Enough On Lincoln
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
Logging in or registering will improve your experience here
Main Navigation
Topic list
Sarah's Resources You Should See
Sarah's Blog Buy Sarah's Pictures
Full-Text Search & Archives

Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions.


The author may have a position in any company or security mentioned herein. Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility.

Market charts, when present, used with permission of TD Ameritrade/ThinkOrSwim Inc. Neither TD Ameritrade or ThinkOrSwim have reviewed, approved or disapproved any content herein.

The Market Ticker content may be sent unmodified to lawmakers via print or electronic means or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media, to republish full articles, or for any commercial use (which includes any site where advertising is displayed.)

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.

Considering sending spam? Read this first.

2018-02-12 18:42 by Karl Denninger
in Social Issues , 300 references Ignore this thread
Enough On Lincoln
[Comments enabled]

So spake a snake.

Jeff Sessions to the Union League, marking Lincoln Day: “Slavery was the cause of the war. It was not states’ rights or tariffs or agrarian versus industrial economies….The cloud, the stain of human bondage—the buying and selling of human beings—was the unsolvable problem."


There's so much bullcrap that is run on Lincoln and the Civil War that comes from indoctrination in government schools that it's puke-inducing.

Don't get me wrong on this, and before you get out the rotten eggs and start the virtue-signalling nonsense just shut the **** up, sit down and read.

Then decide, for I have an intellectual assignment for you that you should, if you believe the common narrative, have no trouble completing.

First, let's note that importation of slaves was halted in 1808 under the Jefferson Administration.  There were contraband vessels that from time to time came in anyway, much as there are today with drugs, but since people are relatively large and hard to hide, there was little of that post 1808.  Most slave population growth from that point forward, in other words, was "indigenous"; existing slaves had children which were the property of the female's owner (and the responsibility to provide for at their expense until they were able to perform a usable amount of labor, at which point their economic output rose above zero.)

Ironically, Eli Whitney's cotton gin patent was validated in 1807, and it dramatically increased the ability to clean raw cotton of its seeds -- and by doing so made plantations far more viable than they had been before.  This of course drove demand for the ability to pick all that cotton.  You see, cotton as a crop is much more difficult to harvest in the time available than it is to sow or cultivate, so the limiting factor on acreage planted for a given amount of labor was that which you could harvest -- the rest of whatever land you had was planted with less labor-intensive crops such as corn.

There are plenty of arguments over whether or not slavery was doomed for economic reasons.  But among those who argue it definitely was not there are a couple of severe flaws in their logic that none of them adequately explain.  Chief among these is that all of said proponents both recognize and admit that extending slavery into the new territories of the west was critical for the southern states, and without it slavery would have collapsed under its own weight.  This is a classic piece of evidence that in fact slavery was a Ponzi scheme in that it was not so much maintenance of an existing "customer base" (if you will) that made it work on an economic basis but an ever-increasing, exponentially-so, customer base that was driving the economic value of the item in question -- in this case, slaves.  Of course all such schemes inherently must collapse because indefinitely exponential expansion is mathematically impossible; the only argument that remains is when they will collapse, not if.  In other words if expansion of slave-holding territory was essential to the viability of the US slavery system then no, slaves were not economically viable on the basis of their labor contribution .vs. cost.  It was only through grossly-expanding demand that the illusion of a "growing and stable" market was presented.

The second, and far more-serious flaw in said reasoning however is that again, by the proponent's of "it was economically successful" numerical figuresthe vast majority of free southern adult males were not slaveowners.  In fact about 80% of said households (women didn't have property rights, by and large, at the time) owned no slaves whatsoever.  Nearly half of the remaining 20% held fewer than five.  In other words the "big plantation with lots of slaves" was a rarity, and those people were incredibly wealthy indeed.  By today's standards if you held over 100 slaves, depending on how you choose to treat inflation (trust me, that's a snakepit over time periods of this length) you were probably a billionaire.

The implication of these figures is staggering when you think about it.  For the narrative taught in government schools to hold it must have been true that fewer than one in five adult males committed the other 80% to "defend" the 20%'s wealth, and ultimately many of them died, for damn few of those who were slaveholders took up arms as infantry -- those most-exposed to winding up dead on the battlefield.

Let that sink into your 'noggin for a minute.

Now consider this, which is perhaps where you really ought to spend your time and mental energy when evaluating the above: The most-accurate estimates we have are that fewer than 10% of those fighting on either side were conscripts; nearly all volunteered!

To put figures on this there were about 2 million free adult men in the Confederate South at the start of the war.  Best estimates are that somewhere around half of them fought and close to a third of them died between battle injuries, disease (which killed 50% more than battle did!) and a sizable number died in Northern prison camps, probably of privation and disease while interned.

So what the proponents of "it was boomtown city economically in the slave states" and "the Civil War was all about slavery and nothing else of consequence mattered" demand you believe is that less than 20% of the adult male population, which were the only adult males with any economic interest in slaves at all and were filthy rich as a result, managed to get 50% of the adult male population, which were mostly those without slaves (and thus were not filthy rich) to pick up guns, willingly enlist and fight -- and which ultimately ending in the death of a third of those who did so.

As soon as you can explain to me why 20% of the population with an economic interest can manage to convince the other 80% to voluntarily take a great and known risk of getting killed and being dispossessed of everything they owned when there was no economic benefit to be personally maintained or gained by doing so since they did not own slaves in the first place then we can probably agree that slavery was the defining issue that led the South to both secede and continue down the path of events from there that led to shooting -- and that nothing else was a serious factor.

Your assignment is to first look up data (and assumptions made) from those who are most favorable to the case that slavery was the real issue of the war, and without it no other factor would have motivated men to shoot and die -- that is, those who argue that slavery was both very economically viable at the time and would continue to be into the reasonably indefinite future. With such data as the predicate and backstop to your argument you must then explain how 20% of the adult male population managed to convince more than half of the other 80% to go out and commit suicide, both economically and literally, for no economic or personal benefit whatsoever.  In other words, you must explain how that 20% managed to convince the 80% to voluntarily both destroy everything they had and then die solely to protect the wealth of said 20% with none of the reasonably foreseeable benefit, if they had won, going to those who actually did the fighting.

You may begin your assignment in the comment section.

View with responses (opens new window)