Was Slavery Dying in 1860?

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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.

Well no, not really.

You forget that many of the slaves were inherited or bred at nominal cost to the owner and quite a few who were hired out were fully insured against loss.

You also overlook the slight cost of slave maintenance compared to free worker pay, the potential legal liability a northern employer faced if workers were killed or injured on the job, the need to compete for workers on the free market, especially when moving west was an option for so many (US salaries were among the highest in the world), and the existence of labor activism from a very early date.

Even imported Chinese railroad workers received relatively high wages compared to what you'd have to pay to rent a slave -- $24-31 a month (see link: http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/faqs/ ), compared to $20-25 for a slave laborer. And that monthly cost came on top of the expense of bringing them across the Pacific, including insurance.

The relative cheapness of slave labor was one of the major reasons -- to get back to the point of this thread -- that the institution itself was in no danger of disappearing.
 

CSA Today

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Well no, not really.

You forget that many of the slaves were inherited or bred at nominal cost to the owner and quite a few who were hired out were fully insured against loss.

You also overlook the slight cost of slave maintenance compared to free worker pay, the potential legal liability a northern employer faced if workers were killed or injured on the job, the need to compete for workers on the free market, especially when moving west was an option for so many (US salaries were among the highest in the world), and the existence of labor activism from a very early date.

Even imported Chinese railroad workers received relatively high wages compared to what you'd have to pay to rent a slave -- $24-31 a month (see link: http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/faqs/ ), compared to $20-25 for a slave laborer. And that monthly cost came on top of the expense of bringing them across the Pacific, including insurance.

The relative cheapness of slave labor was one of the major reasons -- to get back to the point of this thread -- that the institution itself was in no danger of disappearing.
Slaves were also expensive and the loss of an able body slave was a major financial loss while the loss of a Chinese coolie was not
 

wausaubob

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Well no, not really.

You forget that many of the slaves were inherited or bred at nominal cost to the owner and quite a few who were hired out were fully insured against loss.

You also overlook the slight cost of slave maintenance compared to free worker pay, the potential legal liability a northern employer faced if workers were killed or injured on the job, the need to compete for workers on the free market, especially when moving west was an option for so many (US salaries were among the highest in the world), and the existence of labor activism from a very early date.

Even imported Chinese railroad workers received relatively high wages compared to what you'd have to pay to rent a slave -- $24-31 a month (see link: http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/faqs/ ), compared to $20-25 for a slave laborer. And that monthly cost came on top of the expense of bringing them across the Pacific, including insurance.

The relative cheapness of slave labor was one of the major reasons -- to get back to the point of this thread -- that the institution itself was in no danger of disappearing.
Was it profitable? I am not sure why that is even argued. Was the customary way to get domestic help in the southern areas?
Even people who did not like slavery used slaves when they were in the south.
The question has to do with the country as a whole. At the time of the American Revolution, slavery was generally accepted. But the moral and legal objections to it led to early abolition. But 1860 slavery was gone in the Mid-Atlantic states, and that is how the electoral victory of Abraham Lincoln occurred. That never could have happened in the era of Thomas Jefferson.
The actual survival of slavery was dependent on its existence in the 8 border states, and the temporary tolerance of the interstate slave trade.
The 1860 election was just a forecast of what was going to happen next.
You cite Frederick Douglass, and that is a point well taken. Why does Douglass exist? Why is there this former slave, nationally and internationally recognized? Would such a person have existed in 1787? No. They would have stayed in England or gone back to Africa.
A person has to see the parts of the south the way the secessionists and the Republicans saw them at the time.
The Republican party's next wave of attack would be in Maryland and Missouri. Kentucky and its banks had been caught up in 1857 panic. They were not part of the cotton system and were not doing as well.
Why is up to Fogel and Engermann to tell us whether the system made money? If it was so darn profitable why was it not adopted in California and Oregon, Kansas and Nebraska, in the mining fields of Colorado or Nevada?
Slavery was something that to be imposed on Texas and New Mexico by Americans. It was not organically present in those areas.
 
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wausaubob

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Well no, not really.

You forget that many of the slaves were inherited or bred at nominal cost to the owner and quite a few who were hired out were fully insured against loss.

You also overlook the slight cost of slave maintenance compared to free worker pay, the potential legal liability a northern employer faced if workers were killed or injured on the job, the need to compete for workers on the free market, especially when moving west was an option for so many (US salaries were among the highest in the world), and the existence of labor activism from a very early date.

Even imported Chinese railroad workers received relatively high wages compared to what you'd have to pay to rent a slave -- $24-31 a month (see link: http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/faqs/ ), compared to $20-25 for a slave laborer. And that monthly cost came on top of the expense of bringing them across the Pacific, including insurance.

The relative cheapness of slave labor was one of the major reasons -- to get back to the point of this thread -- that the institution itself was in no danger of disappearing.
The situation had changed from the time that Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana purchase and guaranteed the rights of French and Spanish slave owners. A candidate won the Presidency based on the explicit proposal to limit slavery.
That the slave power could not prevent that electoral victory was its death warrant. If slavery would have been everything that has been contended for it, that would not have happened.
Moreover, as close as communication had become the various regions, a Republican party victory was going to make slavery unmanageable in at least the border states.
 

wausaubob

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The factors supporting the institution were the sustained growth in the demand for cotton, the extremely high fertility of the soil in the states of Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and eastern Arkansas. The stream of earnings that could be extracted from the descendants of the women were dependent on the guaranteed protection of the future of slavery. All of that was temporary.
 

wausaubob

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The coffles, the exploitation of slave women, the intercoastal slave trade, the lack of cultural freedom, the absence of religious freedom, that was all going to die, because the freed blacks in the north were constant proof that it was nonsense.
 
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If it was so darn profitable why was it not adopted in California and Oregon, Kansas and Nebraska, in the mining fields of Colorado or Nevada?
I'm not sure about the overall point of your whole comment, but I do want to address at least this question. From my reading of Sherman's memoirs he remarked on how very difficult it was to keep soldiers from deserting in California. I think part of what kept them in service during the war was, apart from their relative safety, the fact that gold and silver continued in general circulation there, which amounted to something of a premium (the army had already made a partial adjustment to the relative wealth of the west by providing substantially higher rates of extra duty pay west of the Rockies).

So if the army faced challenges keeping their own men in the ranks, one could imagine that slaveholders would face similar difficulties in keeping their own, unpaid people from running off in a very rich land largely settled by free people, especially with 4,000 free blacks already living there in 1860. On the whole it would seem much more immediately profitable to set up a new plantation in Missouri or Texas.
 

wausaubob

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Well no, not really.

You forget that many of the slaves were inherited or bred at nominal cost to the owner and quite a few who were hired out were fully insured against loss.

You also overlook the slight cost of slave maintenance compared to free worker pay, the potential legal liability a northern employer faced if workers were killed or injured on the job, the need to compete for workers on the free market, especially when moving west was an option for so many (US salaries were among the highest in the world), and the existence of labor activism from a very early date.

Even imported Chinese railroad workers received relatively high wages compared to what you'd have to pay to rent a slave -- $24-31 a month (see link: http://web.stanford.edu/group/chineserailroad/cgi-bin/wordpress/faqs/ ), compared to $20-25 for a slave laborer. And that monthly cost came on top of the expense of bringing them across the Pacific, including insurance.

The relative cheapness of slave labor was one of the major reasons -- to get back to the point of this thread -- that the institution itself was in no danger of disappearing.
The defense of slavery was not primarily economic by 1860. It was a racial defense, and Democratic voters endorsed that defense.
But even that defense was in trouble as literacy spread, life expectancy increased and living conditions improved. When people are constantly discussing ideas of individual rights and self-determination, right next door to the largest slave economy in the modern world, one section or the other is going to have to give ground.
 

wausaubob

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I'm not sure about the overall point of your whole comment, but I do want to address at least this question. From my reading of Sherman's memoirs he remarked on how very difficult it was to keep soldiers from deserting in California. I think part of what kept them in service during the war was, apart from their relative safety, the fact that gold and silver continued in general circulation there, which amounted to something of a premium (the army had already made a partial adjustment to the relative wealth of the west by providing substantially higher rates of extra duty pay west of the Rockies).

So if the army faced challenges keeping their own men in the ranks, one could imagine that slaveholders would face similar difficulties in keeping their own, unpaid people from running off in a very rich land largely settled by free people, especially with 4,000 free blacks already living there in 1860. On the whole it would seem much more immediately profitable to set up a new plantation in Missouri or Texas.
Agreed. As Senator Douglas stated, without local support, the system is not sustainable. That was a critical weakness. The system had almost no joiners, but a steady trickle of quitters.
 

MattL

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The defense of slavery was not primarily economic by 1860. It was a racial defense, and Democratic voters endorsed that defense.
But even that defense was in trouble as literacy spread, life expectancy increased and living conditions improved. When people are constantly discussing ideas of individual rights and self-determination, right next door to the largest slave economy in the modern world, one section or the other is going to have to give ground.

No necessarily. Many systems exist in mutual conflict without the total annihilation of the other.
 

WJC

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A reminder: the topic under discussion is "was slavery dying in 1860?"
Let's get back on topic.
Off topic posts will be deleted.
 

KeyserSoze

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That's the second time you asked me this. I was genuinely astonished the first time, and ignored it.
Well it's a genuinely astonishing claim on your part.

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.

And do you have anything to support such an amazing claim?
 

Tin cup

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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.
Documentation/time period for this assertion?

Kevin Dally
 
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Slaves were also expensive and the loss of an able body slave was a major financial loss while the loss of a Chinese coolie was not

That overlooks the first point in my earlier rebuttal. The initial "expense" of slaves is nominal if you inherit them or automatically "own" the offspring of the ones you have.

I'll add that the resale "value" depends on a number of factors, including willingness or ability to work and the time it takes to monetize it. That's the logic behind the slaveholders discussed in Olmsted's passage, to repeat:

"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."

Clearly in that case they don't feel the loss as a major financial loss because that's already gone into the calculation.

History records very little morning over the "major financial loss" involved in the execution of Nat Turner and scores of other enslaved people at the same time.

Similarly, no slave is too valuable to beat, and beat severely. Even though you can inflict quite a bit of pain on a human being without reducing their ability to work, one who refuses to work at all is valueless and one whose refusal to work inspires others to emulation becomes significantly less than useless, and the "major financial loss" lies in continuing their existence. Again, Olmsted:

I happened to see the severest corporeal punishment of a negro that I witnessed at the South while visiting this estate. I suppose, however, that punishment equally severe is common; in fact, it must be necessary to the maintenance of adequate discipline on every large plantation. It is much more necessary than on shipboard, because the opportunities of hiding away and shirking labour, and of wasting and injuring the owner's property without danger to themselves, are far greater in the case of the slaves than in that of the sailors, but, above all, because there is no real moral obligation on the part of the negro to do what is demanded of him. The sailor performs his duty in obedience to a voluntary contract; the slave is in an involuntary servitude. The manner of the overseer who inflicted the punishment, and his subsequent conversation with me about it, indicated that it was by no means unusual in severity. I had accidentally encountered him, and he was showing me his plantation. In going from one side of it to the other, we had twice crossed a deep gully, at the bottom of which was a thick covert of brushwood. We were crossing it a third time, and had nearly passed through the brush, when the overseer suddenly stopped his horse exclaiming, “What's that? Hallo! who are you, there?”


It was a girl lying at full length on the ground at the bottom of the gully, evidently intending to hide herself from us in the bushes.


“Who are you, there?”


“Sam's Sall, sir.”


“What are you skulking there for "

The girl half rose, but gave no answer.

“Have you been here all day?”

“No, sir.”

“How did you get here?”

The girl made no reply.

“Where have you been all day?”

The answer was unintelligible. After some further questioning, she said her father accidentally locked her in, when he went out in the morning.

“How did you manage to get out?” “

Pushed a plank off, sir, and crawled out.” T

he overseer was silent for a moment, looking at the girl, and then said, “That won't do; come out here.”

The girl arose at once, and walked towards him. She was about eighteen years of age. A bunch of keys hung at her waist, which the overseer espied, and he said, “Your father locked you in ; but you have got the keys.”

After a little hesitation, she replied that these were the keys of some other locks; her father had the door-key. Whether her story were true or false, could have been ascertained in two minutes by riding on to the gang with which her father was at work, but the overseer had made up his mind.

“That won't do;” said he, “get down.”

The girl knelt on the ground; he got off his horse, and holding him with his left hand, struck her thirty or forty blows across the shoulders with his tough, flexible, “raw-hide” whip (a terrible instrument for the purpose). They were well laid on,at arm's length, but with no appearance of angry excitement on the part of the overseer. At every stroke the girl winced and exclaimed, “Yes, sir!” or “Ah, sir!” or “Please, sir!” not groaning or screaming. At length he stopped and said, “Now tell me the truth.” The girl repeated the same story. “You have not got enough yet,” said he; “pull up your clothes—lie down.”

The girl without any hesitation, without a word or look of remonstrance or entreaty, drew closely all her garments under her shoulders, and lay down upon the ground with her face toward the overseer, who continued to flog her with the raw hide, across her naked loins and thighs, with as much strength as before. She now shrunk away from him, not rising, but writhing, grovelling, and screaming, “Oh, don't sir! oh, please stop, master! please, sir! please, sir! oh, that's enough, master! oh, Lord! oh, master, master! oh, God master, do stop ! oh, God, master! oh, God, master!”

A young gentleman of fifteen was with us; he had ridden in front, and now, turning on his horse, looked back with an expression only of impatience at the delay. It was the first time I had ever seen a woman flogged. I had seen a man cudgelled and beaten, in the heat of passion, before, but never flogged with a hundredth part of the severity used in this case. I glanced again at the perfectly passionless but rather grim business-like face of the overseer, and again at the young gentleman, who had turned away; if not indifferent he had evidently not the faintest sympathy with my emotion. Only my horse chafed. I gave him rein and spur and we plunged into the bushes and scrambled fiercely up the steep acclivity. The screaming yells and the whip strokes had ceased when I reached the top of the bank. Choking, sobbing, spasmodic groans only were heard. I rode on to where the road, coming diagonally up the ravine, ran out upon the cottonfield.

My young companion met me there, and immediately afterward the overseer. He laughed as he joined us, and said: “She meant to cheat me out of a day's work, and she has done it, too.” “Did you succeed in getting another story from her ?” I asked, as soon as I could trust myself to speak.

“No; she stuck to it.”

“Was it not perhaps true?”
 

wausaubob

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Slavery needed the continued tolerance of the illegal importation of slaves. https://archive.org/stream/suppressionofafr01dubouoft#page/n9/mode/2up
It needed continued optimism about the political power of slavery in the United States. The unfortunate truth is that the balance of power among pro slavery and anti-slavery factions was not a true federal system. It was just exactly a balance of power system, which could be unbalanced at any time. The imbalance was already demonstrated in the election of 1860. Redistricting and continued rapid growth in Nebraska and the western mining states was going to make Republican victories more likely, at least until there was an economic crisis.
The slave system needed the continued nearly free enforcement of slave claiming in the northern areas. The Republicans did not need to find enough votes to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act, they only needed to add a right to a jury trial.
 

es3040

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It's a very intriguing argument, to be sure! Slavery as an acknowledged, formal institution would have ultimately died out but how long that would have taken is debatable.

It seems from the graph, the slavery numbers follow a very typical bell curve. In the 1860s, cotton production met it's apogee and some early developments of things like the cotton gin made slave owning MORE profitable than ever. But all things do end as we see from the 1890s through to our current century where technology has advanced leaps and bounds, more than it ever had at any time in previous history. Primarily, the ability to harness electricity, developments of nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides (post WWI), and tractor development. 1860s plantation owners were riding the tail end of a time with just enough technology to make slavery still viable but not so much as to make it burdensome.

Slave owning is a very costly business and economically not feasible as new inventions are derived to speed up the harvesting process. This in and of itself would have made field slavery obsolete. I'm sure a plantation owner would value speed of harvesting and processing over tedious manual labor that produced significantly less output. No matter how fast and good the picker, they are still humans with a limited capacity. Feeding, housing, clothing, and medical treatments of slaves would become money squandered since their position has been swapped out for a machine that produces far better results.

That being said, it's possible that the last frontier of slave holding would be household slaves, which is a place that would still require a lot of manual labor for cleaning, cooking, and laundry. But how many house slaves would one plantation home need? Then the question becomes ... what do you do with the rest?

As history has proven, the Union cause was never an altruistic cause. The South was responsible for a lion's share of the U.S. GDP and paid the most taxes. People talk a lot about the North being more "industrialized" but lose sight of the fact there has to be a raw material to process in the first place. There was no way that Washington will let all that money peacefully strut out of the Union. The North spent a lot of emotional coin to sell the slave narrative to promote recruitment of the more ideological for whom profiteering held no particular significance. This is obvious in the way slaves were summarily dumped (for lack of a better term) into their freedom with their 100 acres and a mule and some fine sounding but unenforced legislation. Otherwise, they were on their own and did not really benefits from much of these newly found "rights".

So, long and short - I do agree with this theory but we will never know will we?
 

major bill

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It's a very intriguing argument, to be sure! Slavery as an acknowledged, formal institution would have ultimately died out but how long that would have taken is debatable.

It seems from the graph, the slavery numbers follow a very typical bell curve. In the 1860s, cotton production met it's apogee and some early developments of things like the cotton gin made slave owning MORE profitable than ever. But all things do end as we see from the 1890s through to our current century where technology has advanced leaps and bounds, more than it ever had at any time in previous history. Primarily, the ability to harness electricity, developments of nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides (post WWI), and tractor development. 1860s plantation owners were riding the tail end of a time with just enough technology to make slavery still viable but not so much as to make it burdensome.

Slave owning is a very costly business and economically not feasible as new inventions are derived to speed up the harvesting process. This in and of itself would have made field slavery obsolete. I'm sure a plantation owner would value speed of harvesting and processing over tedious manual labor that produced significantly less output. No matter how fast and good the picker, they are still humans with a limited capacity. Feeding, housing, clothing, and medical treatments of slaves would become money squandered since their position has been swapped out for a machine that produces far better results.

That being said, it's possible that the last frontier of slave holding would be household slaves, which is a place that would still require a lot of manual labor for cleaning, cooking, and laundry. But how many house slaves would one plantation home need? Then the question becomes ... what do you do with the rest?

As history has proven, the Union cause was never an altruistic cause. The South was responsible for a lion's share of the U.S. GDP and paid the most taxes. People talk a lot about the North being more "industrialized" but lose sight of the fact there has to be a raw material to process in the first place. There was no way that Washington will let all that money peacefully strut out of the Union. The North spent a lot of emotional coin to sell the slave narrative to promote recruitment of the more ideological for whom profiteering held no particular significance. This is obvious in the way slaves were summarily dumped (for lack of a better term) into their freedom with their 100 acres and a mule and some fine sounding but unenforced legislation. Otherwise, they were on their own and did not really benefits from much of these newly found "rights".

So, long and short - I do agree with this theory but we will never know will we?

Taxes were only paid on import so the South " paid the most taxes" is simply untrue. Now when it comes to South producing the most GDP that to is very very questionable. I simply would need to be shown that the South produced the before I can believe it. So if I could prove that industrialization of agriculture did not occur until the 1940s or 1950s can I corr4ectly assume that slavery would have flourished until the 1940s to 1950s?
 
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