Slaves as collateral?

Bruce Vail

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#21
Off Topic, but related -- The curators at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello history park have done a nice job handling the issue of slavery at the plantation. During my visit last year it was quite compelling to hear the docent talk about the fear that gripped the slaves there in Jefferson's final declining years. Turns out all the slaves were heavily mortgaged, and it was commonly understood among the slaves that they would all be sold off at Jefferson's death. That is, in fact, what happened.
 
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#22
Turns out all the slaves were heavily mortgaged, and it was commonly understood among the slaves that they would all be sold off at Jefferson's death.
Thomas Jefferson was heavily in debt, yes. He resolved it, by dying.
 

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#24
To provide some perspective: in 1860, Southern planters owned close to $4 billion worth of slaves. Fogel and Engerman (1974) projected that had there been no Civil War, by 1890 slave prices would have increased on average 52 per cent over their 1860 levels. <Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. (New York: Little, Brown, 1974), p. 96-98.>
 
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#25
To provide some perspective: in 1860, Southern planters owned close to $4 billion worth of slaves. Fogel and Engerman (1974) projected that by 1890 slave prices would have increased on average 52 per cent over their 1860 levels. <Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman. Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery. (New York: Little, Brown, 1974), p. 96-98.>
Fogel and Engerman are edited. The value of a slave would mirror the value of what he could produce. Cotton prices plummeted after the War and so too would have the value of slaves.
 
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O' Be Joyful

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#26
Fogel and Engerman are fools. The value of a slave would mirror the value of what he could produce. Cotton prices plummeted after the War and so too would have the value of slaves.
Would the prices have decreased the same rate...with out war? Who knows. So it follows the value of the enslaved would have charted closely.
 

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#27
Most of the planters were only paper rich, in reality.
That's been the case in agriculture virtually forever. The farmer/planter has all of his/her money tied up in property, most of it borrowed on hopes for the next crop.
In the case of the antebellum planter, that property included slaves. They literally 'bet the farm', borrowing every cent they could to acquire slaves and land to grow cotton. The threat of losing his/her investment in slaves was as real to him/her as that of a commodity or stock market crash in later times. The aggregate wealth in slaves was $4 billion in 1860, zero in 1865.
 

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#28
Fogel and Engerman are fools. The value of a slave would mirror the value of what he could produce. Cotton prices plummeted after the War and so too would have the value of slaves.
Thanks for your response.
Though I appreciate your learned assessment, you might want to read the book: they take that factor into account in arriving at the potential growth in slave value.
 
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#29
And that brings us back to the question of what happens to the value of that collateral if slavery is not allowed to spread? 2nd step would be that New England abolitionists trade votes to get slavery in DC abolished. Both northern parties co-operate with Britain to end the smuggling of slaves into secret locations in Honduras or Nicaruaga. That sends prices higher in the US and a sell off accelerates.
If the FSA is amended to increase due process rights for the alleged escaped slave, the sell off accelerates. Then Republican populists start attacking the slave trade, and slavery is soon confined to just the cotton south. Once the ratio becomes about 9/27, the Constitution can be amended by convention. No further Congressional action required. Once the protections end, and cotton production ramps up in Texas, slavery is in big trouble. The people involved in the slave trade and the large operations with over 50 slaves were the farms most at risk if the price of slaves collapses.
After 1858 the British were going after US cotton seed, as that produced the optimal grade of fiber.
 
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#31
Would the prices have decreased the same rate...with out war? Who knows. So it follows the value of the enslaved would have charted closely.
We do know. The British were encouraging cotton production in both Egypt and India. Both places have soil and climate that could produce the desperately needed fiber.

Edited.

Cotton prices collapsed after the War (a boon to the textile industry). Supply and Demand rule.
 

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#32
We do know. The British were encouraging cotton production in both Egypt and India. Both places have soil and climate that could produce the desperately needed fiber.
Were these encouragements due to the threat of war? Or, some other economic reason which you have long promised to put forth in a thread dedicated to the subject? If I missed the thread, I apologize Drew, and please point me towards it.

btw, the beard is lookin' good. :thumbsup:
 
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#33
Were these encouragements due to the threat of war? Or, some other economic reason which you have long promised to put forth in a thread dedicated to the subject? If I missed the thread, I apologize Drew, and please point me towards it.

btw, the beard is lookin' good. :thumbsup:
I'm not sure where I promised a dedicated thread. The reality is the British tried to develop a source for cotton fiber outside of the American South - they did so, in Egypt and India. They (the Brits) were not altruists.

Thanks, BTW, on the beard!
 
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#34
Thanks for your response.
Though I appreciate your learned assessment, you might want to read the book: they take that factor into account in arriving at the potential growth in slave value.
Then thank you for your response. Anyone who puts forth an argument that the value of the means of production continues to rise when what is being produced is falling in value doesn't know what he's talking about.

When it happens, it's normally referred to as a "bubble." All of them burst, always.

This is a history forum, mind you.
 

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#35

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#36
Fogel and Engerman are fools. The value of a slave would mirror the value of what he could produce. Cotton prices plummeted after the War and so too would have the value of slaves.
Technically the present value of all he produced plus speculative appreciation the surplus of market price over the present value of future production. In the case of the bust you mention, there is a double whammy. The hit to the present value of production plus loss of speculative value.
 

jgoodguy

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#37
We do know. The British were encouraging cotton production in both Egypt and India. Both places have soil and climate that could produce the desperately needed fiber.

Cotton prices collapsed after the War (a boon to the textile industry). Supply and Demand rule.
There was no collapse, but there was no boom either

1876 : 9.71
1877 : 8.53
1878 : 8.16
1879 : 10.28
1880 : 9.83
1881 : 10.66
1882 : 9.12
1883 : 9.13
1884 : 9.19
1885 : 8.39
1886 : 8.06
1887 : 8.55
1888 : 8.50
1889 : 8.55
1890 : 8.59
1891 : 7.24
1892 : 8.34
1893 : 7.00
1894 : 4.59
1895 : 7.62
1896 : 6.66
1897 : 6.68
1898 : 5.73
1899 : 6.98
1900 : 9.2
1901 : 7.0
1902 : 7.6
1903 : 10.49
1904 : 9.0
1905 : 10.78
1906 : 9.6
1907 : 10.36
1908 : 9.0
1909 : 13.52
1910 : 13.96
1911 : 9.65
1912 : 11.50
1913 : 12.47

Compare to

1818 32.5
1819 14
1840-1850 < 10
1855 above 10
1856 15
1862 62 high
 
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#39
There was no collapse, but there was no boom either

1876 : 9.71
1877 : 8.53
1878 : 8.16
1879 : 10.28
1880 : 9.83
1881 : 10.66
1882 : 9.12
1883 : 9.13
1884 : 9.19
1885 : 8.39
1886 : 8.06
1887 : 8.55
1888 : 8.50
1889 : 8.55
1890 : 8.59
1891 : 7.24
1892 : 8.34
1893 : 7.00
1894 : 4.59
1895 : 7.62
1896 : 6.66
1897 : 6.68
1898 : 5.73
1899 : 6.98
1900 : 9.2
1901 : 7.0
1902 : 7.6
1903 : 10.49
1904 : 9.0
1905 : 10.78
1906 : 9.6
1907 : 10.36
1908 : 9.0
1909 : 13.52
1910 : 13.96
1911 : 9.65
1912 : 11.50
1913 : 12.47

Compare to

1818 32.5
1819 14
1840-1850 < 10
1855 above 10
1856 15
1862 62 high
I'm not sure what you're conveying here. Cents per pound?

If so, it doesn't look good. If cotton fetched fifteen cents per pound in 1856 and 62 cents per pound in 1862, the nine and three quarter cents price in 1876 looks pretty grim and represents a huge hit to a producer's income.

You're missing eleven years between 1865-1876, also. That would be interesting to see.
 

Rebforever

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#40
And that brings us back to the question of what happens to the value of that collateral if slavery is not allowed to spread? 2nd step would be that New England abolitionists trade votes to get slavery in DC abolished. Both northern parties co-operate with Britain to end the smuggling of slaves into secret locations in Honduras or Nicaruaga. That sends prices higher in the US and a sell off accelerates.
If the FSA is amended to increase due process rights for the alleged escaped slave, the sell off accelerates. Then Republican populists start attacking the slave trade, and slavery is soon confined to just the cotton south. Once the ratio becomes about 9/27, the Constitution can be amended by convention. No further Congressional action required. Once the protections end, and cotton production ramps up in Texas, slavery is in big trouble. The people involved in the slave trade and the large operations with over 50 slaves were the farms most at risk if the price of slaves collapses.
After 1858 the British were going after US cotton seed, as that produced the optimal grade of fiber.
I am sure you have a reading list and I wonder if you would share it with others?
 



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