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Slavery and the United States Economy

Running Head: SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 1
Slavery and the United States Economy
Name
Institution
SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 2
Slavery and the United States Economy
The book Time on the Cross: the economics of American Negro Slavery came into
play to give a completely different and more comprehensive interpretation of the American
history of slavery and the economic effects that it to the economy of the country and the
slaves themselves. Lately, researchers have launched scathing attacks on the reviews through
very many strategic bad reviews that have left the book flawed even though it is still very
important to some readers in the ways it presents the economics of slavery. The major theme
of the book primarily revises the history as well as the economics of slavery while the second
one disputes the existent scientific methods of slave history that were never elaborate.
According to the authors, the economic advantages of slavery in the United States
were numerous and far-reaching contrary to what other authors posited in their writings.
Interestingly, Fogel and Engerman asserts that the negative impacts of the slavery were far
much less vicious on the black culture and the personality of the blacks than it has always
been assumed. It has been always been known to many according to the reservations by many
historians that slavery severely affected the personality of the slaves who were basically
blacks apart from equally severely affecting their culture and their traditions. Contextually,
this is the assertion that did not go well with most scholars majorly those that have been
forced to cast doubts on their knowledge of the same their coaxing them to scathingly attack
the Time on the Cross. Maintaining the above reservations means that according to the joint
authors, slavery was not as immoral as it has been perceived because both the master and the
slave derived convergent economic interest from it. It was just as rational as any other
business enterprise would be because the Negro slaves economically gained from it as their
masters. To support their controversial argument, Fogel and Engerman maintains that in
rational businesses, both the interests of the business owner and those of the worker do
converge erasing any elements of mistreatment that might result. It is the same case with the
SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 3
United States slavery, where the slaves had to work hard to get food and shelter from the
master who invested heavily on such to get value in terms of service or workforce from the
slaves. The two entities existed from the perspective of the master being a rational investor
with the slave as his valuable property, so there was no chance for the rational individual to
brutally mistreat his valued property because in that case, he might end up losing the property
either through death or through escape. Additionally, production might lower because of
protests. The two critically condemned those with the contrary and harsher views of the
slavery saying that they are strategically perverting the history of the blacks. In their view,
these individual sadists are serving to poison the existing race relationship mainly between
the African Americans and the whites by making them think that they were purposefully
mistreated and denied all the cultural development opportunities. The book came at the right
time to help save the situation because of the hard lines that were between the race
interactions a factor that unfavourably segregated people along race directions (Fogel &
Engerman, 1974).
Slavery created the spirit of hard work for the Negro Americans, this worked to
increase their economy tremendously, and that of the new land-United States. The book
typically recounts that the slave fields where the slaves worked and lived were a no lazy area
in that they were always put to work to be very productive both for themselves, the masters
and for the country, which badly wanted the economy to expand through agricultural
production. It is recorded in the book that the slaves were extremely very efficient,
hardworking compared to the white Americans, and this came to their advantage when they
finally won their freedom. They maintained the spirit of the hard work in the fields to helps
raise their economic status and indirectly that of the nation. It is written that the slaves were
the key players during the American industrial revolution and the industrial renaissance. They
provided very cheap and free labor in the industries that were set up in the countries major
SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 4
cities and states that allowed slavery helping the industries to boom and grow tremendously
since there was labor no costs on them. They made maximum profits. The main industry that
gained remarkably from the slave trade was the agricultural production and manufacturing
industries as well as the tobacco industry in the south.
During the time that slavery was a hit in the United States, the economy of the nation
mainly depended on agriculture and agricultural production. Some of the main crops that
were planted in plantation included cotton, tobacco, rice and sugarcane amongst others. Such
plantations were mainly concentrated in the southern states like Virginia, Georgia, Missouri,
and Kentucky where slavery was rampant noting the north had strongly abolished trade. The
farm owners bought the slaves to work on these plantations free of charge. The slaves solved
the problem of the shortage of labor in the region and the cost incurred in labor since it is
recorded that the white laborers were costly to hire since they were protected by the
constitution from any form of mistreatment (Inikori, 1992). Additionally, they could easily
quit working, they were constitutionally mandated to hold strike under poor working
conditions and this had the farm owners to put up with. The slaves proved the best bet that
could provide the much-needed labor at very affordable and manageable cost to this farms
and constituent industries with no legal immunity accorded to them. For this reason, the
industry grew in an unprecedented scales and the agricultural production in the south
surpassed the imagined height leading to a subsequent growth in the economy of the whole
nation. Such growths were mainly witnessed in the south than in north, which had
vehemently abolished slavery on accounts of human rights making the slave be drifted to the
south to work in the available tobacco, rice, maize and sugarcane plantations. The entry of
slaves into the American soil in this context meant that the labor in the country had tangibly
improved, and the plantation owners increased the production of export crops at extremely
very low cost. The result was the increased influx of foreign currencies because of the
SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 5
increased exportation of agricultural products that were produced almost freely. Trade
between America and other countries that consumed its exports across the Atlantic and the
Pacific improved pushing the economy of the country to wholesomely grow unprecedentedly.
Many historians like Roger Ransom have surfaced to support the assertion of the authors that
slavery was not cruelty to the Negro American rather a mutual venture. He argues that the
masters had to treat their property carefully to maximize on the output they realized from
their hard work. According to him, the masters could not extract sufficient labor from the
slaves if they did not accord some security and thus the agricultural and the industrial sectors
could not have realized the recorded tremendous growth and effect to the economy (Morgan,
2000).
In conclusion, it can be noted that slavery was important in all the economic aspects
of the country irrespective of the job or the activity they indulged in. It is true because the
value the slaves produced in the farms in the south and the industries in the north was very
much higher than what the slave owners reportedly paid to own and maintain them. The slave
owners had to maintain a good reputation with the slaves themselves by treating them well,
according to Fogel and Engerman, to get the best out of them. The two maintained that
because slavery was like any other business venture, the owners to protect the property so as
not to lose them citing it is because of this that the effects of slavery were far much less
vicious that had been assumed.
SLAVERY AND THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY 6
References
Fogel, R. W., & Engerman, S. L. (1974). Time on the cross.
Inikori, J. E. (1992). The Atlantic slave trade: Effects on economies, societies, and peoples in
Africa, the Americas, and Europe. Durham [u.a.: Duke Univ. Press.
Morgan, K. (2000). Slavery, Atlantic trade and the British economy: 1660-1800. Cambridge
[u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman (1974) Time on the Cross-: the economics of
American Negro slavery, Little Brown, and Co.

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