Capital and Labor.

May 31, 1866


The South's labor market is undergoing drastic changes without slavery, but profits should be plentiful soon with the help of political changes and free labor.


Capital and Labor. When the labor of the country was slave it absorbed the capital of the country. The farmer invested his profits in slaves, and the result of their labors and their increase were his gains, which being continually reinvested in the same kind of property, there was little capital to be appropriated to public enterprises and improvements, or to be invested in stocks. Every one will admit the correctness of this statement. Now, the labor being free, there is no investment in it beyond the monthly wages during the making of a crop, which is reimbursed when the crop is matured. The negro, instead of having swallowed, as it were, a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, costs no man a cent beyond the compensation for actual services. He absorbs no capital beyond that compensation, which is disbursed as fast as it is received by him for his wants. This, we take it, is a great advantage for the country. The vast capital formerly invested in slaves will now be free as well as the negro, and may be appropriated to the various purposes of public improvements or to investment in stocks. This view of the matter is a very great consolation in the midst of our misfortunes. It is undoubtedly true; and it assures us that as soon as the country is restored through the renewal of its productive resources, and the recovery of its political status, we shall have a very different state of things in the south.
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Brooke Beam




“Capital and Labor.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 4, 2022,