Legal apparatus surrounding the slave system eerily resembled the nomenclature of ordinary markets in stocks, commodities, and goods. When casually valuing human property in 1818, the young planter Sam Steer discussed investment options with his wealthy uncle. The advice was not heeded by his nephew, who theorized that the price of cotton meant that slaves were a better investment. “White cotton can command from 2[0] to 30 cts per lb: Negroes will yield a much larger income than any Bank dividends.”
According to the financial historian Robert Sobel, during periods of ebullient cotton markets, slaves took on characteristics of a “growth stock”