Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation by Martin Ruef

Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation by Martin Ruef

By Martin Ruef

At the heart of the upheavals introduced by means of emancipation within the American South used to be the commercial and social transition from slavery to fashionable capitalism. In Between Slavery and Capitalism, Martin Ruef examines how this institutional switch affected participants, agencies, and groups within the past due 19th century, as blacks and whites alike realized to navigate the shoals among diverse fiscal worlds. interpreting trajectories between normal Southerners, this is often probably the main wide sociological remedy of the transition from slavery because W.E.B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction in America.

In the aftermath of the Civil struggle, uncertainty used to be a pervasive function of existence within the South, affecting the industrial habit and social prestige of former slaves, Freedmen's Bureau brokers, planters, retailers, and politicians, between others. Emancipation introduced primary questions: How should still emancipated slaves be reimbursed in salary contracts? What occupations and sophistication positions will be open to blacks and whites? What sorts of agricultural tenure might persist? And what paths to monetary development will be manageable? to appreciate the escalating uncertainty of the postbellum period, Ruef attracts on a variety of qualitative and quantitative information, together with a number of thousand interviews with former slaves, letters, hard work contracts, memoirs, survey responses, census documents, and credits reports.

Through a resolutely comparative procedure, Between Slavery and Capitalism identifies profound adjustments among the industrial associations of the previous and New South and sheds new mild on how the legacy of emancipation maintains to impact political discourse and race and sophistication kin today.

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Additional resources for Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation in the American South

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South. Conceptualizations of price mechanisms under slavery derived from two influential (and, in many respects, opposing) arguments. In their provocative and controversial book Time on the Cross, the economic historians Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman advanced the claim that slave pricing in the antebellum South was guided by mechanisms that were largely identical to those that emerged among employers of wage labor in the postbellum era. Evidence for this thesis was located in data that suggested the extensive differentiation of skills in slave markets, the correlation between worker productivity and slave prices, and the relative efficiency of slave plantations.

Without formal recourse to coercion and the domestic slave trade, landowners could no longer reliably predict where their workforce would come from and how they could retain black workers on plantations. For former slaves, a parallel source of uncertainty applied to the problem of labor demand—­where could they find new economic opportunities without reproducing the exploitative patterns of bondage? Chapter 5 considers why freedmen and women in the postbellum South left the plantation system when their prospects outside of it seemed to be so uncertain.

I suggest that the common pattern of gradual emancipation seen in former colonial possessions in the Caribbean and South America has considerable similarity with early efforts to manage uncertainty in the era of Radical Reconstruction. As in the case of the American South, those postemancipation projects soon fell victim to competing claims and mobilization among landowners, workers, and other parties, leading to profound and durable uncertainty in the economies of former slave societies. Conclusion The interpretation of history has often been a debate between proponents of continuity and proponents of change.

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