Lecture5_312__SouthernAgr_SP11

Lecture5_312__SouthernAgr_SP11 - Lecture #5 Southern...

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Lecture #5 Southern Agriculture
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As we said when we looked at the effect of the Civil War, the most apparent effect was the slow performance of the Southern economy, not just immediately after the War, but up to the early 20 th century.
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South lost 30% of its wealth during the war: 20% of Sheep 30% of mules 32% of horse 35% of cattle 42% of swine 50% of farm land value Cotton prices were down, acreage was up, output per acre fell. But most of these losses had been made good by 1870.
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The South did not catch up. There are several possible reasons: - The South did not industrialize at anywhere near the rate that the North did. - Southern Agriculture continued to be dominated by cotton, and cotton prices were rising not falling. Why the South did not industrialize is a difficult question to answer, indeed no one really has a good answer, so we will defer that until later in the semester. We can, however, understand why Southern agriculture continued to specialize in cotton, even when cotton prices were declining. We can also understand why cotton prices were declining over the very long term.
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Land was not redistributed after the Civil War, so freedmen largely possessed their human capital and little else initially. One effect of emancipation was that slaves that were now free worked fewer hours than the had when they were slaves. Estimates vary, but freedmen probably worked somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/4 to 1/3 fewer hours after they gained their freedom, The reduced output was not a loss to society, however, it was simply a transfer within society from slave owners to freed slaves. But it did result in lower measured economic output.
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reliance on cotton. The market for cotton exports to Great Britain was smaller after the Civil War, because the British had found alternative sources of supply. So the market for American cotton immediately after the
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Lecture5_312__SouthernAgr_SP11 - Lecture #5 Southern...

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