How long would Slavery Last in a Victorious Confederacy?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by aspie3000, Aug 7, 2017.

  1. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Oman 1970
    Oman 1970 !
    Niger 2003 !!
    Mauritania 2007 !!!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom This doesn't count the countries that outlawed slavery but enforce it so weakly they might as well not have legally banned it.
     
  2. Falecius Well-Known Member

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    These are not the dates when the countries in question abolished slavery though (the same Wiki page has 1981 for that in Mauritania). Still very late of course (and I have little doubt that enforcement was and is weak there). Indeed, these are among the cases where the world's moral disgust for the practice is probably a driving force for legislators in countries like Mauritania. But I think that, had, say the Omani rulers felt that slavery was an integral and essential element of their society's fabric, they would have clung to it in the face of the world, until something changed (evidently they did not).
    As amply shown upthread, the Confederate elites thought exactly that. May this change? Of course. The White South African elites changed their views enough to abandon Apartheid willingly and mostly peacefully. It's a very fortunate case if compared to the human historical record at large (hey, South Africa willingly dismantled her nuclear arsenal!) and of course they were compelled by huge forces. But these things require a fairly long time.

     
  3. frustrated progressive Insert Witticism Here

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    Haven't we had a bajillion of these threads?
     
  4. aspie3000 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know, but now we have one more :extremelyhappy:.
     
  5. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    They are the dates they were criminalized for Niger and Mauritania. They were mere civil offenses and I don't count those as all that means is you get fined.
     
  6. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    What difference does it make? People who didn't notice or weren't around when the previous thread were around can comment on it now and those uninterested in it can ignore it.
     
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  7. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    I'm not at all sure what you mean by "Slavery was only defendable insofar as it made the planter class wealthy." The majority of slaver owners were not large planters. A drop in slave prices would make it so more people would own slaves, broadienng the base of people who would support slavery for economic reasons. How would that result in "a crisis for Confederate authority and racial theory"? No change in slave prices would remove the social reasons that most whites in the Confederate states supported slavery. In 1860. the average price of a slave was $800, roughly $150,000 in today's dollars. Even if slaves somehow lost 90% of their value, an average slave price would be roughly $15,000 in today's dollars, which would still be useful to the banks as collateral. And I don't see how slave prices would drop that drastically.
     
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  8. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    The Confederacy wouldn't be facing "the full weight of the world's moral opprobrium". The only period country really trying to end foreign slavery was Britain and that didn't stop them from trading with the many period slaveholding nations. If the Confederacy gives up slavery as easily as South Africa gave up apartheid, that would have the Confederacy ending slavery around 1910, but that seems wildly optimistic to me.
     
  9. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    You might have seen something about the percent that Egypt increased cotton production during the Civil War. It looks like Egypt quadrupled their cotton sales to Britain during the war, only to have British purchases drop in half between 1865 and 1866, which was not good for Egypt's economy.
     
  10. dcharleos Donor

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    Good post.

    I'm trying to understand what we're taking about here, because internationally, the CS is already comparatively industrialized in 1860. Ditto x2 for the OTL Southern states in the 1880s and 90s. The CSA will never be the powerhouse that the US or UK would be. But will they be "industrialized"? Of course they would.

    Well, there's the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio rivers. Those are pretty significant, but no, there's not a river system that connects Virginia to Texas.

    This is all true, and are all reasons why the CS would struggle to be on par with the US economically. But the points are all relative. By the standards of the 1860s, the CS is well on its way to being an industrialized nation. The 9500 miles of railroads within the Confederacy are more than almost anywhere else in the world. More than France, Germany, Russia, etc. Not more than the US, but its important to catch the distinction between "small compared with the US" and "small compared with the rest of the world." For comparison's sake, Brazil had 233 km of railroads in 1860. About the same for Mexico.

    The resistance to a tariff in the minds of Southern politicians quickly eroded in the face of the reality of governing. Manufacturing interests lobbied hard for a tariff (it excluded cotton) during the formation of government in 1860. I don't see why, after a war in which on the fly manufacturing saved their asses, that manufacturers would lose influence. They're richer and more respected.

    Again, there's some truth to what you're saying, but it has to be looked at in context. You're talking about what would have been the fourth richest country in the world in 1860--with an excellent tranportation system by the standards of the time, high rates of literacy, and sizable manufacturing interests. Those are the reasons the Confederacy would be a competitive destination for foreign investment. There's plenty of collateral to get loans. Only through a series of unfortunate events will the South turn into a colony in the true sense of the word.

    Good point.

    That's where I'd disagree.

    The CS government intervened in the markets to a degree that was unprecedented in American history. And of course, it was wartime, yada yada. But the precedent is there.

    But IOTL, the South industrialized exponentially as time went on, with many of the same problems, and fewer advantages. There are some offsets--the CS lack of a merchant marine vs the OTL wipeout of wealth, for example--but I think the balance indicates advantages outweighing disadvantages.
     
  11. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    IIRC slave prices were dropping throughout the century, and the lower they dropped, the less they are worth as collateral. Human stock is, as others have pointed out, not a great source of capital or collateral and could only be used as an internal form inside the Confederacy. If the Confederate economy goes through the same ups and downs as the other capitalist nations then the usefulness of slaves as collateral wealth will diminish over time meaning the Confederacy is seeing a loss of wealth thanks to slaves, which in turn presents more and more of a problem.

    If the price goes down, and slaves become more available, that is still a decrease in value, and slaves are a diminishing return anyways as the older they get the less valuable they become, and one that is still unavailable to the majority of the population, and even when it becomes so they are practically worthless anyways. Then slaves are nowhere near as productive as other methods of production.

    In other words, eventually slavery (at least chattel slavery) will run into a wall of diminishing returns for various reasons. That means a new way for keeping the black population in bondage must be found.
     
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  12. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    There might be some sort of bizarre gradual emancipation as slave owners simply release their older slaves because there's no ROI to be had on them.
     
  13. DValdron Well-Known Member

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    Or simply killing them. Overtly or through a combination of privation and negligence.
     
  14. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    Actually I am pretty sure the price of slaves was related to the price of cotton. When the price of cotton went up so did the price of slaves when it went down likewise. Now historically the price of cotton did go down after the 1860s and went more and more down over time, the CSA's survival will probably make it even less valuable as GB would probably encourage cotton growing more than OTL. You are, of course, correct in saying slaves are not very good as collateral. Except for children the value of a slave will go down over time as the slave gets older and older not talking about the risk of death. What I would expect is that the banks would increase the interest you have to pay for your loans when you use slaves as collateral . As the price of cotton falls the price of slaves fall and their is an increased risk if the price of cotton falls fairly steadily like OTL. That risk has to be built into the interest rate.
     
  15. EnglishCanuck Blogger/Writer/Dangerous Moderate

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    Personally I never see anything resembling emancipation happening in the South. The number of free blacks might go up over time as the less desirable are freed later in life, or people who simply emancipate their slaves to prevent their assets being seized, or some moral slave owners emancipate their slaves upon their deaths. The absolute closest you could get is a huge purchase slaves to "bail out" planters who are falling on hard times by the government, where the former slaves then become government property. That seems to fit in with the Southern attitudes and mindset to me.

    Hmm, hadn't thought about applying interest rates to using them as collateral. It's an interesting idea, one that is probably workable if the Confederate economics can hash it out. Though I can see that too being a stresser on the slave economy as a whole, which could spell the death of chattel slavery.

    I should note that I can only seriously imagine the death of chattel slavery by 1890-1900 as it becomes less profitable on the whole and the plantations/farms adopt more modern methods of cultivation in order to stay competitive while the practice of owning individual slaves would probably continue, but owning thousands or even dozens would decrease over time.

    Not in the Southern mindset, and it would take pretty much concentrated Holocaust/Holodomor levels of work to achieve that. If by say 1900 the slave population has grown to 8 million that would simply be too much investment, and you can't make an investment out of dead people. Most likely you get some nightmarish combination of Apartheid/Nazi Racial Laws which sees overt isolation and segregation of the black population with swift death meted out to anyone who even looks remotely threatening.

    Overt cruelty and death fit just nicely with Southern racial theory, but you have to look really hard to find examples of the idea of wiping out slaves as a whole being acceptable, and frankly the culture would have to grow into it.
     
  16. Johnrankins Well-Known Member

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    More likely the price of slaves would drop and it would become more profitable to use them in other things besides cotton growing. If the price of a young black man falls from $1000 to $700 and further down to $500 it becomes more profitable to use them in other ventures. They can now be used in other kinds of farming, mining, forestry, carpentry and blacksmithing. All of these had used slaves to some extent OTL. I would imagine slave use would be more widespread. The local timber company might buy some slaves as lumberjacks if the price falls. So to might mine owners and the railroads.
     
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  17. The Gunslinger NQLA agent

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    I see it not so much as active government policy, but more of a byproduct of the declining cost of slaves. A collapse of the market and maintaining the costs of upkeep just leads to owners letting them go free.
     
  18. funnyhat Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised that Britain's imports from India, its own colony, decreased so much in the 1870s. Was American cotton better in quality or price?
     
  19. dcharleos Donor

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    Just the opposite. There was a steady increase throughout the century. See: https://eh.net/encyclopedia/slavery-in-the-united-states/

    But land and crops are, and the slaves boost the value of land and crops by making them more profitable.
     
  20. dcharleos Donor

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    Yes, in quality.