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Old 07-06-2022, 09:01 AM
899 posts, read 542,399 times
Reputation: 2184


Originally Posted by jbgusa View Post
I have heard or seen no evidence that the practice would ever have become "economically unfeasible." If that were the case freed slaves would have starved. Everyone always assumes this but there is simply no supporting evidence.
There's always going to be some value in slave labor due to not having to pay wages. But slaves remained viable as long as the cost of owning slaves (providing room and board and so forth) was lower than the cost of paying wages.

Slavery started to decline in the upper South, including Virginia, because it became less profitable to own slaves as tobacco started to decline, replaced by wheat and other crops that weren't as labor-intensive. In short, fewer slaves were needed and Virginia found itself with a surplus of slaves. This was already happening by 1776 and was one of the sources of tension between the Virginia colonial assembly and the royal governors as Virginia legislators wanted to stop the importation of even more slaves into their colony.

So we do have economic evidence from even before the Civil War of the unprofitability of slaves from changing economic realities. It was the growth of cotton, thanks to the cotton gin, in the deep south that saved Virginia planters from bankruptcy as they sold off their surplus slaves to the deep south.

But in due time, even without war, technological advancements would have rendered slavery unprofitable. By the 1860s, Northern farms were already far more efficient than comparable farms in the South due to embracing of new technologies and farming practices. The South's agricultural wealth was in cotton. But the boll weevil of the late 19th century crippled the cotton industry, as did the growth of competition in the cotton market globally. For a generation after the Civil War, the large free black population continued to provide a source of cheap and inefficient labor, but by WWI the shift to technology replacing manual labor on the cotton fields of the South was already underway and certainly helped to hasten the great migration northward.

Old 07-06-2022, 09:03 AM
899 posts, read 542,399 times
Reputation: 2184
Originally Posted by green_mariner View Post
Slavery might have gone on close to the 20th century. With Cuba across the Florida Straits, slave trading would have gone on longer. The last slave ship landed on U.S soil circa 1860, in Mobile Bay.

Slavery was not only an economic system. It was a social hierarchy. Slavery in the Deep South bore alot of resemblance to the plantation societies in the Caribbean. Slavery was a custom of the southern aristocracy. Owning Black slaves was seen as prestigious. Having poor Whites do all of the drudgery, working in the fields, was seen as an affront, a debasing of the White race.

Furthermore, Black people weren't even seen as human beings. They were viewed as property to be bought and sold. For this reason, so many people couldn't imagine slavery being abolished. They would have held on until the practice became economically unfeasible.
It has to be pointed out that there did exist a large population of poor whites in the South, who lived just as dreadfully as the slaves did, and in some instances, even in more primitive conditions.

I don't dispute that the South was a racialist system and the notion of white privilege very real and sold to poor whites as a means of keeping them under control in a sharply unequal society and perpetuating the power of the elites. But there was still a very large, primitive poor white population across much of the South doing a great deal of drudgery work too.
Old 07-06-2022, 12:19 PM
862 posts, read 683,903 times
Reputation: 1803
Originally Posted by Ellis Bell View Post
Population of 40 million enslaved today in a multi-billion dollar industry. The government(s) made it illegal (could not collect tax on people as property), but it didn't end, it just grew bigger.
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