Topics: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 16 (5721 words) Published: May 24, 2013
for Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition

Stanley L. Engerman, Richard Sutch, and Gavin Wright

University of California Project on the Historical Statistics of the United States Center for Social and Economic Policy Policy Studies Institute University of California, Riverside March 2003

Engerman is John H. Munro Professor of Economics and Professor History, University of Rochester; Sutch is Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of California, Riverside; and Wright is William Robertson Coe Professor of Economic History at Stanford. Table and figure references in angle brackets (< >) refer to data tables that will appear in a number of different chapters in Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennial Edition. The format was devised, in collaboration with Cambridge University Press, to meet specialized, technical needs and to facilitate the transmission of over 100,000 files from the Historical Statistics editorial office in the Center of Social and Economic Policy at UC Riverside to Cambridge University Press. The format was not optimized for the general user. The Center for Social and Economic Policy at UC Riverside provided financial assistance. Suggested Citation: Stanley L. Engerman, Richard Sutch, and Gavin Wright.. "Slavery.” In Susan B. Carter, Scott S. Gartner, Michael Haines, Alan Olmstead, Richard Sutch, and Gavin Wright, eds., Historical Statistics of the United States, Millennial Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2004. JEL Classification Codes: N31.


he "peculiar institution" of slavery cuts a swath through the heart of American history, with effects lasting long after its abolition by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

(1865). African slavery on the mainland goes back almost to the beginnings of European settlement and was practiced in all parts of British colonial America. But the division of these former colonies after the Revolution into groups of "free" and "slave" states laid the basis for secession and Civil War (1861-1865), the costliest in American history. The lasting legacies of slavery and Civil War for the South and for AfricanAmericans are still debated in the new millennium, with passions barely diminished by

In one sense the statistical record of this history is abundant, though many aspects of slavery's human reality lie beyond the reach of quantitative measurement. The demographic experience of African slaves during the colonial period -- arrivals and population growth -- has been pieced together by scholars from a wide if heterogeneous array of surveys and commercial reports. Beginning with the first federal census of 1790, the slave population may be studied in remarkable geographic detail, by cities and counties as well as states. As the scope of census inquiries expanded in 1840, 1850, and 1860, the surveys of agriculture and manufacturing have formed the primary basis for a flourishing literature on the economics of slavery in the late antebellum period. These sources may be supplemented by others, such as the records of transactions in slaves at leading markets such as New Orleans; probate inventories; and surviving business and plantation accounts. The present volumes present only a small fraction of the full archival record, focused on basic series that convey a sense of the evolution of the institution and the slave population over time.

Slavery and the slave trade in colonial North America
As important as it is for American history, slavery did not originate in the colonies that became the United States, nor did they play a particularly significant role in the transatlantic slave trade. Elaborated systems of slavery existed in ancient Greece and Rome and persisted in medieval Europe, while varieties of slavery were practiced for centuries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas before Columbus.1 Perhaps a million...
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