Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Fri Oct 20 11:00:40 MDT 2000

>From what I've seen, the choice between these two and Genovese is Hobson in
nature. I am more familiar with Genovese based on discussion and reading
over the years, but from this evidence turned up on Lexis-Nexis, the
Engerman-Fogel stuff is even more reactionary. What both sides in the
debate seem to share is a notion that the darkies were happy with working
for massa. If this isn't traison du clercs, I don't know what is.


As it is, he [Robert Fogel in "Without Consent or Contract"] presents a
South that largely reacted against Anglo-Northern attacks. He does,
however, do a fine job of showing that the slaveholders had some reason for
declaring that slavery offered the blacks greater security and even better
working and living conditions than the free labor system was offering
British and American laborers. His account of the horrible working and
living conditions in Britain and the North constitutes only one of several
set pieces that are worth the price of the book. (LA Times, Feb. 18, 1990)


Mr. Fogel, director of the Center for Population Economics at the
University of Chicago, doesn't quite give up the ideas he advanced in
''Time on the Cross'' but instead takes a moral stand against slavery for
the first time. In ''Time on the Cross,'' he strongly disputed previous
works in the field, like ''The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the
Antebellum South'' by Kenneth M. Stampp (Knopf, 1956). Mr. Fogel left the
impression that, judged by his extrapolation from plantation and other old
records, slavery wasn't all that bad.

''Time on the Cross'' maintained that the slave system in the South yielded
a higher rate of economic growth; that slave plantations were more
efficient than free farms; that food, clothing, shelter and health care
were far better than traditional historians had imagined; that the average
income of a prime field hand in the South was 15 percent greater than the
income he would have earned as a free agricultural worker in the North, and
even that slaves weren't really whipped too often because punishment would
have cut down their productivity. This view largely overlooked the auction
of men and women like chattels, the breakup of families, the fundamental
human desire to be free and the cruel punishment -what Lincoln, in his
Second Inaugural Address, called ''every drop of blood drawn with the
lash.'' (NY Times, December 16, 1989)


Impossible under the cruel and brutal treatment pictured by the
abolitionists and credited by traditional historians, the rational
business-labor relations postulated in ''Time on the Cross'' could only
exist under a benign order. And such was the slave system uncovered by the
cliometricians. According to the book, the diligent field hand was rewarded
by 90 percent of the income he produced and induced to work harder by
promise of rewards, privileges and promotions that made the whip largely
unnecessary. The benevolent and cheerful order was blessed by strong,
stable family life with Victorian morals. It was rarely broken by the sale
of members or degraded by white sexual exploitation. By this account, few
free-labor forces of Europe and America were so well housed, clothed and
fed as the South's slaves. Their treatment was said to explain in part the
rarity of slave resistance or rebellion and a rate of population increase
unapproached by any other slave population. The South of the 1850's, the
authors contended, enjoyed more per capita wealth than any European country
save England. (C. Vann Woodward review of Robert Fogel's "Without Consent
or Contract" in NY Times, November 5, 1989)

Louis Proyect
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