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Trans-Mississippi Musings

The Debate About Slavery Continues ...

Posted by The Muse (themuse) on Jul 21 2018
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"Slavery made a few Southerners rich; a few Northerners, too. But it was ingenuity and innovation that enriched Americans generally, including at last the descendants of the slaves."

I really liked the following paragraph (emphasis is mine) which sums up, at least one of, McCloskey's theses:

Slavery was of course appalling, a plain theft of labor. The war to end it was righteous altogether—though had the South been coldly rational, the ending could have been achieved as in the British Empire in 1833 or Brazil in 1888 without 600,000 deaths. But prosperity did not depend on slavery. The United States and the United Kingdom and the rest would have become just as rich without the 250 years of unrequited toil. They have remained rich, observe, even after the peculiar institution was abolished, because their riches did not depend on its sinfulness.

I also recommend reading Jonah Goldberg's Suicide of the West published earlier this year. Has nothing to do with slavery, but puts forward compelling arguments about the tremendous value that capitalism and liberal democracy has brought to humanity on this planet And also just how fragile it is.


  • Goldberg, Jonah. Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy. New York: Crown Forum, 2018.
  • McCloskey, Deirdre Nansen. “Slavery Did Not Make America Rich.” Reason. Accessed July 21, 2018. https://reason.com/archives/2018/07/19/slavery-did-not-make-america-r.


Last changed: Jul 21 2018 at 12:15 PM