Did Slavery Create American Prosperity?

Doug Petrikat asks regarding the “1619 Project” did slavery create American prosperity?:

Recently there seem to be an increasing number of claims that American prosperity resulted from slavery. This is presented as justification for the renewed calls for reparations for slavery, which Democrats are using in an attempt to gain support as we approach the next presidential election.  But did slavery actually create the wealth of the U.S.?  Does this claim have any historical basis in fact, or is this a distortion of history to influence the views of voters?

We should all agree that slavery is an immoral institution in which people are treated as property and work, not for themselves, but for the benefit of their “owners.” It is an extractive economic system that shares some characteristics of feudalism and communism. They are all extractive in the sense that work is extracted from laborers who benefit very little from their own efforts, and as a result do not have much incentive to work hard, to make improvements, or to innovate, even though they may be faced with threats and coercion.

Lacking the motivating force of self-interest, such systems have proven to be highly inefficient, as well as inhumane, and hinder economic growth. So, while a small elite can live well through the efforts of others under these systems, the overall economy suffers, there are fewer opportunities, and a lower standard of living for members of society as a whole.

If we consider the historical experience of other nations involved in the slave trade, it could help our understanding of the issue. The transatlantic slave trade that took place from the 16th to the 19th centuries was a system in which Africans sold members of other tribes, often prisoners, as slaves to Europeans, who then shipped them to the Americas. During this time period only 5% of the total number of slaves sent across the Atlantic went to the U.S., with the other 95% going mostly to South America and the Caribbean.

Read more: American Thinker

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