In the antebellum south the horrific institution of slavery was very profitable when compared to wage labor. Slave labor was cheaper to maintain and, since slaves were a commodity could also be sold to make a profit. The discussion of the profitability of slavery all starts with discussing the slave trade, both local and global, and why slavery was so prevalent in the south.
The slave trade was a truly global market from 1519 and 1867. Between this time 27,233 slaving voyages had been completed carrying a total of 11,062,000 Africans. I is estimated that, “About 55 percent were transported between 1700 and 1799.”(Darity 547) These Africans were transported to tobacco and sugar plantations. In the United States in the 1700s the slave market was driven by tobacco plantations. Only 29.5% of slaves were transported between 1800 and 1850, this is due to laws passed in 1807 in both the United States and Great Britain which outlawed the international slave trade, but even after these laws were passed there still was a very large illegal international slave trade, and the local slave trade in the United States was still legal. (Darity 547) The slave market in the United States skyrocketed after the invention of the cotton gin and continued to grow until the civil war. King Cotton” as it was called dominated the southern economy. The south’s cotton industry dominated the global cotton trade. This Southern dependence on cotton was mainly supported by slavery. The main reason for this is the fact that the south’s economy was mainly agrarian. The south was not heavily populated like the north and this made wage labor much more expensive. In areas like the north where there were many workers all fighting for the same...
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.... A child slave would be worth around 825 dollars. This was extremely valuable to the slave-owner who would then have a new worker to make them more money for the plantation and they had another valuable asset that could be converted into cash. (Conrad and Meyer 108) These aspects of slavery serve to show how profitable the institution was.
The institution of slavery even though it was horrific and cruel was an extremely profitable market. Slaves as a workforce and as a commodity brought immense wealth to their owners as they were treated horrifically. It is very unfortunate that in this world that some of the most profitable markets are illegal. Markets like drugs and counterfeit money make tons of money for sellers today. Unfortunately slavery is still around today and it is making more money than ever. Hopefully one day this horrific practice will come to an end.
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