Slavery and American Economic Development
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
Cover, Title Page
These essays were first presented as the Fleming Lectures at Louisiana State University in April 1997. My only excuse for the long lag between oral delivery and printed publication is that I wanted time to flesh out the supporting evidence, update the coverage of the academic literature, and work through the argument...
Introduction: What Was Slavery?
When Abraham Lincoln said, “if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong,” he neatly epitomized the tendency to think of slavery as an absolute category, a standard by which all other evils are overshadowed. This conception, often implicit, has a powerful hold on Americans down to the present day. It infuses most writing...
1. Slavery, Geography, and Commerce
In recent decades, economic historians have rediscovered both the centrality of African slavery for the eighteenth-century expansion of commerce known as the Rise of the Atlantic Economy, and the importance of overseas markets for the industrial and technological breakthroughs known as the Industrial Revolution...
2. Property and Progress in Antebellum America
For some years debates about the economic character of the antebellum South have fallen into a peculiarly constraining groove. “Was the slave South capitalist?” has been the question, taken to be the same as asking whether typical slaveholders were calculating, acquisitive, and in pursuit of material goals through...
3. Property Rights, Productivity, and Slavery
A more prudent person might decide to leave the argument at just this point. The first chapter made the case that slavery as a form of work organization has been overemphasized relative to slavery as a set of property rights, and the second chapter argued that the broad contours of southern regional economic development...
Epilogue: The Legacy of Slavery
Judging a book by its title, some readers may have expected to find here an account of the contribution of slave labor to American economic growth, a topic that has received much attention from legal scholars and advocates in recent years. It is undeniable that enslaved African Americans supplied a substantial...