Friday, March 15, 2013

Nate Mail: The End of Slavery

 Leatherwing asks:

A blogger asked the question of when the Southern states would have ended slavery if not for Lincoln. I remember you saying (but can't find it) that there were plans to end slavery by a certain date. I've been unable to find anything online and wonder if you can point me toward a source.

Sorry it took so long to get this post up.  Lots going on.

There was not a certain date that the South was ending slavery by.  Rather it is more accurate to say that Slavery was dying a slow death of economic causes.  The fact is... Slavery was simply no longer economically viable as a business model.  Slaves were to expensive... and in addition... their care... was far far to expensive.  The problem wasn't whether or not to end it.  It was ending.  The problem was... how to end it?

First let me back up my claims about how expensive slaves were.  There is a book called The Kith and Kin of the Dark Clan.  It traces legal documents of the Dark family all the way back to the 1600s or so in America.  Several sales receipts .. wills... and other documents mention slaves.  For example one will shows two slaves... each valued at $5000.  This was in 1790.  To put that in perspective... in 1790.. an ounce of gold cost $19.  These slaves would've cost 263 ounces of gold in 1790.  See where we are going here? In today's dollars... those slaves were worth $420,000.   Each.

Now tell me...  how well do you care for something that is worth that kind of money?

Do you send your $400,000 horse to the cheapest vet you can find?   Do you put it in the cheapest barn you can build and give it the cheapest food you can find?

In addition to the upfront purchase cost... slaves had to be fed, housed, and cared for.  In the south for a long time the owners were obligated to teach the slaves to read so they could read the Bible and be saved.  All of this...was very very expensive.

In fact... just before the War for Southern Independence... and during it... many Southrons moved to Brazil to start large plantations there.  Slavery was legal in Brazil at the time... but they didn't use slaves in their new operations.  Why?  Because it was not economical to do so.  That should tell you everything you need to know.  By the way... to this day there is a city called Americana in brazil... because so many southrons moved to that area back then.

Contrast this with the industrial revolution in the North.  You didn't have to house your employees or feed them.  You paid them less than what they could live on... and then you open up a company store and lend them the difference so they can survive.  And then... they owe the company... so they cannot quit until they settle their bill... which grows each month because they are not paid enough to live on.

So much for being free.

The fact is working conditions in the North were far... far worse than slavery in the South... and even though they were called "free" in the North... they were arguably less free than they were in the South.  They worked more, for less, had worse living conditions, and often dealt with the same kind of punishments at work that they got from the cruelest slave masters in the South.

This is the part of American history that gets swept under the rug.


jm said...

This is a good post. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

Raggededge said...

RACISS...And, I hope you are doing an ATF today, cause I have a good story about ole Fred Noe and what a screaming dumbass he is.

Nate said...

of course we're doing an ATF post... what am I? A barbarian?

Leatherwing said...

Thanks Nate. Americana was mentioned in the comments over at the site where I saw this conversation. Typical liberal response was " it’s not clear how many slaves they owned."

I knew the economics couldn't hold up. And while I'm sure some slaves had really bad masters (just like some people don't treat dogs or horses well) most slave-owners saw and treated them as expensive investments.

Nate said...

The horror stories you see almost all ceneterd around HUGE plantations where the slaves were not actually managed by the owner.. but instead by hired hands.... or in some cases... other slaves.

Another dirty secret is sometimes the most brutal punishments were dealt by slaves to other slaves.

Res Ipsa said...

Well done. This also highlights the fact that the War of Northern Aggression wasn't about the slaves, it was about the north federal gov losing tax revenue.

Cool Hand said...

you are wrong. According to Jamie Foxx at least.

Ready for the ATF post.

Matthew said...

Nate: "well documented"

Galileo's perfidy is well documented by Riccioli, but you have to know about it to even want to look for it. Catch-22.

trk said...

In one of Thomas Sowells books, cant remember which one, but he talked about how slavery would have ended as Nate said. Also, more slaves went to South American than North America, however since they didnt have a capitalist system, they worked their slaves to death.

Krul said...

I read "The South Was Right" several years ago, and if I remember correctly it reported that the Confederacy had entered into a formal treaty - with England I think- in which they agreed to end all slavery within a set number of years. It's been a while; I'll have to brush the dust off the old copy to check it out.

flash said...

Slavery, due to the increasing cost of of slave maintenance versus the limited production of a slave, was on it ways out with entire plantations of slaves being abandoned to fend for themselves.
For documentation see: