The hot takes keep pouring in from the Old South:
“Of what avail is it that you go through the form of paying them a pittance of what you call “wages,” when you do not, in return for their services, allow them what alone they ask – and have a just right to demand – enough to feed, clothe and lodge them, in health and sickness, with reasonable comfort …
Among the innovations of modern times following the decay of villeinage,” has been the creation of a new system of slavery. The primitive and patriarchial, which may also be called the sacred and natural system, in which the laborer is under the personal control of a fellow being, endowed with the sentiments and sympathies of humanity, exists among us.
It has been almost everywhere else superseded by the modern artificial money-power system, in which man – his threws and sinews, his very being, are all subjected to the dominion of Capital – a monster without a heart – cold, stern, arithmetical – sticking to the bond – taking ever “the pound of flesh” – working up human life with Engines, and retailing it out by weight and measure.
His name of old was “Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell from Heaven.” And it is to extend his Empire, that you and your deluded coadjutors dedicate your lives. You are stirring up mankind to overthrow our Heaven-ordained system of servitude, surrounded by innumerable checks, designed and planted deep in the human heart by God and nature, to substitute the absolute rule of this “Spirit Reprobate,” whose proper place was Hell.”
The health of blacks actually deteriorated under Free Society:
“During the last few years, the attention of cliometricians has begun to shift from the antebellum to the postbellum ear. While the findings thus far are extremely tentative, the evidence that is beginning to accumulate suggests that the attack on the material condition of life of the blacks after the Civil War was not only more ferocious, but, in certain respects, more cruel than that which preceded it. It appears that the life expectations of blacks declined by 10 percent between the last quarter century of the antebellum era and the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The diet of blacks deteriorated. Studies of the diet of black sharecroppers in the mid-1890s indicate that they were protein and vitamin starved. The health of blacks deteriorated. Sickness rates in the 1890s were 20 percent higher than on slave plantations. The skill composition of the black labor force deteriorated. Blacks were squeezed out of some crafts in which they had been heavily represented in the slave era and were prevented from entering the new crafts that arose with the changing technology of the last half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. The gap between wage payments to blacks and whites in comparable occupations increased steadily from the immediate post-Civil War decades down to the eve of World War II. It was only with World War II that the trend reversed itself …”
The same was true of White sharecroppers.
Everyone became poorer and worse off under Free Society than they had been under Slave Society. It didn’t change either until the “humane capitalism” of the New Deal era.
Note: The excerpt above comes from page 261 of Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman’s Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery.