Poll: When Would the CSA Eliminate Slavery

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by kernals12, May 9, 2019.

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By What Point Would The Confederacy Have Eradicated Slavery?

  1. 1870

    1.2%
  2. 1875

    0.9%
  3. 1880

    5.8%
  4. 1885

    5.8%
  5. 1890

    13.5%
  6. 1895

    7.3%
  7. 1900 or After

    65.4%
  1. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Prior to the ACW most of the south (Louisiana being a bit of an exception due to "libre gens du couleur" who were established when Louisiana was acquired and continued on) was moving towards forced expulsion of free blacks, and had also tightened up on not allowing blacks to be literate. In an independent CSA this is likely to continue down this path. Illiterate and marginally numerate workers are of only so much use in manufacturing, and as factory work becomes more complex or you are producing more complex goods. Sure in sweeping up, moving stuff around the factory but for the illiterate you can't read specs, you can't do the math a machinist needs to do etc, etc.

    While poor quality cheap goods do move, you can't export anything other than low value added goods if the quality isn't there. While the average Joe might tolerate crappy appliances etc, the elites are going to want quality goods, which in this scenario are going to be imported which does not help the CSA balance of payments. One reason Nazi slave labor worked as well as it did, and they did have quality issues with slave produced products, was because if they caught you sabotaging the goods or even not following quality procedures, you were dead - often after a period of time wishing you were already dead. Slaves were expendable, and if they were Jews or other Untermenschen expenditure was the long term goal. Leopold's Congo worked much the same way. In the CSA slaves were a major expense, and represented a lot of the capital value of the CSA. An adult male slave would sell for ~$2,000 in 1860, approximately $61,500 in 2019 dollars. A skilled slave, like a blacksmith, would go for much more. This is not "throw away" money.
     
  2. marathag Kicked

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    Feb 2, 2013
    In an 1870s Cotton Mill, an Iron Worker made $12.72 a week, that's $661.44 annual

    A skilled Slave cost $2000, and you have to spend some money for housing, food and clothing each week

    If the skilled Slave dies in an industrial accident , the Slaver is out $2000. The Northern Mill owner had his worker die the same way, he'd give the Widow a $20 Double Eagle, and get the next Swede, German or Irishman off the Boat that had a similar skillset
     
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  3. Gabingston Well-Known Member

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    Is that adjusted for inflation?
     
  4. Dementor Well-Known Member

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    This part shows that this work has little interest in plausibility (if the abolishing of slavery in 1885 wasn't enough of a clue). It's not that likely that there would be a Soviet Union in this scenario, but it's almost impossible that they would be able to keep Alaska.
     
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  5. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    Why?
     
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  6. kernals12 Well-Known Member

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    Also, there's a reason why slave states banned slaveowners from teaching their slaves to read.
     
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  7. Dementor Well-Known Member

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    Such major changes to the timeline as the CSA surviving are bound to cause significant changes even outside the USA and such changes are only going to multiply over fifty years. The October revolution was far from a certain thing in OTL and even minor changes could prevent it; or alternatively prevent the long term survival of the Soviet Union. But even if there was a Soviet Union, either the US and Britain would immediately occupy rather than to tolerate a Communist country right next to their borders. Even in OTL, the US occupied Vladivostok, and Alaska is much easier to hold and more vital to US security.
     
  8. SealTheRealDeal Well-Known Member

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    Ethiopia had slavery until the Italians invaded. Can interwar Italy invade the CSA?
     
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  9. marathag Kicked

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    No, 1870s numbers. Census reports from that era lists much good info. A Weaver working the loomwas less than half that.
    The charmingly named 'Overseer' position made more than the Iron Worker in the Mill
     
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  10. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Until a slave is 5-6 years old you get essentially zero labor from him/her. It is until 12-15 years old (at least) that you begin to get "adult" labor value out of him/her. This is for relatively unskilled labor, if you apprentice the young slave to a skilled slave (blacksmith etc) the time for roughly equivalent labor value (productivity if you will) is longer than 12-15 years. The slave owner has invested 5-6 years of food, shelter, and clothing (and medical care, slave owners did contract doctors to provide this care) before you get any potential payback, and it is another 8-10 years before they are "profiting" on the labor of the slave so they can pay back the money they have paid out over the childhood/early adolescence of the slave. IMHO this means, and this is just a rough guess, that the unskilled/minimally skilled labor of a slave does not begin to show a net profit until the slave is 20 years old. Of course any slave who dies after infancy before age 20 or so will represent a net loss to the slave owner.

    With free labor all of the costs in "producing" a laborer, even a child laborer at 8-10 working in a mill, is borne by someone other than the employer. If the need for the labor force decreases due to downturns in business or mechanization, the laborer is fired and the owners expense goes away. When the laborer is too old to work or becomes disabled, out the door he/she goes. Unless you are the Draka, euthanizing old or disabled slaves is not going to work for you, it tends to piss off your slaves and leads to slave rebellions which can be a problem.

    Slaves are good for work that free workers or even indentured servants (who have a time limit, and can run away and fade in to the population) won't tolerate. An example the plantations in the Caribbean, however there the conditions were so bad they required a continuous input of new slaves - in US plantations, in general, natural increase worked after the cessation of the legal slave import trade. By the mid 19th century, with mechanization and other manufacturing improvements, the percentage of factory positions that could be filled by illiterate, non-numerate workers began to decrease. This continued to the present. Sure in 1870 there were lots of positions for these sorts of workers, but as a PERCENTAGE of factory jobs they were decreasing, raw numbers only went up where you saw rapid industrial expansion. Given the political/economic philosophy of the CSA which was very much counter to the industrialization of the north at the time of the ACW (and afterwards), the raw numbers for "grunt" work in Confederate factories will be relatively small.

    I'm not saying you won't see slaves in industry in a CSA, you had slaves in industry prior to the ACW. What I am saying is that the use of slaves in industry compared to the usage of free white workers will be limited for a number of reasons previously enumerated.
     
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  11. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

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    Oct 26, 2018
    Technically never. If a CSA survives to the modern day I can see them having a form of slavery for domestic workers as others have pointed out. But as far as plantation chattel slavery? I voted 1890. It would be replaced with a very severe system of apartheid.
     
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  12. Fiver Curmudgeon

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    Oct 28, 2007
    Everything you say makes sense, but as Kenneth Stamp noted in The Peculiar Institution, by 1860 roughly 500,000 slaves were engaged in non-agricultural work. In 1847, the Tredegar Iron Works of Richmond used "almost exclusively slave labor" as slaves could not go on strike. As you note, slaves tended to work the minimum necessary to avoid getting whipped. There was also the risk of slaves "accidentally" damaging tools,machinery, or finished product. Many Southern industiialists got around this by paying their slave workers a small wage. It was vastly less than what white workers would be paid, but enough that the slaves could live better, or if they were frugal, buy their freedom after several years. With that incentive, productivity increased and "breakage" dropped significantly. It also led to a small increase in the number of free blacks, who were significantly more common in the more industrialized slaveholding states.
     
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  13. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    No, the slave is cheaper in the long run because the price of purchase (or feeding when young) is spread over several years and when paid off, everything produced after that is pure profit. Not to mention that from a slaveowners' point of view, once you have a group of slaves, they increase in number over the years, all of which is extra profit. (Heartless, yes; unprofitable, no.)

    These comparison values are off by a fair margin.

    $2000 is an extremely high price for a slave. The average slave price in 1860, at the height of the cotton boom, was around $800. A slave with an extremely valuable skillset might be worth $2000 in 1860, but it would have been far from the norm, and only paid because the money which could have been earned from the slave (directly or indirectly) was worth more than that. The workers in the cotton mill were not skilled labour anywhere near the value of the kind of slave who would earn $2000 - an extremely skilled blacksmith might be close to that value, but not in a factory system where there's a breakdown of tasks. And actual cotton workers in mills (not iron workers supporting cotton production) were often women and children, who would be cheaper than the average slave price. (And yes, slaveowners made those kinds of calculations).

    Of course, 1860 was very much the peak price of the cotton boom, coming at the end of almost two decades of growth. Cotton prices were due for a major slump post 1860, which they did as soon as the ACW was over. Slave prices would fall with them, as would other later costs, which is why the $2000 price in 1860 isn't a useful comparison for wage costs in the 1870s.

    I don't have time to dig out Starobin's actual numbers at the moment (though if you search previous posts I've made on the subject, I've quoted them before), but in general he found that slave labourers in manufacturing were significantly cheaper per year than free workers. The value of the purchase price needs to be considered, but slaves still worked out cheaper in the long run. And for the short run, slave labour in urban manufacturies was often rented rather than purchased outright, with the rental costs still being cheaper than free labour.

    Slaves could be and were insured too, by the way, which goes into the risks of industrial accidents above.
     
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  14. funnyhat Well-Known Member

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    The initial price will be paid off, but you still have the expenses of the food, clothing and shelter which you provide throughout the slave's life. It's never pure profit. (Also, I guess some slaves got paid, since they purchased their freedom?) I'm not sure if the math ultimately works out - if it does, it takes a very long time for it to do so. But being able to control your labor source and force it to work in horrible conditions (especially in places like the Caribbean) tips the scales.
     
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  15. marathag Kicked

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    From https://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php
    Those who have researched slave prices have discovered that a large number of additional variables went into the determination of the price of any particular slave at a particular point in time. A premium was paid if the slave was an artisan -- particularly a blacksmith (+55%), a carpenter (+45%), a cook (+20%), or possessed other domestic skills (+15%). On the other hand, a slave's price was discounted if the person was known to be a runaway (-60%), was crippled (-60%), had a vice such as drinking (-50%), or was physically impaired (-30%). In general, the discount for each of the slaves was slightly larger for females than for males.8. The prices presented above are average prices for the slaves transacted in a given year.

    OK, so use that $800 average price and add +45-55% that gets around $1200 for a skilled iron or woodworker, still twice as much as a free skilled worker
    https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=hvd.32044024335481;view=1up;seq=236
    page 202 for wages of 1870 Cotton Mill employees

    The lowest paid worker, the alarmingly titled 'Mule Backside Piercer' in the Spinning department was $2.48 for a 66 hour week - $129 a year. Doesn't seem like a bargain if an $800 Slave has to do that job
     
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  16. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    The south was moving towards elimination of free blacks in the period before the ACW. One of the arguments against black troops was that an incentive might be freedom at the end of service. If things proceeded as they looked to be going OTL, then there would be very little incentive for a slave to acquire and save money as purchasing their freedom (or that of their family) would be no such option. Sure, having some money to spend on "luxuries" is nice, but the main incentive was freedom and that would not be there.
     
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  17. Jared Voldemort Jnr

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    Once the purchase price is paid off, everything which is paid for the slave (food, clothing, shelter, etc) is lower than it would cost to pay the same to a free worker to do the job, so it's still an effective profit.

    Except that as I pointed out in the next paragraph, the $800 figure was at the very peak of the cotton boom, when slave prices were at their highest, and this also flowed through to other economic sectors. The 1870s were an entirely different time with low cotton prices, and those low cotton prices would have applied equally in an independent CSA. So slave prices would be significantly lower in that era than they would have been in 1860 (slave prices also declined significantly during previous cotton price crashes, for the same reason). Also, the lowest paid jobs would go to the lowest priced slaves, since the one usually linked together. So it wouldn't be an $800 slave doing the cheapest, but female slaves or children, who would have a lower purchase price.

    To put some more concrete numbers to it, I've tracked down some of the figures in one of my previous posts. In Industrial Slavery in the Old South, Robert Starobin found that the "maintenance" cost of an industrial slave (food, clothing, housing, medical attention, supervision, incidental expenses) came in at around $100 per annum. The cost of free labour in the industrial South totalled at around $335 per annum. (These are pre-ACW figures; wages naturally went up post-ACW, but this gives us a ballpark).

    In other words, the effective wages cost of slaves was less than one-third the wages cost of free labour.

    The purchase price of the slave has to be figured in as well, of course, either purchased outright or borrowed. For convenience's sake, let's take the average slave price at the peak of the cotton boom: $800. Interest rates varied a fair bit in the antebellum South, but 5.5% is a reasonable approximation (see here for a graph of long-term US interest rates). Assume that the money is borrowed over 5 years (for a back-of-the-envelope calculation). So the $800 would attract around $220 in interest, or around about $205 repayments per year.

    So for the average industrial slave, the slaveowner would be paying $100 in maintenance costs and $205 in repayment costs for the first 5 years. That's still a bit cheaper than the $335 per year for a free worker, and after the purchase price is paid, the slave worker is a much cheaper option.

    Great deal for the slaveowners, though obviously a tragedy for those who have been enslaved.
     
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  18. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    Without disputing the numbers, which I would not attempt to do without a lot of research, there is the problem of what to do with a slave that becomes unable to be "adequately" productive whether due to injury, disease, or old age. A free worker is simply let go, with perhaps a death payment to the family for industrial accidents or a payment if injured. A crippled, sick, or aged slave you have two choices: support until death or euthanize. They are not saleable (unless you have the equivalent of sending horses to a glue factory). OTL euthanizing "worthless" slaves wasn't done, and I doubt an independent CSA would do so (not being Draka). This is an additional expense for the owner, again not necessarily huge but another cost that needs to be factored in.
     
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  19. Tsochar Well-Known Member

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    The possibility of less payoff than expected a pretty standard risk for any investment.
     
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  20. herkles Well-Known Member

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    May 8, 2017
    The South was founded on the basis of Slavery. It wasn't states rights, tariffs, southern culture(except the culture of owning people as property), it was slavery. So the idea that it would abolish Slavery isn't looking at it properly. The south would keep slavery, it may not be plantation slavery, but slavery would remain as a core of their culture.

    Again I point out that the best time to abolish slavery is when ever a communist revolution happens.
     
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