Is the 13th Amendment Still Necessary?

I recently watched this video of The future of Freedom Foundation's Jeffrey Hummel in a talk entitled "A Libertarian Looks at the Civil War." In it he argued that the Civil War period saw the greatest reduction of liberty in American history (setting aside, of course, that it brought about the end of slavery). He makes a quite compelling case that the increase in government power was extraordinary, that it was the first large expansion of it's kind, and that many of its remnants are still with us today.

Toward the end of the talk, an audience member asked him the obvious question about slavery, and his thoughts on the necessity of the war to bring about its end. Hummel stated that, first of all, if the Civil War would prove to be necessary to end slavery, then he would find it worth its great costs in economy and freedom. He then, however, went on to state why he didn't think it was necessary.

He claimed (and I have no idea on the veracity of this claim, but will take it at face value for the purposes here) that at around the beginning of the 19th Century almost the entire world practiced slavery, and by the end of it the whole world had abolished it. Interestingly, only two countries, the US and Haiti, had to endure massive civil-war level violence to see it end. In addition, it required large subsidies (in the form of enforced fugitive slave laws, etc.) to slave-holders from non-owners to keep the institution going. Thus, slavery would have inevitably ended peacefully (when compared to the Civil War) in the US in a relatively short amount of time (obviously not short enough if you were a slave). [Certainly, the War was necessary to end slavery in 1865, but not necessary to end it by, say, 1900].

This was something I had not ever really considered before. When thinking about slavery, liberty, and government before, I had always in my mind held myself to the fact that war was necessary to end slavery. I thought about it quite a bit more recently when reading this article from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Don Boudreaux:

But even on purely economic grounds, capitalism rejects slavery because slaves are productive only when doing very simple tasks that can easily be monitored. It's easy to tell if a slave is moving too slowly when picking cotton. And it's easy to speed him up. Also, there's very little damage he can do if he chooses to sabotage the cotton-picking operation.

Compare a cotton field with a modern factory -- say, the shipyard that my father worked in as a welder until he retired. My dad spent much of his time welding alone inside of narrow pipes. If you owned the shipyard, would you trust a slave to do such welding? While not physically impossible to monitor and check his work, the cost to the shipyard owner of hiring trustworthy slave-masters to shadow each slave each moment of the day would be prohibitively costly. Much better to have contented employees who want their jobs -- who are paid to work and who want to work -- than to operate your expensive, complicated, easily sabotaged factory with slaves.

Finally, the enormous investment unleashed by capitalism dramatically increases the demand for workers. (All those factories and supermarkets must be manned.) Even if each individual factory owner wants to enslave his workers, he doesn't want workers elsewhere to be enslaved, for that makes it more difficult for him to expand his operations. As a group, then, capitalists have little use for slavery.

History supports this truth: Capitalism exterminated slavery.

Almost everything that Boudreaux and Hummel addressed I find to be true. Which lead me to this (hopefully) provocative question: If tomorrow Congress pased a law that made the practice of slavery legal, would our world look significantly different? In other words, would the actions of rational economic actors (who I assume everyone to be) change perceptively? Before anyone tries to answer this question, I'll have to make three points/assumption.

1) Assume that such a law is not unconstitutional. Oh yeah, Congress already does that anyway, so that takes care of that.

2) Assume for a moment that nobody would have a moral problem with such a law, they only approached it from a economic cost/benefit analysis. My goal here is to discuss the truth of the ablove implications: is slavery even today a viable institution from a purely economic viewpoint.

3) For the moment, remove children from the equation.

For my own answer to my own question, I think "not much." I'm persuaded by the two cited above that the costs of capturing and monitoring slaves, the costs of keeping slaves alive and in good working condition, and the benefits of the type of labor slaves could (or would) do would make it very much disadvantageous to "employ" slave labor, especially in today's American economy.

Thoughts?

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Slavery seemed to jive

Slavery seemed to jive perfectly well with modern industry in Germany, circa 1939.

Slavery still exists since

Slavery still exists since there are still economic activities that fit the requirements - "very simple tasks that can easily be monitored". Sex for example.

On a side point, in my

On a side point, in my American Economic Development class we were studying the relative cost of the War Between the States and the cost of a hypothetical policy where the federal government would have paid all the slave owners market price for their slaves and set them free. Turns out that the latter option is about one-third as expensive, even though in my opinion the economists who did the study understate the cost of lost human life in the war (they use the common legal proxy of lost wages).

The historical problem was that both sides grossly misestimated the costs of the war ex ante. The North underestimated the South's determination and ability, whereas the South underestimated the North's cruelty.

My point is, no the war wasn't even remotely necessary.

Jacob: You're right. It was

Jacob:

You're right. It was completely unnecessary for the South to attack the Federal army at Fort Sumter. But they chose to do so, and as such, they reaped the just rewards of that aggression.

The spurious "cruelty" argument cuts both ways. Neither side's army was any more or any less "moral" than the other. But on the "determination" issue, you have things in reverse. It is the South that thought that the North did not have the stomach for the fight. "Will they sacrif8ice their sons for the sake of the slaves? Of course not!" was the common line of Southern thought - not unlike Hitler thinking "will the British and French sacrifice their sons for the sake of a few Poles? Of course not!"

(Before you get all offended, I'm not equating the secessionists with Hitler, just pointing out that both thought the other side was not interested in a fight.)

The point is this, though: pretty much every war in human history can be shown, in hindsight, to have been economically unnecessary. Yet we still feel the need to fight them.

"The point is this, though:

"The point is this, though: pretty much every war in human history can be shown, in hindsight, to have been economically unnecessary. Yet we still feel the need to fight them."

Perhaps there's a lesson in that.

"The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations."

- D. Friedman

Capturing: In a world of 6

Capturing: In a world of 6 billion people, many of them broke and hungry,
you'd have people sneaking in to try to become your slaves.
Monitoring: Size and price of automated monitoring devices keeps dropping.
The trend is to ubiquitous survelliance.
There's a simple device for getting rid of overhead and incentivizing quality work - you send the slaves out to the marketplace, and tell them to keep 3 dollars of every 4.
It's called the laffer curve. The slaves are called takuru.
If i may discuss children, breaking the hypothetical:
There's a 13th amendment case about the padrone system, in which italian orphan boys would be imported to work as organ grinders and such. This was found to violate the 13th amendment.
In 1976, ingraham v wright challenged, on 8th amendment grounds, beating of citizens by government officials. The court said it wasn't punishment because the citizens hadn't been convicted of anything. I'd be interested in re-litigating the issue as one of the 13th amendment, arguing that systematic beatings are a badge of slavery. (The people being beaten are mostly young black males in the former confederacy, the government officials beating them are called "teachers.")
Also relevant is the schenk case, in which shenck passed out leaflets saying that the draft in the first world war was a 13th A violation - he was convicted.

Would the study of prisons

Would the study of prisons shed any light on the economics of slavery? Prisons have much of the characteristics of slavery, including the arbitrary violence. The biggest difference to my eye is that most people in prison understand that there is a good reason for their condition, whereas the traditional American slave (either kidnapped or born into slavery) understands that there is no good reason. Maybe this makes all the difference.

There is a federal statute

There is a federal statute which also prohibits involuntary servitude.
I forget the number, but googling on padrone and 13th A. would likely turn up a case that discusses it.

Well, its hard to separate

Well, its hard to separate one from the other, Trent. Boudreaux pretty much nailed the economic aspect (w/r/t incentives and monitoring).

This is all interesting, but

This is all interesting, but I wanted to explore the economic aspects of such a proposal, not the legal.

The "no specific

The "no specific performance" aspects of civil/criminal law do tend to put crimps in the would-be slaver's plans, no doubt.

Another assumption would have to be built in, such that you could actually compel specific performance from a contract, or, barring recoverable assets the debtor could be compelled to work (with wages garnished to pay restitution), which would essentially be slavery, though perhaps of a more limited and circumscribed nature.

But I think all of these objections point that the 13th Amendment isn't necessary to stop slavery now, in that current law effectively abolishes slavery through a variety of indirect prohibitions & civil rights protections.

Of course, just because it isn't necessary doesn't suggest or imply a need to remove it. Removing a healthy appendix for the hell of it would do more damage to the patient than any good, likewise for eliminating unnecessary amendments, I presume.

A few comments. First: if we

A few comments.

First: if we had not had the civil war, then probably we would not have entered WWI as we did (since there would have been both a USA and a CSA, both more limited by original constitutional limits than the USA after Lincoln's war eroded them)... which would not have caused Hitler and WWII, and thus fascism, communism, the cold war, vietnam, korean war, etc. The bloody 20th century may have been avoided. For more on this, see:
When Did the Trouble Start? and Hoppe, Introduction to Democracy: The God That Failed.

Doss asks:

1. Making sure there is no statutory prohibition to slavery where you’re doing ‘business’, and
2. Developing a market/industry for slavery/slaves that is consistent with existing laws against interpersonal aggression. In other words you’d have to find some initial population of people willing to sell themselves into slavery and then proceed.

A question would then rise as to whether the children of slaves would themselves be slaves- could the enslaved position be heritable? My intuition on this would be no, given the general abolition of inherited and explicit class-based legal privileges or disabilities (as opposed to inherited wealth & social networks which can indirectly result in legal privileges as a matter of course), a child would not inherit the legal disability of his or her parent(s) and be like any other child in legal standing. So the slave industry could not ‘naturally’ grow it’s stock, but rather continually have need of inticing free people into enslaving themselves.

I wonder what a contract for slavery would even look like?

I don't think this analysis is right. Let's say the 13th amendment is gone, and there are no state laws against slavery. Still, to have slavery, you have to have an owner buy people and use force against them. A contract to buy someone would surely not be enforced, as against public policy. Moreoever, even if it WAS, if the "owner" used force against the slave, this is still a crime--battery. Why? Because merely having a contract does not justify committing battery. Contracts are usually not specifically enforceable; at most, the owner could sue the runaway slave for monetary damages.

Further, the case with children is even weaker. No one would recognize a contract made by a parent that sells a child into slavery. Force against the child is simply battery or kidnapping, which are crimes. The fact that a parent signs on a piece of paper does not change this.

I believe that "slave codes" enacted by states were the reason why the owners were not guilty of kidnapping etc. previously. I assume all such slave codes are now abolished.

Actually, in this case, I

Actually, in this case, I think it is very possible that slavery in the US might not have been taken out without a war. The reason? The already existing division between the Southern and Northern States regarding slavery. It might be said that the Civil War did not just "happen." Rather, it revealed the divisions that had been there for decades, even going back to the foundation of the Republic. In a truly united nation, without a "bogeyman" for the South to blame, slavery might have taken less time to wither on the vine. But the antagonism between North and South kept feeding the vine of slavery.

You might say that the use of armed force to ensure that black Americans were given their rights did not end until the 1950's, when federal troops once again invaded the South. This alone might convince one that in THIS case, because of the antagonism between sections of the country, armed force was needed to free others.

Boudreaux's example of the

Boudreaux's example of the shipyard is vulnerable to the same principal-agent critique for wage labor as it is for slavery. He himself admits that there's an inherent moral hazard problem resulting from the nature of the production process itself, regardless of the form taken by labor-relations. And even under wage-labor, there's a direct conflict between the owner's desire for the highest feasible level of effort and output by the welder, and the welder's disutility from that effort.

"So I think the question is

"So I think the question is a non-starter."

But nonetheless relevant to those who maintain that war is necessary for freeing others.

>Hummel stated that, first

>Hummel stated that, first of all, if the Civil War would prove to be >necessary to end slavery, then he would find it worth its great costs in >economy and freedom. He then, however, went on to state why he didn’t >think it was necessary.

Any reputable historian will tell you that the Civil War was not started to end slavery. The war was begun, depending on which side you were on, either to divide or to preserve the Union. The fear that the Republicans would limit and seek to end "the peculiar institution," however, was the efficient cause of the secession of the Southern states and the formation of the Confederacy. Even up to the battle of Antietam, the war could have ended, and the Union restored, without slavery being abolished. After January, 1863, and the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery became directly entangled with defeating the Confederacy.

I believe that the people of the Union became far more comfortable with the idea of abolition as the war with the Confederacy became less of a picnic and more of a death-struggle. The Northerners would have seen it in more apocalyptic terms, coming to share the point of view of the abolitionists.

So I think the question is a non-starter. "Could" slavery have been abolished without war? Very possibly. But in this case, it wasn't. Blaming Lincoln for beginning a war to end slavery is missing the historical facts. If one does not think he should have fought to keep the Southern states in the Union, that is another matter.

Keep in mind also that no one on either the Union or Confederate sides could have foreseen the bloodbath that was in store. To say that Lincoln or anyone else should have taken other action "because it would have worked out so much better another way" is to engage in speculation and Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Jim Glass has a post that's

Jim Glass has a post that's worth reading on this topic. The short version: anyone who claims that it would have been cheaper to buy up all the slaves is forgetting about basic supply and demand, because once the government started buying up slaves the market price would shoot up. Come on guys, you're supposed to be sharper than this!

"The spurious “cruelty”

"The spurious “cruelty” argument cuts both ways. Neither side’s army was any more or any less “moral” than the other."

I just find myself skeptical of this statement on its face. What are the chances that two armies, with different leaders, fighting with different tactics, for different purposes, would reveal the same level of "morality?"

Barry P., > You’re right.

Barry P.,

> You’re right. It was completely unnecessary for the South to attack
> the Federal army at Fort Sumter. But they chose to do so, and as
> such, they reaped the just rewards of that aggression.

Have you ever taken a look to see where Fort Sumter is located (hint,
it's located right outside of one of the main ports in the Confederacy,
and over 100 miles from the nearest Union state), or taken a look into
what they were doing there that got the Confederacy to attack them?
If the British had held a fort just outside of New York harbor, and
were refusing to recognize the independence of the US, and was forcing
them to pay Brittish tarriffs, what do you think America's reaction
would have been, and in your opinion would it have been justified?
If the US had attacked such a Brittish fort (hypothetical example),
would Brittain invading the US, burning several cities to the ground,
and generally carrying on like war criminals be considered by your
logic to be fighting a defensive war?

> The spurious “cruelty” argument cuts both ways. Neither side’s army
> was any more or any less “moral” than the other.

I beg to differ. The South didn't go about the North burning cities
to the ground, destroying farms, killing livestock, raping people,
etc. Sure, they *did* at one point in the war start invading the
Union territories (which was interestingly enough pretty much the
point where they lost the war, IMO), and invasions and aggressive
wars of any sort are immoral. However, I have a hard time comparing
what the South did to what the North did. Particularly during for
example "Sherman's March to the Sea".

> The point is this, though: pretty much every war in human history can
> be shown, in hindsight, to have been economically unnecessary. Yet we
> still feel the need to fight them.

Yeah, it's disturbing, no? I think one of the big problems is that
almost everyone thinks that their war will be the exception, that
their war will be the noble crusade, that their war is just. The
fact that Nazi Germany marched into many banners under the motto of
"Got Mit Uns" (God is with us) is nowhere near as uniquely ironic as
it ought to be.

~Jon

Barry P: note, however, that

Barry P: note, however, that the German economic system of 1939 could not properly be called capitalist. IG Farben was certainly not subject to market incentives.

As for the claim that

As for the claim that slavery as used in the United States (i.e., primarily for cotton harvesting) would have faded from use by 1900, I can imagine how that is possible. Before the cotton gin, it appeared that slavery would die for lack of usefulness. And I would believe that the cost of having purchased all the individuals enslaved and freeing them was less than that of the Civil War. The conflict, however, was not over whether those people would be free, but whether the federal government could tell slave holders that they may not, as a matter of law, own another person. While many slaveholders would have taken the money, I find it doubtful that they would accept a law that forbade them from ever practicing their peculiar institution, especially given how these same individuals chose to treat former slaves and their descendants after they were freed.

Brian - I imagine that a self-slaving contract would look a lot like a contract for involuntary servitude as taken by many Irish to come to the U.S. I suspect, however, that the 'seller' would ask for stiffer enforcement mechanisms for the termination of the contract than the original contractors had.:deal:

1. Clearly, Trent, by the

1. Clearly, Trent, by the standards of people like Ghertner, Tom Palmer, et al., your question shows that are a neo-confederate apologist for racism and slavery. (Of course, I'm being sarcastic.)

2. " If tomorrow Congress pased a law that made the practice of slavery legal"

Well, I am not aware of any law that bans it now, other than the 13th amendment itself. So I assume you mean, if we were to repeal the 13th amendment. In this case slavery would still not be "legal"--I assume most if not all states would adopt criminal law outlawing slavery... in fact, I would assume that existing criminal law prohibits it already--to enslave someone you need to kidnap and assault them. Which are already illegal.

I wonder how many of the old

I wonder how many of the old antislavery laws are still on the books in Northern states? I mean, if ancient sodomy & blasphemy laws can remain, I wonder what else is hidden in the dark recesses of state codes...

Stephan brings up a point in that slavery as it was done in the day (kidnapping & forcible enslavement) would not be legal due to the effects of other laws (people are free prior to enslavement so to enslave would require illegal acts aside from slavery itself). It wouuld then seem to require 2 things:

1. Making sure there is no statutory prohibition to slavery where you're doing 'business', and
2. Developing a market/industry for slavery/slaves that is consistent with existing laws against interpersonal aggression. In other words you'd have to find some initial population of people willing to sell themselves into slavery and then proceed.

A question would then rise as to whether the children of slaves would themselves be slaves- could the enslaved position be heritable? My intuition on this would be no, given the general abolition of inherited and explicit class-based legal privileges or disabilities (as opposed to inherited wealth & social networks which can indirectly result in legal privileges as a matter of course), a child would not inherit the legal disability of his or her parent(s) and be like any other child in legal standing. So the slave industry could not 'naturally' grow it's stock, but rather continually have need of inticing free people into enslaving themselves.

I wonder what a contract for slavery would even look like?

This was something I had not

This was something I had not ever really considered before. When thinking about slavery, liberty, and government before, I had always in my mind held myself to the fact that war was necessary to end slavery.

I too was stunned when I came to this conclusion. I came to it primarily through looking at Lincoln if he were a modern president and by reading Thomas DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln." Lincoln crushed freedom of the press, freedom of secession, federalism, the right to bear arms as well as outright imprisoning legistlators who voted against him. Looking at Lincoln in a modern lens reveals his flaws: if you didn't like Clinton or Bush because of what they did in office, you would hate Lincoln.

Not only this, but just as everyone jokes: "the Civil War wasn't about slavery." Slavery was PART of it, but it was by no means sufficient or necessary for the Civil War to occur. The notes you read about all the other countries peacefully abolishing slavery (and that capitalism was the primary mover of this) are correct. The "it would have been cheaper just to pay off the slave owners" theory is correct as well.

The end of slavery was the one and only good byproduct of the Civil War. But the Civil War was not necessary to end slavery, nor even the best way. Would Britain have been justified to invade the United States in 1855 under the princple that we were a tyrannical nation who enslaved millions of our own citizens?

If you ever want to know the real purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation, remember this: it did not free slaves being held in Northern territories. According to Federal US law in 1864, slaves in the "rebel territories" were free, but their comrades who slaved for Northern masters (of which there were some) were not. Certainly, the Emancipation Proclamation was a good thing -- freeing slaves is always good. But to Lincoln it was a calculated effort to create slave uprisings in the south.

I apologize for sidestepping your question, and only talking about the post in general. :)

In this case slavery would still not be “legal"–I assume most if not all states would adopt criminal law outlawing slavery…

This is an important point. The anti-slavery amendments are legally superfluous. Any reading of the Bill of Rights (even to those in 1776 and 1860) clearly outlines the rights of ALL citizens, black or white.

I think the question is irrelevant because legalizing slavery would be incompatible with the way our society is currently constructed. Since no slaves remain, how would we provide a legal mechanism for free people to enter slavery without destroying the rest of our legal system? I think the greatest failure of the founding fathers was not destroying slavery (as many wanted to) at the outset of the United States, through direct compensation if necessary.

"Jim Glass has a post

"Jim Glass has a post that’s worth reading on this topic. "

I certainly appreciate that thought, thank you very much!

But to clarify that post in light of the rather different discussion here, there I was just commenting on a particular method of calculating the cost of buying the freedom of all the slaves, thinking it rather seriously understates the cost.

That said, nearly any imaginable monetary price paid to avert the war would, in hidsight, have been a much better deal than fighting the war, certainly. But that doesn't mean that any monetary deal was imaginable.

It really just doesn't seem even remotely credible that circa 1859 Northern taxpayers would pony up a MASSIVE transfer payment to the South to free the slave while keeping the South whole -- so the entire cost of slavery would wind up being incurred by the North while the South benefitted! What Northern politician was going to propose that??

And *if* the North had proposed it the South would never, ever have accepted. The South was defending a *way of life*, a *culture* -- one of the reasons they tried to bolt from the Union was because they were afraid the North *would* try to impose some such deal to contain slavery and move it towards its end.

Also remember that the North didn't march off to war to end slavery, but to preserve the union. Precious few northern soldiers would have fought to end slavery in 1860.

Grant in his memoirs even said it was good that the North bungled the war so badly at its start, because if it had won as quickly as it should have slavery would NOT have been ended as the result. That's not what he North was fighting for then. The South would just have been kept in the Union with the slavery issue continuing to fester.

The observation that a money settlement (or some other reasoned settlement made of good will) would have been a lot cheaper than a major war is almost always trivially true. But that doesn't imply it was at all possible.

Japan would have been a lot better off making a deal with the US over its oil supplies in 1941, but it had other priorities and so did we. One might say a libertarian solution to our differences would have been much, much better, but Japan's goals in China were not libertarian inspired and neither was our response.

Wars occur when people have other priorities. Slave owners didn't have much of a libertarian point of view and neither did Northerners who wanted to keep the south in the Union at the point of a gun. They all had other priorities.

Could he Civil War in 1860 have been avoided if people played history differently? Maybe. Then you would have had one whole lot of slaves in the US for a good long time after. Something surely would have to give -- but would a "gradualist" political-economic solution have left the US with apartheid into the 1970s or 80s? (Considering that we had "separate but equal" into the 1960s as is.) What would have been the cost of that?

There was no easy fix to the slavery problem. If there was, Jefferson and Franklin and those guys would have found it.

Trent McBride, I have some

Trent McBride,

I have some expertise in this field (having done slave history at one point in my life in graduate school), so I will lend it to your comments.

He claimed (and I have no idea on the veracity of this claim, but will take it at face value for the purposes here) that at around the beginning of the 19th Century almost the entire world practiced slavery, and by the end of it the whole world had abolished it.

That's true in the Americas (mostly), but slavery ended officially in Nigeria in 1936. Keep in mind that slave-like legal regimes existed in numerous Latin American countries well into the 20th century.

Interestingly, only two countries, the US and Haiti, had to endure massive civil-war level violence to see it end.

That's also wrong. The Spanish Americas were riven with warfare and violence over the issue. For example, Bolivar and his allies only saw significant success when they enlisted slaves to fight for them by granting them their freedom in return. Its not often acknowledged bu the Latin American independence movement was in large measure built on a massive, if directed, slave revolt. Cuba experienced a bloody civil war in the 1870s and 1880s that itself turned into a slave revolt.

Lesser, but still bloody, slave rebellions preceded the abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean as well. Indeed, it was the rebellion in Jamaica in 1831 that was the final stroke which convinced the Reform Parliament to end slavery in the colonies. This rebellion had been preceded by rebellions in Barbados and Trinidad, both of which were quite bloody and took significant effort put down.

I like to always stress to people that slaves are invariably involved in their own freedom by pushing those with the power to free them to act. This is often a conscious act, but it is still an important factor.

In addition, it required large subsidies (in the form of enforced fugitive slave laws, etc.) to slave-holders from non-owners to keep the institution going.

That may be the case, but there are all sorts of modern industries that get large subsidies which would likely survive without them. Think about the airline industry for example. Plus one must note that you are talking about something that is almost unique to the U.S. (having a bi-furcated society). On the far more profitable sugar islands the need for such laws were not as intense because the white society as a rule policed the movements of slaves whether they owned the slave or not. In Bridgetown, Barbados in the 18th century, for example, it was quite common for groups of whites check the papers of every black man they met. This sort of behavior was common in Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba, and of course in the American South.

Note that between 3,000-5,000 slaves a year between 1820-1860 "leaked" out of the Southern states (the South was the 19th century equivalent of East Germany in its own way - a virtual police state for the slaves). I've always wondered how many would have "leaked" out if a permanent national border - with all that entails - had been thrown up between the CSA and the USA.

Thus, slavery would have inevitably ended peacefully (when compared to the Civil War) in the US in a relatively short amount of time (obviously not short enough if you were a slave). [Certainly, the War was necessary to end slavery in 1865, but not necessary to end it by, say, 1900].

Given that most slave societies have ended with some sort of violence I'd say he is fooling himself. Look at Orlando Patterson's survey of slave societies in Slavery and Social Death and you'll see that a constant theme re: the end of slave societies is some sort of bloodshed.

Note also that years of post-emancipation prejudice - generally generational in nature - are also common. Indeed, that is part of Patterson's basic thesis; that it takes time for the "socially dead" to come back to life.

Anyway, needless to say the guy's conclusions are totally unrealistic from a historical perspective.

But even on purely economic grounds, capitalism rejects slavery because slaves are productive only when doing very simple tasks that can easily be monitored.

Wrong. This guy is preaching against agout fifty years of historical research in this area. One need look no further than the quite complex systems of canals and waterworks created by slaves in Louisiana and the low-country of South Carolina to see what sort of crap this claim is. Slaves also provided much of the city labor in Southern cities. They were employed as architects, as unsupervised day laborers, as unsupervised street merchants, etc.

Also, there’s very little damage he can do if he chooses to sabotage the cotton-picking operation.

Wrong again. It was quite common for slaves to perform work slow downs or even strikes on occassions to force masters to act on their desires. Slaves were not dumb brutes as this person implies, they used what abilities they had to shape the world around them, create their own culture and religion, and their own economy, outside the control of their masters. I am not painting some paradise here, just stating that slaves and slave life were far more than what this author appears to remotely appreciate.

...than to operate your expensive, complicated, easily sabotaged factory with slaves.

Yet slaves did work in Southern factories; indeed, they worked even in armories (some of the most complex work one could do in the 19th century).

What have here is what actually happened clashing with what someone wished had happened.

Capitalism exterminated slavery. Almost everything that Boudreaux and Hummel addressed I find to be true.

You find it to be true because you don't know much about the subject I am afraid. Robert Fogel sometime ago (and he won a Nobel Prize in economics for doing I might add) demonstrated that as of 1860 slavery in the U.S. was hardly on its last legs. It was, to be blunt, roaring. The price of cotton, sugar, etc., were at all time highs, and slave trading itself (the internal domestic market) was raking in lots of money. Furthermore, by 1860 one of the most successful slave-societies (from an economic view point) had just found its sea-legs, and by this I mean Cuba. It would introduce a level industrial and technological capacity (and by this I mean all the advances in sugar technology seen at the time, as well as railroads, etc.) never seen before in a commodity producing country and do so with slaves as its primary labor source.

Slavery wasn't killed by capitalism (at least not directly), legislation and violence killed it.

:wall:

muckraker, Its a common

muckraker,

Its a common misconception - taught to people until this day in American public schools - that the gin saved slavery, but it didn't. Slavery was still quite profitable before the gin came about; it was profitable not due to tobacco but due to the growing of foodstuffs - wheat for a hungry Europe being a mainstay. Rice was also or to become important in lowland Georgia and South Carolina.

Of course its also a common misconception that Eli Whitney invented a gun with interchangeable parts too. When Whitney's guns were taken apart and exchanged, they weren't interchangeable at all. John R. Hall was the inventor of such a gun. And no one ever remembers the poor bastard.

If you want to read more, see:

Merrit Roe Smith, Harper's Ferry Armory and the New Technology: The Challenge of Change.

Johnathan Goff, Actually,

Johnathan Goff,

Actually, CSA troops did pillage, etc. Indeed, there were numerous incidents where free blacks were found in Pennslyvania or Maryland and seized by CSA soldiers and "sent down river." Trying to play up the CSA as innocents is quite ahistorical.

Matt McIntosh,

The British government "bought" the slaves from its subjects that owned slaves. They paid a flat, pre-determined fee though.

Anyway, what killed slavery in the British colonies was two things: (a) what always had undermined sugar colonies in the past - soil erosion, etc. and the (b) ending of the slave trade.

These points need some elaboration. With regard to (a), note that environmental factors had done in slave based sugar colonies since they were first founded by Westerners in the Levant shortly after the Crusades. You can follow a line of them as they failed right across the globe; and this failure was due in large part to decreasing productive of the soil; sugar is brutal on the soil and until modern farming techniques came into being, moving on was the best option after a time. First the Levant, then Cyprus, then Sicily, then southern Spain, then Atlantic European islands, then into the Caribbean. As one fails production is picked up in another.

Now, regarding (b), the only way that the British replenished their slave population was by importation (that the South's population was self-sustaining was quite unique and only equaled by Brazil and Barbados in the very latter stages of those latter slave regimes) - without enough slaves to work in the grueling, grinding heat, working conditions (the life of a sugar plantation slave was horrendous - seven years was the average life expectancy off the boat - they were in many instances worked to death) such a society eventually eats itself alive.

Maraurice Fontz,

As a point of interest, James McPherson notes (you may know him from Battlecry of Freedom) in one of his more recent books that the letters of Union soldiers were abundantly filled with statements about the desire of Union soldiers to free the slaves.

Anyway, why the war started is a complicated matter. Part of it was indeed due to Southern paranoia over the election of Lincoln (which had been fed by years of paranoid rantings about the power of the abolitionists - who were never as powerful as Southern fire eaters portrayed them to be). Much of it - in reaction to the South's actions - certainly was due to a desire to save the Union. But slavery was indeed part of it, and by the end of the war, it was the reason that the Union continued to fight it.

Jim Glass,

You are quite correct of course; there was more to the issue than economics. When a way of life is threatened, people often react to protect it, even if it is not "rationale" to do so. One can note that most of the defenses of slavery between 1820-1860 in the South were not economic they were moral or cultural arguments, or even arguments from biology. When economics did enter the frame it was a means to argue about the "gentle" and "paternalistic" nature of the slavery regime as opposed to free labor.

You know, I am sorry if that

You know, I am sorry if that was all a bit much. Its hard for me condense thousands of books, articles, primary sources, etc. into a couple of blog entries.

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Gotta love that corny old

Gotta love that corny old line that the Civil War "wasn't really about slavery, it was really about 'states' rights' or 'economic issues.'"
Bullshit.
What "states' rights" were they fighting about?
The right to own slaves.
What "economic issues" were they fighting about?
An economy based on slavery can't compete with a non-slave, free-market economy.
The Civil War, you could say, was fought over slavery and its repercussions.
But to say it "wasn't really about slavery" is to make up weak, deceitful excuses in a vain attempt to save the honor of dead, defeated, damned racist slaveholders.
:behead:

Interesting stuff, Gary.

Interesting stuff, Gary. Thanks for sharing it with us.