How much money could a planter make?

To make money, a plantation owner needed good farm equipment, strong mules, healthy slaves, and a capable slave manager, called an overseer, who was usually white. A trusted slave called a driver or foreman, assisted the overseer. Each slave working in the field could cultivate about ten acres of cotton, producing two thousand pounds or more of cotton.

The finished loads of cotton were sold at the world market in Liverpool, England. The cotton price in Liverpool reached a record 12 cents a pound in the 1850s. This was about $2.60 a pound in today's dollars. So each field slave earned $5,000-$6,000 for the planter in today's dollars. A planter with a large plantation and many field hands could make millions.


Picture: CORBIS