The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975

Book Reviews
ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Time on the Cross. Volume One: The Economics of ,American Negro Slav-
ery; Volume Two: Evidence and Methods. By Robert William Fogel
and Stanley L. Engerman. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company,
1974. Pp. xviii+286; xi+267. Notes, statistics, historiographical essay.
Vol. I, $8.95; Vol. II, $12.50.)
Although dead for more than a century, American Negro slavery con-
tinues to fascinate not only historians but large sectors of the general read-
ing public as well. Every major interpretation of the "Peculiar Institution"
is examined for its view of the "good" or "bad" of slavery, and it is well-
recognized too that every account has many implications for the history of
black Americans, both as bondsmen and as free men since I865. It also
seems that at some point virtually every major study of slavery becomes
controversial. Time on the Cross is certainly no exception to this rule. In-
deed, by the time Fogel and Engerman's study was released, critics were
suggesting that the authors were trying to "sell slavery" and by implication
perhaps place too much of the burden of black history on black people
themselves.
This study represents a culmination of what the authors term the "clio-
metric revolution" in investigating the economics of American Negro slav-
ery. For nearly two decades now, economists and historians (Robert W.
Fogel is both-serving as professor of economics and history at both the
University of Chicago and the University of Rochester) have been apply-
ing statistics, economic theory, and advanced mathematics to vast amounts
of quantitative data in computer-aided investigations of slavery and the
slave economy. The results, which are reviewed and extended in Time
on the Cross, have been thoroughly revisionist of the traditional interpreta-
tions of slavery.
Some of this study's conclusions are not absolutely new, of course, espe-
cially in that they have been so well developed by earlier econometric studies
that they are now generally accepted. This is true, for example, of the con-
clusions that slavery was highly profitable for individual slaveholders and
that the institution was not economically moribund on the eve of the Civil
War. Other conclusions represent fresh views of old, much-controverted
questions. The authors say, for example, that the material conditions of

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed February 1, 2015.