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Connell letter published in Wall Street Journal

10/07/2012

A letter to the editor by political economy and commerce professor Mike Connell appeared in the Sept. 28 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

"While it was not a research publication, I was able to get my name and Monmouth College’s name in the publication with the largest number of readers in the U.S.," said Connell. 

Sept. 29 was the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Wall Street Journal printed an op-ed about Lincoln’s achievement.

"Toward the end of the article, the author cited the work of some other historian that said 'Emancipation Proclamation wiped out $3.5 billion of 'investment' in slaves, at a time when the entire wealth of nation amounted to only $16 billion,'" said Connell. "I thought the statement by the one scholar, repeated by another scholar, was nonsense. ... So I wrote a short note to make that point and it was published." 

Following is Connell's letter:

Alan Guezo’s article “How Lincoln Saved the 'Central Idea' of America” repeats that claim that The Emancipation Proclamation wiped out $3.5 billion dollars of “investment” in slavery. This wealth was not destroyed; it was simply transferred to new owners – the rightful owners. The human capital represented by the slaves may have disappeared from the balance sheets of slaveholders but it did not disappear from society. If we are willing to ignore the morality of the issue, one can argue whether the “investment”  was not as productive under the new ownership but that argument is not worth having. To argue that the investment was wiped out is to confuse accounting with reality.