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Climate, Resources, and Slavery in the Americas since 1400

Stanley Engerman is the John Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester. He is the co-author of Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, and the co-editor of A Historical Guide to World Slavery, among other works in economic history and the history of slavery.
When Sep 19, 2003
from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where 102 Kern Building
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Stanley Engerman  Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester

John Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester

Stanley Engerman is the John Munro Professor of Economics and Professor of History, University of Rochester. He is the co-author of Time on the Cross: The Economics of American Negro Slavery, and the co-editor of A Historical Guide to World Slavery, among other works in economic history and the history of slavery.

Climate, Resources, and Slavery in the Americas since 1400

One of the puzzles of the history of the Americas has been that prior to the start of the eighteenth century the richest parts of the Americas had been in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, areas which had been the wealthiest and most populated prior to the arrival of Columbus. After the start of the eighteenth century economic power shifted northward in the Americas (as well as in Europe). The rapidly expanding areas of mainland North America differed in many ways from the relatively declining areas to the south, with important differences in crops grown, scale of production, extent of inequality, suffrage requirements, and levels of education attained. These different growth paths appear to be related to differences in climate and natural resources, which influenced social structure and methods of production. Slavery was legal in all areas through most of this period-the years of emancipation started in 1777 and ended in 1888-but its importance was influenced by climate and resources, and its ending was due more to political and social factors than to an economic decline.