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Inquiry into the Causes Which Have Retarded the Accumulation of Wealth and Increase of Population in the Southern States: in Which the Question of Slavery is Considered in a Politico-Economical Point of View. By a Carolinian, 1846


Inquiry into the Causes Which Have Retarded the Accumulation of Wealth and Increase of Population in the Southern States: in Which the Question of Slavery is Considered in a Politico-Economical Point of View. By a Carolinian, 1846


In this pamphlet Daniel Reaves Goodloe, abolitionist and newspaper editor, provided an economic argument against the institution of slavery. He concludes that, in the long term, a free labor system is much more profitable than a slave labor system. His argument never questioned the moral issue of slavery. Goodloe approached the issue from a purely economic standpoint.


Goodloe, Daniel R.


"Daniel R. Goodloe (Daniel Reaves), 1814-1902
Inquiry into the Causes Which Have Retarded the Accumulation of Wealth and Increase of Population in the Southern States: in Which the Question of Slavery is Considered in a Politico-Economical Point of View. By a Carolinian," Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, accessed on April 8, 2012,






Washington, D.C.

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The value of the slave to his master is the difference between what he produces and what he consumes; in other words, the slave is a charge to his master, or to the land he tills, to the amount of his food and clothing: the necessity of feeding and clothing the slave population, therefore, so far from enhancing, must diminish the value of land. But the reverse of this is the case with reference to the free laborer. He is under the necessity of feeding and clothing himself, and consequently, so far from being a charge upon the landlord, furnishes a market for the products of the soil.

This proposition is predicated on the known fact that nearly all the slaves in the United States are employed in agriculture, or by agriculturists as domestics. Of the few who are owned by persons unconnected with tillage, the proposition is not true, because the owner must purchase of the farmer whatever is necessary to the maintenance of his slave; and the wants of the slave, therefore, contribute to make a market for agricultural products. But the number thus situated is too inconsiderable to affect the general principle above laid down. It is to be remarked, further, that if the planter or farmer employing slaves, fails to maintain them upon the products of his own soil, he must make up the deficiency by purchasing from other agriculturists; in this way, the wants of the slaves afford encouragement to the agriculture of the State or district whence their support comes. But this gain to agriculture is counterbalanced by the loss it sustains in the State or district where the slaves are thus supported.

The proposition above stated, that the necessity of feeding slaves is a burden to the soil, while the wants of the free laborer
are conducive to agricultural improvement, will become evident by considering--first, that whatever the free laborer eats, he pays for; and secondly, that if he ate nothing, if he were a mere machine, the necessity of producing whatever he consumes would be dispensed with, and, consequently, the market for the products of the soil would be in that degree narrowed. If the merchant, the mechanic, and the professional man, could live in society without food, it is evident that the farmer could never employ their services, for the reason that he would have nothing to pay with. Therefore their wants hold out an inducement to the cultivation and improvement of the soil. But the laborer pays no less than the merchant or lawyer for what he consumes; therefore, the supply of his wants is equally conducive to agricultural improvement. In effect, the merchant, mechanic, and professional man, are as much the employees or laborers of the agriculturist, as he who ploughs his field--they do what he bids them for a consideration; so does the common laborer. It is of course not the interest of the agriculturist to pay wages; but, having to pay them, it is to his advantage that the laborer, in common with the community at large, is a consumer of the products of the soil. In like manner, it is against the interest of the farmer to pay for the services of the physician or lawyer; but such expenses must be incurred--physicians and lawyers are necessary, and they must be paid; and they are in that way a necessary evil, a drawback upon the resources of the farmer. But, as consumers of the products of the soil, their presence is beneficial to the farmer, and raises the demand and the price of whatever he sends to market. The same is true of his dealings with the merchant and the mechanic. The payment of their bills is contrary to his interest; but, as consumers, their presence adds to the value of his land by enhancing the value of its products. And in what particular differs the case of the common laborer? He is under no more necessity to work without wages than the lawyer or physician, the merchant or tradesman, and he equally pays for what he consumes; therefore, the market which his wants create, is equally beneficial to the farmer, and equally promotive of agricultural improvement, as that which is created by the wants of any other class of society. The slave, on the contrary, labors from compulsion. He is allowed no wages, and the necessity of feeding him is so much loss to the master, which it is his interest to dispense with as far as possible. The slave lives at the expense of his master, and of course what he consumes can hold out no inducement to improve the soil, but on the contrary must retard improvement. The free laborer lives at his own expense, and, therefore, what he consumes must promote improvement.

The farmer who employs free labor prefers boarding the laborer, for the reason that he thus discharges a large part of the wages without advancing money. If the laborer boards himself, his wages are higher. Hence his wants, like those of other classes, combine to make a market for the products of the soil. But it would be greatly to the advantage of the slaveholder if his slave could maintain himself; in that case the master would reap the whole wages of the laborer, without any drawback. It follows from hence, that the abolition of slavery in the United States would disburden the landed interest of the expense of supporting two and a half millions of people, and at the same time would add to the value of the lands by opening a market in the wants of two and a half millions. The necessity of feeding and clothing the slaves is a drawback upon the improvement of the land; and the abolition of the system, by bringing into existence an equal number of freemen, who would be under the necessity of maintaining themselves, would be an encouragement to improvement. Thus the free population of the Southern States, by the census of 1840, amounted to four-and-three-quarter millions--the slave population to about two-and-a-half millions; and, consequently, the inducement to improve the soil is made up of these circumstances, viz: the profitableness of growing cotton, tobacco, and other articles for foreign and Northern markets, together with the domestic market which the wants of four-and-three-quarter millions of free people create, diminished by the wants of two-and-a-half millions of slaves, which must be furnished gratis; the difference being two-and-one-quarter millions. But the abolition of slavery would add the wants of the manumitted slaves to the other circumstances; and the inducement to improve the land would then be made up of the profitableness of growing cotton, tobacco, and the like, for the foreign or Northern markets, together with the advantage of supplying the wants of seven-and-one-quarter millions of people. In this case, the wants of the negroes are added to, in the other substracted from, the inducements to improve; and the difference is therefore equal to twice the wants of the slave population. Hence the abolition of slavery would have the same effect upon the value of land, and hold out the same encouragement to its improvement, which would be produced by the introduction of five millions of free people by immigration, under present circumstances. What the positive addition to the value of lands would be, from the abolition of slavery, it is difficult to say with exactness; it would certainly bear a large proportion to their present value. Of course, the lands in those parts of the South where the slaves are most numerous, would receive the greatest augmentation of value, inasmuch as they would be at once relieved from the heavier burden, and be offered the better market in the wants of the greater number manumitted.

I have thus shown that the slaveholders, being also the land proprietors, would, in a few years, be compensated for the manumission of their slaves by the augmented value of their lands. In considering the compensation which should be made to them, in the event of abolition, therefore, it would be asking too much of Government to pay down the market value of the slaves.

Having endeavored to show that slavery, at any time, is inconsistent with the accumulation of wealth and with the increase of population, I will now advert to the particular circumstances which make it highly desirable to the Southern people to rid themselves of slavery at the earliest practicable period.

In the course of fifteen years more, the supply of slave labor in the new States will equal that of the older States at present; the good lands will have been occupied, and much of them, doubtless, have undergone the process of wearing out; and this state of things will generate the same tendency to the deportation of the slaves which has been seen to exist so strongly for years past in Virginia and the Carolinas. This tendency denotes the excess of supply over demand in the State where it is produced; and unless there exists a market elsewhere, the price must necessarily fall, as would that of any other valuable commodity. But there is this peculiarity about this species of property--that the production or supply of the article cannot be limited in proportion to the diminution of the demand. The slaves will go on to increase in numbers, without reference to their value, which, in consequence, may become nothing.

The acquisition of Texas can only postpone this event for a few years. All the States east of the Mississippi river, except the States of Mississippi and Florida, have a sufficient, or nearly sufficient, supply of slave labor. The former will, in five or six years, have received its full share, while the latter, owing to its barrenness, can never require a large number. It may be fairly predicated, therefore, that after five or seven years, the whole increase of the slave population must find a market in the States west of the Mississippi river. After that period, the increase in ten years will fall little short of a million. To suppose that so many can find a ready market, would be to anticipate a great increase in the consumption of cotton, with an unlimited extent of fertile land adapted to its growth. The accounts of Texas are so various and contradictory, that it would be hazardous to conjecture what may be its capacity to furnish profitable occupation to slaves; but supposing that one hundred thousand square miles of it is equal to the State of Mississippi in fertility, it would not afford a field for the employment of more than a million and a half of slaves. I arrive at this conclusion by referring to the number of slaves possessed by the older States, which are under the necessity of sending off the increase. In fourteen years there will not be less than a million, perhaps more than that number, of slaves within the States to be formed of the Texan Territory; for it must be remembered that after five or six years the whole natural increase of more than three millions must find occupation there, or become a burden to their owners.

In 1790, when the first census was taken under the Constitution, the population of the whole Union was little more than three millions, although the country had been settled for more than one hundred and eighty years. But in the next fifty years, the population had risen to more than seventeen millions. In like manner the slave population every year increases in a greater ratio, while the territory adapted to its employment is limited. A generation has sufficed to supply the new estates east of the Mississippi with slaves, whereas it required a century and a half to supply a smaller territory in the older States. What has been the work of a generation, will now be accomplished in a few years. The surplus slave population of the Atlantic States has not diminished, while that from the new States will, in a short time, be added to it, and the whole must find a market or employment west of the Mississippi.

It is hence evident that the Southern country is approaching a period of great and sudden depreciation in the value of slave property.


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Inquiry into the Causes Which Have Retarded the Accumulation of Wealth and Increase of Population in the Southern States: in Which the Question of Slavery is Considered in a Politico-Economical Point of View. By a Carolinian, 1846


Goodloe, Daniel R. , Inquiry into the Causes Which Have Retarded the Accumulation of Wealth and Increase of Population in the Southern States: in Which the Question of Slavery is Considered in a Politico-Economical Point of View. By a Carolinian, 1846, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,