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A new perspective on antebellum slavery: Public policy and slave prices


  • Mark Yanochik
  • Bradley Ewing
  • Mark Thornton


Modern economic historians have focused their attention on the supervision and productivity of slavery and have largely ignored the roles that public policy and slave security played in the profitability of antebellum slavery. Other scholars have focused on the public security policy in the slave codes, but only as a determinant of the legal status of slaves, not their economic value. This paper investigates the relationship between slave prices and two public policies that enhanced slave security: manumission laws and slave patrol statutes. The evidence suggests that these policies were associated with slave prices and that public policy did play a significant role in the security of slave property and, thus, the viability and profitability of slavery in the Antebellum South. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2001

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Yanochik & Bradley Ewing & Mark Thornton, 2001. "A new perspective on antebellum slavery: Public policy and slave prices," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 29(3), pages 330-340, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:atlecj:v:29:y:2001:i:3:p:330-340
    DOI: 10.1007/BF02300553

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thornton, Mark, 1994. "Slavery, Profitability, and the Market Process," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 7(2), pages 21-47.
    2. Peter J. Boettke & David L. Prychitko (ed.), 1994. "The Market Process," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 54.
    3. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-1072, June.
    4. Johansen, Soren & Juselius, Katarina, 1990. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference on Cointegration--With Applications to the Demand for Money," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(2), pages 169-210, May.
    5. Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1979. "The Structure of Slave Prices in New Orleans, 1804 to 1862," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(4), pages 496-518, October.
    6. Findlay, Ronald, 1975. "Slavery, Incentives, and Manumission: A Theoretical Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(5), pages 923-933, October.
    7. Margo, Robert A. & Villaflor, Georgia C., 1987. "The Growth of Wages in Antebellum America: New Evidence," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 873-895, December.
    8. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-1580, November.
    9. Barzel, Yoram, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Slavery," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 87-110, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Charles W. Calomiris & Jonathan Pritchett, 2016. "Betting on Secession: Quantifying Political Events Surrounding Slavery and the Civil War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. Ewing, Bradley T. & Payne, James E. & Thornton, Mark & Yanochik, Mark A., 2002. "Price Transmission in the Antebellum Slave Markets: A Time Series Analysis," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 32(2), pages 275-292, Summer/Fa.

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