Was Slavery Dying in 1860?

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
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Right here.
Try Gavin Wright. And Roger Ransom.
Using Time on the Cross undermines your credibility. Times change.

Wrong again. The Fogel quote isn't from Time on the Cross, and in any event much of Time on the Cross has been confirmed.

For example, Wright actually confirms Fogel's findings on the profitability of slavery.

See Gavin Wright, “The Political Economy of the Cotton South,” in Gavin Wright, Households, Markets, and Wealth in the Nineteenth Century, 1978, W. W. Norton & Co. It’s reprinted as a chapter of Michael Perman’s The Coming of the American Civil War, Third Edition, titled “The Economics of Cotton, Slavery, and the Civil War.”

Wright refers to an analysis by Yasuhichi Yauba and Richard Sutch in which “in each year the price of slaves is determined by the interaction of a demand curve with an inelastic supply curve, because, after the closing of the African slave trade, the aggregate slave labor supply could not be increased in response to higher prices, except over time. The observed slave price was in fact well above the long-run cost of rearing new slaves, and the difference between the two accrued as a capitalized rent to the owner of the slave at the time of birth. Slave prices rose steadily over time, to levels far above the rearing cost, and indeed were never higher than on the eve of the Civil War.

“The point is not just that the real proof of profitability is the high slave prices themselves, but that the rising profitability is embodied in the higher prices. In the abstract, there is little point in sharply differentiating between the slaveholders’ interest in annual earnings on his crops and in the value of his slave property, because slave prices will reflect the expected stream of future earnings from the use of slave labor. . . . The fact is that virtually every slaveholder who was careful enough to keep his slaves alive made at least a normal profit during the 1850s from capital gains alone.” [Wright in Perman, pp. 160-161] According to Wright, “the essence of the profitability of slavery was the financial value of slave property.” [Ibid., p. 162]

As to the Fogel quote, he's referring to the real price of cotton, which is the price of cotton when the effect of inflation is removed.
As this study shows, "since the Civil War, cotton volatility has largely coincided with broader commodity price volatility."

Ransom, for one, considers the nominal value of cotton, not its real value. "The real economic failure of the postwar South was the unwillingness or inability of farmers to adjust to changing agricultural markets." [Roger L. Ransom, Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War, p. 242] Ransom shows a postwar depression in nominal prices after inflation during the Civil War. See page 258.

So you're using Wright's and Ransom's apples to criticize Fogel's oranges.
 
Joined
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Location
Arlington, Virginia
Perhaps. But millions upon millions of persons held to service remained at home and at work. Better fed, clothed, housed, cared for (medical), and pensioned than the starving and impoverished "free" blacks living under the burdens of the white-supremacist North.

I'm not surprised that you cite no sources for those allegations, but I am a bit surprised that you would call that part of the country that had no slaves "white supremacist" as compared to the part that did. Slavery was not a welfare scheme, but a system of exploitation that denied the legal right of personhood, the sanctity of marriage, and access to justice.

It also had an impact on life expectancy. The figure of 40 years for whites and 36 for the enslaved is widely cited. The 1860 Census gives us another comparison -- average age. At the time this was 24 for whites, 21 for the enslaved, and 25 for "free colored." (Introduction to the Census, p. xlix).

This suggests that, if anything, free blacks did as well as most other people with the same basic legal status, despite restrictions. And as I've said elsewhere about discrimination, there's a distinct qualitative difference between being thrown off a streetcar and being thrown in chains.

A lot of people utter similar malarky when it comes to owners' treatment of their human chattel, often using Olmsted's story about Irish working the river being more disposable than slaves. But that example only worked because the shipowner would have to pay if someone else's slave died. The actual owners could make other calculations when it came to their property. I think it was the same ship's captain Olmsted talks with here:

He went on to describe what he had seen on some large
plantations which he had visited for business purposes — indica-
tions, as he thought, in the appearance of "the people," that
they were being "worked to death." "These rich men," he
said, "are always bidding for the overseer who will make the
most cotton ; and a great many of the overseers didn't care for
anything but to be able to say they've made so many bales in
a year. If they make plenty of cotton, the owners never ask
how many [email protected] they kill."

I suggested that this did not seem quite credible ; a negro
was a valuable piece of property. It would be foolish to use
him in such a way.

"Seems they don't think so," he answered. "They are
always bragging — you must have heard them — how many
bales their overseer has made, or how many their plantation
has made to a hand. They never think of anything else.
You see, if a man did like to have his [email protected] taken care of,
he couldn't bear to be always hearing that all the plantations
round had beat his. He'd think the fault was in his overseer.
The fellow who can make the most cotton always gets paid
the best."


No, no "white-supremacist" system at work there, I suppose...
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
Perhaps. But millions upon millions of persons held to service remained at home and at work. Better fed, clothed, housed, cared for (medical), and pensioned than the starving and impoverished "free" blacks living under the burdens of the white-supremacist North.
The old, old song:
"Slavery!
It weren't so bad.
For black people."

Its hard to believe the old tune still is performed in the 21st century.
 

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
I'm not surprised that you cite no sources for those allegations, but I am a bit surprised that you would call that part of the country that had no slaves "white supremacist" as compared to the part that did. Slavery was not a welfare scheme, but a system of exploitation that denied the legal right of personhood, the sanctity of marriage, and access to justice.

It also had an impact on life expectancy. The figure of 40 years for whites and 36 for the enslaved is widely cited. The 1860 Census gives us another comparison -- average age. At the time this was 24 for whites, 21 for the enslaved, and 25 for "free colored." (Introduction to the Census, p. xlix).

This suggests that, if anything, free blacks did as well as most other people with the same basic legal status, despite restrictions. And as I've said elsewhere about discrimination, there's a distinct qualitative difference between being thrown off a streetcar and being thrown in chains.

A lot of people utter similar malarky when it comes to owners' treatment of their human chattel, often using Olmsted's story about Irish working the river being more disposable than slaves. But that example only worked because the shipowner would have to pay if someone else's slave died. The actual owners could make other calculations when it came to their property. I think it was the same ship's captain Olmsted talks with here:

He went on to describe what he had seen on some large
plantations which he had visited for business purposes — indica-
tions, as he thought, in the appearance of "the people," that
they were being "worked to death." "These rich men," he
said, "are always bidding for the overseer who will make the
most cotton ; and a great many of the overseers didn't care for
anything but to be able to say they've made so many bales in
a year. If they make plenty of cotton, the owners never ask
how many [email protected] they kill."

I suggested that this did not seem quite credible ; a negro
was a valuable piece of property. It would be foolish to use
him in such a way.

"Seems they don't think so," he answered. "They are
always bragging — you must have heard them — how many
bales their overseer has made, or how many their plantation
has made to a hand. They never think of anything else.
You see, if a man did like to have his [email protected] taken care of,
he couldn't bear to be always hearing that all the plantations
round had beat his. He'd think the fault was in his overseer.
The fellow who can make the most cotton always gets paid
the best."


No, no "white-supremacist" system at work there, I suppose...

"I used to love to walk down by that row of houses. It looked like a town and late of an evening as you'd go by the doors you could smell meat a frying, coffee making and good things cooking. We were fed good and had plenty clothes to keep us warm and dry..." -Harriet Payne, Black Agricultural Laborer Held to Service (Slave Narratives)

Go ahead and show me a "free" black who spoke this way of her filthy, squalid, tenement "community".

***EDITED***
 
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KeyserSoze

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Location
Kansas City
Well, they certainly had a better quality of life than the vast majority of the unemployed, homeless, half-starved, vagabond "free" blacks living in the squalid, filthy, ghettos of New York and Philadelphia.

Hyperbole aside, those free blacks couldn't get sold. Their children couldn't get sold. Their spouses couldn't get sold. There's something to be said for that.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Location
Arlington, Virginia
"I used to love to walk down by that row of houses. It looked like a town and late of an evening as you'd go by the doors you could smell meat a frying, coffee making and good things cooking. We were fed good and had plenty clothes to keep us warm and dry..." -Harriet Payne, Black Agricultural Laborer Held to Service (Slave Narratives)

Go ahead and show me a "free" black who spoke this way of her filthy, squalid, tenement "community".

***EDITED***

For an example of a free African American who spoke of the positive contrast to slavery, I'd direct you to any of the works of Frederick Douglass or other black abolitionists.

For limitations on the use of slave narratives, I'd direct you to the source where you most easily find them: https://www.loc.gov/collections/sla...imitations-of-the-slave-narrative-collection/

For matters of general welfare, I'll go back to shorter life expectancy, absence of legal rights, and lack of hope for one's children I referred to earlier, and which you've made no attempt to dispute.

But on the overall subject of whether slavery would or would not have died on its own -- which is the object of this thread that you clumsily digress from -- I point out what others had mentioned earlier: between 1850 and 1860 there were more slaveholders, more slaves, and the price per slave have increased enormously; moreover the slaveholders who led the rebellion wanted not just to keep their own slaves on their own land, but to expand their operations in perpetuity. And when the slaves were at last freed those southern whites and their descendants did all they could to keep the descendants of slaves in as similar a condition as possible.

For them, in other words, money and racial superiority talked, and such arguments as you appear to be trying to make walked... :wink:
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2005
"I used to love to walk down by that row of houses. It looked like a town and late of an evening as you'd go by the doors you could smell meat a frying, coffee making and good things cooking. We were fed good and had plenty clothes to keep us warm and dry..." -Harriet Payne, Black Agricultural Laborer Held to Service (Slave Narratives)

Go ahead and show me a "free" black who spoke this way of her filthy, squalid, tenement "community".

***EDITED***
--

"Agricultural Laborer Held to Service" That's usually spelled S-L-A-V-E isn't it?
Let's hear the old song again:

"Slavery, it weren't so bad.
For black people"

Second verse, same as the first!
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
"I used to love to walk down by that row of houses. It looked like a town and late of an evening as you'd go by the doors you could smell meat a frying, coffee making and good things cooking. We were fed good and had plenty clothes to keep us warm and dry..." -Harriet Payne, Black Agricultural Laborer Held to Service (Slave Narratives)

Go ahead and show me a "free" black who spoke this way of her filthy, squalid, tenement "community".

***EDITED***

Well, I suppose that explains the long line of African Americans heading south out of northern cities, hoping they would find someone to enslave them and raise their standard of living.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Location
Arlington, Virginia
Fogel was just plain wrong about the future of cotton. The real price of cotton may have risen for awhile, but the cotton production income was supporting an ever larger population. Real prices of cotton fell. Real per capital income in the south lagged far, far behind what it was in the north.
The poverty in the south that drew a response in 1960 was real. The poverty that drove blacks to move north and look for any possible job was real.
Just as a side note and not to take this any farther off the tracks, it wasn't poverty alone that drove blacks to move north, but the accumulation of lynchings, pogroms, town burnings, and the daily humiliations recorded in Wilkerson's recent The Warmth of Other Suns (highly recommended -- even if you don't have time for the whole work, the intro, afterword, and notes are worth reading, along with at least one of the narrative threads): https://www.amazon.com/dp/0679763880/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 
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CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Honored Fallen Comrade
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Location
Laurinburg NC
Please see my post above. The odds of a slave living long enough to be a burden were somewhat lower than average, and the option of working them to death always existed, and did not always go unused.

My point in the earlier post was that slavery was assured labor not necessarily the cheapest.

Whatever their cost of death their loss would be a greater financial to the owner than to whoever employed Chinese coolies, peons, sweatshop workers in Northern factories and other cheap laborers showed the door when they unable to work any longer.
 

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Pensions???? For slaves???? Are you serious?

That's the second time you questioned that obvious truth. When those held to service became aged and i
Well, I suppose that explains the long line of African Americans heading south out of northern cities, hoping they would find someone to enslave them and raise their standard of living.


Well golly gee, it's just so surprising that you couldn't find so much as one example, not even one, of a "free" Northern black
waxing sentimentally about her beautiful experience of growing up in the filthy tenement slums of Harlem.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
That's the second time you questioned that obvious truth. When those held to service became aged and i



Well golly gee, it's just so surprising that you couldn't find so much as one example, not even one, of a "free" Northern black
waxing sentimentally about her beautiful experience of growing up in the filthy tenement slums of Harlem.

I'd say deciding to stay where she was instead of moving South to get herself enslaved is a highly eloquent statement. The Underground Railroad headed only out of the slave states, not into them.

Then there's this letter from just after the fighting had ended:

Dayton, Ohio,

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.
 

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Pensions???? For slaves???? Are you serious?

That's the second time you asked me this. I was genuinely astonished the first time, and ignored it. But most certainly, slave pensions. Persons Held to Service who were aged, infirm, and past the point of productive labor were still provided food, clothing, housing, and medical care at the cost of ownership. Like I said, a pension.
 

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
I'd say deciding to stay where she was instead of moving South to get herself enslaved is a highly eloquent statement. The Underground Railroad headed only out of the slave states, not into them.

Then there's this letter from just after the fighting had ended:

Dayton, Ohio,

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, "Them colored people were slaves" down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor's visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams's Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.


Still waiting for a hearfelt account of a "free" Northern black describing growing up in the Harlem tenements.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
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Location
Right here.
I'll post this again, since apparently it was either missed or ignored the previous times I posted it:

"To be sure, the slave's customary attitude of indifference toward his work, together with the numerous methods he devised to resist his enslavement, sharply reduced the master's potential profits. It does not follow, however, that a slaveholder who was a reasonably efficient manager would have found free labor cheaper to employ. Slavery's economic critics overlooked the fact that physical coercion, or the threat of it, proved to be a rather effective incentive, and that the system did not prevent masters from offering tempting rewards for the satisfactory performance of assigned tasks.

"Besides, slave labor had several competitive advantages over free white labor. In the first place, it was paid less: the average wage of a free laborer exceeded considerably the investment and maintenance costs of a slave. In the second place, masters exploited women and children more fully than did the employers of free labor. Finally, the average bondsman worked longer hours and was subjected to a more rigid discipline. Slaveholders were less troubled with labor 'agitators' and less obligated to bargain with their workers. The crucial significance of this fact was dramatically demonstrated by a Louisiana sugar planter who once experimented with free labor, only to have his gang strike for double pay during the grinding season. 'Slave labor is the most constant form of labor,' argued a Southerner. 'The details of cotton and rice culture could not be carried on with one less constant.' No conviction was more firmly embedded in the mind of the planter than this. Many employers 'hire slaves in preference to other laborers,' explained a southern judge, 'because they believe the contract confers an absolute right to their services during its continuation.' These advantages more than compensated for whatever superiority free labor had in efficiency.

"Indeed, some southern landowners who employed Irish immigrants or native whites even doubted that they were more diligent than slaves. One employer complained that no matter how well white workers were treated, 'except when your eyes are on them they cheat you out of the labor due you, by lounging under the shade of the trees in your field.' A Maryland planter assured Olmsted that 'at hoeing and any steady field-work' his slaves accomplished twice as much, and with less personal supervision, than the Irish laborers he had used." [Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante Bellum South, pp. 399-401]

Finally,

"Still another argument of the economic critics was that owners of slaves had to bear certain costs that employers of free labor did not bear. In a free labor system workers were hired and fired as they were needed; in a slave labor system workers had to be supported whether or not they were needed. In a free labor system the employer had no obligation to support the worker's dependents, or the worker himself during illness and in old age; in a slave labor system the employer was legally and morally obligated to meet these costs. Thus, presumably, slavery was at once more humane and more expensive.

"This, too, is a myth. Employers of free labor, through wage payments, did in fact bear most of the cost of supporting the children of their workers, as well as the aged and infirm. Government and private charities assumed only a small part of this burden. Moreover, the amount that slaveholders spent to maintain these unproductive groups was not a substantial addition to their annual operating costs. The maintenance of disabled and senile slaves was a trivial charge upon the average master; and the market value of a young slave far exceeded the small expense of raising him." [Ibid., pp. 401-402]
 
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