College of Rochester financial historian Stanley Engerman died on Thursday, Might 11. Once I acquired to Rochester as an assistant professor in 1975, I had already heard of him due to his 1974 guide on slavery with Robert Fogel, Time on the Cross. I had first heard in regards to the guide not in tutorial circles–I used to be a Ph.D. scholar at UCLA on the time–however from a column on the guide within the Wall Road Journal. I might wager it was by my favourite WSJ editor on the time, Lindley H. Clark Jr.. However later in varied UCLA seminars his guide was mentioned. Though I don’t keep in mind the total context, I distinctly keep in mind the late Axel Leijonhufvud disagreeing with somebody’s assertion in regards to the Fogel/Engerman findings. Axel mentioned, “The info in that guide are shot by with incentives.” Axel’s level, which he took from F/E, was that even with slavery, slave homeowners usually needed to give incentives resembling further meals with a purpose to get slaves to provide extra output. That issues for the story I’m about to inform.
Mark Skousen has a good remembrance of being a analysis assistant for F/E whereas they have been engaged on the guide in 1971. HT2 Tyler Cowen.
I’ve my very own reminiscence of an interplay with Stan. Within the spring of 1977 (I feel), I used to be instructing a brief course titled “Labor Market Establishments” within the U. of R. Graduate College of Administration. There have been about 18 to twenty college students within the class, 4 of whom have been black. The primary two books for the category have been Thomas Sowell’s Race and Economics and Gary Becker’s The Economics of Discrimination. I used these as a result of the professor who had taught it earlier than me, Ron Schmidt, instructed me that they’d labored effectively for the course. He was a grasp instructor and so I adopted his lead. (I additionally added a good variety of articles and a phase on Black Codes from W.E.B. Dubois, Black Reconstruction in America.) Over the break earlier than the category began, I learn the books cowl to cowl. I labored by Becker’s math and preferred his guide loads, however I liked Sowell’s guide. I acquired so excited that I wrote a protracted letter throughout the break to a good friend through which I quoted a number of the highlights from Sowell.
In working my manner by each books, I spotted that one of many themes that emerged was that authorities in any respect ranges–native, state, and federal–had shafted black individuals and that the “shafting” had certainly not ended with the tip of slavery.
So in my introduction on the primary day of sophistication, I instructed the scholars that that was one of many sub-themes and that, in gentle of that, I puzzled why extra black individuals weren’t libertarians. I shortly had 4 college students being attentive to every little thing I mentioned.
The second week of sophistication, once we have been masking a number of the early chapters of Sowell’s guide, I took problem with one thing Sowell wrote about slavery. I don’t keep in mind Sowell’s precise level, however the F/E findings on marginal incentives contradicted it. I acquired pushback from lots of the scholars however particularly from all 4 black college students. I had the sense that a few of them even thought I used to be downplaying the horror of slavery though I wasn’t.
I may really feel the nice will within the class slipping away and I needed to get it again.
So I walked throughout campus to go to Stan within the economics division. We had seen one another in seminars often and he had all the time been pleasant. I instructed him of my predicament and requested if he would come and provides a 30-minute discuss on the findings in Time on the Cross that associated to the difficulty the scholars and I had mentioned. Stanley was a really affable man and so I believed I ought to warn him. I mentioned that there was an opportunity that the scholars would switch a few of their hostility from me to him and that, really, I hoped they might. He laughed and mentioned that he would come and provides the discuss.
So he did and it went effectively. There was some hostility but it surely regularly dissipated throughout his discuss as he confirmed his experience and dealt with all of the questions.
I nonetheless keep in mind certainly one of his solutions. One of many college students had requested, “You mentioned you studied the information of plantations that had slaves. What number of plantations did you examine?”
Stanley answered, “80” and, as he noticed the dismissive look on the face of the questioner, he added, “Which is 79 greater than the variety of plantations that the majority different students studied.”
I left the U. of R. in 1979 and by no means stored in contact with Stanley. I want now that I had written him to thank him once more.