Negative nonpecuniary income is a remarkable euphemism; in plain language: it means that the work was unpleasant and unattractive to a degree which could not be overcome, in the eyes of free workers, even by large financial inducements. Whatever the inducements, free men would not voluntarily undertake work which slaves were compelled to do. In her biography of James Henry Hammond, Drew Gilphin Faust gives an account of one attempt to substitute free white workers for black slave labor. Both motives and the outcome were not exactly in accordance with the Time on the Cross model. Hammond was anxious to reclaim a large area of swap for agricultural development but feared the effect of work in such an environment on the health of his slaves. He therefore hired a crew of Irish laborers to undertake the work, but discharged them within three months because of their drunkenness and generally unsatisfactory performance. James Oakes tells of a Virginia planter who hired Irish laborers for similar unhealthy work. “A negro’s life is too valuable to be risked at it,” he said. “If a negro dies, it’s a considerable loss, you know.” At other times, Hammond occasionally employed local landless white as extra plantation laborers, but his view was that “white hands won’t stick,” and that their unreliability disrupted the plantation routine. There was clearly more to the relative advantages and disadvantages of slave and free labor than the calculation of “negative nonpecuniary income.
One other feature of slave work to which Fogel and Engerman refer is what they describe sa “the extraordinarily high labor participation rate” of the plantation work force. THis meant that “virtually every slave capable of being in the labor force was in it.” In the free labor system about one-third of the total population was in the work force. In the slave system, the proportion was two-thirds.26 “the extraordinarily high labor participation rate” is in fact another neutral sounding phrase which is euphemism for something extremely unpleasant. It means, in fact, that women and children, the aged and the handicapped, even expectant and nursing mothers, were all required to work. This was the consequence of compulsion, not of incentives. Moreover, they were made to work intensively, under constant supervision.