Was Slavery Dying in 1860?

jgoodguy

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Maybe, definitely an interesting idea and I agree about more investigation. I'm not sure I agree, though due to the Civil War and the ending of slavery then it's all speculation.

IMHO free labor and slave labor conflicted in Capitalism. I agree that this slavery defined as you did was created by said Capitalism. Though just because it conflicted I don't think it means it was doomed to end, the sheer scale and cost of the Civil War I think shows how much the South didn't want it to end anytime soon. Many systems and factors compete and conflict within economic systems including Capitalism, it doesn't mean one is always doomed to die whether or not one is destined for overall victory. Even when a system is reduced to a small level (not that I concede slavery was doomed to that, depending on whether you consider the scale in the South small or not compared to the US as a whole or the world) that doesn't mean it's doomed to fully be extinguished.

The other side effect of the Civil War that makes this hard to predict (beyond the ending of slavery itself) is the economic impact and damage to the South in general. The sheer loss of economic value, influence, and people had untold effects on the South as times changed beyond. Who knows whether the South would've adapted to changing world economic factors in ways we might not even fathom due to such consequences of the Civil War. Maybe the South would have remained a strong economic driver and adapted their slave labor to other forms of labor. Saying they wouldn't or they would both are limited by the fact that our only basis for true comparison is a South that had it's leadership, economics, and population devastated. Additionally the exodus of many in the decades that followed after as well (which is partly why I even exist being born in Arizona with mostly Southern ancestors with 5 that served each in the CSA and US).

Maybe that's the biggest self inflicted damage of the Civil War to the South. Hampering themselves in a such a way that we may never know what true potential they would've had in the changing economies of the world for a very long time.
I am trying to wade through The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 the middle volume between The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture and
The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation
all by [URL='https://www.amazon.com/David-Brion-Davis/e/B001HCU18G/ref=pd_sim_14_bl_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=0307389693&pd_rd_r=ae6f850d-9eea-11e8-af6e-0720243a5fcc&pd_rd_w=imvDP&pd_rd_wg=9J3Qg&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=2610440344683357453&pf_rd_r=3YKGHE06NMZAABEFQ3E4&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&refRID=3YKGHE06NMZAABEFQ3E4']David Brion Davis

[/URL]
The last vol covers from the 1830s to the Civil War. https://www.amazon.com/Problem-Slav..._rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=3YKGHE06NMZAABEFQ3E4
 

wausaubob

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Douglas R. Egerton wrote a similar book. Death or Liberty, African Americans and Revolutionary America, Oxford University Press 2009.
Slavery recovered under Jefferson's presidency. The French Revolution and the slave revolt in Haiti were major factors in Jefferson's declining Revolutionary ardor.
When the Louisiana purchase occurred, slavery was winning on a national basis. But by the time of the Civil War things had changed and the Democrats were singing a different tune, at least in the western areas.
 

wausaubob

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If a person aggregates the southern areas then the cotton profits and the plantation system make slavery look vigorous. If one starts disaggregating what is called the south, then one perceives the weakness of slavery in Delaware, Maryland, western Virginia and Missouri.
The % of the population enslaved had already fallen in Baltimore, St. Louis and New Orleans to the levels at which New York and New Jersey converted to gradual abolition.
The slave system had acquired vast territories in Texas, but its demographic push was not filling them up. The only crop that would pay for expansion into Texas had satisfied the big surge in world demand. The point at which the demand curve would respond to over production with a decline in prices had been reached.
 

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Would it be monetarily profitable to own slaves as time went on?
If no, then slavery would have died on its own when the cost of housing and feeding them outweighed the potential profit and nobody else wanted to buy them.

Yes, building those Taj Mahal homes for their slaves and hiring gourmet chefs to feed their slaves filet mignon and pheasant under glass and the like each night would get so very expensive.
 
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wausaubob

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The weaknesses of slavery were several. It was weak in cities. Cities supported communities of free blacks, and those cities were starting to surround the south.
Slavery was dependent on one international commodity. If anything happened to the price of that commodity, because of a slow down in the British mercantile economy, slavery did not have enough diversity to avoid under employment and unemployment.
The internal slave trade was a humanitarian disaster. It did not matter whether the attacks on the slave trade were accurate.
The type of political action advocated by Salmon P. Chase was going to be a constant issue. The humanitarian attacks were going to be more and more telling as literacy spread in the northern areas. Literacy and inexpensive newspapers were things that slave system had to fight against. Even if the slave trade was not taxed by federal action, the willingness of people in middle eight states to participate in this barbaric system was going to decline.
 
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Book Reviews
Ironmaker to the Confederacy: Joseph R. Anderson and the Tredegar Iron Works.Charles B. Dew
George G. S. Murphy
https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/259304

View attachment 200522 I

View attachment 200526

Skilled slaves may not be so cheap after all especially if rented. The owners charge more. If the manufacturer buys them then he has to borrow the capital or diminish his investment in plant and equipment of both. Owned slaves run the risk of being disabled in a dangerous occupation and losing all value.
I recently read Dew's book "Ironbound"
The iron master at Buffalo Forge deliberately pursued a strategy of replacing white workers with enslaved black workers. He had to hire some slaves each year, but had a core of skilled enslaved workers. By diversifying his operation he could shift workers to his farms when the price of iron dipped, then back to the forge when prices rose.
 

wausaubob

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There is insufficient evidence that any of the slave states would abolish slavery on their own, absent a Civil War. There is more evidence from before the war and after the war, that if the price of cotton began to decline, poverty, disease and hunger would be used to put the enslaved population into demographic decline.
 

wausaubob

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I recently read Dew's book "Ironbound"
The iron master at Buffalo Forge deliberately pursued a strategy of replacing white workers with enslaved black workers. He had to hire some slaves each year, but had a core of skilled enslaved workers. By diversifying his operation he could shift workers to his farms when the price of iron dipped, then back to the forge when prices rose.
Where was that and approximately how large was the operation?
 

wausaubob

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Here is a map of steel and iron works ca. 1858 from Richmond.edu. http://dsl.richmond.edu/historicalatlas/135/d/
Based on this map it is difficult for me to believe that Pennsylvania politicians were going to tolerate the use of iron manufactured with slave labor in interstate commerce for very many years. The attacks would have been mounted under the commerce clause, and the would be winning issues for the Republicans in the paid labor states and throughout Tennessee.
 

jgoodguy

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I recently read Dew's book "Ironbound"
The iron master at Buffalo Forge deliberately pursued a strategy of replacing white workers with enslaved black workers. He had to hire some slaves each year, but had a core of skilled enslaved workers. By diversifying his operation he could shift workers to his farms when the price of iron dipped, then back to the forge when prices rose.

It's Bond of Iron: Master and Slave at Buffalo Forge. Looks interesting.
 

jgoodguy

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Would it be monetarily profitable to own slaves as time went on?
If no, then slavery would have died on its own when the cost of housing and feeding them outweighed the potential profit and nobody else wanted to buy them.

I have seen no example where slavery became unprofitable.
 

Youngblood

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I have seen no example where slavery became unprofitable.

True, because it ended.

In the age of tractors and harvesters would it still make sense to feed 50 people over a couple of pieces of equipment?

The slave becomes obsolete farm equipment when its costs outweigh the production and nobody else wants to buy them.
 

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Nobody is suggesting they had it good, but it does cost money to feed a bunch of people.

Yes, buying all that food at the supermarket gets expensive. Too bad they couldn't, oh, perhaps grow their own food. If only they lived in an agricultural setting with land available for cultivation.
 

Youngblood

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Yes, buying all that food at the supermarket gets expensive. Too bad they couldn't, oh, perhaps grow their own food. If only they lived in an agricultural setting with land available for cultivation.

So all slaves were self sufficient subsistence farmers?
If there was no cost to keep them, you might as well keep them.
And as long as there is a market for buying and selling, they would still be worth money.
 

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