71 thoughts on “So It Was the Tariff, After All … Right?

  1. jfepperson June 26, 2013 / 6:38 am

    I would compose a reply, but I am knee-deep in mathematical copy editing 😦

  2. Talmadge Walker June 26, 2013 / 6:40 am

    “However, those debates were met with such Southern hostility that the South seceded before the act was passed.”
    LOL
    I once did a word search on the 4 (SC, GA, MS, TX) Declarations of Secession that were issued by Southern states. The word “tariff” never occurs in any of them. “Tax” occurs once, but it’s in reference to a tax on slaves in the GA document. “Slave” (including “slavery,” “Slave-holding,” etc.) occurs 80+ times. If the tariff was the issue of the day how come they hardly ever talked about it?

    • Ken Noe June 26, 2013 / 9:46 am

      William Freehling and Craig Simpson edited the Georgia secession debates. Since it lacks an index, I once did a similar word search using the incomplete Google version and found in the speeches:

      tariff 5
      tariffs 1
      slave 43
      slaves 38
      slavery 45

    • Bob Huddleston June 26, 2013 / 9:57 am

      Years ago I challenged a blogger to show me where the states attempting secession used “tariffs” as a reason. He finally found one reference at the bottom of a laundry list of “if slavery wasn’t enough.” Of course to him, that made Tariff the predominant cause!

  3. jfepperson June 26, 2013 / 6:43 am

    I was pleased to find that most of the comments on that piece echoed my own, and one even cited my website.

  4. Jimmy Dick June 26, 2013 / 6:49 am

    I love the comments from other historians on the Forbes site as well as on the blogosphere and twitterverse. Mark Cheatum has an outstanding takedown using facts and figures on his website, Jacksonian America, http://jacksonianamerica.com/2013/06/25/were-tariffs-the-cause-of-the-civil-war/ .
    My personal opinion is that I wouldn’t trust Marotta with my money if he can’t do any real research of his own as shown in this hack job.
    It reeks of the Mises Institute and Thomas DiLorenzo.

    • John Foskett June 29, 2013 / 11:05 am

      That it does. And it’s as well-researched as DiLorenzo’s junk science.

  5. Brad June 26, 2013 / 6:54 am

    This was discussed earlier this month in the Times’ Disunion series.

  6. Betty Giragosian June 26, 2013 / 7:14 am

    Brooks, at last!!!!!! I could not have said it better myself. I am not amused or frustrated. I am delighted that finally someone with good sense has written this. Let me go back and thank this brilliant thinker!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing, Brooks–

    • Michael Confoy June 26, 2013 / 1:22 pm

      Sure, he shows his brilliance on Constitutional issues with his article “Government Officials Should Not Be Allowed to Plead the Fifth.”

  7. John Foskett June 26, 2013 / 7:18 am

    Forbes should go back to hiring people who can acrually read for comprehension. As in reading the letters and addresses of the Secession Commissioners in 1860-61. The must have been keeping the “real reason” from their audiences – perhaps because they thought the easier sell was the “Black Republican” assault on their “institutions”?

    • SF Walker June 28, 2013 / 4:24 pm

      I wonder what kind of money a staff writer at Forbes gets? I may have just found someone promising to send my resume to. I’m at least as qualified to write about history as Marotta is.

  8. Joshism June 26, 2013 / 8:22 am

    I think that financial planner should leave history to historians.

  9. Jerry Desko June 26, 2013 / 8:33 am

    I think more people should read the ordinances of secession. Several reasons are presented but the S word had something to do with it.

  10. Chuck June 26, 2013 / 10:11 am

    Egads.

  11. Andy Hall June 26, 2013 / 12:59 pm

    Marotta writes, “slavery was actually on the wane.” Um, not in my state, where the enslaved population more than tripled in a single decade, between the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

  12. Reed June 26, 2013 / 1:19 pm

    Tariff or no tariff, The War for Southern Independence was fought between the United States of America, where slavery was perfectly legal, and the Confederate States of America, where slavery was perfectly legal. How preposterous, how utterly ludicrous and laughably absurd it then becomes, when one side to tries to condemn the other side for practicing slavery. Pot, meet kettle.

    • Mark June 26, 2013 / 2:37 pm

      Well, then those white southerners must have been some kind of stupid to insist on secession in that case.

  13. Reed June 26, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    Are you saying that slavery was illegal in Kentucky? And Maryland? And Missouri?

    • John Foskett June 27, 2013 / 3:57 pm

      What on earth does that have to do with the article? The thesis is that secession was caused by the Tariff, not by Southern fears about what Lincoln intended for slavery. Everything that the Secession Commissioners said to persuade the holdouts to the north to join them was based on the slavery issue – not on the Tariff. This is actually pretty easy.

  14. Brad June 26, 2013 / 7:17 pm

    I hope he does better research for his clients than he did on this piece.

  15. guitarmandanga June 26, 2013 / 9:02 pm

    Saying the tariff issue was the main rationale behind secession seems to be roughly akin to listening to two guys at a honky-tonky bar talk for four hours about country music, with one brief side-mention—for the sake of argument, let’s say it lasts fifteen minutes—about how some country music artists are partnering with rap musicians…and then telling someone else that the conversation centered on rap music.

  16. guitarmandanga June 26, 2013 / 9:10 pm

    It shouldn’t be surprising, though, that a business magazine would boil down the cause of the war to a business-related matter; that’s their m.o., after all. Hard-nosed business types typically don’t have the time or the patience for the role of more amorphous factors in human affairs; “the bottom line is the bottom line.”

    • John Foskett June 29, 2013 / 11:09 am

      then these nitwits should have commissioned somebody to do an article on the economics of slavery, instead of resorting to fabrication.

  17. SF Walker June 28, 2013 / 6:04 am

    Why does this not surprise me? I remember folks like Marotta from college, who majored in business and finance. In my experience, they were usually the ones you saw stumbling out of frat houses to throw up every other night (I seem to remember lots of marketing guys in this bunch, too.) The people I knew who actually studied in college were mostly history, biology, math, pre-med, and chemistry majors.

  18. rcocean June 28, 2013 / 3:34 pm

    Pathetic article. But for “Forbes” history only matters as a way to make money. By pushing the “See Tariffs are so bad they even caused the Civil war” – it supports the current Big Business love of “Free Trade”. It reminds me of Johnny McCain in 2008 blaming Smoot-Hawley for the Great Depression AND WWII.

    Next Week, the New York times will discover tariffs cause cancer and bad breath.

    • SF Walker June 28, 2013 / 4:17 pm

      You’d think that someone like McCain could’ve paid someone to do better homework for him than that. Anyone who’s seen Ben Stein’s scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off knows that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act didn’t cause the Great Depression.

  19. rcocean June 28, 2013 / 3:40 pm

    If the tariff caused the Civil war, why did LA secede? The Sugar growers in LA were the BIGGEST beneficiaries of the tariff. And of course, all the southern manufactures also benefited from the tariff, and did the producers of cotton goods. But of course, the idea that 600,000 were willing to die over a small tax is absurd. Even more absurd, is that having SUPPOSEDLY seceded over the tariff, none of the Southern leaders would’ve mentioned it. Instead all they discussed was Slavery. And one wonders why Lincoln was always playing with compensated emancipation when he just could have lowered the tariff a few percent.

    • John Foskett June 29, 2013 / 8:04 am

      I’ve been waiting for somebody to make that point about La. As you indicate, the Tariff had nothing to do with secession. That’s why nobody at the time said it did.

  20. rcocean June 29, 2013 / 3:04 am

    “Hard-nosed business types typically don’t have the time or the patience for the role of more amorphous factors in human affairs; “the bottom line is the bottom line.”

    Which is why they usually make much bad politicians and offer such bad advice on everything except on how to make money. I’m currently reading a history of Ford Motor company and evidently all the “hard-nosed” business types were 100% sure Ford/GM/Chrysler were going to be selling millions of cars to the USSR after WW II. It made sense, if you just just ignore all that “communist political nonsense” and think “pragmatically”.

  21. Reed June 29, 2013 / 2:17 pm

    The tariff question is simply representative of the larger economic issues. More specifically, the Southern economy was perfectly self-sustaining, and it’s agricultural products were in great demand in the world economy(as evidenced that by 1860, cotton alone accounted for nearly 60% of all U.S. exports). By comparison, the Northern economy produced very little that the world needed or wanted. The South States had reached the point where they genuinely and sincerely realized that a continued political association with the North meant a heavy economic burden, and that political independence meant dramatically increased economic prosperity.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 29, 2013 / 8:02 pm

      An export economy is by definition not self-sustaining. Ask Great Britain what the North produced that it imported. Try foodstuffs. And please show us examples of this southern way of thought in the secession debates.

    • Jimmy Dick June 30, 2013 / 8:08 am

      If the South’s economy was self sustaining then the tariff wouldn’t have had any impact on the South since a self sustaining economy has no need of imports. Your argument fails. King Cotton failed. If you want an example of how volatile an agricultural based economy is watch the national grain markets over the next year. Apparently grain prices took a heavy hit on Friday because the crop is expected to be a bumper year and the prices are falling.
      Traditionally when the economy is good, ag prices hurt. I think we’re looking at the 80s type situation all over again.

    • SF Walker June 30, 2013 / 8:17 am

      If the Southern economy had been perfectly self-sustaining, they’d have had no qualms about a higher tariff, because they wouldn’t have had to import European manufactured goods—and the Union blockade and capture of Confederate ports wouldn’t have had such a dramatic impact. Prior to the war, the South had to import everything from paper currency to sewing needles from either Europe or the North.

      The South didn’t even produce all the food that it consumed. Before the war, Tennessee and Mississippi were largely fed by produce coming from the Northern midwest. The loss of this source was acutely felt after the war broke out.

      Southern farms may have been capable of feeding the whole region, but cotton was the major cash crop; thus a higher priority was placed on growing it. The South was basically an undiversified economy that was supported by the export of cotton and tobacco.

    • Mike Musick June 30, 2013 / 1:16 pm

      Here is what Methodist backwoods preacher Peter Cartwright (born in Amherst Co., Va., in 1785, and raised in Ky.) had to say in his autobiography (1856), pp. 157-158, about what he experienced as the background for an impending dissolution of the Union. He compares Methodism in the South in 1816 with 1856, and echoes the views of others who lived through the period. The significance of the tariff seems to have eluded him:

      “….it is a notorious fact, that all the preachers from the slaveholding states denounced slavery as a moral evil….I do not recollect a single Methodist preacher, at that day, that justified slavery. But O, how have times changed!

      Methodist preachers in those days made it a matter of conscience not to hold their fellow-creatures in bondage, if it was practicable to emancipate them, conformably to the laws of the state in which they lived. Methodism increased and spread; and many Methodist preachers, taken from comparative poverty, not able to own a negro, and who preached loudly against it, improved, and became popular among slaveholders; and many of them married into those slaveholding families, and became personally interested in slave property, (as it is called.) Then they began to apologize for the evil; then to justify it, on legal principles; then on Bible principles; till lo and behold! it is not an evil, but a good! it is not a curse, but a blessing! till really you would think, to hear them tell the story, if you had the means, and did not buy a good lot of them, you would go to the devil for not enjoying the labor, toil, and sweat of this degraded race, and all this without rendering them any equivalent whatever!

      ….If agitation must succeed agitation, strife succeed strife, compromise succeed compromise, it will end in a dissolution of this blessed Union, civil war will follow, and rivers of human blood stain the soil of our happy country.

  22. Reed June 30, 2013 / 10:09 am

    At the close of 1859, the value of Southern exports was 254% of the value of Northern exports. It is therefore worth repeating that the South had a perfectly self-sustaining economy whose products were in great global demand. The Northern economy, by contrast and as those numbers starkly reveal, had little the global markets wanted or needed, and hence the tariff issue resurfaced. The North, it is compellingly clear, was an inferior competitor in global markets and desperately needed protection from global competitors. The South, however, was the dominant competitor in its markets, and needed no protection. And if the crisis of 1828, with its threats of nullification, secession, and armed resistance, was somehow not evidence enough to demonstrate that the tariff was a source of Southern dissatisfaction and potential disunion, the above referenced trade figures put the matter beyond dispute. As an example of the overall hostility and resentment the Southerners felt towards the renewed efforts of the North to pass tariff laws, Texas Congressman John Reagan, on January 15 1861, two weeks before Texas seceded, addressed the issue:

    “You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue laws,…and by making your people our manufacturers..you are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay to build up your great cities, your railroads…

    So again, it is quite clear that the tariff issue was among the principal reasons for the level of hostility among Southerners,, as well as a principal reason the Southern States seceded. The Southerners, plain and simple, did not need the North, They wanted, deserved, and were entitled to, political independence.

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 30, 2013 / 2:47 pm

      I am sure you believe this. But you might want to read about how a tariff functions. Hint: import tariffs do not address global markets. Of course, if the Confederacy had a self-sustaining economy, then it need not have worried about the blockade.

      But I see that you agree that slavery was prosperous and profitable. You realize that the article in question argues otherwise.

    • John Foskett July 1, 2013 / 6:44 am

      “as well as a principal reason the Southern States seceded”. Actually, it must have been the secret reason. You appear to have at least basic reading skills. How about reading the correspondence and communications of the Secession Commissioners. Then summarize the arguments which they made to their as-yet unseceded brethren for secession.

  23. Reed June 30, 2013 / 3:37 pm

    “High protection for agricultural commodities in the form of tariffs continues to be
    the major factor restricting world trade”

    Click to access aer796.pdf

    • Brooks D. Simpson June 30, 2013 / 8:30 pm

      Read what you posted and then detail the high tariffs that the United States government placed on agricultural imports and which section of the country produced those goods. Hint: start with sugar.

      Then discuss why one imposes tariffs (as in the word “address”), whether those who impose them are interested in global markets (hint: are advocates of higher import tariffs interested in the global markets for exports?), and the impact of American tariffs on American agricultural exports at the time of the Civil War. Also explore the origins of the American free trade movement and where its advocates resided.

    • Jimmy Dick June 30, 2013 / 8:33 pm

      Yes, you are correct in this assessment. However, the tariff of 1857 protected the South’s exports. They weren’t arguing about that. What they didn’t like was the tariff on imports that they wanted. However, as we know from studying the primary source documents, the tariff was not the issued that caused secession.
      It looks like you are advancing the free trade argument that is a modern day development to the Lost Cause. The two are separate. The free trade argument for our current economies is not relevant to the Civil War.

  24. rcocean June 30, 2013 / 7:42 pm

    It should be noted that like “Reed” many Southerners thought growing and exporting cotton and tobacco was the best of all possible worlds. Sadly, for them the global market adjusted. In 1860 Cotton was 10 cents a pound, in 1902 it was 7.2 cents a pound. In 1860 the South got about $200 million for its cotton, in 1900 it got $240 million. This despite cotton production almost doubling. The Cotton growers had pretty much hit the top of their revenue curve in 1860, only they didn’t know it. Its the main reason the South fell further and further behind the North in per capita wealth in the 1865-1900 time-frame. Putting all your money in cotton and slave was dumb long term investment. But don’t tell us a “Lost causer” that. It was that fault of General Sherman, why he burned every house in Georgia!

  25. chancery June 30, 2013 / 8:29 pm

    Forbes has deleted Marotta’s post, as well as a follow-up praising certain provisions of the Confederate constitution.

    Both posts can still be found on Marotta’s own site, http://www.marottaonmoney.com. [Brooks, you might want to update the links in the OP.]

    Marotta’s site also contains a post in reply to his critics, in which a dubious quote from President Lincoln and copious extracts from the memoirs of Jefferson Davis are used to confound Marotta’s critics and explode current historical scholarship on the causes of the civil war.

    Professor Cheathem at http://jacksonianamerica.com/ is the only blogger I’ve found so far who is keeping up with the needed intellectual garbage disposal (to borrow a phrase from the worthy and doughty Brad Delong).

    • Jimmy Dick July 1, 2013 / 7:16 am

      Since Marotta is not a historian he fails miserably in his choice of Davis’s memoirs. Compare what is in those memoirs and other Confederate apologist writing from 1865 onward with what they were writing in 1860-1864. It is blatantly obvious what the difference is. A historian understands this. Someone like Marotta who is only trying to justify their beliefs does not understand this.

      I am glad Forbes pulled the articles, but they shouldn’t have posted them in the first place. I think the fact that a lot of historians called Marotta out publicly had something to do with this.

    • John Foskett July 1, 2013 / 3:36 pm

      Looks like he is indeed out of the DiLorenzo/Mises Institute school of selectively culling material out of context to support his own idiosyncratic views. Similar to DiLorenzo’s article a few years ago about the Tariff and the 1860 election/Republican “agenda” which had a solitary footnote and simply misread or distorted the 1860 party platforms on several issues.

      • Jimmy Dick July 1, 2013 / 4:15 pm

        I saw the links and the DiLorenzo video on his response in the comments section here. http://www.marottaonmoney.com/jefferson-davis-posthumously-responds-to-our-readers-reactions/ The link is courtesy of Mark Cheatum whose comment was deleted from this page probably because Marotta can’t rebut what Mark says. Marotta is definitely channeling DiLorenzo. You just can’t get these liars to admit they’re wrong. They don’t even understand that they’re wrong. Look how much focus they put on Jefferson Davis’s memoirs while totally ignoring what was said in 1860/61. Typical piss poor pseudo historian trash.
        I would not put one dollar in anything Marotta manages because if his research is this bad imagine what it is going to do for your money.

        • John Foskett July 2, 2013 / 8:50 am

          One of DiLorenzo’s idiotic, agenda-driven conclusions was that the Republicans in 1860 were pushing Big Government boondoggles. Of course, if he had read the platforms of both the Douglas and the Breckenridge wings of the Democratic Party, he would have noticed that both pronoted Federal immersion in a transcontinental railroad.

        • James F. Epperson July 3, 2013 / 6:18 am

          I made a post on Marotta’s blog at about 7 a.m. this morning. It originally showed up as “awaiting moderation.” When I got to work it was gone. I think I am going to send this boy a private email and ream him a new one.

          • chancery July 3, 2013 / 9:27 am

            _Off Topic_

            Mr. Epperson,

            I’ve sent you a couple of emails about broken links on your civilwarcauses.org site, but I guess they’ve been lost in the spam.

            (i) On your “links” page, the link for “Documenting the American South” is broken. The correct link _appears_ to be http://docsouth.unc.edu/.

            (ii) The “Full Index of All Documents” [http://www.civilwarcauses.org/full.html] is broken

            Thanks for creating and maintaining this extraordinary site.

            /_Off Topic_

            I’ve considered pointing Ms. Russell (Mr. Marotta’s daughter) to the link for Jefferson Davis’s Farewell Speech to the U.S. Senate, but why bother …

          • jfepperson July 3, 2013 / 7:34 pm

            Thank you—I will fix them ASAP

  26. Reed June 30, 2013 / 9:52 pm

    At the close of 1859, the Southerners had sent approximately $463,000,000.00 (1859 dollars) worth of produce to the North.Had the South achieved independence, and had the CSA producers decided to shop the global markets with that produce,where, and at what price, does the north get its cotton? Its sugar? Its rice? Who buys their inferior manufactures? And for that matter, what happens when the North lose access to the Mississippi? It can’t be stated frequently enough; the South did not need the North, but the north desperately needed the South.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 1, 2013 / 7:14 am

      Stating incorrect information repeatedly does not make it any more true.

      • Michael Confoy July 1, 2013 / 5:35 pm

        It sure doesn’t. Free labor in the north was smoking slave labor when it came to agricultural production. What a shock that most slaves were considered to be “lazy” and due the minimum amount of work that they could get away with. Double shock that people that got paid and had the beliefs that their labor could lead to bigger and better things in the American dream were more productive.

  27. Reed July 1, 2013 / 9:28 pm

    If by “smoking” you mean ” lagging far behind”, then you are correct. In fact, the 1850 census reveals that Southern slave labor easily and decisively outperformed their free labor competitors. More specifically, and according to geographic region, the South, with 849, 258 person employed in agriculture, produced a total product value of $409,030,077. This correlate to a value of $481.00 per head. Conversely, the Northern numbers were 823,171 person employed in Agriculture who produced a total value of $295,568,699, or a mere $359.00 per hand. The West had 728,123 persons employed in agriculture, produced a total product value of $246,097,028, for a value of $335.00 per head.

    Souther slave labor wins, hands down.Shocker. A real shocker.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 1, 2013 / 9:35 pm

      In short, you agree that the only claim the South has to a superior economic system prior to the American Civil War rests upon the hard work of African Americans. Would you thus please explain what was wrong with southern whites? Were they too lazy, too stupid, or simply incompetent? You’ve already made clear their inferiority, and the only thing remaining is to explain the roots of their worthlessness.

      I appreciate your candor.

      • Michael Confoy July 2, 2013 / 7:11 am

        In “A Great Civil War” by Russell F. Weigley, he presents the following statistics from 1860, Union versus Confederate states:
        North bushels of wheat — 139,816,487, Confederacy — 31,366,894
        North bushels of corn — 549,786,693, Confederacy — 280,665,014
        North bushels of oats — 152,634,280, Confederacy — 19,920,480
        The North slaughtered animals valued at $131,389,352, the South $81,482,301
        Unless the south intended on eating cotton and sugar cane, we can see that when it came to sustaining a population on food, slave labor was not up to the job.

        • Reed July 2, 2013 / 9:19 am

          I notice you now shift your argument, from “agricultural production” to “sustaining a population on food”. I won’t have it. Your argument was specifically that free northern labor was vastly superior to slave labor in “AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION”: those were your exact words. Indeed, your argument was intended to demonstrate that free labor had as its object was the “American Dream” and conversely, that slaves were considered lazy and did the “minimum amount of work they could get away with”. Your arguments were false and easily defeated; Southern slave labor was more efficient and productive, by far.

          • Brooks D. Simpson July 2, 2013 / 8:34 pm

            I see that you stand by your claim that coerced labor is more productive than free labor. This returns us to the question of why southern whites were too lazy to do any work themselves. Why do you think that is so? Was it incompetence or something else?

            Surely you would not want to make the case for the superiority of a labor system based on its ability to exploit laborers so completely as slavery did. One would also have to call into question what you mean by superior.

          • Michael Confoy July 2, 2013 / 9:40 pm

            Like in the Caribbean, sugar cane production by slaves assured an early death. Working slaves to death. Isn’t that what the Germans did in concentration camps?

          • rcocean July 2, 2013 / 11:55 pm

            LA slaves weren’t worked to death. Further, their death rates were no higher than those who grew Cotton. Get a grip. 18th century British Planters sugar growers were much less concerned about slave mortality since they had a steady stream of African slaves. However, even they would’ve preferred to buy 1 slave and work him for 30 years, rather than paying for 5 or 6 slaves over the same timeperiod. That’s why the “working slaves to death” meme never made any sense.

        • Jimmy Dick July 2, 2013 / 10:45 am

          Wonder what condiments went with a side of cotton? Did they fry it? Was there an 1860s Paula Deen back then battering up cotton and deep frying it?
          Let’s see, unless I was mistaken I believe the lack of food was covered during the Gettysburg event Sunday. Of course when the folks who wanted secession were planting cotton instead of food for that great profit things like sustenance get overlooked in the quest for the almighty dollar.

        • Xavier July 2, 2013 / 2:09 pm

          It’s no wonder I’ve never seen Southerners complain about the Midwest “stealing” the reginonal nickname ‘America’s Breadbasket’.

    • Jimmy Dick July 2, 2013 / 6:59 am

      So what were the other 3 million slaves doing in the South? Also, you’re only using agriculture for your assessment. Put in industrial output and the figures change. Earlier you noted that the South produced goods for the North and the North desperately needed them. Sugar? West Indies. Cotton? Same places that Britain and France got it. Shipping goods out of the Heartland? Great Lakes route. The North had alternatives which it used. The South did not have alternatives.
      And let’s not forget that the South produced cotton for your 1850 numerical comparison. No one says it wasn’t profitable. What you’re proving is that slavery was very profitable and why it wasn’t going to vanish anytime soon.

      • E.A. Mayer July 2, 2013 / 12:11 pm

        It seems to me, from looking through the census to try and confirm his numbers of the 849,258 demographic given for the South, that this number, even if correct, would not include slaves. I would like to know exactly where he’s getting that information from. The census document for 1860 “Recapitulation, of the tables of, Population, Nativity and Occupation.” [http://www2.census.gov/prod2/decennial/documents/1860a-15.pdf (pages 662-663 lines 172 and 173)] lists as farmers some 2.4 million farmers and 795,000 as farm laborers both North and South. But it is pretty clear that this does not include slaves as this is concerning occupations of free laborers. So how many slaves should we add to his 849,000 “employed in agriculture” in the South? It is a fair assumption that most slaves worked on agricultural pursuits, so one million, two, or even more? Even if it were only one million, which would probably be rather low, then that would mean that there were actually 1.8 million in the South laboring in agriculture and the per captia productivity of those in the South would then drop precipitously.

    • SF Walker July 4, 2013 / 2:37 am

      In 1850, 75% of the 2.5 million slaves in the South were engaged in the production of cotton alone; that’s considerably more than 849,258. In the North in 1860, only about 40% of the people were employed in agriculture, and they produced the amount of food that Michael has provided the figures for below. The reason for this greater productivity is the use of mechanization on Northern farms, a practice that Southern slavery stifled. Northern food production was even greater when you consider the fact that the growing season is shorter there than it is in the South. And when you add the considerable Northern industrial production to all this…you get the picture.

      Your monetary figures for 1850 have more to do with the world market prices for cotton than they do with slave productivity. And most of this cotton, along with finished cotton goods produced in the North, was exported abroad on Northern-built, Northern-owned ships.

  28. TF Smith July 2, 2013 / 1:04 pm

    Brooks, what passes for the academic heartland of this garbage? Is there actually still a Dunning School?

  29. TF Smith July 3, 2013 / 10:48 am

    Many thanks

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