The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979 Page: 378
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tailed inventories and evaluations of estates, provided reliable estimates
of the size of Texas cotton bales, the average value of cotton per pound,
and the average (per bushel) value of corn, other grain, and food crops.
It was determined that Texas cotton bales throughout the 185os aver-
aged about 450 pounds per bale and that most farmers and planters
received (at their farm gate) at least eight cents per pound of cotton
produced. Non-corn grains and food crops averaged about eighty cents
per bushel and sixty cents per bushel, respectively. Corn was the only
one of the four sources of income whose value obviously increased dur-
ing the decade-from roughly fifty cents per bushel in the early 185os
to approximately sixty-five cents by 186o. The final step in the process
was to add up the dollar values of the four income sources and divide
that total dollar figure by the total farm population (free and slave).
This would yield a per capita income estimate for the agricultural pop-
ulation in both 185o and 186o, excluding, of course, income from other
The agricultural population as a whole had a per capita income from
these four sources of about fifty dollars in 1850 ($48.82 to be exact)
and about eighty dollars ($8o.16) in 186o. The 186o income estimate
was fully 64.2 percent higher than the 1850 figure. Thus, if the produc-
tion of the major crops of Texas can be used as an approximate indi-
cator of the farm population's income, the slaveholding agricultural
economy of the Ione Star State was indeed healthy and growing, not
weak and stagnant, in the antebellum period.
In summary, the agricultural economy of Texas in the pre-war
decade was impressive for its strength and growth. Slave productivity
was increasing at a rapid rate, enabling the state's farmers and planters
to produce more goods per slave and thus realize more profits. Slave-
holding cotton growers were enjoying substantial rates of return on their
investments, equal to the rates they could have received from other
standard forms of investment. The state's farmers and planters were
producing more than enough corn to feed the agricultural population
and its animals and probably were helping to feed the non-farm popula-
tion as well. And finally, the farming sector of the economy (by far the
largest sector) was enjoying rapid growth in income during the 1850s.
The combination of slavery and agriculture was far from moribund-it
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 82, July 1978 - April, 1979, periodical, 1978/1979; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101206/m1/440/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.