Friday, January 7, 2011

Slavery in the U.S.

At the conference I'm attending in Finland, there's been a good deal of discussion (with more to come) of repugnant transactions, with an undercurrent of concern that globalization and other kinds of encroachment of markets on traditionally non-market ways of allocating resources will inevitably cause things presently regarded with repugnance to become more customary.

It's good to remember that our repugnance at certain transactions doesn't have to diminish over time (as does happen with many formerly repugnant transactions like same sex marriage).  Slavery (and indentured servitude, and other forms of servitude) were once regarded with much less repugnance--certainly much less nearly universal repugnance--than they are today.

The NY Times recently published a Civil War era map of where slaves were in the United States in 1860:
Visualizing Slavery

"South Carolina, which led the rebellion, was one of two states which enslaved a majority of its population, a fact starkly represented on the map."

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