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I have only irregularly followed this debate, so I hope I am not repeating what other have said. I am not an economist, and I welcome a critique of this analysis by any economists who are on this list. With that caveat, it seems to me that Austin Meredith's posting below confuses historical analysis with modern sensibilities and questions of morality; it further confuses economic analysis with what we might all moral analysis. Surely, before the Civil War slaves were "property." They were bought, sold, exchanged, taxed, and in every other way we can describe property, treated like property. (For some circumstances they were also treated by like people but that is not terribly relevant here.) As long as slaves were treated as property, then determining the "cost" of the Civil War -- or of "uncompensated emancipation" -- must start from the premise (however unpleasant) that the United States -- and especially the 15 southern states -- considered slaves (not blacks) to be property. Emancipation did not, in an economic sense, transfer this property interest to the slaves themselves. On the contrary, emancipation simply destroyed this interest. Thus, after emancipation a now-freeperson could be mortgaged to raise capital or sold to raise more capital; you could not use yourself as collateral for a loan; nor could the owner of a plantation use his laborers as a capital asset to be sold, mortgaged, or used as collateral. Mr. Meredith has a research agenda and tells us what "we should be studying." He suggests this should be "what impact would have been on the American economy, in particular on the Southern economy, if the post-war "emancipation" of the slave in the American South had been properly compensated by providing to the former slaves the equity which very clearly they had earned, and to which they were entitled." This is surely an interesting question. But, it does not get around the reality that however we study it, emancipation eliminated the economic value in slaves and thus left the South with far fewer capital assets than it had before the war; it also left many southerners without assets because what they own -- slaves -- no longer existed. And this change did not transfer to the capital value of the slave to the free person, because the free person could not be used as a capital asset. As a few others have noted, even without emancipation, the South was much poorer after the war; death and injury eliminated hundreds of thousands of productive people from the economy; war destroyed buildings, farms, bridges, railroads, horses (used for agriculture), mules, cows, etc. All of this wealth disappeared. Then there is the issue of "money" -- all the Confederate currency had no value. Whatever it was worth before April 1865, it was worth nothing afterwards; as were bonds that people owned. All of this, and more, left the South poor. Transferring the remaining wealth to former slaves would not have changed this in any significant way, although it would have made the lives of former slaves better. This might have been just (I think so, others might not), but it would not have made the South as a region much more wealthy. It is possible that that land transfers might have led to greater productivity in the agricultural South, but it is hard to imagine that would have amounted to anything like the losses the war caused. I write this not to take a position on reparations or the claims of white masters (as Meredith seems to imply that those who disagree with him might be taking a position in defense of former masters.) I simply think it should be clear that the ending of slavery destroyed wealth and capital. Paul Finkelman -- Paul Finkelman Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law University of Tulsa College of Law 3120 East 4th Place Tulsa, OK 74105 918-631-3706 (voice) 918-631-2194 (fax) Paul-Finkelman@utulsa.edu