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at the risk of sounding cliche at this point, i am not an economist. with that said i had a few observations and comments in regards to the current discussion. Michael Furlan's original query as to the value of free labor vs. the capital loss due to emanicaption, would seem best served by an analysis of slavery as a mode of labor. certainly slaveholders made capital investments through the purchase of slaves, but what they invested in was labor. this investment once emancipated affected not only the slaveholders themselves but in some cases the surrounding communities. lost in our discussion is the reality that most slaveholders did not hold large numbers of slaves, and further that slavery existed outside of the plantation system of the Deep South. in the mountain South investments in slaves were made more feasible because their labor could be rented out to other members of the community. bearing in mind that the South of which we speak in this discussion was to a large degree decimated by the destroyer generals of the union, wouldn't it be more prudent to look at the border states which suffered less of a direct impact from physical destruction? the argument might well be made that the border states lacked slavery on the scale of states further South, but again i think this line reflects the complexity of Furlan's query; slavery was not practiced on an equal scale in all places throughout the South. so when we question emancipation's impact on the "southern" economy how are we to define southern? on the other hand if we insist on couching the discussion within the context of the Deep South and the cotton belt, we have to account for climate, blights, and agricultural pracitices. by the time the sharecropping system was firmly entrenched we experienced the boll weevil, and a general lack of crop diversity. so should we analyze the economic impact of emancipation on only king cotton, because the market ultimately bottomed out on cotton or should we look at agriculture in general? the monolithic south we're trying to analyze here never existed. the homogenous south of slaveholder and slave exists in our popular imagination and nowhere else. generalizations have, to a large degree, allowed us to construct the image of a southern monolith. reece, harvey, and meredith raise interesting points about humanization. these same questions speak to african-american historiography in general. how should we view african-americans in the postbellum and reconstruction eras? indeed it is tempting for us to simply say that african-americans were treated as property and chattel, and therefore that is how "people" viewed them in the aforementioned eras. but in doing so we fall victim to our own history, or as James Baldwin said in WHITE MAN"S GUILT, we become impaled on our history. in some cases slaves were treated as nothing more than chattel, disposable at that, but that does not mean all "people" viewed them and treated them as nothing more than property. what of the african-americans born in bondage who chose to resist? did they see themselves as nothing more than property, i rather doubt! as to Michael Furlan's interest in readings i'd like to add two others to the growing list: MOUNTAIN MASTERS, by John Inscoe (University of Tennessee Press, 1989) and FROM BONDAGE TO CONTRACT, by Amy Dru Stanley (Cambridge University Press, 1998). finally, must we only view reparations from the standpoint of financial compensation? yours, t. skip konhaus