What Southern dynasties’ post-Civil War resurgence tell us about how wealth is really handed down

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Belle Montgomery

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Emancipation should have laid waste to the Southern aristocracy. The economy was built on the forced labor of enslaved Africans, and almost half the Confederacy’s wealth was invested in owning humans. Once people could no longer be treated as chattel, that wealth evaporated.


But less than two decades after the Civil War, Southern slave-owning dynasties were back on top of the economic ladder, according to an ambitious new analysis from Leah Boustan of Princeton University, Katherine Eriksson of the University of California at Davis and Philipp Ager of the University of Southern Denmark.


[There are an estimated 40 million slaves in the world. Where do they live and what do they do?]


Their research upends the conventional wisdom that slave owners struggled after they lost access to their wealth. Yes, some fell behind economically in the war’s aftermath. But by 1880, the sons of slave owners were better off than the sons of nearby Southern whites who started with equal wealth but were not as invested in enslaved people.


The sons of formerly enslaved people never caught up, of course. By 1880 more than 90 percent of them were still in the South,...
REST OF ARTICLE:https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/04/04/how-souths-slave-owning-dynasties-regained-their-wealth-after-civil-war/
 

archieclement

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I would think part of it would be they had been taught how to manage money. Unfortunately in my lifetime I've seen many cases were poorer people come into substantial funds, insurance settlements ect, and in a year or two they have squandered it and have nothing to show for it going forward, throwing money at people who have no concept how to manage it does little. People have even won millions in lotteries to be broke again in five years...….
 

jgoodguy

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I would think part of it would be they had been taught how to manage money. Unfortunately in my lifetime I've seen many cases were poorer people come into substantial funds, insurance settlements ect, and in a year or two they have squandered it and have nothing to show for it going forward, throwing money at people who have no concept how to manage it does little. People have even won millions in lotteries to be broke again in five years...….
Please stay in the 19th century.
 
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jgoodguy

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Emancipation should have laid waste to the Southern aristocracy. The economy was built on the forced labor of enslaved Africans, and almost half the Confederacy’s wealth was invested in owning humans. Once people could no longer be treated as chattel, that wealth evaporated.


But less than two decades after the Civil War, Southern slave-owning dynasties were back on top of the economic ladder, according to an ambitious new analysis from Leah Boustan of Princeton University, Katherine Eriksson of the University of California at Davis and Philipp Ager of the University of Southern Denmark.


[There are an estimated 40 million slaves in the world. Where do they live and what do they do?]


Their research upends the conventional wisdom that slave owners struggled after they lost access to their wealth. Yes, some fell behind economically in the war’s aftermath. But by 1880, the sons of slave owners were better off than the sons of nearby Southern whites who started with equal wealth but were not as invested in enslaved people.


The sons of formerly enslaved people never caught up, of course. By 1880 more than 90 percent of them were still in the South,...
REST OF ARTICLE:https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/04/04/how-souths-slave-owning-dynasties-regained-their-wealth-after-civil-war/
Slaveowners normally owned large tracts of land. They retained ownership of that land. The land is wealth.
 

archieclement

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Please stay in the 19th century.
Its folly to not realize some things are timeless, so comparisons are applicable. Perhaps you have heard the expression history repeats itself......

I didn't refer to modern religion or politics, however comparisons to 19th century events should be as valid as comparisons to any other time periods if not referring to religion or politics
 
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archieclement

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Slaveowners normally owned large tracts of land. They retained ownership of that land. The land is wealth.
The piece addressed that, and that doesn't explain it in itself, as their are examples where the land was lost, and the groups being compared to also retained land

"We can rule out the generational effect of slave owners’ estates and other resources. It’s not as straightforward as going from plantations built on slavery to plantations built on sharecropping. The whites with whom former slave owners are compared will have had similar stockpiles of land and property. The economists help confirm this by analyzing the swath of destruction left by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

Unlike in much of the rest of the South, wealthy white families in Sherman’s path often had their land appropriated, seized or destroyed by Union forces. By 1870, affected families had a staggering 40 percent less wealth than similar folks in nearby counties."
 
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RobertP

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The piece addressed that, and that doesn't explain it in itself, are their are examples where the land was lost.

"We can rule out the generational effect of slave owners’ estates and other resources. It’s not as straightforward as going from plantations built on slavery to plantations built on sharecropping. The whites with whom former slave owners are compared will have had similar stockpiles of land and property. The economists help confirm this by analyzing the swath of destruction left by Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman.

Unlike in much of the rest of the South, wealthy white families in Sherman’s path often had their land appropriated, seized or destroyed by Union forces. By 1870, affected families had a staggering 40 percent less wealth than similar folks in nearby counties."
Perhaps the methodology is clearer and more straightforward than described in the article. Otherwise, it appears to be a study with a lot of assumptions, a huge fudge factor, and large margin of error.

Land does have value, but after a couple of generations it is generally diluted by the number of descendants and their disinterest in staying there. I tend to think that the families in the South who had money before the war educated their children, that mindset continued in subsequent generations and gave the offspring a competitive advantage. Nothing new about that, the same happened all over the country and is happening today among groups who emphasize and value education.
 

OpnCoronet

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What it tells me, is that the need for the Social and Political control of their slave population of the 'Old' South, still remained in the 'New ' South to control their emancipated slave population

Old social and political patterns remained in place to continue its pattern of oppression. Who better to operate the system, than those who invented it and presented themselves as its best defenders.
 
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