Re: poly: economics of morality

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Tue Feb 24 1998 - 21:56:48 PST (Robin Hanson) writes:
>Peter McCluskey responded:
>> It's hard to see any indication that 19th century US whites had any
>>fears of being enslaved, other than being drafted into the army, and
>>they tolerated an increase in that risk to fight slavery.
>> I think Jeff Hummel makes a convincing argument in Emancipating Slaves,
>>Enslaving Free Men that slavery was unsustainable because of the
>>increasing difficulty of recapturing runaway slaves. It sure looks
>>like technological changes such as railroads had a significant role
>>to play in that.
>I haven't read Hummel, but if slavery was just becoming economically
>unsustainable, wouldn't the prices of slaves have fallen to zero?
>And why would anyone have wanted to fight a war to get rid of slavery?

 The enforcement costs needed to keep slave prices stable were clearly
increasing. Some of those costs were paid by northern blacks, as
slaveholders altered legal systems to create the presumption that
any black was an escaped slave until proven otherwise.
 This kind of injustice must have played a significant role in motivating
northern whites, but I still don't see how the north's desire to fight
was rational.

Peter McCluskey  |  | Has anyone used           | to comment on your web pages?
Received on Wed Feb 25 05:58:32 1998

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