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/