A new perspective on antebellum slavery: Public policy and slave prices

Mark A. Yanochik, Bradley T. Ewing, Mark Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Modern economic historians have focused their attention on the supervision and productivity of slavery and have largely ignored the roles that public policy and slave security played in the profitability of antebellum slavery. Other scholars have focused on the public security policy in the slave codes, but only as a determinant of the legal status of slaves, not their economic value. This paper investigates the relationship between slave prices and two public policies that enhanced slave security: manumission laws and slave patrol statutes. The evidence suggests that these policies were associated with slave prices and that public policy did play a significant role in the security of slave property and, thus, the viability and profitability of slavery in the Antebellum South.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-340
Number of pages11
JournalAtlantic Economic Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


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