Essay on Slavery Of The Antebellum South

1039 Words 5 Pages
For much of the 21st century it was believed that slavery caused the economy of the Antebellum South to stagnate. Many historians took issue with the profitability of slavery and thought that its demise was inevitable, regardless of the Civil War. Some even consider the Antebellum South’s economy to be backwards in the sense that slave labour rates were so competitive that it resulted in the wages of other free workers to drop below the subsistence level (Conrad & Meyer 1971, 341). This created a deficit of skilled white labourers in the market and prevented a sustainable perfectly competitive labour market. In addition to this, slavery was criticized as being preventative to long-term economic growth. Slavery required capital outlays which were significantly larger than those required by free labour. Capital investments were tied up in the slaves for their entire lifetimes, which meant that investments crucial to long term economic growth were not made.
After studying Robert Fogel’s Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (1989), it becomes clear that this is not true and slavery was not holding back the economic growth of the Antebellum South. In fact, during the period 1840-1860, the per capita income of those in the South grew more rapidly than in the North. To put into perspective just how prosperous the South was on the eve of the Civil War, many countries have never achieved per capita income growth as large as the South had. The country of…

Related Documents