"The Centrality of Slavery in the American South: New Facts from the Census Complete Count"

Paul Rhode, Economics--University of Michigan

This paper employs recently-released evidence from the complete count census to unearth new facts about the operation of the slave system in the American South. The “peculiar institution” was more central to antebellum southern life than is suggested in the existing literature, which reports that only one-quarter of free households held slaves in 1860. In 1820 and 1830, six-in-ten southerners lived in slave-holding households; four-in-ten white southerners did so, and nearly four-in-ten free households held slaves. Larger units grew more prevalent over time. These findings are new and have important implications for our understanding of how slavery changed over time.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 232. Policing, Quotas and Slavery: Institutions and Discrimination