How much money did the average american make in 1860

It is estimated that those Americans who participated in the census of worked days out of a possible days. So it would appear Americans were working for less than a dollar a day, but the census of was taken at the end of a bad economic contraction and the of was taken at the very beginning of an economic expansion High wages hurt profits.

Corporate capitalists believed that they needed profits to open more factories and to hire more workers. This was a legitimate argument for businesses that had potential to grow and expand, but the morals argument allowed them to really keep wages really low for a very long time The thing is, had the employers offered better wages, then the people making their products could have been able to afford to buy them with their earnings instead of borrowing from the banks and crashing our economy.

That would have increased profits, too. But they could not guarantee the workers would buy their products. They could not guarantee the workers would pump their earnings back into the company every day And allowing workers to buy stock in their place of employment wasn't always an option.

Many companies were not on the stock exchange, they were privately owned. So, from the owners POV, the lower the wage, the better the bottom line. It was the one control they could count on. Moral reasons.

how much money did the average american make in 1860

Owners believed that a subsistence wage prevented working people from wasting their money on alcohol, gambling, and prostitutes. Employers were worried that workers might sin if they paid them a subsistence wage and justified it with a "morals" argument.

Some owners wanted to pay their workers a living wage,and provide affordable housing and an education for their workers and the families of their workers but if they did, then those owners who did not want to pay higher wages would not be able to attract laborers. Conservatives feared a labor force that could think for itself would hurt profits.

When this proved to be true, labor organizers were targeted, labeled as either Godless Communists or Socialists; beaten, arrested and sometimes hanged, or worse. They'd put a Progressive business thinker out of business by any means available to them, legal or not.

The corruption of politicians and law enforcement by the Conservatives was rampant. The Conservative philosophy of low wages for workers was not party specific back in the day, as it is not party specific today.

It was just one of many ideals of people who want to make maximum profit with the least effort. This was because the people who migrated from the farms and hinderlands was greater than the number of jobs available. A few hundred people would show up and hope to get picked for the work crew that day.Although we prefer to list retail prices on this website, it can be challenging to locate data collected during the Civil War.

Prices in various areas of the country could be quite different, and the economic environment was volatile. These links to monthly wholesale prices may be helpful to researchers:.

Click image for detail. Prices and Wages by Decade: Links to U. All data is for the United States unless specifically indicated.

Introduction ss Toggle Dropdown Up through s Toggle Dropdown s Toggle Dropdown s Toggle Dropdown Farm labor - Wages.

Farm wages in southern states - Shows monetary pay for outdoor labor on farms, and details the rations and clothing that were distributed along with monetary pay in Farm labor wages - In one simple table, this source shows the national average for daily and monthly wages of hired farm labor, with board or without, at harvest or at other times.

Data available for years,,and each year from Farm labor - Average wages by state, Tables on pages show average wages with and without board. Table 17 shows average wages per day without board, and Table 18 shows the daily wages with board. Section titled " Extras Received by Laborers " explains the prevalence and value of non-monetary benefits paid to farm laborers, such as the use of a house or dwelling and garden plot, firewood for heat, stable and pasture for the worker's horse or cow, laundry service, occasional use of a buggy or a team for hauling, and one meal per day, pp.

Starting on page 53, there is discussion of the purchasing power of farm wages over the years. Farm laborer monthly earnings, Lists average monthly earnings with board, by geographic divisions. Data for years:,, Read the explanation and historical context for this table. Farm labor wages in Missouri, Shows average farm labor wage in Missouri with and without board, during harvest time or at other times.

Source: Missouri State Dept of Agriculture. Farm wages in Maine, Shows rates per day and per month, with and without board. Manufacturing - Wages. Manufacturing wages, ss Published in as part of the 10th U. Also printed in Serial Set Vol. Military pay Union and Confederate. Confederate Army wages Chart published in the Confederate States Almanac shows the monthly pay of officers and privates in the regular service of Confederate states. Breaks out pay for generals, colonels, lieutenants, majors, sergeants, captains, corporals, artificers, musicians, chaplains and privates.

Union Army officer pay, Army pay tables begin with the highest officers listed first. Page forward to find colonels, majors, captains, lieutenantsetc.Building what we call social tables, this paper quantifies the level and inequality of American incomes from to In the American colonies had average incomes exceeding those of the Mother Country, even when slave households are included in the aggregate.

Between andthis income advantage over Britain was lost, due to the severe dislocation caused by the fight for Independence. Then between and US income per capita grew even faster than previous scholars have estimated. We also find that the South was initially much richer than the North on the eve of Revolution, but then suffered a severe reversal of fortune, so that by its white population was already poorer than free Northerners.

In terms of inequality, our estimates suggest that American colonists had much more equal incomes than did households in England and Wales around Indeed, New England and the Middle Colonies appear to have been more egalitarian than anywhere else in the measureable world. Income inequality rose dramatically between andespecially in the South. Detailed defense of the and benchmarks can be found in our previous NBER working paperJulyalthough the estimates reported here are revised.

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The estimates are completely new. American Incomes Peter H. LindertJeffrey G.

Slavery Did Not Make America Rich

Development of the American Economy. Economic Fluctuations and Growth. International Finance and Macroeconomics.

International Trade and Investment. Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Gender in the Economy Study Group. Illinois Workplace Wellness Study. The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment. The Science of Science Funding Initiative. Candidates are evaluated based on their research records and their capacity to contribute to the NBER's activities by program directors and steering committees. New affiliates must hold primary academic appointments in North America.You are now logged in. Forgot your password?

In his second inaugural, Abraham Lincoln declared that "if God wills that [the Civil War] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's years of unrequited toil shall be sunk…as was said 3, years ago, so still it must be said, 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. It is a noble sentiment. Yet the economic idea implied—that exploitation made us rich—is mistaken. Slavery made a few Southerners rich; a few Northerners, too.

But it was ingenuity and innovation that enriched Americans generally, including at last the descendants of the slaves. It's hard to dispel the idea embedded in Lincoln's poetry. The rise of capitalism depended, the King Cottoners claim, on the making of cotton cloth in Manchester, England, and Manchester, New Hampshire. The raw cotton, they say, could come only from the South. The growing of cotton, in turn, is said to have depended on slavery.

The conclusion—just as our good friends on the left have been saying all these years—is that capitalism was conceived in sin, the sin of slavery. Yet each step in the logic of the King Cotton historians is mistaken.

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The enrichment of the modern world did not depend on cotton textiles. Cotton mills, true, were pioneers of some industrial techniques, techniques applied to wool and linen as well.

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And many other techniques, in iron making and engineering and mining and farming, had nothing to do with cotton. Britain in and the U.

What were the average earnings of people in the 1870's to 1880's?

Nor is it true that if a supply chain is interrupted there are no possible substitutes. Such is the theory behind strategic bombing, as of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Yet only in the short run is it "necessary" for a good to come from a particular region by a particular route. A missing link can be replaced, as in fact it was during the blockade of raw cotton from the South during the war.

how much money did the average american make in 1860

British and other European manufacturers turned to Egypt to provide some of what the South could not.Williamson Miami University MeasuringWorth sam mswth. Slavery was an ancient practice on the North American continent. Within the colonies that became the United States, slavery first appeared in Virginia in African slavery in the South was largely a response to the greater demand for labor on tobacco, rice, and indigo plantations.

Northern farms were generally smaller, family-sized plots of land with the family supplying most of the labor. Before the American Revolution, there was no significant movement for abolition.

how much money did the average american make in 1860

By the early s, most Northern states had passed laws in favor of abolition, but the acts called for gradual abolition. In the South, on the other hand, slavery became an ingrained economic and legal institution. Slaves and their progeny were the property of an owner, and slaves were owned until they died.

They could be bought and sold; their owners controlled their lives and those of their children. When slaves were sold, the contract was a legal document, even to the extent that a buyer could sue the seller if a slave was sold under false pretenses. Even slaves themselves had some protection under the law; they could not be abandoned or executed. Before independence, the laws of the colonies could not be inconsistent with English law.

Chief Justice Lord William Mansfield in the Somersett case heard in London in held that English law did not support slavery, a ruling that eventually led to the peaceful extinction of African slavery in the British Empire.

By then, the Americans were on a different path. In the Constitutional Convention discussions ofit was held that slavery was not a moral issue but a matter of "interest" only. Some delegates believed that slavery was going to die out.

Virginia had attempted several times unilaterally to end the slave trade to Virginia ports, but the Board of Trade lawyers in London had overruled it. The federal government prohibited the trade in slaves beginning inbut statesmanship and jurisprudence could not find a way to end the institution.

Within a decade of the Constitutional Convention, Eli Whitney's cotton gin appeared, which is popularly credited with sparking an explosion in cotton production in the South. This explanation may be partly true, but it is also the case that the technological improvements in spinning and weaving in England created a big increase in the demand for cotton, a cloth much preferred to wool.

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These events together reenergized the demand for slaves. Slavery is a subject that most Americans have confronted as part of their education, but there are many aspects of slavery that have been left to the dim mists of history. This paper will review some of the basic dimensions of the economics of slavery in the United States and put them in perspective by showing what the financial magnitudes of the "peculiar institution" might be in the relative prices of today.

Answers to such questions are not simple.Printers Row Publishing Group. There were few labor laws in the United States at the time. The average work week was 60 hours 10 hours a day, six days a week, with Sundays off.

What Did People Earn in 1860?

Some common occupations and how much they earned:. Fancy, store-bought clothes were out of the question for all but the wealthiest Americans.

There were no mail-order companies, either. Chicago merchant Montgomery Ward started his catalog business in Instead, women would buy cotton and make their own clothes.

How much wood is a cord? A lot.


The Henry rifle, the first repeating rifle, was brand new in Old Tub, a cheap brand produced by Jim Beam, cost just 25 cents a gallon in When the Civil War started, demand increased and supply decreased. The Pony Express was only in service from to Laudanum, a patent medicine consisting primarily of alcohol, with 10 percent opium by weight, was prescribed for almost anything.

You could go into a general store and buy a three-ounce bottle for 25 cents. Renting instead? Here are the costs of some dietary staples of the s:. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.

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Nickel and Dimed There were few labor laws in the United States at the time. Some common occupations and how much they earned: Masons earned Guns The Henry rifle, the first repeating rifle, was brand new in Whiskey Old Tub, a cheap brand produced by Jim Beam, cost just 25 cents a gallon in Mail The Pony Express was only in service from to Notify of. Subscribe to our Mailing List. I agree to the privacy policy.Choosing Voluntary Simplicity. A blog about finding balance in your life, connecting with who you are, and creating a lifestyle where you wake up each morning eagerly anticipating the day ahead.

I find your posts about the past to be extremely interesting and I envy your access to the old journals and newspaper clippings. I wonder — do you perhaps have anything relating to wages around the time of the Civil War that you would be willing to share?

Will this do? This listing of wages filled several pages in one journal… I have picked out the professions that were to me the most interesting. I believe the information came from a government report on Labor Statistics. Add Your Comment Cancel reply. Thank you so much for answering my question with such detail. This is exactly what I was hoping for. I find these type of posts so very interesting especially since the information was collected first hand by your relative.

It is so much more real than just a dry statistical report. Thank you so much for sharing these. This is so interesting! The photos are my own. Some illustrate the post I welcome links to my blog or to any of my articles, but please do not copy my photos or content. A sincere thank you to everyone who supports this site by using my Amazon affiliate links and search box to purchase books and other items.

Check out the hundreds of other articles in the Choosing Voluntary Simplicity article archives. Choosing Voluntary Simplicity A blog about finding balance in your life, connecting with who you are, and creating a lifestyle where you wake up each morning eagerly anticipating the day ahead.

What Did People Earn in ? Want To Keep Reading? Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema atrorubens.

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