The Exiled: “This Graph Drips Greed, Mass Murder, and Shame…”

(Miss Margo note: this graph, and the article, are taken from The Exiled website.  It is the work of journalist Mark Ames.  Please read it in its entirety by clicking this link.  I hope I don’t piss anyone there off by reproducing this on my little blog–if I do, I’ll take this down in a heartbeat.

For my money, there’s nothing else like The Exiled on the internet.    You’ve gotta read this stuff.  These people are unapologetic 24-karat Pure-D haters, and everything and everyone they hate deserves to be hated.

The articles are also funny, in a black sort of way.  And I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I like my humor as dark as I can get it.

And that graph–“Figure 1”–holy shit!  I’ve been staring at it, owlishly, for hours, and I can still barely wrap my head around it.)

This article was first published in

A little over a year ago, while researching the Confederacy’s economy, I stumbled across this unnerving graph charting the value of America’s “stock of slaves” in the last decades before the Civil War.
This graph tells the real story behind the South’s secession: the value of the South’s “slave stock”—the property of the ruling class — soared as secession approached, reaching an almost 90-degree angle in those final years before Harper’s Ferry. The South’s ruling class seceded to protect their riches, period:

From afar, if you didn’t know that human “slave stock” was the asset being charted, you could easily mistake this graph, and its parabolic trajectory, for one of the many destructive asset bubbles this country has suffered right up through our own time.

Up close, this graph drips greed, mass murder and shame — it strips away the historical revisionism that falsely ascribed the South’s “cause” to an almost selfless, tragically romantic attachment to “tradition” and “culture”; it gives lie to the myth that slave owners kept their slaves to the detriment of their own bottom line.

Like the worst wars and the worst of history’s villains, the Confederacy’s one percenters seceded and fought in order to continue profiting from their most valuable investment properties — their human slave stock.

The graph comes from a grim working paper, “Capitalists Without Capital”, written in the late 1980s by a UC Berkeley economist, Richard Sutch, and a UC Riverside historian, Robert Ransom.
As they showed, slavery produced huge profits for southerners who invested in slave capital — to the detriment of all other portfolio investments, as the value of slaves soared in the mid-19th century. By that time, by far the largest cotton-growing states’ wealth was in slave stock, not in real estate or other investments.

The slave trade was outlawed in 1808; but the slave population quadrupled from 1 million in 1800 to 4 million in 1860 — encouraged by slaveowners who “bred” their human stock, thereby multiplying their profits as the value of each slave rose.

Slavery is often portrayed by revisionist historians as somehow antithetical to market capitalism; in reality, slavery was a winning portfolio investment, the very incarnation of just how evil “free-market” capitalism can be.

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