnant and even depressed in some decades from 1860-WWII due to its ingenuity dysfunction and its uncanny ability to adhere to slavery. The south regained its top slot as #1 exporter of cotton by the 1880 and its economy was still totally depressed, and that's because of a few reasons.

Reason #1: the demand for cotton shifted the 4 decades following the Civil War because the Brits bought Midwest grain instead of southern cotton. The demand curve for cotton shifted to the left.

Reason #2: slavery was efficient and kept cotton prices low. Insert emancipation the slave was free and cotton production efficiency plummeted by like 40%, the efficiency curve moved up.

Reason #3: sharecropping overproduced cotton causing a surplus of cotton and deflation moved in. Overproduction of cotton totally devalued it where it was not really profitable, and that overproduction carried on into the 20th century where the south was subsidized by the government more than any other region.

I agree slavery kept prices down on agriculture and it was efficient, but to say the south's economy wasn't stagnant from 1860-WWII is misleading. However, you might have been referring to the days of antebellum where slavery was profitable, but I was going by what the poster stated in post #11. Indeed the south's economy was stagnant and even depressed for 60-70 years despite being #1 exporter in cotton in the 1880s to WWII, and that's where people get mislead.
 

lurid

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
The Workforce Project produced a multi-volume set titled THE SLAVE NARRATIVES OF TEXAS. Writers interviewed former slaves and recorded their accounts exactly as they were spoken. It's surprising how many slaves expressed genuine affection for their masters/owners and family. But (a) If they were treated reasonably well (b) did not have to perform the back breaking labor as in the cotton fields but rather worked indoors. (c) They understood where their food, clothing and shelter was coming from it makes a bit more sense. Maybe they spoke highly of their owners for reasons we don't/couldn't understand from their perspective. :unsure:

You didn't read both sides to the slave narrative, which is palpable with your one sided statement. The study was done by the government in the 1930s, one scenario white case workers were sent there to interview ex-slaves and the conclusion was that when speaking to "white" people the ex-slaves stated that they were treated well. Subsequently, black case workers were sent to interview the same ex-slave and they told the "black" case workers that they were treated horribly. You chose to post the part where the ex-slave was interviewed by the white case worker.
 
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