Discover1619Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built
Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built

Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built

Update: 2019-08-3174


The institution of slavery turned a poor, fledgling nation into a financial powerhouse, and the cotton plantation was America’s first big business. Behind the system, and built into it, was the whip. On today’s episode: Matthew Desmond, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the author of “Evicted,” and Jesmyn Ward, the author of “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

“1619” is a New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones. You can find more information about it at

This episode includes scenes of graphic violence.

Comments (15)

Destined 4 Greatness

13:00 is a call center today. It amazes how these various stories acknowledge the wrong of slavery but America wont acknowledge it.

Oct 4th
Reply (1)

Sid Leake

All of these comments relating to microeconomics IMO are dismissive. My God, what were our parents, grandparents, g-grandparents, g-g, g-g-g, g-g-g-g, etc et al, thinking! I descend from a long, long line of Christian southerners, and I'm close to being an atheist when contemplating their hatred, hypocrisy and racism. I honor those descendants of slavery much more than those elderly racists that are my contemporaries (I'm almost 80). Those chickens came home to rest over 100 years ago, and today I see many of my white contemporaries still smugly diminishing blacks. Shame, shame!

Oct 3rd

Nervino Karas

I would encourage people who believe this to read the book - The Real History of Slavery- written by the African American intellectual, Thomas Sowell. The audiobook is on YouTube. You'll be glad you did..

Sep 25th
Reply (1)


This is just a fallacy. Here is some basic information on economic success of slavery.

Sep 17th

John Moore

I'm really enjoying the stories and history, because they're so interesting, so well written, and the dialogue and cadence are smooth and effective. It's annoying that they mix in these inaccuracies and fallacies that taint such a brilliant program. So this expert does an excellent job of explaining this slave economy, which actually undercuts his own argument about the results of slave economics he makes at the end. 19:14 The "value of all enslaved people exceeded that of factories and railroads combined." "Value" means the COST of assets and capital. If you want to maximize profits, having very expensive assets is TERRIBLE. You want to have inexpensive assets that produce a high amount of productivity, for example, an inexpensive factory machine that spits out large quantities of a product will make much more money than an expensive machine that makes small quantities of a product. Line by line he did a great job of explaining why slavery was not only cruel and terrible, but DOOMED to fail as a business practice. The fact that slavery was such a terrible economic practice could have (and frankly, SHOULD have) ADDED more bullet points to the conversation about why it was so horrible and wrong. Honestly, the desire to shoehorn everything into this overarching narrative is really irritating, and it's messing up this show for me.

Aug 31st
Reply (8)
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Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built

Episode 2: The Economy That Slavery Built